Another Step In The Clean Getaway
Byon February 11, 2014
Freedom Industries, the Orwellian author -- and conveniently bankrupt cause -- of the chemical spill in West Virginia that poisoned most of the state's drinking water, had an unbreakable hair appointment and found itself unable to attend a congressional hearing on what it did because why should it, anyway?
That was OK, though, because nobody else knew anything, either.
Despite more than two hours of testimony, there was little discussion of the available information -- or the unknowns -- that, if focused on publicly, might help residents understand why no one can really answer for certain the question Capito said everyone is asking. There was little testimony about the huge lack of data about Crude MCHM, or about thousands of other chemicals. There were few, if any, questions about the formula federal public health officials used to come up with an emergency "screening level" of 1 part per million the state used to clear the regional water system for public use. Only U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso seemed to really want to try to wade into those issues. "It would be hard to say if it's safe," Moure-Eraso said. "In order to give a scientific answer, you have to have scientific information."
In other words, over a month after the spill occurred, the answer given by most responsible officials to the question, "Can we drink the water yet?" is "Fked if we know."
The witness list, though, included no average West Virginians -- no business owners or schoolteachers or working mothers -- who might have told lawmakers personal stories about the spill's impacts. Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., did allow public comments at the end of the hearing, but limited those to seven individuals who were given two minutes each. Witnesses and lawmakers discussed various options for legislation that might help to avoid a repeat of the spill and the water crisis that followed. Barely mentioned was the fact that numerous agencies knew Freedom was storing large quantities of chemicals 1.5 miles upstream from the water intake, but did nothing to try to prevent or plan for such a spill.
Overregulation is such a burden.
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