Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bay Area residents, how much Mercury do you like?

This is not my typical blog, running experience or race report but time is of essence for this post. If you are checking by blog once a week, I did post my Jed Smith 50K race report last night.

This post is to invite Bay Area residents to (1) be aware of a global environmental situation we have with the Lehigh cement plan in the Cupertino hills and (2) join a special action event at 1 PM this coming Tuesday (February 8th) in San Jose.

When I first heard about the issue, my reaction is that we had enough businesses leaving Cupertino these past years (Symantec and HP recently) and we did not want more. But this is not a reason to let a local employer violate environmental and employment regulations, hence the call to action below.

Although this does not appear fully aligned with the running theme of my blog, it is a lot about air and water pollution which is of course very annoying for us running in the nearby foothills. I have always praised the quality of life and unique protection of our hills but, certainly, the cement plan is the exception in this idyllic picture.

The fact is that Lehigh has other plants and, in Germany for instance where green voices are stronger and businesses take sustainability very seriously, the Lehigh cement plan only emits a maximum of 100 pounds of mercury per year (still above the EPA limit of 80 pounds). In Cupertino, the plant emitted 1,284 pounds of mercury in 2005 alone, just a couple of miles from our homes and schools, something which is extremely damageable for our health as you can imagine.

The matter on the table which will be discussed on Tuesday afternoon is the ongoing process for the Santa Clara County to approve Lehigh's request to dramatically expand the facility in the Cupertino hills.

Here is a video clip about the issue:

Again, please look at the call for action below and, if you are also concern about the issue, act and join us on Tuesday in San Jose. It is not about preventing businesses to thrive in the Bay Area, it is about doing it in a sustainable manner and aligned with the environmental values of the Bay Area. So we can keep running and breathing safely in the so-called Valley of Heart's Delights... See you all on Tuesday! 1PM, 70 W. Hedding street, East Wing, Board Chambers, 1st Floor, San Jose, CA 95110.

Call to action from the association.

URGENT - Please Take Action To Save Our Health NOW!!!

The Santa Clara county Board of Supervisors are holding a public hearing on Feb. 8th at 1:30pm to discuss Vested Right for Lehigh Cement Plant, in the hills above Cupertino. It only takes three votes (out of five) to grant the Right.  If Lehigh gets the vote, which means Lehigh (the nation’s 4th biggest mercury polluter among cement plants) will not need a permit from Santa Clara County for a second 200 acre pit mine. Lehigh is also applying for a 20 year Land Use Permit, renewable every 20 years, to mine limestone from this pit. 

What does that mean? 

Lehigh seeks approval for all of the above in one public meeting with little community input. They have political backing at many levels.

Lehigh's expansion will release additional Mercury, which is toxic at very small amounts, let alone hundreds of pounds*.

*In 2005 alone Lehigh released 1,284 pounds of mercury into our air. By contrast, its plants in Germany emit less than 100 pounds of mercury per year.  EPA limit for Mercury for Lehigh Cement Plant is 88 lbs. max per year.

What can you do?

The only way to prevent Lehigh from getting the vested rights is by TAKING THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS:

1)     Before Feb. 8, 2011. Email and call all five county supervisors and elected officials (See contact info. below) with the following talking points:

 As a voter of Santa Clara County, I urge you NOT to grant Vested Rights to Lehigh Cement Plant. Granting these rights will result in 

       Additional mercury and other toxic pollutants in the air we breathe. This will endanger the health of millions of Silicon Valley residents and in particular children. 
       Limited oversight of a mining operation with a shameful history of disregarding laws designed to protect the environment and public health.
       Increased health care costs. 
       Reduced property values, which will add to the budget crisis. 


Copy and paste County Supervisor’s addresses into your email.

CC: District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen and County Assessor Larry Stone  (copy and paste)

Call the Supervisors
Mike Wasserman - 408-299-5010 
Dave Cortese -  408-299-5030 
Liz Kniss - 408-299-5050 
George Shirakawa, - 408-299-5020
Ken Yeager - 408-299-5040 

2)     Attend Feb. 8th at 1pm (Rally), for 30 minutes media exposure. Meet in front of the County building main entrance. 70 W. Hedding street, East Wing, San Jose

3)     1:30pm -2:30pm(public hearing) at County Board of Supervisors, 70 W. Hedding street, East Wing, Board Chambers, 1st Floor, San Jose, CA 95110

4)     Send a letter to the editor(125 words)  to: 

5)     Send this information to all your friends and neighbors. 


Help Us Win the Fight:  We thank many people that have contributed their personal time to the NoToxicAir cause.  However, there are areas that require professional legal counsel so the NoToxicAir legal committee has obtained professional legal counsel to represent the residents.  We need donations to fund the legal effort from residents who are concerned and want to seriously push for more oversight of Lehigh to protect our community's health.  Because of you we can win this fight -- we need your help now.

At, there is information on how to donate.  We are asking for a contribution of $200 or more if you can but any amount is appreciated.  If you have questions, email Linda Sell, NoToxicAir Secretary at
Attend the upcoming meetings -  Optional RSVP

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