Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Strange things going on in Jasper and Newton Counties

Yesterday at 11 a.m. the students at Newton County's Lake Village Elementary School were sent home and the school was closed. It's also closed for today and tomorrow. The initial radio announcement we heard described several of the children were getting ill -- with flu-like symptoms including severe diarrhea.

The school isn't releasing any further details... but based on my research lately, the type of symptoms described generally go along with either food poisoning (from e. Coli, Lysteria, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, etc.) or water contamination. Who knows for sure?

Just a few short months ago, students at KV Intermediate School in Jasper County were told not to drink the water for several days... apparently it was contaminated.

Drinking water contamination appears to be a BIG issue in Northern Jasper County and Newton County these days ...and when you check out the overhead aerial maps to see the plethora of CAFOs in operation throughout this region -- if you've done your homework -- you might be a bit nervous about drinking the water in this region, too.

I heard rumors that one particular test well in this region was loaded with coliform bacteria. I'll be telling you more about that soon.

If you think Indiana needs a moratorium on the CAFO issue -- it's time to ACT!

On January 29th an important Bill (Bill 447) gets a reading in the Senate before the Energy and Environmental Committee which calls for just such a moratorium. If you can't attend in person (about 1:30), then perhaps an email (or letter) to the Senators who serve on the committee will help raise their awareness about how many people are concerned. Regardless where you live in Indiana, be sure to let them know, "WE WANT A MORATORIUM!"

Senator Riiegsecker R.M. s-12
Senator Bray s-37
Senator Dillon s17
Senator Drozda s21
Senator Hershman s-7
Senator Miller s-32
Senator Hume R.M.M. s-48
Senator Errington s-26
Senator Lanane s-25
Senator Tallian s-4

Barbara Cox wrote up an impressive letter (see it posted on Kemplog here) stating several reasons why a CAFO moratorium is so NEEDED here in Indiana. Please add your voice to the hundreds of others of us who have written. Make sure these Senators understand how IMPORTANT this issue is TO US ALL.

Don't let Indiana fall by the wayside (like things happening in Michigan lately) ...we all deserve better, both here in Indiana and throughout the rest of our remarkable country!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New 2007 CAFO Regulations Proposed

It's now in the NEWS and I can finally let all of you know about this. Here's an excerpt from this PAL-Item:
Area legislators are banding together on the issue of confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) during the first week of the General Assembly in 2007.

An area Democrat, Phil Pflum of Milton, and an area Republican, Tom Saunders of Lewisville, have joined in introducing a House bill that would put restrictions on where CAFOs can be built.
This is House Bill 1197, digest of details as follows: Regulation of confined feeding operations. Prohibits construction of a confined feeding operation (CFO) within two miles of a school or a municipality. Permits application to land of manure generated by a CFO only by incorporation or injection. Requires certification of applicators of manure generated by a CFO.

All excellent points which we need to support.

Next, Senator Allen Paul is trying again to introduce another CAFO Bill...
In the Senate, Allen Paul (R-Richmond) has introduced a bill that would put a three-year moratorium on building any new CAFOs in the state.
I recall Senator Allen Paul attempted previously to get a similar CAFO Bill passed, but it was scrapped fairly quickly back then. I haven't been able to locate this new Senate Bill yet.

NOW -- PLEASE remember... anything can be added or subtracted on a bill at this point. What can you do?

For one thing, both CAFO Bills being proposed NEED your SUPPORT! Show how much you care about this important issue by writing your local Rep as well as sending a letter (or email) to BOTH:

Rep. Phil Pflum D
Rep. Tom Saunders R

Mailing Address:
Indiana House of Representatives,
200 West Washington Street,
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Also, show your support for Senator Allen Paul's Bill (I'll bring you more on that as I hear it). We desperately NEED that 3 year moratorium to assess the impact of all CAFOs in operation right now in Indiana, and to ensure more rural families are NOT put in harms way.

