Sunday, April 18, 2010

When Are Herbicides Part of a “Green Commitment?”

I would answer that question by saying, “Never on Cape Cod.”

Readers have emailed me, requesting an update on the movement to stop the utility company from spraying up to five herbicides, with a petroleum-based surfactant, under the power lines, so here’s a quick summary of what I know. The comment period was to end March 26. Congressman Delahunt has written to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson regarding the unique conditions on Cape Cod, which suggest herbicidal spraying under 150 miles of power lines is an inappropriate method of vegetative control. Legislators, the Cape Cod Commission, the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, and hundreds of citizens all have written DAR Commissioner Scott Soares to request a one-year moratorium. The day before the CCC request submission, N. asked that the comment period be extended one month. It is not clear how this move with affect the one-year moratorium request, which N. may not accept. In the meantime, town officials across the Cape have been holding meetings with N., allowing the utility reps to explain their plan and the public to voice their concerns. (Check out the latest of these meetings, in this April 15, video from Chatham.)

Did you know N. actually has a page on its Web site called, “Green Commitment?” I involuntarily raised my eyebrows when I read, “N. is committed to conducting its business in a way that least impacts the environment. We're always looking for new and different ways to meet that commitment. It's all part of our mission of delivering great service to our customers.”

So-o-o-o, what’s up with this spraying plan, which the utility company appears determined to implement? Has N. somehow misunderstood the meaning of Green? Do they not realize you cannot claim “green commitment” and act in a manner that is not ecologically sound on site? The behavior contradicts the mission statement.

What does a “green commitment” imply, you ask? The Internet offers many, many definitions of “Green.”

In a recent Ezine article, Michael Richmond searches for the fundamental meaning and concludes, “The best definition of Green refers to the health impact of what we do on living things. So Green is primarily a health-related issue. This is seen in the fact that cleaning products were the early Green issues.”

Yesterday I spotted a following tweet: “Going green isn’t just some trendy catch-phrase for Whole Foods yuppies. Around the country, local governments are forcing corporations to clean up their act.” (Read more here.)

If N. really intends to conduct business in a manner that would least impact the environment, the head of the company, informed of the outcry by citizens, would cease and desist. This has not happened so far, so I conclude that the CEO a.) Doesn’t really care about his customers; b.) Has already purchased the herbicides and signed contracts with subcontracted companies that will spray locally; c.) Has simply not yet put 2 + 2 together and needs to be rapped across the knuckles. Toxic chemicals + single source aquifer = pollution of a local water supply.

If you feel incensed at what may happen to our beloved sandbar, the next step is to write Governor Deval Patrick this week. The Governor’s Web site has a quick and easy form you can use. Join the movement to keep the Outer Cape Green today!