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Can a Liquefied Natural Gas Energy Generation Facility on Mare Island Hurt our Children?

August 20, 2002

Bechtel and Shell corporations are proposing to build a huge liquefied natural gas power plant on Mare Island. Solano County has the highest rates childhood asthma in all of California (California Health Interview Survey data). What is wrong with this picture?

Air pollution is well-known cause and trigger of childhood asthma. Children who grow up in more polluted environments have more asthma. Children living in polluted areas who spend more time outside have more asthma. Air pollution increases asthma crises - leading to increased school and work absences, increased emergency room visits, and increased hospitalizations for asthma.

Natural gas is not "clean." True, it is not as bad as coal or diesel; however burning natural gas creates nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides trigger asthma. Research confirms this. Children exposed to high levels of natural gas exhaust cough and wheeze more. Respect for what we breathe is important.

Liquid natural gas plants are also important sources of other "criteria" pollutants that have important adverse health effects - sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. Emission of these pollutants is measured not in ounces or pounds, but in hundreds or thousands of TONS per year discharged into our breathing space. Emissions that are within the state "allowable" range can still have adverse effects on health.

Is this how we should develop Mare Island? Should we use this beautiful space on the San Pablo Bay for heavy, polluting industry? Or should we follow the model used for redevelopment of the Presidio in San Francisco? Look at low impact businesses. Bringing Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine to Mare Island was a major coup. Projects like this strengthen our community.

We have an important opportunity now to decide how we will redevelop Mare Island. Our decisions now will affect our children, and our grandchildren. We need to be prudent in hoarding this precious resource. We don't need polluting industry. We don't need more asthma for our children. We don't need a liquefied natural gas plant on Mare Island.

Vallejo Resident
Pediatric Pulmonologist, Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center
Member, Solano Asthma Coalition
Member, Board of Directors, American Lung Association of the East Bay Author of Control Your Child's Asthma (Henry Holt & Co, 200l)

© 2002 maggdog communications
Photos courtesy of Michael Halberstadt, Joyce Scharf and Friends of VallejoCPR
Page Last Updated Jan 4, 2003