My friend, Karen Hudson from Elmwood, Ill., and I have a lot in common.
We both have had a mega dairy pollute a couple of miles from our homes, and the pollution entered waters of the state. Both events had very public media coverage as the proper authorities were summoned to collect evidence and document the offense to the environment. Her mega dairy had cows, and mine did not. Mine had a ski hill-size of silage leaching.
In Karen’s situation, the legal process made the polluter a convicted felon, and he had to pay the fines that were determined. Since 1996, there have been three different owners of that site, and it has been up for sale again for a while. If a mega dairy is environmentally friendly and sustainable, why the high turnover? Sticking a methane digester on a mega dairy, like an overpriced Band-Aid, will not help 60 percent of the methane that comes off the barns. The liquid volume of the slurry increases, and so does the concentration of ammonia and greenhouse gases. Subsidized scams using taxpayer dollars to acquire methane digesters do not make the operation sustainable.
In my situation, the polluter is being let off the hook as his lawyers deny there was any silage on the site.
The fines are being negotiated away. The only money being paid goes to the polluter’s lawyers. The agency trying to enforce the law gets no money to enforce the regulation that protects the citizens.
Illinois county boards have no local control. If we had it four years ago with the mega dairy being voted down, we wouldn’t be faced with the inevitable battle of industrial livestock operations and the chumps that follow one after the other as they realize the operation they purchased is not sustainable.
You are either for the mega dairy, or against it. There is no such thing as neutral when you know there is someone out there who will be the first hit with the pollution. To be neutral is to be insensitive to the demise of someone else, in the name of economic development.
From the Dec. 28, 2011-Jan. 3, 2012, issue