Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boston Update: Meeting Dan Wolf & Cleon Turner

Last week I accompanied Laura Kelley to the State House for an impromptu meeting with Representative Cleon Turner and a scheduled appointment with Dan Wolf, MA State Senator for Cape Cod. It was my first time inside the splendid building with its awesome marble floors and busy employees, rushing here and there. What fun to experience a space where so many important decisions for Massachusetts and our country have been made!

Cleon Turner happened to be present when we stopped by to say hello to legislative aide Elysse Magnotto and patiently listened to Laura’s pitch on the risk synthetic chemicals pose to the environment. Several times during the meeting, Rep. Turner rubbed his fingers together to remind us to follow the money. He suggested the utility company might behave differently if the petitions signed by 2000+ Cape Codders had been deposited on the CEO’s desk, rather than delivered to Scott Soares at DAR, and urged Laura to find a way to “work” with N. I was impressed with his grasp of the situation.

Then down the hall we trotted. Dan Wolf, from Harwich, greeted Laura warmly, as did aide Seth Rolbein, from Wellfleet. Laura reviewed what Cape Cod citizens have accomplished since August 2009 when the herbicidal spraying plan was detailed in an Eastham auditorium, then provided a description of how extensive herbicidal spraying will affect our sole-source aquifer, contaminating drinking water for generations. Laura pointed out the utility company would get praise if it truly goes green, as GreenCAPE has suggested. She explained herbicides destroy soil biology and said that, as an organic landscaper, she expects replacement of power-line trees with more appropriately sized plants to be iffy at best: better to remove root systems with power equipment or by hand, as Wellfleet’s pruning brigade did this fall, under the leadership of Town Administrator Paul Sieloff. Laura also brought up emerging science on glyphosate, known to most of us as Round-up, one of the synthetic chemicals in the proposed toxic cocktail destined for Cape Cod's power lines. (See Chemical Pesticides for more information on health effects research.)

From all the nodding, it was clear the two men have already done a lot of brainstorming on this issue.

“I’ve got three daughters,” Dan Wolf said and raised his hands, palms upward, as if the conclusion for any parent were obvious. “You don’t need to convince me.”

Rolbein told us he feels we are reaching a tipping point with regard to synthetic chemicals, loose in the environment. (Last week there was a Time Magazine blog post about the chemicals detected in the blood of pregnant women, which should make us all sit up and pay attention. Read in USA Today how the American Chemical Council still insists there is no reason for concern. For further links and information on the study, go here.)

Our conversation lasted an hour. State Senator Wolf zeroed in on the fact the utility company is not the only entity polluting our aquifer and said a Cape-wide effort is required. Businessmen/women, golf course managers, cranberry growers, municipalities, and homeowners all need to take this health threat seriously. A public education campaign would help Cape Codders become better stewards of our precious sandbar.

Before our departure, Elysse Magnotto gave us a guided tour of the State House. The corridors are decorated with portraits of famous statesmen from the past, a very inspiring place to work, without a doubt. Elated by the day’s encounters, Laura and I headed home, our work cut out for us, with only three months to go before the spraying is to commence …

Do you worry about endocrine disruption from toxic chemicals in the environment or is the subject simply too overwhelming for you? Are you ready to give up herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc. and use alternatives? Do you already choose green options inside your home, making a statement with your wallet?