Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Faith Into Action" - Wednesday, August 12, 7 PM

The Citizens Against CO2 Sequestration are inviting everyone to join them (rain or shine) at their county-wide “Faith Into Action Gathering” on Wednesday, August 12 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Greenville High School Football Stadium.

Including music, prayer and an update from members of the group, the gathering will also feature Hershel Fee, Pastor of the Lighthouse Christian Church; Pete Kontra, Pastor of the Oakland Church of the Brethren; and Bill Lyle, Pastor of the EUM Church.

When the Citizens Against CO2 formed less than six months ago, little did they know that a “miracle” was about to occur. After starting with a group of twelve, their message spread and their numbers grew. Today, thousands of Greenville and Darke County residents have joined their quest to stop the sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the Andersons Marathon Ethanol Plant in Greenville’s Industrial Park. At no time has their quest been against the plant or its operation. Instead, it has been against the experimental sequestration project only.

As if the increase in their numbers is not miracle enough, other citizens’ action groups are forming in Arcanum and in Gettysburg. It is expected that more groups will follow.

During their first Citizens Action meeting at the Lighthouse Christian Center, 1,000 residents attended to show their support. Almost as many turned away because there was no place left to park outside and only standing room was left inside. As traffic lined up to turn into the center, Sebring Warner Road and State Route 127 were blocked for two miles or more. By their huge attendance, residents stated in no uncertain terms that they do not want the high-risk experimental sequestration of CO2 to take place near their communities or in their county.

Speaking at that meeting were Nachy Kanfer, Associate Regional Representative of the Sierra Club; Kathleen Boutis, President of the Green Coalition; and Kerwin Olson, Project Director and Lobbyist for Citizens Action of Indiana. They all agreed the Citizens Against CO2 Sequestration have accomplished in months what few citizens-action groups have accomplished in years.

Darke County Engineer Jim Surber said he has not seen this much community support since he first moved to Darke County over 32 years ago. He, Mike Bowers, Mayor of Greenville, and the Greenville, Neave, and Van Buren Township Trustees, have temporarily halted seismic testing along county and township roads. Seismic testing is the preliminary step to the beginning of the sequestration process.

On Tuesday, August 4, The Greenville City Council and Administration were asked to state their opinions individually on the proposed CO2 sequestration project. They had already issued a collective statement earlier.

Expressing concerns for the city and its residents as well as for their children and future generations, council members and administrative officers unanimously agreed that although it had risks and was wrong for Greenville, they felt powerless to stop it because it is being funded by the Federal Government on private land. Jeff Amick, Attorney for the city, said that he, more than anyone, has studied ways to prevent this project. He said he would wear a green shirt and ride a bus to Washington D.C. if he could stop it. John Schmidt said he did not want to look back one day as people pointed to Greenville as the place where a CO2 experiment had gone wrong.

Because of the overwhelming opposition of Darke County residents, the Darke County Commissioners passed a Resolution in late July, stating they are in opposition to the sequestration project due to its unknown risks and potential harm to Darke County. They also asked The Andersons Marathon Ethanol Plant officials to honor their request to halt the proposed CO2 project. Although plant officials have since responded, their response has not offered any definite assurance that the project will be discontinued.

Working hard to stop the sequestration project in Greenville, Jan Teaford, who is co-chairman of the Citizens Against CO2 Sequestration, has used her computer skills to set up web and blog sites. At the blog site, she and several other members of the group have provided links that lead to scientific and geological information concerning CO2 sequestration. As a result, they have brought the proposed sequestration site to the attention of the world. Not only has the blog site been visited by persons from throughout the nation, including Washington D.C., but it is not unusual to see visitors from Australia, Japan, Great Britain, and other countries as well. Some have sent back words of encouragement, giving their support to the movement against CO2 sequestration. This blog site can be located at http://citizensagainstco2sequestration.blogspot.com/

The more the group studies, the more they know that CO2 is definitely an experiment with risks. From the contamination of fertile crop land to the pollution of two major aquifers, from injection-induced earthquakes to the de-evaluation of homes and properties- -the risks threaten both livelihoods and lives while offering no compensation, no protection, and no guarantees against future liabilities.

Making these risks known to the public hasn’t been easy. Some of the members have spent long hours reading and studying both national and international scientific reports. Many of the members credit God for directing them, faith for sustaining them, and prayer for inspiring them to keep going. As Rita McCans said, “We turned our faith into action which has resulted in thousands of Darke County citizens coming together for the common good of all.”

Regardless of their political, religious or sociological backgrounds, these Darke County citizens are working together peaceably to achieve a common goal – the goal of stopping the CO2 sequestration project. As they work toward this goal, they are putting aside their differences to do what they think is best for not only their county but for the communities in which they live.

While they have accomplished much, they know if they are to accomplish more, they need still another “miracle” - - the “miracle” of a growing grassroots movement that can stand up to and stop a Federally-funded project, which they know can cause more problems that it can ever solve.

As thousands of citizens come together at Harmon field on August 12, they will by their presence be speaking with one voice to send a clear message to Washington D.C. that they oppose this project. More importantly, they will be putting into action the very foundation upon which the United States of America was founded, “In God We Trust.”

Anne Vehre, Co-Chair