She went on to say what I have been feeling lately and that is, "It is you young people who give me the most hope. When you understand the problems and are empowered to take action what you are doing around the world is unbelievable." Two of the most remarkable young people allowed me to join them at the Fairland Schools' Denim and Diamonds fundraiser. When the two were Cherokee Volunteers at Miami High School after their study of our environmental and political issues faced at Tar Creek they stood up, took on all the members of then Governor Keating's Task Force on Tar Creek in an exemplary demonstration of empowered youth. Moments such as this are embedded in my memory especially after reading Jane Goodall's reminder of the hope she has for the future because of the indomitable human spirit she has seen with people overcoming seemingly insurmountable problems around the world.
I was on a panel this week at the University of Central Oklahoma with degreed and credentialed people to discuss Environmental Justice and Inclusive Sustainability at the student organized Summit, and after listening to the higher level approaches to the questions posed, I simply said environmental justice happens in places to people who are exposed to environmental toxins where they live and gave the invitation to come and see ours and meet us.
This week the EPA took the Tar Creek Superfund Site off the Administrator's Emphasis List of Superfund sites. Not yet a month ago the Strategic Plan was issued which we have until April 12 to submit comments. Remembering Jane's message, on hope, my hope is our comments will be considered.
We are grateful for the commitment of $16 million a year, but at this rate, their own plan states it will take decades to complete the cleanup. That does not seem accelerated to me. Chat piles will be trucked this way and that way, sold or stacked on site and while we will have thousands of residential yards not yet even sampled. The sampling is voluntary, and the EPA funding is keeping up with demand, because few people are calling the DEQ number 800-522-0206. I am eternally optimistic, but hope is hard to hold on to when a county full of thoughtful people do not seem to want to ensure the future generations won't have to deal with lead in their yards. Because so few children are having their blood lead checked, our percentage of children lead poisoned is really low, but we have no way of knowing if there are more who have yet to be found. I do have hope but what did Ronald Reagan say, trust but verify? Shouldn't we verify our kids are not silently being lead poisoned? If they are, the source can be removed and the child's future can be protected since lead poisoning is a totally preventable disease.
Another EPA deadline next week is for your comments on the change to the Clean Water Act which would change the definition of Waters of the US. Streams, creeks and rivers fill when it rains and dry creek beds, ditches and wetlands fill and flow into them. Sometimes these can transport pollution and cause harm. This happened here last summer with the J-M Farms spill that ended up in Tar Creek killing thousands of fish. Because of the Clean Water Act as it is now, J-M cleaned it up and paid their fines. We have until April 15 to let EPA know we want our water to continue to be protected, whether it is our Tar Creek or the Neosho or all the other water bodies you care about. We want the Clean Water Act to protect our water, not be changed to protect polluters.
Jane Goodall has the hope we need right now, "When you understand the problems and are empowered to take action what you are doing around the world is unbelievable," she said. I want to have hope you will make some comments about how you want the cleanup to happen in Ottawa County at the Tar Creek Superfund site, that you want it cleaned up before the decades pass your kids by. AND find out if your children are lead poisoned and where it is coming from so the lead can be removed. I have a great deal of hope just like Jane and know that, "we will only gain our human potential when head and heart work in harmony."
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim
Comments can be made until April 12 by emailing R6_Tar-Creek_Site@epa.gov
To review the proposal, go to https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0601269 and click on Tar Creek Strategic Plan.
Read the proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act here: https://www.federalregister.gov/…
By April 15 Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149, at https://www.regulations.gov