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Healthy Dubois County, Inc. (HDC)

The mission of HDC is to advocate for the environmental and public health of Dubois County.

 

HDC is a grassroots, public benefit not-for-profit corporation.

Donations (not tax-deductible) are appreciated and may be sent to

Healthy Dubois County, Inc.

P.O. Box 222

Jasper, Indiana 47547

Visit also Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/HealthyDuboisCounty for more information.

Since autumn of 2010, ordinary citizens from all walks of life—medicine, ministry, education, child care, agriculture, business, civil rights, social justice, etc.—have been actively engaged in a peaceful effort to advocate for clean air and transparent government pertaining to the City of Jasper’s plan to convert its 1968 coal-fired plant into a biomass incinerator.  Atlanta-based Twisted Oak Corporation’s proposal, approved by city officials amid widespread medical opposition, calls for the burning of 300 tons of miscanthus grass daily (delivered by over 100 flat bed tractor-trailers per week)—near a residential neighborhood.  Doctors, teachers, and concerned citizens from the Dubois County area have contributed to the development of this educational website; these pages reflect the grassroots nature of their ongoing efforts.

   Thank you for visiting.

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RECENT POSTS

Please visit HDC’s Facebook page for additional, more current posts:  http://www.facebook.com/HealthyDuboisCounty.  Please share and inform family and friends about this important health issue in our community.

“Twisted Oak’s proposal is scientifically and ethically indefensible.”

—Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette, acclaimed University of Notre Dame professor, two-term EPA scientific advisory board member
In 2012, Healthy Dubois County requested an independent, not-for-profit health analysis from a Notre Dame scholar in biology and ethics because Jasper officials’ special-interest, for-profit analysis by a lone industrial consultant did not include any human health risk or healthcare cost consideration, despite HDC members’ requests for such a health/economic impact study.

Upon HDC board president Dr. Norma Kreilein’s request, University of Notre Dame professor Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette graciously agreed to investigate Jasper’s signed lease agreement, its published report by the city’s lone consultant, combustion physicist Christopher Shaddix, and other city documents pertaining to the proposed biomass incinerator.   After months of research, in December of 2012, Dr. Shrader-Frechette released three scientific abstracts severely criticizing Jasper’s biomass incinerator project on health, environmental, and economic grounds.  See earlier posts below.

In early 2013, three separate independent, peer-reviewed, health and environmental journals published her findings in articles condemning Jasper’s negligence of health risks associated with its proposed biomass incinerator.  See details and links below.

To concerned citizens’ dismay and disappointment, Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, USB chair Wayne Schuetter, and members of the USB and Common Council continue to downplay and dismiss these articles, and they refuse to contact her.

Monday, April 14, 2014     Press Release Date

HDC RECEIVES GRANT FOR RENEWED EFFORTS TO STOP BIOMASS INCINERATOR

On April 8, 2014, Healthy Dubois County, Inc., was awarded a $500 grant from the not-for-profit environmental organization Heartwood. HDC’s grant proposal titled “We Can‘t Breathe What We Burn” focuses on the prevention of further pollution-related cancers and asthma in Jasper and the Dubois County area. Supporting HDC’s renewed efforts to stop the proposed Jasper, Indiana, biomass incinerator, the award will be used to educate parents regarding the dangerously high levels of particulates and dioxins that the facility will produce and the subsequent long-term health effects upon children. The award will incorporate digital media to enhance public awareness and empowerment.

Heartwood is the seventeenth entity in the state and nation to acknowledge and support HDC’s ongoing efforts. The following grassroots citizens’ watchdog groups, environmental organizations, and peer-reviewed scientific journals have confirmed HDC’s concerns that burning 300 tons of miscanthus grass/biomass daily in Jasper for 20 to 30 years poses unacceptable risks to the health and financial well-being of area citizens and ratepayers:

1. Sierra Club, Hoosier Chapter
2. Mom’s Clean Air Force
3. Heartwood
4. Indiana Utility Rate Payers’ Trust
5. Valley Watch
6. Citizens’ Action Coalition of Indiana
7. Protect Our Woods
8. Concerned Citizens of Crawford County
9. Concerned Citizens of Scott County
10. Logansport Power
11. Indiana Forest Alliance
12. Save America’s Forests
13. Energy Justice
14. Partnership for Policy Integrity
15. Biological Theory publication, July 2013
16. Environmental Justice publication, June 2013
17. Global Health Perspectives publication, March 2013

In contrast, HDC is not aware of any citizens’ advocacy group, environmental organization, or peer-reviewed scientific journal supporting the Jasper “Clean Energy Center”.

Heartwood’s motto is “People Helping People Protect the Places They Love.” A regional network that protects forests and supports community activism in the eastern United States through education, advocacy, and citizen empowerment, Heartwood was founded in 1991 when concerned citizens from several midwestern states met and agreed to work together to protect the heartland hardwood forest.

The midwestern region was once blanketed with a majestic hardwood forest containing more than 70 species of hardwood trees. Unfortunately, much of this forest has been cleared and what remains is mostly isolated fragments of public land that nonetheless play a critical role in providing habitat for wildlife, purifying the air and water, moderating global climate change, and offering places of beauty and enjoyment.

Today, Heartwood’s efforts remain rooted in the heart of the central hardwood region, with an emphasis on the “core states” of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri. Over time, Heartwood has branched out to serve areas of need throughout an 18-state region, giving special attention to the “at risk” national forests in Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia.

One can read more about Heartwood Forest Council on its website: http://www.heartwood.org./ Heartwood will hold its annual Forest Council on Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, at Camp Ondessonk near Ozark in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. Acknowledgments of the grant recipients will be made there, where HDC will be formally recognized. The theme of this year’s Forest Council will be “A Climate of Extraction”, and organizers state that “the weekend will focus on information sharing, networking, and strategies for combating all types of resource extraction that threaten our forests, our water, our climate, and our communities—all while enjoying good food, music, and company.”

Additional information can be found at
www.healthyduboiscounty.org/home
www.facebook.com/HealthyDuboisCounty

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Contacts:
Rock Emmert, HDC Vice-president rockemmert@gmail.com
Kris Lasher, HDC Secretary-Treasurer krisannlasher@gmail.com
Norma Kreilein, MD FAAP, HDC President kreileinmn@twc.com

April 8, 2014 Upcoming Earth Day Event

Healthy Dubois County, Inc., to Host Film Night on Earth Day

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ferdinand Library Community Room

7:00 pm ET  

Award-Winning Documentary

Call of Life:  Facing the Mass Extinction

 

 

 

 

Home page:  http://calloflife.org/

Authorities:  http://calloflife.org/p-appearing.htm

Trailer:  http://calloflife.org/p-trailer.htm

“All over the world species are becoming extinct at an astonishing rate, from 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than normal. The loss of biodiversity has become so severe that scientists are calling it a mass extinction event. Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction is the first feature documentary to investigate the growing threat to Earth’s life support systems from this unprecedented loss of biodiversity. Through interviews with leading scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and indigenous and religious leaders, the film explores the causes, the scope, and the potential effects of the mass extinction, but also looks beyond the immediate causes of the crisis to consider how our cultural and economic systems, along with deep-seated psychological and behavioral patterns, have allowed this situation to develop, continue to reinforce it, and even determine our response to it.” The film offers hope for healing and shifting to a more sustainable way of life.

Call of Life is highly recommended for essentially all audiences, and would be a welcome addition to collections in most high school libraries, public libraries, and undergraduate academic libraries.”          —Educational Media Reviews

The public is invited.  Discussion will follow the film.

 

March 30, 2014  Sierra Club Addresses Local Media:  Letter to the Editor, published in DC Free Press, The Herald, The Ferdinand News*

March 26, 2014

Dear Editor:

It has come to our attention that proponents of the Jasper “Clean Energy Project” have been using a report published by the Sierra Club and Worldwatch Institute in their efforts to promote plans to burn biomass to generate electricity. I would like to set the record straight on the Club’s position on biomass for energy.

  • The Sierra Club is a nationwide environmental organization with more than 7,000 members in Indiana.
  • One sentence from a five-year-old report on federal policy for renewable energy standards should not be used out of context to promote burning biomass for energy in a residential neighborhood.
  • The Sierra Club has not endorsed the proposed source of fuel for the Jasper “Clean Energy Project.” Burning fuel for energy is responsible for much of Indiana’s air pollution.
  • The Sierra Club does support truly clean sources of energy such as solar and wind power and energy efficiency, and would have serious concerns over any plan to burn fuel at a central power plant located in a residential neighborhood.
  • Based on our review of the very “sketchy” information now available, the Sierra Club seriously doubts that the project will ever prove to be either economically viable or environmentally sustainable.

