Just say no to Cemex

I am writing to ask Hernando County commissioners to follow the professional advice from the county planning and zoning department (which voted 4 to 1 in opposition to the expansion) and please say no to more mining expansion by Cemex.

As an activist for justice and as a business person, I’ve heard from both sides and I understand their points quite well. Cemex’s public face is its spokeswoman from Houston, Texas. She is young, pretty and seems to be a very nice woman, which is the usual choice for this position. In a recent debate on a Tampa radio station, her presentation was a typical company promo and the audience could find out things about Cemex that we might learn at the grade-school level.

In contrast, the debater taking the opposite point of view spoke at what I’d call a university level. She presented facts, statistics, studies and a grown-up reality about things like toxins in our air that spread beyond the general vicinity of the mine. Primarily, silica — which, unlike sand at the beach, is blasted into minuscule particles that embed in lungs, causing deadly disease. She spoke of real-time quality of life and property values lost by citizens who purchased land and homes in a residential zone that is bordered by what is currently compatible zoning.

We are told that our county’s comprehensive plan is not done willy nilly and that the planners’ substantial cost to taxpayers is for extensive studies that are thorough and in the overall best interests of Hernando County. Any time an entity wants to modify or change this plan it is almost always for its own mega profit that very often disregards the effect on anyone in its way.

I don’t doubt that Cemex has done some good for our county, but no amount of good things qualify any entity to cause damage to the residents who live nearby. It does not give them the right to lower the property values of those existing homes, damage even one of those existing homes, disrupt their lifestyle or pollute their air and water merely for some company profit.

No company in the United States should be able to disturb the final resting place of anyone just for the additional company profit it would like to have, which is what this expansion would do. Blasting may have gotten more sophisticated these days than that by Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, but it’s still a hard-hat operation and a far cry from being compared to something such as delicate non-invasive laser surgery. It’s blasting rock from the earth! Who builds a home right by that? Are there a lot of Cemex employees who choose to live there, because it’s so conveniently close to work?

Any experienced observer has seen that the entities that want a comprehensive plan change for their own best interests offer wonderful concessions and deals to get their way. I’d like to refer to the beautiful canopy road (Ft. Dade) where at first Cemex offered a tunnel under the trees and road. In the radio debate, there seems to be a change of plan, which would transport the material over the trees so as to not damage the roots of the ancient trees! Just try to envision what that would look like. They’re not transporting feathers, so this construction would have to be large, sturdy and quite bulky. That is not scenic in any way!

I wish that I could be there in person, but these commission meetings are held when I, and many others, must be at work. In this issue, my employer (like most in our county) does not have a special interest in sending employees out en mass in support of a company plan. I’m delving here into just some of the impacts that would result if this comp plan change is approved.

Cemex touts how good it has been for Hernando County. Well, our county can counter that Hernando has been pretty darn good to Cemex by allowing it to extract our resources for their enrichment and by giving them contracts for various county projects.

Please consider the overall good to the majority of the citizens of Hernando County and deny the Cemex mining expansion on Dec. 9.

Jennifer Sullivan, of Spring Hill, is past co-chair of the Green Party of Florida and host of the Tampa TV show “On the Table With the Green Party.” Email her at greencat9@juno.com.

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