Corporate hurdles and those responsible

Predictably, the Wilmington StarNews editorialists weigh in after decisions regarding the status about Carolinas Cement Company’s plan to rebuild a cement plant located north of Wilmington, N. C. They feebly try to present both sides, but clearly, their language shows bias against the company. (link)

The latest case: the North Carolina State Division of Air Quality (DAQ) decision that there is “no legally valid reason to deny” a reissued permit to the company—necessary because of delaying tactics by local and regional radical environmentalists to stall plant construction. Further, after more than four years of attacks on the company, there is no evidence that operations will produce harmful pollution.

Opinion—“shaped by the Editorial Board”—supports attempts to discredit the company and questions its plans. Editors say it “had a hand in pushing the (federal) Environmental Protection Agency to relax pollution control limits.” Of course the company lobbies to protect its business interests against increasingly oppressive federal regulations. EPA under this administration is committed to extreme measures designed to shut down U. S. manufacturing—especially those that necessarily use carbon-based fuels such as our energy producing facilities. Even candidate Obama had admitted this would be his intention.

Editorialists persist in unfounded assertions that State laws “may be scuttled, or weakened.” It’s clear that they have liberal bias against the Republican majority elected in North Carolina—their resentment based on years of support for liberal Democrat control of the State. The false suggestion that Republicans plan to allow rampant, harmful pollution is not only foolish, but irresponsible.

Further, editors publicly try to discredit the cement company with pathetic statements that its people may not keep a “promise” about employee numbers and pay. That’s none of their business. Will the StarNews management “promise” us they will employ certain numbers of people and pay them high wages? No, of course not. A for-profit business can’t assure “the community” that its business model will never change—nor should it.

Also insulting to the cement company people (and surprising to many of us who have observed what’s really going on) comes from the editorial arrogance suggesting that the company “show good will” and “be a good corporate citizen, as defined by the community.” First, the collectivist concept of “community” is bogus and irrelevant—assuming that we are all single-minded.

We are individuals, not part of some grand socialist scheme—although editors might like it to be so. Individuals define what’s good or bad, not fictitious “communities.” Activists and editors choose to promote skepticism and doubt toward the Carolinas Cement Company because they want readers to believe that bad things might happen; I, and many others, choose to defend and support it because we know the character of its people. They have nothing to gain from or any intentions of doing harm. And they have the modern technology to prevent it. Further, CCC folks have never shown unfriendliness toward anyone here (although, the company had justifiable reason to defend its good name against local slanders).

Editors admit that the radicals who have opposed Carolinas Cement won’t change their minds, but that “a show of good will” by the company people may help “win over” others. Yet there’s plenty of evidence that activists have nothing but irrational ill-will toward the company, and no reason to believe that the majority of people in this region don’t support the company.

Apparently, editors forgot that more than four years ago CCC people came here deeply invested with good will and expectations that they would be well-received. To rational people it’s obvious they could make positive contributions in many ways to Southeastern North Carolina—and beyond. I distinctly remember: they were cheerful, proud of their work and anxious to share information with anyone. What did they get in return for their positive plans to contribute economic value and new technology to this area?

They were received with demonstrations of anger and disrespect from a small environmental activist group that, without any interest in learning about the company and its proposed plan (the first deceptive tactic was to “ask questions”), immediately began a local negative “Stop Titan” campaign. That expanded to a “Stop Titan Network” of regional, radical anti-development organizations.

Repeating some of the usual misleading propaganda, editors say that the company will “pour another 32 tons of particulate matter into the atmosphere” and destroy “a few hundred acres of wetland.” They say that a “gesture on Titan’s part” to “volunteer for more stringent regulations than are required by law” would help change minds. Even if that wasn’t nonsensical, it wouldn’t matter to the rabid, unreasonable core opposition.

The only gesture these people will return to the Carolinas Cement Company is a symbolic vulgar hand signal showing a finger representing their disagreeable attitude. Good will requires people on both sides of an issue to, at least, observe civil behavior. People who work for the cement company have shown friendship, responsibility and honesty, but the personal attacks and the unnecessary hurdles forced upon them have come from activists devoid of these virtues.

StarNews editors have contributed to conflict. They repeat unfounded suspicions and misleading information. They give an edge for credibility to an organized mob rather than to the history and record built with pride by the people of Titan America.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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