By Kathy Pichel McGovern
I am very excited to announce that I will be running as a Republican candidate for Lower Saucon Township (LST) Council.
As a third-generation resident, I am passionate about our community. We live in a beautiful municipality where we have low crime, quality of life and natural surroundings.
Because of my interest in serving the community, I was previously on the Board of Trustees for the Hellertown Area Library (HAL), including being the treasurer. I am very well aware of the amount of people from both Hellertown and LST that use the library. Additionally, I was on the LST planning commission and am currently on its Environmental Advisory Council, the latter, as I am very concerned about the future of our community.
The purpose of any council is to look out for the best interests of the community. This includes being economically conservative, environmentally sensitive and enhancing services to the residents.
To that end, I am very disappointed in the current administration and upset with what is happening to our community. I do not support any separation with the library; to me, that is a disgrace for our community and we should support and promote the library as much as we can. Also, I do not support not paying our contractual agreement with any services we share with another community or organization. Community input is needed to make a change in service. We need to work together with all communities and organizations to sustain ourselves.
Additionally, the amount of money that has been taken from our budget to pay legal expenses for all the ensuing lawsuits from the above-mentioned issues is staggering. That money should be used to support the residents by increasing services or offering programs. Our taxpayer money should not be spent on lawsuits CREATED by the Lower Saucon Council.
I do not support the proposed Bethlehem Landfill expansion. There have been many expansions throughout the years and it has come to the point where most parties agree that the landfill is past its lifespan. I believe that fact is non-negotiable. Regarding the current landfill, there have been MANY Department on Environmental Protection (DEP) inspections that have resulted in findings of “inconclusive” or “indeterminate,” or have resulted in actual violations. “Inconclusive” does not mean “Yes, there is a violation” or “No, there is no violation,” so, which is it? It is a reoccurring theme when the Landfill has an inspection.
Growing up in the Lehigh Valley, specifically in Lower Saucon Township, we had our farmland devastated by Interstate 78 many years ago. Now, we constantly hear truck traffic 24/7 and see litter. What used to be the sounds of owls and frogs at night are now truck brakes and diesel engines adjusting to the hills. Additionally, nearby on the border of Lower Saucon and Williams townships is the Chrin Brothers Sanitary Landfill, which is on the EPA Superfund site list. The Chrin landfill and the Bethlehem landfill are less than six miles apart.
The Bethlehem Wastewater Treatment Plant which serves municipalities including the City of Bethlehem, Lower Saucon Township and the Borough of Hellertown along with the Bethlehem Energy Center (currently owned by Houston-based Calpine) which operates 24/7 with lights and constant steam production are both located along Applebutter Road within two miles of the Bethlehem Landfill.
Lower Saucon Township is very close to two Superfund sites, the other being the former Hellertown Manufacturing Company (Champion Spark Plug) in Hellertown. I believe its proximity makes it “well over the criteria” for EPA Environmental Justice status and protection.
Environmental Justice is defined by the EPA as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” The agency says that environmental justice is achieved “when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
The EPA could also potentially support Lower Saucon landowners if the township is judged to be an overburdened community, which will hopefully be finalized.
An “overburdened community” is defined by the EPA as “minority, low-income, tribal, or indigenous populations or geographic locations in the United States that potentially experience disproportionate environmental harms and risks. This disproportionality can be as a result of greater vulnerability to environmental hazards, lack of opportunity for public participation, or other factors. Increased vulnerability may be attributable to an accumulation of negative or lack of positive environmental, health, economic, or social conditions within these populations or places. The term describes situations where multiple factors, including both environmental and socio-economic stressors, may act cumulatively to affect health and the environment and contribute to persistent environmental health disparities.”
When looking at the EPA statistics, it is overwhelming to actually see the amount of toxins residents are exposed to.
I am prepared to fight for my community, repair my community and look forward to the challenges to make sure my community is safe for the next generations. Please support me at www.votekathypichelmcgovern.com or email me vo*********************@gm***.com.
Kathy Pichel McGovern
Lower Saucon Township
Editor’s Note: The 2023 primary election in Pennsylvania will be held Tuesday, May 16. Register to vote in it by May 1 here. Request a mail-in or absentee ballot by May 9 here. Find your polling place here. Update your voter registration here. Candidate news releases and other announcements pertaining to this year’s local elections may be emailed to jo**@sa**********.com for consideration.