This environmentalist fought asbestos
I work as an environmentalist and as a geologist. I
worked as a geologist at the Hamilton vermiculite mine mentioned in
the Libby, Mont., article, when exploration and permitting was in
progress (HCN, 2/21/05: Where were the environmentalists when Libby
needed them most?). At a community meeting, I heard the managers
tell officials and the public that there was no asbestos in the
deposit. The next morning, I quit the best-paying job I’ve
ever had in the community where I live. To the credit of the
managers, I was allowed to tell the public that we did not know
enough to say there was no asbestos; the necessary studies had not
been done. This set the ball rolling on a supplement to the
environmental impact statement detailing medical considerations.
The delay bankrupted that venture. Later, I joined Gayla Benefield
in testifying against the proposed vermiculite mine in Dillon, also
mentioned in the article.
Dismissal of my personal
sacrifice and work stings, but that is not the issue. Working as an
environmentalist in the rural West is a thankless task that often
brings on blind criticism and sometimes outright physical assault.
We are set upon by foes for what we do, and now by friends for what
we don’t do.
Given the continuing need for
technical "in the trenches" environmental defense as well as the
clear need to advocate values, I suggest that inclusive language
using "both" and "and" would help energize those who give so much
to keeping our environment healthy.