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Kudos to Senator Ford, a politician with a purpose – Clean Air!

Lee Walton

It’s been almost two weeks since a very informative article by Peter Hull appeared in the June 6th Palter & Chatter extolling the continuing efforts of Sen. Robert Ford to improve air quality at SPA’s existing terminals and the new container terminal being constructed at the former Navy Base. According to Hull’s article, the Senator has a clear understanding of “…air pollution generated by trucks, ships and trains at local shipping terminals” and how he can play the cards he holds to achieve positive air quality improvements in the Lowcountry. Given Saturday’s Palter & Chatter 7B Business Section headline article, “Ships to cut diesel fumes”, it appears that Sen. Ford is several long strides ahead of most other local politicians and self-proclaimed environmental experts who would rather pontificate than offer the diverse, albeit well targeted, plan of action envisioned by the Senator. It’s truly refreshing to finally see a politician Walk the Walk.

Ford’s suggestions to local port officials to use only the cleanest burning diesel fuel in their vehicle fleets, offer tax incentives to independent owner-operators to upgrade pollution control equipment in their trucks and new “…measures to regulate the environmental effects of foreign-based ships that call on U.S. ports.” are the kind of off-the-shelf, no-brainer actions that can be implemented quickly as positive steps to limit local air pollution.

These initiatives, when combined with others to be implemented by the recent SPA- SCDHEC partnership to reduce particulate emissions at local terminals and “cold ironing”, as reported in the June 16th article, to provide shore-generated electrical power to ships while berthed at local terminals, are the kind of actions that all of our local elected leaders and self-anointed “experts” should aspire to support. Instead, these environmental gadflies would rather fire off commentaries full of half-truths, cherry-picked dogma and scare tactics that the Palter & Chatter is all too willing to publish. Could it be that the Senator actually gained the political high ground while the environmental polemists and their sycophants were wallowing in self-adulation?

Lowcountry communities and businesses need to support those in positions of public trust that have the ability to see reality for what it is rather than listen to the nebulous visions of social reformers who would have us all return to a more primitive existence and reduced quality of life that predated World War I. Candles and whale oil lamps are no longer practical options; neither are wood-burning stoves or clotheslines and iceboxes with real ice. Mankind will continue to consume fossil fuels until they’re, for all intent and purpose, consumed; by then we should have developed other major energy alternatives.

This nation has many forms of pollution, both natural and man-made, but we are light-years ahead of most other countries in the implementation of environmental standards and environmental protection initiatives. The next time you think our air pollution is unbearable, walk the streets in the heart of London for a few days. For those who think we’ve made a mess of our natural environment, just visit a former Soviet-Bloc country and check out its air and water quality.

With proper leadership and political courage, this country can mobilize the technical ability and resources necessary to develop safe alternatives to the finite supplies of fossil fuels available world-wide, but wind, solar and tidal alternatives will always be bit-players in the big scheme of energy sources for future generations.

What Charleston needs are fewer hand wringing, Chicken-Little Environmental Alarmists with no clear visions of reality. What Charleston needs are more elected leaders like Senator Ford who can articulate a meaningful plan of action.

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