Terry Nolan of Royal Dutch Shell Oil stated that this article didn't "live up to the journalism for which The Nation is renowned." In our opinion, Zaitchik's article was exactly what your publication is all about--good research, thoughtful evaluation and the ability to highlight situations that have often been unfairly portrayed, or simply overlooked, in the mainstream news.
Unlike Terry Nolan, the Doyle family of West Newfield, Maine, felt Zaitchik's article was "right on the mark." We have visited the Pollatomish area during three separate summers, and are deeply concerned with the impact that the Corrib Gas Project has had on the environment, the well-being of the residents, and the spirit and atmosphere of the community.
On our last visit during this past July 2008, the constant noise from the construction, the back-up of traffic, the destruction of the beach, the off-limit areas for walking and the unbelievable presence of Gardai and security left us with a feeling of complete shock, uneasiness and great sadness. When we were taking photos of the area, we noticed someone taking pictures of us and our car. It is deeply unsettling and intimidating to live with a feeling of being watched when you are simply trying to take a walk near a public beach.
Our 18-year-old daughter was so deeply affected by what she saw in County Mayo that she wrote a paper on the Corrib Gas Project, created a slideshow and led a discussion in her advanced placement environmental science class at her high school in New Hampshire. She drafted a petition for reconsideration of the project and sent it to Mr. Mark Carrigy, the operations manager of the Corrib Gas Project, and to Mr. Noel Dempsey, the former minister for communications, Marine and Natural Resources.
Although we do not live in the Pollatomish area, we feel a great love for the environment of the area and an appreciation for the traditional way of life that values the land and the water and agriculture and fishing. We worry about the risks involved with highly pressurized raw gas being transported over such an unstable bog area. We are concerned about the effects on marine and bird populations. We worry about the burning off of greenhouse gases and the toxins associated with the project. We are concerned about the effects on the water supply.
Nolan's statement that "a majority of the local community support the project" truly shocked our family. We would be curious to know in regard to what information this statement was based. We witnessed an abundance of properties that housed signs of protest to the project and met many people of all different ages and from all different backgrounds who opposed it.
Nolan shared employment statistics (1,000 workers building the terminal) for the Corrib Gas Project in his criticism of Zaitchik's article. It appeared that this number was being cited as a justification of support for the existence of the Corrib Gas Project. The number of people employed in a project does not always correlate with support of the project.
Nolan's citing of employee numbers is reminiscent of the situation of workers in the States who make a living from mining. In certain areas, miners form the major employment group. But often, when asked, miners will admit that they have great concerns about their health, safety and the effects of their mining on the environment and such issues as global warming. When the construction of the Corrib Gas Terminal is complete, what happens to those 1,000 workers who, Nolan implies, are supporters?
How exciting it would be if alternative forms of energy were explored in the County Mayo area that did not pose the serious dangers of the Corrib Gas Project that have been discussed in countless reports and publications.
Rachel Carson, one of the most respected environmentalists in America, once said: "One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, 'What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?' " Her words are being played out each day by those individuals deeply concerned about the future of the Erris Peninsula in County Mayo in Ireland.
Our family praises Alexander Zaitchik for raising awareness about the Corrib Gas Project in the United States, and we express our gratitude to all those in County Mayo who have courageously remained determined to protect their natural resources. May those who protest this project remain peaceful, safe and resolute in their efforts.
Mary Elizabeth Doyle
West Newfield, ME
Apr 29 2009 - 4:31am