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This environmentalist fought asbestos

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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.

Larry Campbell
Darby, Montana

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