Public health and safety ...and the safety of our environment... need to take precedence over Big Business.

When writing the above Reps and your local Reb, be sure to express your concerns, such as:
- water (potential contamination with pathogens, drugs and pollutants)
- water availability (these CAFOs suck a great deal out of our aquifer)
- environmental issues (air, water, and soil contamination issues)
- increased insects and other pests (potential health hazard - increased risk)
- potential health risks for all on above issues, particularly for very young, elderly and imuno compromisized (ie. such as cancer patients/survivors and organ transplant recipients)
Let them know how important this issue has become for all of us in this region as the CAFOs spread closer and closer to higher populated areas. THIS HAS TO STOP!

The more letters they receive, the better!

Sidenote: Personally, I'm not a fan of the "Eliminating Property Taxes" proposal mentioned in the above referenced Pal-Item. My husband worked up the numbers, and it turns out we'd end up paying $2,214.23 more in Income/Sales taxes in order to save a mere $352 in property tax. Our Accountant (from another County) said Jasper County is already paying far too HIGH in Income AND Sales taxes when compared with most other counties. And of course, as anyone who has taken even a little business schooling knows, both Sales and Income taxes are "regressive" ...meaning that they tend to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hot Spots In The News

No time to write a full post today, so I'll just leave you with some hot news items that have popped up over the past 7 days:

From The Monitor:
"New prospect for US: glut of ethanol plants"

From The New York Times:
"Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food"

From The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne):
"Steuben dairy farm faces EPA sanctions"

From The EPA:
"EPA orders Indiana dairy to comply with discharge permit"

From the Environment News Service:
"2006 Was the Sixth Warmest Year Ever"

And from The Independent:
"World faces hottest year ever, as El NiƱo combines with global warming"

And for something lighter, here's one from the Courier Press in Evansville:
"Meteorite crashes through bathroom"

I'll be back tomorrow with more news from Jasper County on the Moooooooving CAFO mess.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dead birds in Austin Texas today

In the early morning hours today, this story hit the press: "Bird deaths shut down downtown Austin"
AUSTIN, Texas - Police shut down 10 blocks of businesses in the heart of downtown early Monday after dozens of birds were found dead in the streets, but officials said preliminary tests showed no dangerous chemicals in the air. As many as 60 dead pigeons, sparrows and grackles were found overnight along Congress Avenue, a main route through downtown...
Officials do not think Bird Flu is involved, however at least one bird carcass was being tested locally for other possible causes, and other carcasses were shipped to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Texas A&M University.
"A 10-block stretch of Congress Avenue, several side streets and all buildings in the area were shut down and declared off-limits as a precaution, Chovanetz said."
Just a few short weeks ago, and just north of Austin there were 3,400 dead mallard ducks discovered along Land Creek Springs, about 150 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho -- north of Austin, as the crow flies.

Now... if they come out with news that the "official cause of death" is acute aspergillosis, I'm really going to start wondering what's up.

A bit about what the birds eat:

Common Grackels: "During migration and winter, common grackles eat mostly grains from farm fields and seeds, particularly corn and acorns. They also eat some fruits."

Common Sparrows: "Emberizids are typically omnivorous (both insectivorous and grainivorous). They primarily eat seeds during the winter and insects during the summer."

Common Pigeons: "Studies of pigeons in a semi-rural part of Kansas found that their diet includes the following: 92% corn, 3.2% oats, 3.7% cherry, along with small amounts of knotweed, elm, poison ivy, and barley. In cities, feral pigeons also eat popcorn, cake, peanuts, bread, and currants."

You know, this story kind of makes you wonder what happened to the pigeons that died in 2003 in Texas.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Questions for IDEM

Yesterday I promised I would bring you additional info regarding some IDEM regulations which need to be looked at seriously -- and in my humble opinion, need to be changed.

