Public health should remain top priority 

As your readers no doubt know, Montgomery County has 15 swine Confined Animal Feeding Operations. In response to some serious public health and environmental concerns from Montgomery County citizens, the Montgomery County Commissioners have proposed a draft ordinance to deal with the siting of CAFOs in Montgomery County. The proposed ordinance has been assigned to the planning commission, which held its first meeting July 24, and many citizens testified — some in support, some in opposition. Because of the concerns for public health and complicated science in operating a CAFO safely, the planning commission postponed any vote on the proposed ordinance and decided to create an advisory committee of 13 individuals representing various interests or concerns in the community. The composition of the advisory committee was reported in an earlier addition of the Journal Review, and they have had their first meeting Aug. 24 at the government center. The committee is chaired by Ashley Adair (765-364-6363; holmes9@purdue.edu), who is the executive director of the Purdue Extension. It has been her decision not to allow any comment from the public but rather to allow the public only to observe, in an open meeting, the discussions and deliberations of the advisory committee. One of the advisory committee members, a CAFO operator, vehemently refused to allow the committee to visit his CAFO and stated, “that a CAFO is a dangerous toxic animal waste operation.” It is estimated that each hog produces 2 tons of animal feces and bodily fluids per year. If a CAFO produced 6,000 finished hogs every six months, it could produce 12,000 tons of waste per year.

Indeed, that is exactly the case as this county knows from the unfortunate history of Pulman Farms that was closed down by IDEM because of a number of spills from their collection pond. (IDEM’s CAFO Section Chief Joe Williams, jwilliams@idem.in.gov)

A swine CAFO may produce 6,000 or more finished hogs every six months. The animals’ entire lives are under a roof and the animal waste is collected in a pit under a grated floor. After those hogs are delivered to a nearby processing plant, the operator starts all over again. Because of the strong odor from the ammonia and animal waste, it is generally the case that the operator does not live on the premises unless it is a very large farm. The proposed ordinance does not ensure, in its current form, any public health safety requirements. In its current form, the ordinance does not require a CAFO operator to do anything on odor abatement nor is the operator required to do anything about treatment of animal waste. There are currently many animal waste treatment processes which neutralize the waste and make it as safe to apply on a farm field as a bag of potting soil. The treatment plans include anaerobic digestors and separation of solid waste from the liquid ammonia. These additional treatment processes costs money and it is for that reason that the farmer declines to add those processes to his/her CAFO operation. 

Instead, Montgomery County is relying upon a requirement that would place the CAFO a minimum distance from residences, schools and churches. Those distances may or may not be adequate depending upon whether those sites of human habitation are downwind.

Two members of the advisory committee are realtors and are expected to offer their opinions as to the effect on residential property values if those properties were close to an operating CAFO.

The public was told at the last meeting of the subcommittee that there may be as many as three other potential applicants wishing to build and operate a CAFO in the county. This would place an enormous public health challenge on those responsible for approving the site location of any CAFO applicant. If your readers would prefer to do their own research, I would suggest: https://www.hecweb.org/issues/environmental-health-justice/factory-farm-waste/

and https://waterkeeper.org/campaign/pure-farms-pure-waters/

Everyone on the planning commission and everyone on the advisory committee is pro-agriculture which is understandable. However, pro-agriculture does not mean that the county commissioners, the planning commission or the advisory committee should excuse an applicant from employing the best practices in odor abatement and animal waste treatment. I hope the subcommittee will continue its work and make a recommendation later in the year that will impose reasonable conditions on an applicant and ensure that public health and environmental concerns are being addressed and that the public health will not be adversely affected as it was with the Pulman disaster.

Michael K. Sutherlin

Crawfordsville

 

Reader calls for support of energy bill

The events of the past year show that climate change is already impacting the world in devastating ways. California’s last forest fire season was the worst on record. Spring flooding in the Midwest destroyed homes and threatened agriculture. This summer, Europe saw record-breaking heat waves, Greenland lost more ice than any other summer in modern history, and Siberian forests suffered massive fires. Finally, due to Dorian, 2019 became the fourth year in a row to see a category 5 hurricane, which is the longest streak on record.

We need to take action, and one powerful step we can take is already in front of the U.S. House of Representatives — the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). This bipartisan legislation uses a market-based approach to place a price on polluting our atmosphere. It would reduce carbon emissions without increasing government spending, all while returning monthly dividend checks to all U.S. households and creating jobs. I urge my congressperson, Representative Jim Baird (IN-4), to support this crucial bill, and I encourage all readers to learn more at energyinnovationact.org and urge their elected officials to support the bill as well.

John Smillie

Crawfordsville

Owning a vehicle not a right, but ownign a gun is

Lately many citizens are demanding restrictions to the Second Amendment of the Constitution after a recent rash of publicized shootings. Suggestions such as weapons should be registered like vehicles, background checks before weapons purchase, etc. They demand common sense gun laws as if existing gun laws defy common sense. No one ever defines common sense gun laws but it just sounds really good. The logic is since guns cause needless deaths, then gun owners should require a background check. Revoke certain weapons labeled assault weapons. 

As an open-minded person who tries to think inside and outside the box, I have given it some thought and have boiled it down to a the root issue. Should a citizen who uses something legally purchased that may cause the death of another human being be required to have certain limitations to ownership? 

