Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pruning Party Update: What Citizens Want

Another pruning party was held in Wellfleet today, under the leadership of Paul Sieloff, Town Administrator, and the guidance of local organic gardener Laura Kelley. This second expedition along the power lines adjacent to Duck Pond was symbolic, of course. The headline could be “Wellfleet Pruners Demonstrate Vegetation Removal Without Herbicides To Be Option.” And, there were almost as many photographers and reporters present as hearty souls wielding pruning shears or lopers. Still, progress was made and soon neat little piles of baby pines had accumulated along the sand path.

(For those of you who are new to this blog, our utility company is required to maintain vegetation under power lines by Federal law, but Federal law does not mandate the use of herbicides. The utility company will remain nameless because they pay someone to follow blogs and newspapers, and will read these words if I mention their name.)

Today’s goal was to remove
as many root systems as possible. It was hard work, no doubt about it. Can you find Sven, dressed in a Wellfleet T-shirt, in this photo? He had sweat pouring off his brow. A man named Carl said he hoped to start a similar group in Orleans.

I was glad to see two newcomers, Melody Thibodeau, and Dick Morrill, both present at the Monday screening of “A Chemical Reaction.”

“The movie showed the power of the chemical companies,” Dick said. “They are really just interested in money. They don’t care about us.”

More history: Several thousand Cape Codders signed a petition last year against herbicidal spraying.
Officials from 13 towns signed on and legislators followed up with a letter. Congressman Delahunt wrote the EPA, but none of this seems to matter. What citizens want does not matter. Hundreds of letters were sent to the DAR Commissioner, with scientific facts to explain why spraying five herbicides is a bad idea. (The Cape Cod Commission did obtain a one-year moratorium so that private wells could be adequately mapped, but it ends 1/1/11.)

Eric Williams, reporter for the Cape Cod Times, came to the event and summarizes it on his popular video show, Cape Cast:

If the utility company does spray up to five herbicides, traces will filter down through our sandy soil into the sole-source aquifer. On the Outer Cape, most of us have private wells. Corporate “deciders” live elsewhere and do not drink Cape Cod water. Like the chemical companies mentioned by Dick above, the utility folks do not care about us. Herbicides present a cheaper solution. What citizens want does not matter.

Today I learned that federal funds are being used in California against anti-pesticide non-profits like the Environmental Working Group, which created a handy “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” news that I find shocking. Where is Michelle Obama when we need her? (Remember the video of Ms. Obama planting an organic garden at the White House? Have you seen any new clips showing the harvest? Are food bloggers reporting on a White House chef, concocting an organic feast? If not, why not?)

I’m grateful that here in Wellfleet our Town Administrator Paul Sieloff is a leader who dares to take a stand on behalf of citizens. Such action is becoming more and more rare in this new century where the Supreme Court has ruled corporations have the same rights as people … What do you think of the Supreme Court decision? Will it impact your life? Do you think environmental groups should resort to civil disobedience? Would you like to join the next pruning party? What more can Cape Codders do to ensure their drinking water is not polluted with toxic chemicals?