This is a brief update on our continued efforts to get Lehigh to stop polluting our communities, and also to ask for your help. After 6 months of involvement in these efforts, please consider these four observations.
1. Lehigh pollutes our community.
Our community's Lehigh Cement plant is one the dirtiest cement plants in the country, and one of the only such plants located in a densely populated metropolitan center such as Silicon Valley. At present Lehigh has formal notice of violations for illegally polluting our communities’ water, air and surrounding land.
2. Regulatory agencies cannot enforce penalties for violations.
Although regulatory agencies such as the EPA, California Water Resource Board, Bay Area Air Quality Management Agency, CA State Mining Agency may be well intentioned, they are impotent when it comes to enforcement of violations - no matter how many and how egregious the violations.
3. Our local elected officials will not help with this issue.
There is an entrenched network between cement factory executives and our local politicians that has existed for decades and is still a powerful presence in our communities. Two recent Cupertino mayors have gone to work for Lehigh after they have left office. Several influential local and state politicians are clearly allied with Lehigh on any issue that impacts the company, as reflected in the recent Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor hearings in February.
4. Lehigh is a formidable adversary.
What is clear is that Lehigh is a formidable adversary, with deep pockets and the will and ability to do whatever it takes to continue to do business with minimum oversight. There have been many battles over the years, now culminating in Lehigh’s desires to open a new 200 acre open pit mine. The only significant opposition to Lehigh has come from local community activists and organizations such as No Toxic Air.
After six months of involvement, I have been amazed by and have great respect for the efforts of a small number of incredibly dedicated individuals in our community who have lead the fight against this company. But, they cannot do it alone. I know that all of us lead busy and frenetic lives and may not have the time to help directly, but one thing that we can do individually is to support these efforts by donating much needed money.
No Toxic Air has developed a clear strategy to fight Lehigh. In the short term we plan legal challenges to the issues of Vested Rights and illegal dumping in the East Material Storage Area. ( I will not go into the details of why these two issues have been chosen, please go to our web site or call one of us to get more information regarding this.) For the long term, the crucial goal is to stop Lehigh’s plan to open a new 200 acre open pit mine in our local hillsides. To effectively fight these battles, we need to raise money – about $100,000.
We have already received significant support, having raised nearly $40,000 in 4 months, but we need to continue our success by completing our goal of $100,000. Please give as generously as you can, as this is an important issue that affects all of us in our community and one that will not go away without our involvement. As we look into the future, it is difficult to discern any other organized effort to fight Lehigh’s expansion efforts. It truly is up to each one of us to help in this important battle.
Please learn more and participate in our efforts at
Roy and Andrea Hong
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