The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 5, 2013

Tire burners, shale gas, you and I: We're all connected

Something is fundamentally wrong with our democracy when businesses are de facto given more voice, clout, protection and, ultimately, more power under the law than citizens and communities seeking to protect themselves from harm.

With the tire incinerator proposed by En-Tire Logistics for National Gypsum, regardless of the threat this business poses to the health of their local community, the White Deer Township Supervisors' hands are tied by the law that requires them to approve a conditional use permit as long as it complies with the provisions of local ordinances. This raises an important question as our nation celebrates Independence Day: How did the law -- which has evolved in this country over more than two centuries -- devolve to this point where capitalistic interests supersede human interests of safety?

Could the founders of this nation have intended this when they risked their lives to commit to the cause of freedom and democracy? Certainly not. And yet the steady, insidious (some would say demonic) hand of Mammon has chipped away at our humanity and quietly shaped the law for so long, and largely without significant challenge, that we have locked ourselves into a system of our own making and allowance.

As a nation we see how distorted and corrupt the system has become when the highest court in the land actually grants personhood status to economic entities and corporate interests (Citizens United, 2010). On the state level we see how Act 13, which grants favored status to the shale gas industry under the law, has paved the way for the violation of citizen and community rights across Pennsylvania. And right in our backyard with this proposed tire incinerator, we are faced with the confounding conundrum of how to prevent a clear threat to our area's beauty and public health when every governmental and democratic avenue appears to be closed to us.

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