"State and local politics tried to shut me down, and I was threatened with lawsuits. But I was clear: I’d rather get sued than do nothing while my kids and my community were poisoned. I’d rather get sued than do nothing in the face of so much injustice."— Cathy Miorelli, Tamaqua, PA
For over a decade, Cathy Miorelli has been unwavering in her commitment to protect the community where she was born and raised. She is a trail blazer, leading the effort for her community to become the first in the United States to adopt a law recognizing the rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish. The ordinance bans mine reclamation as a violation of those rights.
Cathy is featured in We the People 2.0 – The Second American Revolution
I love Tamaqua Borough. I love the feel of this small town, like when I go into a restaurant and know everyone there. It feels like community.
For decades we have been a toxic dumping ground for corporations. In 2002, we learned that corporate dumping was going to include fly ash, river dredge, and sewage sludge for the reclamation of a coal-stripping pit. Our community is poor and we live in a depressed economy, making us an easy target.
We went to our Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). That’s where we’re supposed to go, right? They’re supposed to help us.
“[H]aving a say” was no more than letting us have the illusion that we were participating in a democratic process.
We learned pretty quickly that helping us meant holding a hearing. Holding a hearing meant we “had a say.” And “having a say” was no more than letting us have the illusion that we were participating in a democratic process.
Our cancer clusters didn’t matter. Our clear and united voice opposing dumping didn’t matter. What mattered was that a corporation wanted to dump in Tamaqua – regardless of what we, the people, wanted. And each way we turned for help to stop it, we faced dead ends.
Learning about CELDF and Community Rights was a game changer in our community. Instead of turning to our supposed representatives to help us, or the DEP, or the Department of Health, we learned to turn to ourselves.
We found the courage to stand up for ourselves. We realized that no one was going to protect us or the ecosystems upon which we depend except us.
I ran for City Council based on this. State and local politics tried to shut me down, and I was threatened with lawsuits. But I was clear: I’d rather get sued than do nothing while my kids and my community were poisoned. I’d rather get sued than do nothing in the face of so much injustice.
My husband passed away 3 years ago – he had a blood condition linked to the toxins in our community, which contributed to his death. He is my inspiration today, reminding me to keep asking questions and to stand up to injustice. We can do nothing and take what corporations and our government throw at us, or we can move forward and fight for what is right.
Community Rights is our moving forward and our fight for what is right.
Please help us fight for what is right – donate to Community Rights today.