Gun control enthusiast proclaim you need a license to drive a car, why not a license to own a weapon? Does it make common sense to equivocate auto and gun ownership? If the two were comparable, we would need to pass an amendment to the Constitution stating, “A well regulated driving force, being necessary to the mobility of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and drive vehicles, shall not be infringed.” In order to register a vehicle you must first be licensed to drive so to register a weapon the citizen would need to have a weapons license. Every high school student must take a driving course to drive so the converse would require every student to take a gun course. Each would have to pass a weapons test and obtain a gun training permit. Parents would be required to educated their children on gun safety and be present when firing weapons exactly like when learning to drive. We would create a federal Department of Weapons like the Department of Transportation and Indiana would have a Bureau of Firearms. Like public roads the government could build public firing ranges. When out of ammo just pull up to the Gas and Go to fill up the car with gas and pop in to pick up 1,000 rounds of .223 for your registered AR-15. And the coup de gras, now that we have this mandatory arms license it can double as a voter ID. We could kill two birds with one stone. 

In a sense the two are similar. The number one killer of children between the ages of 14 and 19 is the assault automobile followed by suicide with all homicides following in a distant third. All vehicles driven on roads in the United States are registered. Since 2009 approximately 360,000 people have been killed in motor vehicle accidents. Most of the deaths were a result of someone violating a motor vehicle driving law. Most of the violators had a license but some did not. None of the drivers who killed any of the 360,000 people had a background check. Were they competent? Were they too old to drive? Were they insane? Were they drug addicts? Were they alcoholics? Did they post things on their social media that might have indicated they could cause an accident in the future? During the same time period approximately 118,00 people were killed with a gun. Most of the guns were registered. Most gun owners have background checks. Most of the crimes are not committed by gun owners who passed background checks. According to the statistics more deaths are caused by auto collisions. Numerically, we should demand background checks on people getting a driver’s license. One could argue intent between gun violence and vehicle violence was different but the dead person doesn’t really care whether they were shot during a carjacking or that the Gen Xer was checking their cell phone or high on pot when they ran the red light killing an entire family. Dead is dead. People demand small magazine clips but I don’t see people demanding automobile speed control. A Porsche can exceed 180 mph in a country where speed limits a 70 mph. Where is the outrage? Common sense speed control now! Common sense gun laws! Remember we are worried about people killing each other with items legally purchased.

My point is owning a vehicle is not a Constitutional right. The Second Amendment was created to give American citizens the ability to fight back against a tyrannical federal government. The same people clambering for gun control are the same ones calling the current president a dictator. Why would you give up the ability to control our countries fate if some fascist was to take power in the future? Owning a weapon has nothing to do with personal defense or hunting. Just get that out of your silly little head. If the Second Amendment is the issue then amend the Constitution, let us not pretend an alternate intent by beating around the bush. I look at these problems as trees in the same forest. Why do people think it is more important to read a text message than watch the road? Why do people drink or smoke dope then drive? Why do people shoot each other over a simple argument or for no reason at all? Most deaths are not mass shootings. Most gun deaths are by hand guns so why the focus on military style weapons? The main problem is not an assault auto or assault weapon but it is a problem with our society’s ethical health. We have lost a sense of ourselves and what is means to be good American citizens who are responsible for our own actions. We are in moral and ethical trouble. 

Now, for rational people. It is obvious something needs to be done with all these needless deaths. Many people can’t name one person that has been shot but could rattle off a list of people killed in auto accidents. First, the Second Amendment exists to defend the Constitution, why not require gun owners to swear allegiance to her? Background checks could be required as long as criteria for the background check is known and criteria for denial of gun ownership should be based on a law passed by Congress not some third level federal bureaucrat. Just because someone “thinks” you are a danger to others is not enough. So called “Red Flag” laws confiscate property without due process. Only a trial by a judge should the state be able to confiscate property. Non-citizens should not be able to own weapons and if caught with a weapon grounds for immediate deportation. There should be courses available in public schools for weapons use and safety. Maybe even a license to use one. Only serious and sane people should own weapons. Sanity as defined by medical professionals not bureaucrats and definitely not political rivals. Felons should lose the right to possess arms and the right to vote. I believe it should be harder to get a handgun because they are the weapon that is used in most crimes. 

Finally bring back capital punishment for murder and remove the 30-year death row waiting periods. If mass shootings and gun crime demand that we change our Constitution the crime causing the change should demand the ultimate sacrifice. Make the focus of the crime the criminal not the weapon. 

Since automobiles cause more deaths maybe it is time to evaluate limits on having a driver’s license. Everything I said about weapons should apply to vehicles. I drive U.S. 231 to Lafayette to work and I am far more afraid of motorists putting on makeup, smoking, eating, while concurrently texting on a cell phone then I am of my weapons at home in a safe. Start by immobilizing the ability to use a cell phone in a vehicle, unless it is hands free, but even then the driver is distracted. Breathe tests for THC and alcohol to start a car; only sane and sober people should drive. Background checks for drivers licenses. Lose your license for life if you cause an accident while driving impaired. Tracking devices that track your vehicle and your cell phone. If both are on at the same time, your insurance company gets notified. Maybe it is time great-great-grandma starts taking Uber. If we are serious about preventing needless deaths in this country there are many other common sense things we could do to prevent assault things from killing our neighbors. If you believe the restrictions on having a driver’s license are silly now maybe you understand how the other side looks at gun control.

Finally, if you don’t like weapons, then don’t own one. If you are being threatened by a criminal with a gun, then wait for the police, when they arrive I hear they solve 54 percent of all homicide investigations.

Bernard Thompson

Crawfordsville

More from this section

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.