I attended the meeting scheduled by DEP where officialdom explained their approval process for their permitting of a tire burning facility in White Deer Township. I sat, I listened, I didn't speak. I absorbed the commentary by the citizenry and the responses by the official bureaucrats.
Upon reflection, I am left with the distinct impression that we live in a society of failed institutions. In order for a society to function with some reasonable expectation of peace and harmony, there must be a level of trust exhibited by all stakeholders. I've found absolutely no trust on behalf of the community and a labored defense of their actions on the behalf of DEP.
In my opinion, this state of affairs is not confined to this particular event, but is much more widespread than is routinely reported. The evening just presented a tangible, local exhibit. One could not help but be impressed with the rational and reasoned comments made by every community member who rose to speak. It was in the responses that the fracture was revealed, because in every instance the DEP representative never addressed the validity of the community's concerns but consistently reverted to its adherence to institutional guidelines that they are given and not subjected to review.
The most outrageous interaction of the evening occurred when the question posed was, given the forced closure of every tire burner in existence, is this safe? Incredibly, the answer was, that given the data supplied and the industry conducted scientific studies, the facility is safe and does not pose an unacceptable health risk. One does not need an advanced pedigree to know with certainty that tons of carcinogenic and hazardous by-products dumped into the air around us is not safe and unquestionably poses a health risk.
As several speakers observed, we face an institution that serves corporate interests and there is no framework within the architecture of the edifice that holds the public interest superior to the almighty dollar. An impassioned plea from a woman who spoke last asked for help in protecting us from the harm we will suffer if this incinerator is allowed to be constructed. Funded and charted to work for us, the citizens of this State, she was instructed to look elsewhere. DEP could not help her, that was not in its job description.