Here are 3 important questions for IDEM that were sent to me by email, that the writer believes we should all contact IDEM to have changed:
1. There is no rule that gives IDEM any over sight on lagoons away from the permitted site. In other words, if you wish to dig a lagoon and have manure transported to it, that is ok. You do not need to do soil borings or get a permit. Now, that is what Indiana needs, lagoons with no rules. NOT!! If you believe this needs change, please contact Mr. Palin.

2. I also questioned how IDEM can approve a permit while the application is under appeal? Yes, perhaps a group could try to keep appealing and try to stop the building. This would not be fair, however it does seem that IDEM should not give the permit until at least a decision has been made by one Judge. Any comment on this please direct to Mr. Palin.

3. There is no rule that states IDEM can not approve an expansion while a CAFO is under appeal. Why should they be allowed to expand if it has not been decided if it should even be there in the first place. If those that have filed the appeal have provided all information to the Judge then it would seem it was no fault of their's that there had been long delays in the hearing. Does this rule need review? If you believe that is the case, then contact Mr. Palin.
Why contact Mr. Palin?
The writer was told that if anyone wanted to comment or encourage change in the rules of IDEM, Mr. Palin would be the one we should contact.

So, for those of you reading my blog who want to make a serious and positive difference, here is Mr. Palin's contact information:

Mailing Address:
Mr. Bruce Palin
Assistant Commissioner
Office of Land Quality
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
100 N. Senate Ave.
Mail Code 65-45
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2251

E-mail Address:

If you choose to send your questions (and/or suggestions) by e-mail, you might also want to send a copy in by snail-mail, too.

The above 3 questions are a good place to start. And maybe, you just might have a few suggestions and recommendations for changes of your own to add?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Adding CAFO Insult to CAFO Injury

Everytime I think about how "rights" are being systematically stripped away from Hoosiers... arr-rg-g-gh!!

Kemplog and Mason's blog drew my attention to this new little piece of legislation called -- Senate Bill 0173.

It almost makes me wonder how well Gilbert and his brother Tim den Dulk (or Tim's wife's family - the de Jong's) know Senator Jackman... because both Bill 0173 and a former piece of legislation authored by Senator Jackman grants considerable protection for the Poultry CAFO that wants to change over to a Veal Calf CAFO.

Think about it.

The first piece of legislation protects CAFO owners from nuisance suits for operations that have a "significant change in the type of operation".

I'd say a 241% increase in total manure production to be a significant change, and that's not even pointing out the other very obvious significant changes in this operation.

Then the next piece of legislation pays the CAFO owner back if (read when) they win their nuisance lawsuit.

If you've never been in a "Nuisance" lawsuit court battle, you might be surprised at how expensive they are to fight -- particularly for local area residents fighting them. In many cases, a nuisance lawsuit won't even make it to court because residents can't raise the funding to fight them, and in most cases, it's residents' only form of defense against the "trespasses" these CAFOs can bring to a neighborhood.

Nuisance law is part of "common law" ... part of the rights American forefathers faught so long and hard for. If they only knew what has become of those rights... particularly here in Indiana.

It's unconstitutional -- and insulting -- IMHO.

Speaking of Indiana laws ...did you know there are a few "loopholes" that have been uncovered in IDEM's CAFO regulations? I'll bring you more on THAT interesting discovery tomorrow, along with information on what YOU can do to get IDEM REGULATIONS changed here in Indiana.

Meanwhile, speaking of de Jong ...check this little EPA Press Release out:
EPA orders Indiana dairy to comply with discharge permit

Here's an interesting quote from the above EPA Press Release - QUOTE:
"Storm water run-off discharged from CAFOs typically contains very high levels of nutrients and pathogens that can pose a threat to public health and harm aquatic life."
Dang it all -- isn't that what I've been saying all along?! Where is that dang Public Health Board, anyway? How many people will have to get sick -- or worse, die -- before Public Health Officials get involved in this picture??

The frequency with which we were spotting CDC (Center for Disease Control) vans in this area last summer has me wondering if, maybe, they're already involved but we just don't know about it yet?

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