Mississippi editorial roundup
Mississippi editorial roundup
By The Associated Press
Aug. 09, 2017
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Sun Herald of Biloxi on companies that dump toxic waste into the Gulf of Mexico:
The more we learn about the Mississippi Phosphates Co. fiasco, the more we're convinced we have to find a better way of dealing with polluters.
Once again, a company has made untold millions over the years, then left a toxic mess for taxpayers to clean up.
Taxpayers should be indignant.
Here's what MPC once said on its website: "The company and its employees are committed to awareness of and adherence to federal, state and local environmental laws, regulations, company policies and procedures. It is the policy of the company to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to its employees and the community in which it operates."
Empty words, we know now. Where were the elected officials we entrusted with holding the company to its word?
There were plenty of warning signs. The most troublesome byproduct of the plant that made diammonium phosphate fertilizer is industrial gypsum, which has been known for decades to have radioactive properties. And still, our leaders allowed the company to store two mountains of gypsum, which creates acidic wastewater every time rainwater hits them.
By 2014, the company was bankrupt, leaving behind the hazardous mountains and an acidic lake of 700 million gallons of wastewater that was growing by 9 million gallons with every inch of rainfall. In Pascagoula, by the way, the average annual rainfall is 65 inches.
In 2015, MPC pleaded guilty to a single violation of the Clean Water Act. A single violation. Out of hundreds alleged by the EPA since 2000.
When it filed for bankruptcy, it agreed to assist in paying for an estimated $120 million cleanup of the site and transfer 320 acres to the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
We now know that assistance amounted to $12 million, and early this year we got the bad news: The $12 million was gone, spent by the Environmental Trust set up by MPC to stem the damage.
So now, the EPA and the state's taxpayers have taken control of the site, and its $1 million per month cost. The EPA is hoping someone will buy the plant.
Consider what a former CFO said about the plant before it went belly-up. This is from his LinkedIn page: "I was hired as a CFO to transition into the CEO role at some time, however the condition of the factory was such that it was too far gone and no longer functional."
The people most responsible, those who profited from the company and the public officials who allowed them to do it then walk away from their responsibilities, are gone.
We urge current public officials to better vet the next company that comes knocking on their doors with promises of jobs and economic development. They should make sure the company has the wherewithal to deal with any environmental havoc it creates and that wherewithal is out of the reach of anyone but the cleanup crew.
The Greenwood Commonwealth on why Mississippi Power should join the Midcontinent Independent System Operator:
Forty-six million dollars a year is a lot to save just by flipping a switch. That's how much money ratepayers are saving each year in electric bills because Cooperative Energy has joined MISO.
Cooperative Energy is a network of 12 Mississippi electric cooperatives, including Greenwood-based Delta Electric Power Association, serving 423,000 ratepayers in 55 counties. Its old name was South Mississippi Electric Cooperative. MISO stands for Midcontinent Independent System Operator. It is one of eight large U.S. electricity grid cooperatives.
Since Cooperative Energy has joined MISO, Cooperative can buy the lowest-cost electricity from hundreds of different MISO-affiliated power plants within the grid. In turn, Cooperative can sell electricity from its plants into the grid. This creates a free market for electricity and lowers costs. Because of MISO, Mississippi homes are actually being powered by wind and solar energy, which constitute 13 percent of the MISO electricity generation. Another 11 percent is nuclear and other renewables. The rest is fossil fuels, most of that natural gas, then coal.
Entergy, another large Mississippi utility company, is also a part of MISO and saving hundreds of millions of dollars as well. This is money that goes straight into the pockets of ratepayers, improving the economic health of our state.
One of the absurdities of the Kemper power plant was that no plant was needed in the first place. If Mississippi Power Co. had joined MISO , it could have bought electricity at the lowest cost from all over the United States rather than squandering $7.5 billion on a "clean coal" experiment that has flopped.
Rather than granting Mississippi Power any monetary relief from its poor business decisions and hubris, Mississippi's Public Service Commission should use its current settlement leverage to force the utility to join MISO in exchange for rate concessions on the natural gas portion of the Kemper plant. Once in MISO, it would be hard for Mississippi Power and its parent, Southern Co., to propose other stand-alone proprietary power plants that would increase the electric bills of state residents. There simply wouldn't be a need.
Competition is coming in the electricity market. In Texas, consumers can buy electricity from the power plant of their choice. Not surprisingly, price is the overwhelming factor, although some Texans prefer to pay more for green energy. Pushing all Mississippi utility companies into MISO is a logical first step and lays the groundwork for further competition down the road.
The Oxford Eagle on how the state is taking action on the opioid issue:
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant's new opiate task force is already getting results.
The task force assembled by the Governor, including members Josh Horton and Oxford Police Chief Joey East, has made an initial 41 recommendations aimed at law enforcement, and some aimed at prevention and treatment in the effort to save lives.
"These are our neighbors, our friends and family members," Bryant said, referring to those in the state suffering from opiate addiction and death.
Among the courses of action is that Mississippi State Troopers and other state law enforcement officers will begin carrying an overdose antidote, Gov. Bryant announced this week.
The Department of Mental Health is issuing 1,450 doses of naloxone nasal spray to troopers and narcotics agents, paying for it with part of a $3.6 million federal grant.
"I think you'll see a reduction in the number of lives that are lost," Bryant said.
He's undoubtedly right, and this is a good step by the state.
The antidote is proven to save lives and once saved individuals have the chance to enter treatment and recovery.
Last year, 211 people were identified as having died from overdoses in Mississippi, according to the Associated Press but are sure that deaths are underreported.
We appreciate the effort by Gov. Bryant in establishing and leading the task force and we appreciate those like Horton and Chief East who are committed to finding solutions and making a difference.