The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 27, 2013

Act before it's too late


Daily Item

---- — Earlier this week President Barack Obama made what many view as a groundbreaking speech on global warming. Agree or disagree with the way he wants to attack the problem, the president is correct about the need to respond.

"The question is not whether we need to act," he said. "The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late."

The goal of every generation is for the ensuing generations to have a better life. Technologically, there is little doubt that will happen. Environmentally, that may not happen if we don't change the way things operate.

It won't be an immediate fix, or even a short-term fix. But it is one that we need to start on now -- or even sooner than now.

We know that renewable energy projects like hydro, wind and solar represent the future we want. Right now, however, those sources are not readily available. The technology might be there, but they are not cost-effective options in a world where cheaper and easily-accessible fossil-fueled energy is still at hand.

In recent weeks, we have seen local discussions about this transition. We are to the point where we need to look at improving from better to best, not just from better to a little bit better.

Public outcry over a proposed energy plant in White Deer Township that uses tire-derived fuel is justified because the plan marks a step backward. While the plan to burn tires for fuel is a better option than burning coal for fuel, it is not a better option than natural gas, which is the fuel now being employed.

Using natural gas until a better, more viable option becomes available was the better clean-air choice. It was the better choice for our children and our children's children and other inheritors of this planet.

In the end, public opinion may not prevail. If tire-derived fuel is a permitted use and the plan observes all requirements, the authority may not exist under law and regulation to deny this proposal.

It may be said that the conversation was held, documented and supported.

If Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" or its updated dire predictions yet come to pass, it won't be because of silence this spring in this Valley. There were citizens who rose to the challenge, stood for responsible citizenship and the better path to a sustainable future.