The Sierra Club will review and comment on applications for the required environmental permits with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) once they are filed.

We support the public’s right to know and participate in decisions affecting their health and energy sources. All options should be fully considered.

Sincerely,

Jodi Perras
Indiana Representative, Beyond Coal Campaign
Sierra Club
1100 W. 42nd Street, Suite 140
Indianapolis, IN 46208

http://hoosier2.sierraclub.org/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SierraClub.HoosierChapter

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/letter-sierra-club-statement-regarding-jasper-clean-energy/

* The Ferdinand News inadvertently published an earlier draft of the letter, but the core content is the same.

March 24, 2014  Sierra Club Denies Jasper’s Suggestion that Group Endorses Twisted Oak Biomass Incinerator

“The Sierra Club has not endorsed the proposed source of fuel for the Jasper Clean Energy Project.  Based on their review of the very ‘sketchy’ information now available, the Sierra Club seriously doubts that the [Jasper] project will ever prove to be either economically viable or environmentally sustainable.”

—Jodi Perras, spokesperson for the Indiana Chapter of the Sierra Club

In a public statement at Dr. Kreilein’s VUJC health presentation on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 , Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, in an attempt to deflect focus from Dr. Kreilein’s medical presentation, held up a paper without sharing it with anyone present, and insinuated that the Sierra Club supports biomass,  implying Jasper’s biomass incinerator project.   A few months later, according to Evansville’s Channel 7′s Eyewitness News reporter Fadia Patterson, on February 3, 4, 2014,  ”A public relations spokesman for the project, HIRONS, Inc. hired by the Jasper Utility Service Board [sic] says the city will be using a cleaner source of fuel that has been endorsed by medical journals like Sierra Club and Worldwatch.”

Aside from the obvious incompetence if not deception in calling the Sierra Club a medical journal, the Sierra Club does not support Mr. Seitz’s nor the hired USB or JCAC spokesman’s suggestions.

See Channel 7 Eyewitness News website:

http://www.tristatehomepage.com/story/d/story/proposed-plant-in-jasper-raises-air-quality-questi/40367/FFWawQabu0iUY6pc45UDtg

Here is the article:

Sierra Club Denies Endorsement

“Last February, a spokesman from HIRONS Public Relations, a representative of the Jasper Clean Energy Project, told Eyewitness News that biofuels had been endorsed by medical journals like the Sierra Club and Worldwatch.

“The Indiana Chapter of the Sierra Club has contacted Eyewitness News to deny that claim. According to spokeswoman, Jodi Perras:

  • The Sierra Club is not a medical journal but instead a nationwide environmental organization with more than 7,000 members in the state of Indiana.
  • The Sierra Club has not endorsed the proposed source of fuel for the Jasper Clean Energy Project.
  • Based on their review of the very ‘sketchy’ information now available, the Sierra Club seriously doubts that the project will ever prove to be either economically viable or environmentally sustainable.
  • The Sierra Club will review applications for the required environmental permits with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) once they are filed. The Sierra Club will review the city of Jasper’s applications for compliance and will make another comment at that time.

“Eyewitness News has reached out to HIRONS, the public relations firm hired by the Jasper Clean Energy Project for comment. We have yet to receive a statement from the firm.”

 

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March 24, 2014   Lawsuit Update, City Official’s E-mails Admitting Health Concerns Discussed “At Length” in Closed Door Meetings, Indiana Open Door Law Ignored, Media and Public Trust Violated

In August of 2011, the city’s secrecy resulted in costly Open Door Law litigation for the ratepayers’ and concerned citizens (over $800,000 total).

While in late January, 2014, HDC dismissed the lawsuit in the Knox County Court for multiple, published reasons, the city continues to withhold material evidence involving ODL violations.  See HDC Facebook page (January 29, 2014, post) for HDC’s official press release regarding the dismissed lawsuit.  http://www.facebook.com/HealthyDuboisCounty

City officials and their attorneys fail to account for multiple April, May, and June 2011 e-mails between USB member Rick Stradtner and HDC members, in which Mr. Stradtner admits citizens’ and doctors’ health concerns were discussed “at length”  in executive sessions—in contrast to city officials’ testimony.  See trial transcript below.   Under oath in the December 2011 trial, Mr. Stradtner and other city officials repeatedly assured the Court that no subject outside what was statutorially allowed was discussed in executive sessions.  In advance of the trial, during the deposition phase (early Dec. 2011), Jasper attorneys Niebarger, Kaiser, Hemmerlein, and Lundquist had been given copies of key Stradtner e-mails.  City attorneys vehemently denied that any subjects were discussed in executive sessions except those listed in the statutorially-required memorandum for each closed-door (executive session) meeting.  See e-mails highlighted in red in an earlier post below.

In light of these examples of the city’s ongoing withholding of evidence—including Wayne Schuetter’s e-mails on his wife’s account, Ken Sendelweck’s notes taken during executive sessions but turned over to city attorneys and not the Court, etc.—the strong November 2012 Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in HDC’s favor on all four counts becomes even more significant.   The following is the appellate court’s conclusion about Jasper’s behavior in the first trial in Perry County:

The Court of Appeal’s Conclusion, Nov. 19, 2012

“In sum, HDC has demonstrated that it was diligent in pursuing discovery, but was
thwarted for months by Jasper’s refusal to cooperate. Less than two weeks prior to trial,
HDC obtained information in the course of depositions that suggested possible Open
Door Law violations by the volunteer group. The trial court abused its discretion when it
denied HDC’s third motion to amend its complaint, filed only four months after its initial
complaint and while discovery was ongoing. Jasper cannot complain about either the
timing of the third amended complaint or the motion to continue trial because Jasper
refused to schedule depositions until the eleventh hour, less than two weeks prior to trial.
The trial court abused its discretion when it denied HDC’s motion to continue the trial.
We reverse and remand with instructions that the trial court: (1) grant HDC’s third
motion to amend its complaint; (2) grant HDC an additional thirty days to conduct new
discovery, including but not limited to depositions; (3) grant HDC’s second motion to
compel discovery; and (4) schedule a new trial to be held no less than thirty days after the
close of discovery.”

Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
NAJAM, Judge, KIRSCH, J., and MAY, J., concur.

Full text:  http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/11191201ewn.pdf

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/citys-volunteer-group-falls-under-scrutiny-healthy-dubois-county-appeal-granted/

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/new-judge-in-biomass-lawsuit/

 

March 24, 2014   City’s Ongoing Lack of Communication and Accountability, Failure to Answer Pediatrician’s Questions

On Monday, March 17, 2014, HDC board president, Dr. Norma Kreilein, addressed the Jasper Utility Service Board at their monthly meeting.  She spoke for about 15 minutes about HDC’s ongoing concerns about transforming the city’s power plant into a biomass incinerator.  The Herald‘s March 18, 2014, Facebook page, which notably has been removed after ten citizens expressed strong comments in support of her, stated:  ”She talked about how adding more dioxins and other toxins is detrimental to people’s health and how the state does not adequately monitor pollutants. She also questioned the USB’s stance of not having Twisted Oak help fund the board’s litigation costs well as what she sees as the city’s unfair treatment of her son and the data she has provided to the board.  Dr. Kreilein was interrupted by the city attorney after 15 minutes, so she was not able to finish her 14 pages comments.”

HDC awaits a response—from USB Chair Wayne Schuetter and Mayor Terry Seitz, who was in attendance—to the following concerns and questions, which were presented in a 14-page document to the entire USB and were asked to be included in the board’s official records:

1.  City officials’ laughter at Dr. Kreilein’s son Greg at an October 22, 2013, VUJC public health presentation by Dr. Kreilein when he in good faith suggested that the City consider converting the power plant site into a much-needed dog park.

2.  City’s alleged, inconsistent policy to screen public speakers’ content in advance in private.  This alleged new stipluation—undiscussed (in public), unannounced, and unvoted on—raises further concerns about marginalizing concerned citizens, censoring free speech, transparency in government, and adherence to Indiana’s Open Door Laws.

