Our esteemed publisher and editor sent me this story a few days ago:
Smoke from a Newcastle refinery under investigation
Mama’s Note: How absolutely stupid. There was a single puff of very black smoke. It was ripped to shreds in the wind in just a minute or two. How sick that these complainers can’t realize what this refinery means to this town. They will find out when they’ve managed to drive it out of business… and then we can ALL pay for THEIR stupidity.
Nathan: Mama is right. I finally got a chance to look up this article – we have a number of problems here:
1. There are several busybodies in Newcastle who have nothing better to do with their time than call various government agencies to file (often anonymously, for obvious reasons) complaints about the refinery, which is about the only major industry left in town with the closing of Pope & Talbott years ago. These people almost ALL have not lived here as long as the refinery has been here, so are like those who buy or build a house next to an airport and then complain about the noise: they knew better.
2. WDEQ, which used to stand up for the businesses and people of Wyoming against the EPA and various other federal agencies, have become nothing more than a shill for the EPA and whatever environmental groups donate enough money to the “messiah” and/or the various offices including governor and such; their offices are too close to Laramie, Fort Collins, Greeley and Boulder and their staff mostly come from those environist activist-factories.
3. Every time that new rules are promulgated, the retrofitting of the factories to meet the new requirements (NOT “standards” but micro-management requirements) actually increases not just the cost of production and maintenance and equipment, but the likelihood of failure of both the so-called controls but of the entire system itself. Sometimes these are requirements that are not directly applicable to the industry but to a supporting industry. Increased requirements led directly to the closing of the Osage Power Station and Newcastle can’t have its own generating capacity, even for emergency, so that means that the power has to come from WyoDak which means it is more subject to interruptions which in turn trigger bypass measures which lead to the releases like this one.
4. The regulatory agencies AND the environist whingers make things up. Unless there was a TRAINED, CERTIFIED observer qualified to take smoke readings at the time this event occurred, there is no LEGALLY-admissible evidence that the smoke was 100% or 80% or 20% opacity. And I suspect very strongly (not having seen THIS permit but having seen many others in WY, SD, CO, and other states) that the permit DOES allow for emissions greater than 20 percent for up to six minutes due to malfunctions or unpredictable events like losing power from a thunderstorm. It may have an upper limit for that six-minute period (a few do, most don’t) but it is NOT so black (pun intended) a crime as these idiots make it out to be. But this becomes an excuse to tighten the requirements, making another “violation” all that more likely to happen, and making it easier to close down yet what is essentially another mom and pop operation out of business, and whack another nail into the coffin of Newcastle’s future. And to add insult to injury, another $10,000 fine just adds to what probably already cost 20 times that: $200,000 in lost materials and damage and time and equipment and cleanup and everything else. To say nothing of the legal bill, another $20-30K at least if it goes as usual. AND since Newcastle’s primary product is JP-5 for Ellsworth, it is taxpayers who pay for it in the long-run AND it weakens what bit Ellsworth still contributes to national defense and not to empire.
The solution to this? Get government out of the equation. Require industries to have insurance for environmental protection, and let the people who claim damages (REAL damages, not “emotional” or “my sinuses are bad” type damages) file claims with the insurance company who can resolve the issues, in court if necessary – and allow countersuit for damages for bogus (fraudulent) claims. Claims for “nuisances” should be dealt with the way many places already do when it comes to things like “your dairy stinks” or “your tractor is too noisy” – was that cow farm and manure there before you moved there? Was that field being plowed and harvested for crops before you built your house next to it? A six-person jury could decide in a half-hour if the claim is substantial enough to proceed to full trial.