Re: Evangelicals and the Environment
Sun, 9 Jun 1996 09:04:34 -0400

My thanks to Jack for suggesting that we discuss these two fines articles. I
was hoping such a discussion would begin.

Let me provide some background for the situation I am about to describe (and
introduce myself in the process!). My name is David Bailey, and I have been
"lurking" on this server for several months. I hold a Ph.D. in chemistry and
have been a member of ASA for 10+ years. I currently manage the Analytical
Services groups in the R&D department at Quantum Chemical. I am also a
part-time seminarian and a postulant for ordained ministry in the Episcopal

Last year I found myself as a last minute delegate to the annual convention
of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The following resolution was presented at
the convention:



Resolved, that the Diocese request the Episcopal Appalachian Ministry
Committee of the Diocese of Southern Ohio to study and report the facts
available about the impact of the Pulp Mill on the health and welfare of
residents in the Ohio Valley, using existing Diocesan communication channels
and local media; and be it further

Resolved, that our Bishops [Herbert Thompson and Kenneth Price] immediately
express our concerns about the mill to the Bishops of the Dioceses of West
Virginia, Kentucky and Lexington, and to our brothers and sisters in those
dioceses, beseeching them to work within their systems toward prohibiting the
use of chlorine-based bleaching in the mill, and toward limiting the size of
the mill to one whose capacity will not exceed the regenerative ability of
surrounding woodlands.

Christians should be good stewards of God's Earth and of His Children for
whom it was made.

This mill is near receiving final approval. It will profoundly affect
Gallipolis, Huntington, Ironton, and Portsmouth. Its effluent will be in the
Cincinnati water supply. It will use outdated chlorine-based bleaching which
releases dioxins and related poisons into the water and air. These in turn
will be carried down the Ohio River Valley.

The mill will be the largest in North America. Its demands for timber are
predicted to denude the hills of West Virginia and Southeast Ohio for a
radius of 75 miles in less than ten years. It will be owned and operated by a
British family business with no demonstrated interest in sustainable forests
or the health of Ohio Valley residents.

There is much evidence of deception about costs, dioxin, jobs, etc. Language
used by proponents of the mill appears clearly meant to deceive the public on
important issues. A top EPA administrator who denied a water discharge permit
to the company was fired, and the permit was then issued.

Local clergy voices are not reaching a widespread audience.

In discussion preceding the vote on this resolution, many of the delegates
objected to the alarmist tenor of the resolution. One delegate, who is both a
priest and a chemist, observed that he could not in good conscience vote for
this resolution based on the paucity of hard data (he spoke for my position).
A vote to table the resolution passed by an extremely narrow margin. A second
vote to reconsider the resolution failed by about the same margin.

This was my first experience of a church body attempting to pass a binding
resolution based on - at best - poorly presented science. I am sure that many
of you out there have also experienced this. My hope is that our discussion
of these two papers will give me the knowledge I need to vote intelligibly on
such matters in the future. Also, if any of you out there have any particular
expertise in pulp mills and the environment, I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for your patience. May God bless our discussions, and our work as

David Bailey