3.  Wayne Schuetter’s unsubstantiated claims on February 3, 2014, to Channel 7 Eyewitness News reporter Fadia Patterson alleging Dr. Kreilein is “exaggerating” health concerns.  Especially on matters as serious as public health, Mr. Schuetter is asked to be accountable to the public and publicly specify which claims he believes are exaggerated, and on whose medical authority he feels qualified to make such claims.  http://www.tristatehomepage.com/story/d/story/proposed-plant-in-jasper-raises-air-quality-questi/40367/FFWawQabu0iUY6pc45UDtg

4.  Mayor Terry Seitz’s refusal to seek greater understanding to protect public health by contacting Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette, and invite her to Jasper to speak to the USB, the city council, and the public.

5.  The city and their attorneys’ contradictory arguments that a lease is and is not an obligation.  Which is it?  In court, they argued that a lease is not an obligation.  In their own signed lease agreement, it clearly states that a lease is an obligation.

6.   The city’s failure to follow its own signed lease agreement by refusing to hold broker Jay Catasein of Twisted Oak accountable for the hundreds of thousands of dollars above the ratepayers’ protection clause ($200,000 cap, while the city admittedly has spent over $600,000), a stipulation which then Mayor Bill Schmitt stated in The Herald in August 4, 2011, was added to protect the ratepayers from the high cost of litigation.  Instead the city is using ratepayers’ funds to cover the costs.  The city refuses to reveal this breach of its lease to the public.  See Article XX: http://www.jasperindiana.gov/egov/documents/c987dc7f_799c_c147_99e5_b357c2c16392.pdf

7.   The city’s ongoing public silence about extremely hazardous dioxins that the biomass incinerator will emit, according to Jay Catasein’s own admission.  Mayor Seitz and city officials were specifically informed about this grave public health matter at the October 2013 VUJC presentation by Dr. Kreilein.  Mayor Seitz said that he attended to become better informed—yet he remains silent on this urgent matter.  Instead, he erroneously implied that the Sierra Club supports Jasper’s biomass project.

8.  The well-established public health effects of unregulated ultrafine particulate matter and unmonitored other toxins.  According to IDEM’s own website, Indiana severely lacks emissions’ monitors in two-thirds of the state.  Yet IDEM claims that Indiana’s air is “healthy.”  Amid this reality and Dr. Shrader-Frechette’s published reports (see below), citizens, especially expectant and new parents, deserve answers.   Indiana consistently ranks among the very lowest in the US (44th to 49th) in environmental protections and 47th in the nation in infant mortality (twice as bad as Cuba), and, according to Jasper’s own lawsuit against the maker of the herbicide atrazine, Indiana’s water supply ranked worst in the nation for contamination by atrazine, a chemical linked to several severe prenatal and infant health effects.  See number 9.

9.  The contamination of the city’s water supply from the use of atrazine on area fields, and the city’s hypocritical stance on this chemical.  While city attorney Bill Kaiser represented the city’s (plaintiff’s) claims against Syngenta (the maker of atrazine) that atrazine was contaminating the city water supply, and while he espoused links with atrazin and “birth defects, low birth weight, and premature births” in Jasper’s legal filings against Syngenta, Mr. Kaiser was also signing off on its biomass consultant’s (Shaddix) statement that atrazine is “promising” as a herbicide for the area’s proposed  8,000 to 10,000 acres of miscanthus crop required to provide 300 tons of grass/biomass fuel daily for the 20-to-30 year life of the lease.  Mr. Kaiser was quoted publicly saying that atrazine was a “safe herbicide” (The Herald, June 2012) yet he and the city signed onto the Syngenta class action lawsuit containing the following language:  ”Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to require Defendant herbicide manufacturers to bear the cost of removing their toxic product atrazine from the public’s drinking water.  Defendants designed, marketed, and sold atrazine knowing that it would contaminate public water supplies when used as intended.  And while Defendants earned billions of dollars in revenues from the sale of atrazine, they left Plaintiffs to pay the ever-growing bill for filtering the toxic product from the public’s drinking water.  Plaintiffs never consented to Defendants’ contamination of their water and never derived any benefit from either the sale or the use of Defendant’s atrazine . . .”

Mr. Kaiser and city officials who both voted to sue Syngenta and endorse Shaddix’s claims owe the citizens an explanation of this blatant ethical contradiction.

10.  City officials and attorneys’ obstruction of the judicial process by withholding material evidence during discovery phase of trial and contradictory statements in e-mails and on the stand.   Documents withheld from discovery released include notes taken in executive sessions by Ken Sendelweck and numerous e-mails by Wayne Schuetter on his wife’s e-mail account.

Most notable are USB member Rick Stradtner’s and city officials’ trial testimony in contrast to Mr. Stradtner’s multiple e-mails to HDC board members in April, May, and June of 2011  These e-mails reveal that public health (and other) concerns were discussed “at length” in executive session.   Public health concerns, of all subjects, are not a legal topic for officials to discuss behind closed doors.   See  Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws, Office of the Public Access Counselor, in later post below.  What follows here is a sampling of Mr. Stradtner’s e-mails, which stand in stark contrast to his and other city officials’—Ken Sendelweck, Bill Schmitt, Wayne Schuetter, Bud Hauersperger—testimony under oath.  Each of the following e-mails are from Mr. Stradtner, and they implicate the entire USB, Common Council, Attorneys Sandy Hemmerlein and Bill Kaiser, who were present at the meetings.  City attorneys were given copies of key Stradtner e-mails during the deposition phase (early Dec. 2011) before the trial (Dec. 19, 20, 2011); yet city officials’ including Mr. Stradtner’s testimony varied significantly from the substance of his e-mails.   City attorneys vehemently denied that any subjects were discussed in executive sessions except those listed in the statutorially-required memorandum for each closed-door meeting.  

See statute below illustrating the fourteen exceptions that allow for an executive session.  The law requires that matters pertaining to public health and well-being must be discussed in public with the media notified. 

 

March 24, 2014   Culture of Violations/Mistrust, Lack of Transparency, Contradictions:  

USB Member Rick Stradtner’s Ten E-mails from April, May, and June of 2011 Admitting Seven Times that Illegal Topics Were Freely Addressed in Executive Sessions

Full and exact e-mails from Mr. Stradtner are available upon request.

April 26, 2011, USB member Rick Stradtner to Dr. Kreilein:   “Norma: If you are okay with it, I will share the info that you have sent me with the board.   I think we need to look at the [Jay Catasein] timelines and approach the Mirant dealing with a very critical eye.  In addition, as I stated last evening, if you have time and wish to do so, please e-mail me some of the pertinent questions that you went over and I will bring them up in executive session.   In particular the statement made by the representative of the University of Illinois needs to be gone over.  I think it is important to get the various questions on record and have  a serious discussion relative to them.  Regardless of the outcome, we need to have everyone on the same page and be sure that we have our eyes ‘wide open’ concerning this project.”

April 27, 2011, Mr. Stradtner to Dr. Kreilein:  “Norma, you have given me some great information to go over and some important questions to ask at our next session which I believe is an executive session next week.  After reviewing the information, I will come up with a list of items to present.

June 8, 2011, Mr. Stradtner to Dr. Kreilein:  “In weighing all of the factors involved in this project, I believe we have to give a very significant weight to the advice given by those that are trained in the specific areas of the project.  This process should lead us to conclude that physicians and allied health professionals have a measure of training and analytical ability in the areas of health that should lend credibility to their advice . . . .  In addition to the health issue, we still have the very major concern of the new EPA guidelines.  We have to be very cautious that we do not put our existing business or our prospective new business in a position that permitting could be denied . . . .  I will continue to speak out, both in closed session and in the public arena, relative to our process, transparency, public perception, and health concerns.  In particular, I would like to cover this lack of concern relative to the thoughts of our medical community.  Additionally, I believe we have to have a very public discussion concerning the new [EPA] guidelines and our ability to expand and attract business.”

June 9, 2011, Mr. Stradtner to Dr. Kreilein:  “I still do not understand why we are not placing more credence on the wishes of our physician population.  I am hopeful that this can still be addressed in the public arena.

The switchgrass was a very interesting recent introduction.  I learned of this at our last closed session.  I spoke out that I felt this needed to be brought forward to the public.  In effect I stated that this appeared to be a ‘bait and switch.’  My concern of course was if we are changing or adding to our fuel sources (previously only miscanthus) then what else could be changed.  In addition I asked about the properties of switchgrass.  I was told [in closed session?] that they were the same.  I did my own research and found that this is not an entirely correct statement . . . .

June 21, 2011, to Mr. Stradtner to Rev. Dr.  Chris Breedlove:  “I will continue to push for a more favorable time frame . . . in the 90 day time frame . . .  I am very comfortable in exchanging ideas with the concerned citizens of Jasper.  I believe that is my obligation as a board member is to represent all citizens.  It is impossible to do so unless we set up an honest and open communication . . . .  Relative to the clean air ordinance . . . , I will bring this up and see what kind of response I get.”

