Thursday, May 28, 2009

Environmental Justice

Cincinnati councliman, Dave Crowley has been working on an Environmental Justice Ordinance for the city for a few years now. It addresses the fact that poor people and frequently minorities are frequently adversely affected by industrial pollution more so than wealthy people. While Christian Moerlein used to live across the street from his plant (yuck !), the trend in later years was to move residential property away from manufacturing facilities. It was more pleasant and healthier. Eventually we fairly legally mandated the separations between residential, retail and manufacturing through zoning laws. Some stuff was grandfathered, wealth brings choices - the fact is poorer people and frequently minorities are still frequently adversely affected by industrial pollution.
So I get it. I agree with the idea in principle but the implementation puts an added burden on the business that wants to move to the community or expand within the community that will likely lead businesses to throw up their hands and just not bother with investing in the city regardless of wether their facility might have a negative impact on residents or not. This will result in the un-alleviation of poverty and the impoverished frequently engage in lifestyles that negatively affect their health anyway.
My problem is not with the intent of this ordinance but in it's implementation that requires the prospective business to invest in supplementary documentation and then wait for an additional review by some shadowy board that is estimated to take another 2-3 months & result in a thumbs up or down.
The process needs to be as upfront and business friendly as possible so decisions can be made quickly, efficiently and economically. The prospective business needs to know the rules up front. Adding a layer to the approval process internally is fine but adding another process for the business is a bad idea.
Government is understandably slow by nature but time is money for businesses and we need economic growth and jobs in this town.

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