Meridian Star


July 7, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

MERIDIAN — Changes needed in MDEQ Permit Board process

    The Environmental Permit Board at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is designed so that people, especially those who live in counties without zoning, have a steep uphill battle opposing permits. Project questions that should be answered by local planning, or by County Supervisors, are mixed into a single vote meant only to cover compliance with MDEQ regulations. Permit Board members regularly apologize for this confusion, saying: “ Sorry, but we are not a zoning board.”

    The Board’s seats hold a changing cast of mid-level agency designees. Agency directors, paid big salaries to make important decisions, choose not to sit and hear citizen’s pleas to the Board to stop chicken houses, industrial plants or dirt car race tracks from being built next to their property. The wrong people are hearing their objections, yet permitted projects pose real threats to people’s property value, lifestyles, health and the environment.

    The aggrieved people who travel to Jackson to make passionate appeals to the MDEQ Permit Board often do not know that the Board will vote, without exception, to grant permits, over all their objections. Everyone in Mississippi needs to know that the only way to appeal a poorly conceived permit is to lose two separate votes at the Permit Board before an appeal to Chancery Court is possible.

    An attorney’s services are necessary to create an appeal record - an expensive and time consuming effort.

    Several times each year, people are steamrolled by this process and pay dearly in quality of life, property value and health. The Legislature made the process and should fix it.

Andrew Whitehurst, Assistant Director of Science and Water Policy, Gulf Restoration Network

Of separation

of church and state

    Why is it such a awesomely incredible thing to understand? Well, it so easy to understand, when you put this subject in the right perspective of history. Every individual that was living in the colonies before the Revolutionary War came from Europe. Either from England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, The Netherlands, or some other country of Europe.

    World History of the 1600s and 1700s will tell us that the governments of these countries were of a Sovereign King and/or Queen. Usually, a tyrannical ruler. In other words, you served some type of a Master, who served the King. And, there was a state religion. Except for The United Kingdom, most European nations/countries were under the Roman Catholic Church. The United Kingdom, which consisted of England, Ireland and Scotland, were under the Church of England.     However, there were many in Ireland who stayed Catholic.

    The Kings of these European Countries were somewhat to a great degree were controlled by their church/state religion. The American Founding Fathers knew all to well how those governments worked, or I should say, how they didn't work. That's why the American Founding Fathers did not want the church running the government, nor the government running the church.

    A question: if a politician, Democrat or Republican, goes to church, do they leave the politician outside? Or, if a Christian, Democrat or Republican goes to a political rally, do they leave the Christian outside?

    Can everybody see the madness of this argument? It's stupidity that says, I can't practice my Christianity if I'm a Democrat or Republican. You cannot separate the two.

    But, in practice, we, as Americans, don't allow the government run the church, and we don't let the church run the government. I, will say this, I hope and pray that we will allow the good, honesty, and the best of both make us better people, christians and political individuals.

    Thank you. That's my opinion.

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