June 21, 2011, Mr. Stradtner to Pastor Breedlove:  “I will continue to push [in Executive Session?] for a very interactive format for the meeting [public forum/hearing]. . . .  I am very serious about the opportunity for concerned citizens to have an ample time frame to review the lease document and the Dr. Shaddix report.  Also I personally believe that we should have as many community forums as necessary to air all of the concerns . . . .  I will continue to speak out about the importance of this.”

June 29, 2011, to Mr. Stradtner Pastor Breedlove:  “I will continue to try and push this off.  I expressed numerous concerns at the closed session instead of the public meeting.  I received significant resistance.  By the time I reached the open meeting, I was pretty ‘beat up.’  So I decided to make only the simple motion to get everyone on record.  Due to the lack of the second, I think that displays everyone’s intentions. . . .”

Relative to the mayoral candidates, I brought this up at the closed session.  I stated that all three mayoral candidates are against this project.  I then asked the question that ‘shouldn’t we engage their input in this process.’  I did not receive an answer.  Not to involve them, considering one of them will inherit this project, is ludicrous.  It does not appear that their input makes a difference.”

We have a breakdown in that [democratic] process locally . . . .  We can only hope that with our new administration that the public will indeed be heard in a respectful fashion.”

June 30, 2011, Mr. Stradtner to Pastor Breedlove:  “I am apologetic to you and all concerned citizens for a process that has ‘derailed.’  I am trying both behind the scenes and in public to reason with all of the stakeholders at the city level . . . .  I have so many concerns about this project that are in addition to the emission considerations, that I cannot understand any justification for any approach other than a suitable delay before a decision is made . . . .”

June 30, 2011, Stradtner to Pastor Breedlove:  “I have never been more concerned than I am now . . . .  Issues of a divided polarized community, mistrust, etc. could hamper our efforts for a very long time to achieve progress in our community.  Progress that we could gain through the excitement and engagement of our citizens along with openness and transparency from our elected and appointed officials . . . .  What a terrible position we are placing upon our new administration.”

May 2, 2011, Stradtner to Dr. Kreilein:  Norma:  I have been in a meeting all day dealing with the biomass issue.  I will look over this information this evening.  The executive session was today.  Although, I can’t get into specifics, a number of us including myself and Alex, discussed at length the issues that you, Pastor Breedlove, and others have brought up

From Dr. Kreilein’s full report to the USB, March 17, 2014:

“Why did Rick Stradtner’s private and e-mail conversations with me as well as numerous public statements and votes differ so greatly from his court testimony?  Why should a citizen trust what is said in private or even what is said publicly when there is reprimand for watchdogs, a blind eye to inconsistency, and obvious endorsement of distortion?   Mr. Stradtner was either being dishonest with me personally, misrepresenting what was being discussed in executive sessions, or he was committing perjury and breaking the ODL if medical concerns were being discussed freely during executive sessions as he states.  Either way, it was wrong, and the public has reason to lose faith in the city’s integrity and its gross waste of citizens’ and ratepayers’ money (ratepayers’ $600,000+ and HDC citizens’ $200,000+) to defend and/or justify such reprehensible behavior.”

 

March 24, 2014   Trial Testimony, December, 2011, Note Contradictions regarding Subjects Discussed in Executive Sessions

Mr. Stradtner’s testimony is found in the middle of this transcript.  Other city officials’ denials of core substance of the Stradtner e-mails are found throughout the transcript.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=b2e865141a&view=att&th=144d70b4b9b429ae&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=56d9440e8f7c379_0.1&safe=1&zw

March 24, 2014   Indiana’s Open Door Law Is Clear  

“All doubts under the ODL must be resolved in favor of requiring a public meeting, and all exceptions to the rule requiring open meetings must be interpreted narrowly.”

—page 8, Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws, Office of the Public Access Counselor

At the core of HDC’s complaint in court was that city officials did not discuss in a public meeting with the media present  the specific and long list of medical and environmental concerns—especially the 44+ local medical doctors’ concerns, including those specifically expressed at public city meetings by local medical doctors Christopher Scipione, Steven Hopf, Ryan Scherer, Kelly Fehrenbacher, J. R. Hoffman, Norma Kreilein, and Massachusetts pediatrician Dr. Bill Sammons.   Also not discussed in public were the warnings from American Lung Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and numerous other credible sources given to USB and city council members.  The city’s silent dismissal of multiple, serious health and environmental concerns were glaring.  As Stephen Key, Executive Director of the Hoosier State Press Association and state media attorney who helped write the current IODL, stated at an educational meeting at the Ferdinand Library (fall of 2011), when a city government has multiple executive sessions, and then at the subsequent public meetings little to no public discussion occurs, and its public votes are consistently unanimous, that pattern often indicates a red flag that topics discussed in executive session have strayed from those listed in the memorandum—and one has cause for concern that Indiana’s Open Door Law law has been violated.  This pattern fits Jasper officials’ behavior exactly, and the Stradtner e-mails confirm Mr. Key’s observation.
.
Here are the key passages pertaining to the narrow fourteen subjects that can be discussed in executive sessions—from the Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws.
.
All other subjects—including health concerns—must be discussed in public with the media present.
.
from page 8 of attached legal handbook
.
What if the need for a public meeting is
uncertain?
.
All doubts under the ODL must be resolved in 
favor of requiring a public meeting, and all 
exceptions to the rule requiring open meetings 
must be interpreted narrowly.  [Emphasis added.]
.
What is significant about executive sessions?
.
Executive sessions are significant because the 
ODL permits governing bodies to meet privately 
under certain circumstances. [Emphasis added.] “Executive
session” is defined in I.C. § 5-14-1.5-2(f) and
means a meeting from which the public is
excluded, except that the governing body may
admit those persons necessary to carry out its
purpose. The ODL sets out the specific matters
about which a public agency can hold an
executive session. These include instances like
government strategy discussions with respect to
collective bargaining and litigation, interviews
of prospective employees, job performance
evaluations, and the purchase or lease of
property by the public agency. For a complete
listing, see Section Two of this guide.
.
From Section Two, page 16-17, of linked legal handbook
.
IC 5-14-1.5-6.1 EXECUTIVE SESSIONS
.
Sec. 6.1. (a) As used in this section, “public
official” means a person:
 (1) who is a member of a governing body
of a public agency; or
 (2) whose tenure and compensation are
fixed by law and who executes an oath.
.
(b) Executive sessions may be held only in the 
following instances:  [Emphasis added.]
.
(1) Where authorized by federal or state
statute.
.
(2) For discussion of strategy with respect
to any of the following:
 (A) Collective bargaining.
 (B) Initiation of litigation or litigation
that is either pending or has been threatened
specifically in writing.
 (C) The implementation of security
systems.
 (D) The purchase or lease of real
property by the governing body up to the time a
contract or option to purchase or lease is
executed by the parties.
 However, all such strategy discussions
must be necessary for competitive or bargaining
reasons and may not include competitive or
bargaining adversaries.
.
(3) For discussion of the assessment,
design, and implementation of school safety and
security measures, plans, and systems.
.
(4) Interviews and negotiations with
industrial or commercial prospects or agents of
industrial or commercial prospects by the
Indiana economic development corporation, the
office of tourism development, the Indiana
finance authority, the ports of Indiana, an
economic development commission, the Indiana
state department of agriculture, a local economic
development organization (as defined in IC 5-
28-11-2(3)), or a governing body of a political
subdivision.
.
(5) To receive information about and
interview prospective employees.
.
(6) With respect to any individual over
whom the governing body has jurisdiction:
 (A) to receive information concerning
the individual’s alleged misconduct; and
 (B) to discuss, before a determination,
the individual’s status as an employee, a student,
or an independent contractor who is:
 (i) a physician; or
 (ii) a school bus driver.
.
(7) For discussion of records classified as
confidential by state or federal statute.
.
(8) To discuss before a placement decision
an individual student’s abilities, past
performance, behavior, and needs.
.
(9) To discuss a job performance evaluation
of individual employees. This subdivision does
not apply to a discussion of the salary,
compensation, or benefits of employees during a
budget process.
.
(10) When considering the appointment of
a public official, to do the following:
 (A) Develop a list of prospective
appointees.
 (B) Consider applications.
 (C) Make one (1) initial exclusion of
prospective appointees from further
consideration
.
 Notwithstanding IC 5-14-3-4(b)(12), a
governing body may release and shall make
available for inspection and copying in
accordance with IC 5-14-3-3 identifying
information concerning prospective appointees
not initially excluded from further consideration.
An initial exclusion of prospective appointees
from further consideration may not reduce the
number of prospective appointees to fewer than
three (3) unless there are fewer than three (3)
prospective appointees. Interviews of
prospective appointees must be conducted at a
meeting that is open to the public.
.
(11) To train school board members with an
outside consultant about the performance of the
role of the members as public officials.
.
(12) To prepare or score examinations used
in issuing licenses, certificates, permits, or
registrations under IC 25.
.
(13) To discuss information and
intelligence intended to prevent, mitigate, or
respond to the threat of terrorism.
.
(14) To train members of a board of
aviation commissioners appointed under IC 8-
22-2 or members of an airport authority board
appointed under IC 8-22-3 with an outside
consultant about the performance of the role of
the members as public officials. A board may
hold not more than one (1) executive session per
calendar year under this subdivision.
 (c) A final action must be taken at a meeting
open to the public.
 (d) Public notice of executive sessions must
state the subject matter by specific reference to
the enumerated instance or instances for which
executive sessions may be held under subsection
 (b). The requirements stated in section 4 of this
chapter for memoranda and minutes being made
available to the public is modified as to
executive sessions in that the memoranda and
minutes must identify the subject matter
considered by specific reference to the
enumerated instance or instances for which
public notice was given. The governing body
shall certify by a statement in the memoranda
and minutes of the governing body that no
subject matter was discussed in the executive
session other than the subject matter specified in
the public notice.
 (e) A governing body may not conduct an
executive session during a meeting, except as
otherwise permitted by applicable statute. A
meeting may not be recessed and reconvened
with the intent of circumventing this subsection.
.
(As added by P.L.1-1991, SEC.37 and P.L.10-
1991, SEC.8. Amended by P.L.48-1991, SEC.1;
P.L.37-2000, SEC.1; P.L.200-2003, SEC.2;
P.L.4-2005, SEC.28; P.L.229-2005, SEC.2;
P.L.235-2005, SEC.84; P.L.101-2006, SEC.3;
P.L.179-2007, SEC.5; P.L.2-2008, SEC.20;
P.L.98-2008, SEC.3; P.L.120-2008, SEC.1.;
Amended Sec.1, SEA 60 (2011)).

