So what’s new in the fight to block Dutra Asphalt from completing its plant across from Shollenberger Park, the gateway to Petaluma? Seems a (partial) victory is at hand, thanks to years-long devotion to the issue by Petaluma River Council, who submitted Alternative Analysis of the Project and received this from the S.F. Army Corps of Engineers:

“To date we have not received a complete and acceptable application for the Project. We will shortly reach a year since the most recent application was submitted, and understand the Applicant will work to develop a Revised Alternatives Analysis and related application materials. However, that informatino will not be available in time for us to act on a certification. As such, to preserve our ability to act on the Project, we intend to deny the application without prejudice. We look forward to continuing to work with the Applicant and its representatives on the Project, including submittal of a revised and complete application for water quality certification.”

So how many years ago was it I was writing about saving Shollenberger Park, our most popular walking park and home to umpteen migratory birds? First I see in blogs is 2010… Love walking this pristine migratory bird site! Often I sing Kate Wolf songs. Sad, though, that the egret nesting tree was torn down and you rarly see snowy egrets now. Recall 21 flying over the Turning Basin to land in the trees outside Dempsey’s micro brewery a few years back. Hopefully, they’re get their numbers back up.

Then, Amy Dutra, very pregnant at the time, was the shining face for Dutra, very persuasive! But the “science” didn’t add up. They said they are NOT polluters – we loosely estimated there would be up to 45,000 diesel truck trips added to the road congestion and activity at this Petaluma Gateway, and, as a recovering emphysema patient (it was the diesel soot from the street at E. Washington that brought me to the asthma stage where they believed I DID have emphysema, progressive unto death) well, I was touchy on the subject of diesel soot! Why should children living in the newish housing near Shollenberger be subjected to diesel soot in the air they breathe? Why should the birds face the affronts of loud noise, vibrations and soot when they stop by enroute to winter paastures?

I recall a Petaluma Health District holding a forum on health impacts of the proposed asphalt plant in 2010. Seven years of blocking action to keep this bad thing from happening? Yes, and now it may be BLOCKED permanently? WE HOPE and will work on it till it’s absolutely true.

My 2010 blog on it:
“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 an urgent 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.