So last night the Petaluma Health Care District, represented by Daymon Doss, CEO, presented pro and con on the health impacts of the proposed Dutra Asphalt plant Amy Dutra and associates want to build at the gateway to Petaluma, the gateway to Wine Country is what I call that road – 101 South.

There were two Docs and two people representing the environmental aspects of the project. The two doctors couldn’t have been more opposed.

David Weill, M.D., referred to the project as “our plant” (don’t quote me on that) and cited two reports stating diesel soot is not dangerous to people or animals.

Sorry! I have asthma and can report to you that when I would sweep as much as a foot of diesel soot from outside 215 Water St., downtown Petaluma, into a dustpan, I would nearly faint from the impact. Later, I learned of the particulate matter which buries itself deep in the pockets of my lungs which are intended to filter out toxins. Trouble is, those pockets get inflamed from the particulate and may remain that way – forever. Shortening lifespan, making days shorter because you cannot muster the energy to get up. COPD. Takes the life out of life. And it is on the upswing – due to pollution.

So why on earth would Petaluma BENEFIT from an asphalt plant at the (somewhat) scenic entrance to our tourist destination-Shollenberger Park south of town? Impossible that it could be a good thing to add all those diesel-spewing trucks to our roads, and whatever particulate matter would come from the Dutra Plant after their best technology is in place and “only some of the vapors and particulate” would be emitted into the neighboring housing development.

Dr. Alice Brock-Utne didn’t cite academic reports we’d never heard of. She talked about the development of children’s lungs, taking place from before birth to age 20 or so. How children take in way more air than adults and how damage to their lungs compromises their lives more and more often with COPD, but also with asthma (a visit to the hospital for child asthma averages $6,000) and just simple allergies (which can last a lifetime).

This in the face of a need (I feel a crying need) for the planet to slow down the rush to cover the land with asphalt – to slow down and begin the heavy lifting of actually cleaning the dirty air. Without that focus and that work, climate change will not just be uncomfortable – it will be deadly. See David Letterman interview with Bill McKibben