 

March 24, 2014  Credibility of Sources, Acclaimed University of Notre Dame Professor Involvement

Dr. Shrader-Frechette has served two terms on the EPA scientific advisory board, and her name is referenced over 500 times on the EPA website http://www.epa.gov/.  In contrast, Jasper’s lone consultant, combustion physicist Christopher Shaddix is referenced zero times on the EPA website.  His publications appear in industry trade journals not peer-reviewed, biological, and health-related journals.  He also has a conflict of interest:  he works for Sandia Laboratories, which partners with Monsanto and Mendel, who would profit from the sale of the miscanthus plants, the biomass incinerator’s proposed fuel source.   For specific connections, see http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/report-from-energy-consultant-due-for-public-soon-city-releases-preliminary-findings/.

Most notably, Shaddix has no medical or biology degree and no qualifications whatsoever to speak about how emissions affect human tissue, yet he claims in his final published analysis that Twisted Oak’s proposed pollution control equipment “should adequately protect the citizens of Jasper.”

Amid concerned citizens and doctors request for medical authorities to weigh in, city officials relied on one lone, hand-picked, paid consultant with no medical background and with a conflict of interest, while they ignored the professional opinion of 44+ local medical doctors, 20+ local nurses and other healthcare professionals (see earlier post below), the American Lung Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and a Notre Dame scholar in biology and ethics.   Also noteworthy is that Dr. Shrader-Frechette has conducted her review of Jasper’s proposed biomass incinerator pro-bono (free of charge), and she has no conflict of interest.

Author Biography

K. S. Shrader-Frechette, Ph.D., specializes in human-health risk assessment and has advised industries and governments all over the world. Author of 16 books and about 400 technical articles, she is a past president of the Risk Assessment and Policy Association. Her work has been translated into 13 languages, and she has served on many US National Academy of Sciences Boards and Panels.  The U.S. National Science Foundation has funded her research for three decades. Besides her biology and philosophy training, she has done a post-doc in economics.  Among many other awards, Catholic Digest recently named her one of 13 “Heroes for the U.S. and the World” for the pro-bono scientific work that she and her Notre Dame students do, to help protect poor and minority communities from disproportionate pollution.  Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette’s website is www.nd.edu/~kshrader

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/ksf-biosketch-july-1-2012x.pdf

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/cejch.html

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/flyer.pdf

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/pubs/

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/grants/

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/interest/

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/policy/

http://www.nd.edu/~kshrader/lectures/

“Kristin Shrader-Frechette has been selected by Catholic Digest as one of 12 Catholic heroes—laypeople living and/or working in the United States who are performing exemplary work in the spirit of the Catholic faith.”

Catholic Digest article:

http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/people/q_and_a/2007/10-01/qa-kristin-shrader-frechette-professor-and-scientist-working-for-environmental-justice-notre-dame-indiana

U.S. Catholic interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=filPP04UObo

 

March 24, 2014   Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette’s Three Published Articles

Jasper officials and their attorneys, with no expertise in the field of health and human biology, have summarily dismissed the following three peer-reviewed health-related articles and refuse to contact the author:

July 2013,  Biological Theory

This article published in Biological Theory was the third published, peer-reviewed article revealing deadly health effects that Jasper’s biomass incinerator, based upon the most current data, will cause.  Conservatively, she predicts annually “40 deaths, 30 hospital admissions, 35 emergency-room visits, 75 heart attacks, 20 bronchitis cases, 730 asthma attacks, and 4,193 lost-work days” as a result of the unregulated ultrafine particulates alone.  This doesn’t factor in the effects of other known carcinogens such as dioxins that this incinerator will emit.

“Biomass and Effects of Airborne Ultrafine Particulates:  Lessons About State Variables in Ecology”

Scientific Publication: Biological Theory
by Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette, PhD

Received: 1 February 2013 / Accepted: 24 February 2013
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2013

excerpt:

“What are health effects of a small biomass plant, like that proposed for the small town of Jasper, Indiana, by Twisted Oak Corporation (TOC)? The plant would release 25 tons/year of no-safedose PMUF (TOC 2010; Shaddix 2011), given that each ton of Miscanthus-giganteus-biomass input provides 16,441,827 Btu (Wang et al. 2012), and TOC says it would use 100,000 tons/year Miscanthus and release 0.03 pounds UFPM/million Btu (TOC 2010; Shaddix 2011). If these 25 tons/year, Jasper-biomass-plant PMUF were PMF—which are much less hazardous than PMUF, as revealed earlier—government data show they would cause these additional, premature, avoidable harms/year (Schneider 2000; Schneider 2004): 1.6 deaths, 1.2 hospital admissions, 1.4 emergency-room visits, 2 heart attacks, 0.8 bronchitis cases, 29.2 asthma attacks, and 167.7 lost work days. Using the previous multiplier (25) to predict least-harmful PMUF effects, as a function of PMF, 25 tons of currently-unregulated PMUF from the small Jasper plant would cause roughly the following additional, premature, avoidable harms/year: 40 deaths, 30 hospital admissions, 35 emergency-room visits, 75 heart attacks, 20 bronchitis cases, 730 asthma attacks, and 4,193 lost-work days.

“If preceding arguments are correct, it makes sense to assess/regulate PMUF by using an approximate, bounded (e.g., low-harm estimate), mass-based-state-variable factor of at least 25, as a surrogate for the surface-area state variable—until science develops further. Using mass-based approximate state variables provides scientifically better measures than using no factor, and it allows closing the PMUF-scientific/regulatory loophole. Obviously this approach makes sense, given the life-and-death consequences of saving at least 40 lives/year for each of thousands of global biomass plants. The good is not the enemy of the perfect. Good, approximate, state-variable measures are better than no measures.”

http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/277/art%253A10.1007%252Fs13752-013-0094-2.pdf?auth66=1396639848_2e404fd89a28b2e61e3eeb62bed63ce1&ext=.pdf

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13752-013-0094-2

June 2013, Environmental Justice

The June 2013 edition of Environmental Justice—a peer-reviewed, scientific journal—contains the second article published by Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette, who has investigated scientifically and ethically the Twisted Oak Corporation biomass incinerator approved by Jasper city officials. Her full-text report contains 53 references.

