By Victoria Grizzoffi
Imagine a chemical plant decides to open next door to you. You have been told that all plants like this in the past 10 years have the latest and the greatest technology, and you have nothing to fear. Over time, the smells become atrocious. You have headaches and feel sick all of the time. Skin lesions and rashes appear, and your children are sick. You couldn’t taste or smell it at first, but now your drinking water isn’t the same. You may even have municipal water, but they are “good friends” with the chemical plant, and they tell you everything is fine.
You realize it isn’t. With all of the proof you have and engineers telling you how much toxic waste is being discharged legally or not, you have enough to shut this plant down and have them pay for damages. But WAIT! This isn’t a chemical plant, it’s a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. So you go to court. After some fancy dandies dance around the courtroom, somehow a decision is rescinded. You say, “Judge, look! The wall is white, and we can prove it.” But he says, “No, it’s green. I see nothing but green.”
So on to the appellate court. They say, “Yes, you have a right to say the wall is white, even defend it, but you have no standing. You do not count.”
It does not matter that it pollutes and discharges legal or not, they are agriculture. Any other industry would be held accountable, but not agriculture. The Illinois Supreme Court won’t even hear it, even though you have a constitutional right to clean air and water. If the Illinois Supreme Court won’t hold up and enforce the law and protect its citizens, then who does? Obviously, more federal intervention needs to come to Illinois.
Victoria Grizoffi is a concerned citizen who lives in Galena, Ill.
From the April 27-May 3, 2011 issue