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People in Millard County weren t just upset at Rollins Incorporated the company that wanted to burn the hazardous wastes. They were also upset at three of their four county commissioners plus their city attorney who d been officially waving Rollins right on in.
Getting stung by your own elected officials is kinda like getting bit by your pet dog the bite will heal, but you never feel the same about that dog again.
The local dentist, Tom Chandler, led the charge of Millard County Mad-as-Hellers. They began making calls, writing letters, going door to door: doing the grassroots, grunt-level stuff that makes our democracy work.
They organized the first picket in Millard County history, and they beat Rollins when county residents voted to ban all hazardous waste facilities from their county.
Oh, yeah they voted out those three commissioners and the city attorney, too.
A happy ending, right?
Not so fast.
The day after the election, another company Ashgrove Cement launched a sneak attack just outside the Millard County line, planning to burn the same kind of nasty, cancer-causing stuff.
So those Mad-as-Hellers all piled in a bus and took their fight 150 miles down the road to the state capital. And this time, the county commissioners were standing with the citizens, not the company. Did they win?
Big time. 95 of 100 state legislators supported their bill, which backed off all the hazardous-waste burners.
As somebody said after the battle, one hundred citizens who are loud, inconvenient, and persistent can accomplish just about anything.
In 1991, citizens stopped more than 20 hazardous waste burners.
This is Jim Hightower saying, that s what democracy is all about: people willing to make a fuss ... to make a difference.
The Environmental Exchange, "Citizens Block HW Burning in Utah Cement Kilns