Something's in the Air: Toxic Editorial by Publisher of the Argus Courier

In an ironic development, our local newspaper has published an editorial claiming that opponents to the proposed Dutra asphalt plant are “fear-mongers” and “misinformed.” Anyone that has visited this site knows that one thing we don’t lack is information. Over the past several months, the entire community has been remarkable in its ability to research the issues and produce a wealth of documentation and evidence supporting our claim that this is the wrong plant in the wrong place. Are we emotional? Absolutely. The County is trying to force the City to allow the construction of an asphalt plant next to one of our most treasured recreational and environmental resources. Not to mention, the company being force-fed to us has a history of compliance issues and regulatory violations. We think a little emotion is appropriate in this case.

While the editorial itself is long on hyperbole, it presented no factual information whatsoever and did not mention the plants impact to Shollenberger wildlife at all. We understand that dwindling readership for traditional print media has newspapers scrambling to sell papers, so who knows what the motivation was here but shouldn’t we expect more from our local media?

Please continue to let your voice be heard. If you disagreed with the Argus Courier's editorial please email the newspaper. All of us who subscribe to the Argus, buy it at the newsstand, or read the it on-line...we are their customers; let our opinion of this insulting and inaccurate editorial be heard.

Publisher: John Burns


Editor: Chris Samson

Gentlemen, here is some information for your consideration:

Claim: The proposed plant has gone through extensive environmental review.

We disagree. And here are 239 pages detailing why (download with caution; it’s a very large file). In addition, many experts continue to step forward claiming the EIR was inadequate.

Claim: Asphalt is not a toxic environmental hazard.

"Asphalt processing and asphalt roofing manufacturing facilities are major sources of hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, hexane, phenol, polycyclic organic matter, and toluene. Exposure to these air toxics may cause cancer, central nervous system problems, liver damage, respiratory problems and skin irritation."
~ Environmental Protection Agency

Claim: Dutra has operated with few complaints and there will be established conditions placed on Dutra to ensure proper and safe operation.

“It is important to consider the difficulties that Marin County, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have had in obtain Dutra’s compliance with permits and reclamation plans. In recent years the Dutra Group has been the subject of a Grand Jury Investigation, litigation resulting in over $700 thousand in fines, and numerous unresolved complaints.”
~ Steve Birdlebough,
Chair – Sierra Club, Sonoma Group Executive Committee

Finally, the editorial attempts to sling mud at Mayor Torliatt while glorifying Supervisor Kerns. Those claims are so far off base that there is no need to even address them. However, regarding the implication that Petaluma’s Mayor, Pam Torliatt is looking to replace Mike Kerns in the next election, we say: What a welcome change that would be.


  1. I can't find the editorial. Could you provide a link to it?



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