Title: “Renewable Technologies and Environmental Injustice: Subsidizing Bioenergy, Promoting Inequity”

Abstract: “Dozens of developed countries massively subsidize biomass-crop growing/incineration, touting it as clean, renewable, and helping to alleviate climate change. Using a [Jasper, IN] case study of a contemporary, state-of-the-art facility to incinerate Miscanthus-giganteus biomass, this article shows that bioenergy projects are (1) not clean, given overwhelming particulate and nitrogen-oxide releases; (2) disproportionately sited in environmental injustice situations, near communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities who are harmed both medically and economically; (3) likely to impose ecological and environmental burdens on environmental injustice communities because of possible biomass-crop invasiveness; and (4) misrepresented by biomass promoters who take advantage of lucrative, taxpayer-funded federal and state biomass subsidies.”

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/env.2013.0002

http://online.liebertpub.com/toc/env/6/3 See second article listed.
http://www.liebertpub.com/overview/environmental-justice/259/

 

March 27, 2013,  Global Health Perspectives

The international, peer-reviewed health journal Global Health Perspectives published the first of three articles addressing Jasper’s proposed incinerator in a residential neighborhood.

Notre Dame Professor Exposes Flagrantly Flawed Science in Jasper Biomass Proposal While at Home City Officials Blame Concerned Citizens for Blowing Whistle  

  • Biomass ultrafine particulates are unregulated and exponentially (65 times) more dangerous than coal plant particulates.
  • Twisted Oak and biomass industry evade full disclosure and accountability.
  • Article exposes “Special Interest Science” while at home the city sues atrazine company for city water supply contamination while their “independent consultant” Christopher Shaddix (with biomass industry and Monsanto ties) assure “adequacy” of Twisted Oak’s emissions controls and calls atrazine “promising”
  • Article also highlights world biomass burning harms, common biomass industry ethical misconduct, and specific analysis of Jasper, Indiana, biomass conversion proposal
  • Water/drought issues unacceptable

https://www.maralte.com/journals/global-health-perspectives/issues/volume-1-issue-1/8

 

PAST POSTS

 

December 10-12, 2012   Health, Environmental, Economic Impact Studies

“Twisted Oak’s proposal is scientifically and ethically indefensible.”   —Dr. Shrader-Frechette

Having never met University of Notre Dame scholar Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Jasper pediatrician Dr. Norma Kreilein asked via e-mail if Dr. Shrader-Frechette might have the time, amid her extensive global environmental and health advocacy, to thoroughly review Twisted Oak’s publicly released scientific documents.  Ten months later, HDC received three separate in-depth studies, conducted pro bono, specifically addressing Twisted Oak’s biomass proposal for Jasper.

Dr. Shrader-Frechette is O’Neill Family Endowed Professor, Department of Philosophy and Department of Biological Sciences, and director for the Center for Environmental Justice and Children’s Health, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN     www.nd.edu/~kshrader

December 10-12, 2012   Three Abstracts from Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette, University of Notre Dame, Which Led to the Three Published Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals

The full text of these three reports were published in the national and international peer-reviewed scientific journals referenced above.

1.  ”Making a Profit by Harming People, Especially Children:  Indefensible Medical and Economic Science in the 2010 Proposal of Twisted Oak Corporation for a Jasper, Indiana, Miscanthus-Giganteus-Burning Biomass Facility”

2.  ”Water-Related Health and Environmental Problems from Using Miscanthus in the Proposed Jasper, Indiana, Biomass Plant”

3.  ”Unacceptable Agricultural, Health, and Ecological Risks from Burning Miscanthus in the Proposed Jasper, Indiana, Biomass Facility

http://healthyduboiscounty.org/dr-kristin-shrader-frechettes-research-dec-2012/

http://www.facebook.com/notes/healthy-dubois-county/jaspertwisted-oak-dr-shrader-frechette-abstracts/512634552092857

November 19, 2012   Court of Appeals Decision

HDC won on all four counts.  The Court of Appeals repeatedly criticized Jasper for delays and stated that HDC was “thwarted by months by Jasper’s refusal to cooperate.”  (page 17)

One example of COA text:  ”But, here, the four-and-a-half-month time period from the date the complaint was filed to the date of trial was unreasonable given Jasper’s deliberate failure to agree to depositions until December, and then only after court intervention.”  (7)

(7) “Our research has not revealed any cases involving the Open Door Law where the time between the filing of the complaint and trial was so abbreviated.”  (page 16)

 

The Court of Appeal’s Conclusion (page 17)

“In sum, HDC has demonstrated that it was diligent in pursuing discovery, but was
thwarted for months by Jasper’s refusal to cooperate. Less than two weeks prior to trial,
HDC obtained information in the course of depositions that suggested possible Open
Door Law violations by the volunteer group. The trial court abused its discretion when it
denied HDC’s third motion to amend its complaint, filed only four months after its initial
complaint and while discovery was ongoing. Jasper cannot complain about either the
timing of the third amended complaint or the motion to continue trial because Jasper
refused to schedule depositions until the eleventh hour, less than two weeks prior to trial.
The trial court abused its discretion when it denied HDC’s motion to continue the trial.
We reverse and remand with instructions that the trial court: (1) grant HDC’s third
motion to amend its complaint; (2) grant HDC an additional thirty days to conduct new
discovery, including but not limited to depositions; (3) grant HDC’s second motion to
compel discovery; and (4) schedule a new trial to be held no less than thirty days after the
close of discovery.”

Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
NAJAM, Judge, KIRSCH, J., and MAY, J., concur.

http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/11191201ewn.pdf

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/citys-volunteer-group-falls-under-scrutiny-healthy-dubois-county-appeal-granted/

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/new-judge-in-biomass-lawsuit/

Please consider making a donation to help defray costs of litigation and educating the public.  See address above.  Thank you.

 

July 17, 2013  Press Release

Healthy Dubois County, Inc., Awarded for Public Advocacy

Wins Significant Grant from Indiana Utility Rate Payers Trust

Healthy Dubois County, Inc., (HDC) a not-for-profit public benefit organization advocating for the health and well-being of the area residents, has recently been notified that it has received a significant grant from the Indiana Utility Rate Payers Trust (IURPT). On behalf of concerned citizens and Jasper ratepayers, HDC will apply the award to expenses incurred in ongoing litigation alleging violations of Indiana’s Open Door Law against the City of Jasper Utility Service Board and Common Council.

In its application, HDC—supported by its strong, successful November 2012 ruling from the Indiana Court of Appeals—contended that the local ratepayers have a right to transparency in government and a right to full disclosure specifically with regard to substantiated, long-term public health consequences from the 20 to 30-year incineration of biomass near a residential neighborhood, at 1163 E. 15th Street in Jasper. In August of 2011, the City voted to enter into a lease agreement with Twisted Oak Corporation of Atlanta to burn 300 tons of miscanthus grass daily. According to independent, peer-reviewed scientific reports, Jasper ratepayers’ projected annual medical and funeral expenses directly attributable to this incinerator will exponentially exceed any perceived profits to the ratepayers.

HDC’s advocacy to protect the ratepayers—both physically and financially—from the high cost of breathing toxic air from biomass incineration provided the basis for the grant application and the subsequent award. The well-documented, severe health hazards of breathing ultrafine particulate emissions pose the greatest harm to the children and the elderly who live in the vicinity of the proposed incinerator. Ultrafine particulates, invisible to the eye, are known to pass the protective blood-brain barrier, which therefore greatly increases risk. Cancers and various forms of cardio-pulmonary-vascular diseases are the byproducts of biomass incinerators.

World-renowned, award-winning Notre Dame scholar Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette’s second of three recent peer-reviewed, published articles about Jasper’s biomass incinerator predicts conservatively 40 deaths annually (compared to two from coal), 75 heart attacks annually, 730 asthma attacks annually, and more than 4,000 lost work days annually for area residents. Her first article revealed that ultrafine particulates—unregulated by IDEM—are 65 times more toxic than equivalent mass coal particulates. In her first abstract released in December of 2012, she states that the particulates released would “cause undeserved family tragedies and cause annual losses of $110 and $220 million” for the ratepayers.

Accordingly, the Massachusetts Medical Society, consisting of 22,000 doctors and publisher of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, categorically opposes this so-called renewable energy, stating that “biomass combustion poses an unacceptable risk to public health.”

The IURPT website is http://www.in.gov/oucc/2385.htm. The Trust was established to provide funds to assist individuals and organizations wanting to participate in matters affecting utility regulation in Indiana. A five-member Executive Committee of the Trust, after reviewing applications from those seeking assistance, makes the funding decisions. The Trust was established in 1997 for the following purpose:

“Providing funding to cover reasonable costs, expenses and efforts that may be incurred either by the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor for the State of Indiana, or by a group, entity or individual who desires to participate on behalf of ratepayer(s) in a rulemaking, an adjudication, or appeal or any other type of proceeding affecting the regulation (including rates charged and services rendered) of an Indiana utility or its affiliates, including, but not limited to proceedings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or their successors, but either lacks the wherewithal to participate or cannot cost effectively participate under the then existing circumstances.”

HDC appreciates this support from the Executive Committee of the IURPT and the ongoing generous contributions of local and regional citizens. Concerned citizens may send additional donations to Healthy Dubois County, Inc., P. O. Box 222, Jasper, IN 47547.

 

January 20, 2013   Atrazine:  Further Government Transparency and Health Concerns 

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/atrazine-settlement-two-sided/

June 1, 2012   Indianapolis Doctor Says Atrazine Settlement Doesn’t Solve Birth-defect Problem

http://blogs.indystar.com/starwatch/2012/06/01/indianapolis-doctor-says-atrazine-settlement-doesnt-solve-birth-defect-problem/

 

July 24, 2012   Backroom Deals, Biomass, Pollute Jasper:  Citizen, Physician Concerns Ignored by Public-private Conspiracy

http://www.bloomingtonalternative.com/articles/2012/07/24/10982

June 24, 2011   Mayor Seitz’s Position Paper on Biomass

Terry Seitz: “I am officially opposed to an agreement between the City of Jasper and Twisted Oak LLC. My decision is based on these key factors: Economic Development, the Business Plan, the Marketplace, and Community Well-being . . . .  [A]s Jasper is home to a regional medical center, it would be foolhardy to ignore the public stand of many qualified members of our medical community who have chosen to make Jasper home to their practices. [emphasis added]  Recently, in team training for Jasper’s upcoming participation in the Indiana Home Town Competitiveness program, we learned that the top attachment of an individual to a community was the openness of it. I am convinced that approval of this agreement has the potential to further polarize our community and seal it off more than bring opportunity.”  See full text:  http://www.terryseitz.com/files/power-plant.pdf

By October 2011 during the campaign and since taking office in January 2012, Mr. Seitz has by every indication reversed his position.  Concerned citizens who campaigned for him remain hopeful that this eloquent essay from a new leader was real and that Mr. Seitz will yet find the courage and creativity—regarding this dire issue—to become a strong advocate for progress, vision, and change—prevailing themes of his campaign.

 

August 14, 2012   Indiana’s Record under the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), 2007 

City officials continually state to the public that as long as the power plant emissions stay within IDEM’s regulations, citizens should have no concerns.  What the city officials never share is that under IDEM’s watch, Indiana consistently ranks between 45th  and 49th worst in the United States for air quality, water quality, etc.—with southwestern Indiana typically being most troublesome.  Jasper and area doctors also report high rates of cancer, asthma, cardio-pulmonary disease, heart disease, autism, etc.—conditions that are all scientifically linked to air pollution.

http://indiana.sierraclub.org/chapter/n0021.html

http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/16/environment-energy-vermont-biz-beltway-cx_bw_mm_1017greenstates.html

http://www.nrdc.org/media/2012/120809.asp

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2012/aug/14/blair-tri-state-region-a-leading-air-polluter/?print=1

Local citizens whose health and lives will be severely affected by this plant deserve transparency, honesty, and high standards from their leaders.  Citizens cannot count on IDEM to protect them.  Education matters.  Programs and policies that protect citizens’ health must be the priority.

October 2011   Top Ten Reasons to Repeal the Biomass Decision

The following ad was published by HDC in The Herald.

 

TOP TEN REASONS TO REPEAL THE BIOMASS DECISION

It’s not too late to learn and correct course.

10. “Do unto those downstream [downwind] as you would have those upstream [upwind] do unto you.”                                                                     —Wendell Berry

9. Government inadequately informs and protects the public. The Ohio Valley already produces far more electricity (approx. 15,000 MW) than it consumes (approx. 4,500 MW) (Valley Watch/John Blair). Despite IDEM and EPA, our region is among the most polluted in the nation. After extensive research, William Sammons, MD, on August 12, 2011, reported that the baghouse and other technologies do not remove nearly enough particulates to make this plant safe for its location.

http://www.dcfreep.com/a-letter-from-dr-william-sammons-regarding-the-biomass-power-plant/

8. Dubois County ranked nationwide as the 36th worst (of 3,141) for yearly particulates in 2008. It has been in non-attainment for particulates—the EPA’s version of an F grade—for years. Would we tolerate more criminals if we ranked that poorly on crime?

http://www.city-data.com/

7. The Twisted Oak power plant would add to our national debt. Available federal subsidies/incentives divided by an estimated 16 new jobs would cost taxpayers nearly $2,500,000 per job. If divided by the total 30 jobs at the plant, the taxpayer cost would still be $1,300,000 per job. The Gainesville, FL, Tea Party is leading the opposition to a local biomass power plant for both health and financial reasons.

ARRA, 2009 Stimulus Act, 30% tax-free rebate of Twisted Oak’s proposed capital investment www.dsireusa.gov Federal Register, Vol 74, No 11, Thursday, June 11, 2009, p. 27768, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Final Rule, October 21, 2010 (up to $45 per ton of biomass fuel)

www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=ener&topic=bcap

http://gainesvilleteaparty.org/hot-topics/biomass-a-health-hazard/

http://gainesvilleteaparty.org/hot-topics/biomass-a-bad-contract/

6. Politicians have made this decision despite widespread opposition from citizens, local health care professionals, and from national position statements from the American Lung Association, American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which are based upon thousands of studies worldwide that show particulates and other pollutants are toxic and directly increase asthma, cancer, heart disease and premature births www.healthyduboiscounty.org. Recent analysis also suggests increased special education rates in southern Indiana.

http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/indianas-toxic-air-affecting-%20children/Content?oid=2321074

5. The power plant’s location does not respect the sanctity of life and pro-life values. The unborn, pregnant, elderly, and ill are most vulnerable and deserve more protection than they have received in this process.

http://06vars.tripod.com/id1.html

www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=10803

4. Biomass is not carbon neutral. The European Environmental Agency Scientific committee’s September 15, 2011, report calls biomass carbon neutrality “a serious accounting error.” In plain English or correct math, saying biomass combustion is carbon neutral won’t improve our air quality.

http://www.eea.europa.eu/about-us/governance/scientific-committee/sc-opinions/opinions-on-scientific-issues/sc-opinion-on-greenhouse-gas

3. Truck traffic to and from the power plant will tear up our roads and increase pollution. Street Commissioner Raymie Eckerle, in a Jasper council meeting, stated one semi-truck equals 2,000 cars for road damage. Twisted Oak’s 18-20 truck deliveries per day for fuel alone would be equivalent to the wear and tear of 36,000-40,000 additional cars on our roads. Reference in minutes of July 18, 2007, Jasper Common Council meeting.

2. Miscanthus is very expensive to grow, and today’s crop subsidies may evaporate tomorrow. Farmers must wait several years to harvest before they might profit. Despite his assurances in June that the western corn rootworm was “not a significant risk,” University of Illinois expert Dr. Michael Gray now reports that resistant corn rootworms are causing “significant damage” to fields of genetically modified Bt corn in both Iowa and Illinois. The rule of nature is that pests develop resistance.

http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=1555

1. Our kids are exposed to enough pollution already. In “The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America’s Schools,” investigators from USA Today, Johns Hopkins, UMass, and the University of Maryland extensively analyzed toxic industrial exposure to over 128,000 American schools.  Two area schools scored worse than 95% of our nation’s schools. No school in Jasper’s city limits surpassed the 19th percentile, meaning 80% of schools did better. Although these investigators consider distance from smokestacks important, Jasper politicians voted money first.

http://content.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/smokestack/index

Respectfully contact our current and future leaders, and ask that they repeal the biomass resolution.

Healthy Dubois County, Inc., is a public benefit not-for-profit corporation whose purpose is to advocate for clean air and a healthy environment for Dubois County. Visit www.healthyduboiscounty.org to directly access any of the above links. Donations (not tax deductible) may be sent to Healthy Dubois County, Inc., P.O. Box 222, Jasper, IN 47547.

end of ad

May / June, 2011   Local Medical Doctors’ Petition

The following petition was published eight times in May and June of 2011 in The Herald and The Ferdinand News.  Amid this unprecedented medical opposition in a city as small as Jasper, on August 5, 2011, the City Council voted 7-0 to sign the lease with Twisted Oak; the Utility Service Board vote was 6-1 in favor.

Growing Body of Local Healthcare Professionals Oppose Biomass Power Plant

We, as concerned healthcare professionals, are opposed to Twisted Oak’s biomass power plant, and any further negotiations with Jay Catasein.

 

Norma Kreilein, MD, FAAP

Jill Smith, MD, FAAP

Michael Ruff, MD, FAAP

Douglas Bies, MD, FAAP

Yvonne Rominger, RN, MSN, CFNP

Bernard P. Kemker, Sr., MD, FACS

J. P. Salb, MD

Thomas Gootee, MD

Francis Gootee, MD

Kelly Fehrenbacher, MD

Michael Wohlberg, MD

Steven O’Connor, MD

Bryan Lilly, DO

Jason Vaughn, MD

Linda Hanekamp, DO

Monte Sellers, DO

Christopher Scipione, MD

Steven Dewitt, MD

Lisa Lindborg, MD

Daniel Eby, DO

Joseph Munning, MD

C. Steven Smith, MS MD

Toby Harmon, DC

Sheila Harmon, DC

Donald Vennekotter, MD, FACS

Nick Werne, MD

Kristen Werne, MD

Scott Beckman, MD, FACOG

Steven Hopf, MD, FACOG

Robert Ehrhard, MD, DDS

Judith Englert, MD

J. R. Hoffman, MD

Mark Luff, MD

Dean Beckman, MD

Matt Monesmith, DDS

Kenneth Troutman, DDS

Kevin Lusk, MD

Gary Riddle, MD

Gwenda Breckler, MD

Evan Hurst, MD

Scott Wilhelmus, MD

Ryan Sherer, MD

Thomas Holsworth, Ph.D. HSPP

Theresa Upton, RN

Linda Russell, RN

Scotty Munning RN

Lucy Weaver, RN

Alice Schitter, RN, NCTM

Marilyn Shelton, LPN

Renee Rottet, MSW

Dana Meyer Hopf, OTR

Kris Lasher, CMT

Kathleen Helming, RN, BSN

Betty Bobu, RN

Carrie C. D’Esposito, RN

Vicky Beckman, RN

Cheryl Hopster, RN

Mark Hopster, LPN

Stephanie Armstrong, RN

Stacy Fischer, RD

Ann Rasche, RN

Michael Hicks, CMT

Nancy Blessinger, RT

Ramona Johnson, School Psychologist

Mike Snell, RN

Erica Snell, RN

Other physicians, healthcare providers, and citizens are invited to be more involved concerning the biomass issue.  Visit www.healthyduboiscounty.org for more information, or e-mail healthydubois@gmail.com.  New yard signs supporting clean air are available upon request.  Call 639-2903.  Contact Jasper city leaders about this important issue, and attend the Utility Service Board meeting (Monday, June 20, 2011, 7:00 PM) and Common Council meeting (Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 7:00 PM) at Jasper City Hall.  Your respectful voice for the health of our community is needed.  Many thanks to Protect Our Woods and concerned citizens for help with the funding of this ad.

Contact Jasper city leaders and attend Jasper USB (June 20, 2011 @ 7:00  PM) and Common Council (June 22, 2011 @  7:00 PM) meetings.  Your respectful voice, action and attention for clean air and the well-being of our community is needed.

End of petition/ad

July/August 2011   Renowned Massachusetts’ Pediatrician Dr. William Sammons’ Letter to the Editor

D. William Sammons’ made several trips to Jasper to speak to city officials and the public about the safety hazards of biomass pollution and the fiscal risks.  He wrote this letter after speaking at the July 26, 2011, public forum, when 30 out of 33 speakers spoke against Twisted Oak Corporation’s biomass proposal (ten days before the city council voted 7-0 on August 5, 2011, in favor of biomass).  In addition to Dr. Sammons, the following local doctors also spoke that night:  Dr. Kelly Fehrenbacher, Dr. J. R. Hoffman, Dr. Ryan Sherer, and Dr. Norma Kreilein.  At previous meetings, in letters to the editor, guest commentaries, public flyers, and an online petition, the following local doctors also publicly opposed Jasper’s biomass plans:  Dr. Christopher Scipione, Dr. Steven Hopf, Dr. Steven O’Conner, and Dr. Scott Wilhelmus.

http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/a-letter-from-dr-william-sammons-regarding-the-biomass-power-plant/

 

2010 Report    Health Effects from Living Close to Jasper Coal Power Plant 

HDC shared the report below with city officials on July 26, 2011, at a public hearing, and repeatedly asked for an independent health impact study because of the growing body of scientific medical evidence showing that burning biomass near residential areas is even more harmful than burning coal, per unit of energy produced.  Doctors and environmental scientists today report that toxins and ultrafine particulates emitted from burning biomass will be worse, especially for children and other vulnerable people living close to the stack.  See Dr. Shrader-Frechette’s research, among many others, for example.  It is not often that a community has the opportunity to permanently retire a polluting smokestack from a residential area whose air is already compromised.  The statistics below refer to the time when the Jasper Power Plant, built in 1968, burned coal.

See http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jasper_2_Power_Plant.  Numerous other reports and statements by the American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, American Academy of Family Physicians (NC), etc., address the issue of biomass incineration and have been shared with Jasper city officials.  Unfortunately, such presentations have been met with consistent disregard.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Jasper Coal Power Plant:

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 6 $42,000,000
Heart attacks 9 $970,000
Asthma attacks 97 $5,000
Hospital admissions 4 $97,000
Chronic bronchitis 4 $1,600,000
Asthma ER visits 6 $2,000

June 2011   Statement to Renova Capital

(A Denver-based investment firm founded in 2007)

Dear Representatives of Renova Capital, LLC,

We know that you are regular visitors to our website. We hope that you find this website informing, especially our growing list of concerned healthcare professionals. Please be advised (and financially prepared) that citizens are ready to diligently and legally oppose any effort to establish a biomass facility in our community. We are prepared to peacefully, responsibly, legally, and honestly prevent biomass air pollution from the proposed Jasper Clean Energy Center from occurring in our city and county. Please research what concerned citizens were able to accomplish in Crawford County and Milltown, Indiana. Thank you for your consideration. We would love to have a conversation with you concerning your biomass proposal for Jasper, Indiana. Please e-mail us at healthydubois@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
Concerned Citizens of Dubois County

 

Spring/Summer 2011   Clean Air Ordinance

Help Jasper, Indiana secure a Clean Air Ordinance.   Contact your Jasper City Council.  Hundreds of signatures both online and on paper have been gathered.

More voices speaking out:  http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-mitch-daniels-support-a-clean-air-ordinance-and-to-say-no-to-twisted-oak-llc


April 2, 2011, a Community in Conversation gathered for the

Walk for Clean Air


 

Citizens say it’s a health concern; city leaders say it’s a financial profit motivation.

This website provides information from various concerned parties. This information has been gathered over time and should be paramount to the decision-making process for this facility and for the future of the community.  This website may not be fancy, but HDC has cited credible, peer-reviewed sources and has provided multiple links for the public to verify findings.

HDC would also like to give the public the opportunity to see what those who want to bring biomass to Jasper have to say; here is a website onto which the one-man corporation Twisted Oak, based in Atlanta, has put the city name of Jasper.   To date, there has been no mutual “Community Conversation” offered or attended by Twisted Oak Corp. or any partners.  The people depicted in the image are not even from Jasper or Dubois County.  Visit http://jaspercleanenergycenter.com/

HDC would also like to encourage people to do a little research on Twisted Oak, the business who is bringing this multi-million dollar project to Jasper. Please know that such business ventures should be another huge concern for our community as a number of biomass facilities are closing their doors around the country and leaving the cities with the financial repercussions; to see more information with the cited sources to back up this statement, please visit our “Economic” tab as we continue to research, in depth, this project’s leaders and investors.  http://twistedoakcorp.com/

Please do your own research as well. If you find valid information, please post it on the blog. Type words like atrazine, dioxin, biomass air pollution, particulate matter, miscanthus grass, biomass facility closures into any Internet search engine and see what you find.

Twisted Oak’s Proposal to the Jasper Utility Board

Download the PDF

Final, Signed Lease Agreement

http://www.jasperindiana.gov/egov/documents/c987dc7f_799c_c147_99e5_b357c2c16392.pdf

 


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