Saturday, January 12, 2008

New York CIty Council Bill Would Prevent Independent Environmental Disaster Testing

Jenna Orkin*

It is by now a truism that at the height of the environmental disaster of 9/11, the federal government proclaimed, "The air is safe to breathe." New York City's Department of Health followed suit, telling residents to clean their apartments using a wet rag. As a result of these fatally seductive lures, tens of thousands of Ground Zero workers are now sick as are uncounted residents, office workers and students. Some victims have already died.

What was the excuse for the government's lies to the public? Repeatedly, we have been told of the need to prevent "panic" and "anxiety."

Using the same rationale, a bill before the New York City Council would ensure not only that history repeats itself; it goes beyond that, plugging those leaks that allowed fragments of truth to seep out in the fall of 2001.

In the chaos following the attacks, when the world was focussed on the devastation of Lower Manhattan and the rallying cry was to "show the terrorists" by getting back to business as usual, relatively few people focussed on the environmental conditions that prevailed.

But independent testing performed by the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, among other organizations, led to a seminal cover story in the Daily News which laid out the hideous truth, thereby landing its author, Juan Gonzalez, in journalistic purgatory (the next article this writer saw by him was on page 32) for the next several years.

A bill before the New York City Council, Intro 650, is designed to ensure that should another terrorist attack occur and should the government once more determine that the public's ignorance is bliss or at least better than the alternative, no one will be allowed to redeem the situation.

In order to prevent "excessive false alarms and unwarranted anxiety," Intro 650 would require the New York Police Department to okay any independent environmental testing with permits.

The bill does not discuss what to do when the anxiety is warranted. As pointed out in testimony by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) and the New York City Central Labor Council, "neither press reports nor the scientific literature nor the city's own web site provides any support for the assertion that the 'excessive alarms and unwarranted anxiety' have been or are real-world problems."

Just how wrongheaded is Intro 650? It would render immediately illegal tens of thousands of safety devices including carbon monoxide detectors and legally required smoke detectors.

The sheer brazenness of submitting Intro 650 at the epicenter of one of the greatest environmental disasters in the history of this country and with the government's recklessly indifferent history in handling that disaster, is alarming in itself. The bill is a scaled down environmental equivalent of the Patriot Act. The difference is that we're not fresh from a terrorist attack; there's no 'emergency' now. We have no excuse to allow the wool to be pulled over our eyes.

*Jenna Orkin is one of twelve original plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the EPA.


Tyler Havlin said...

Rising development costs push up oil futures curve

Rising costs for oil companies are driving up prices for crude oil futures through 2016, keeping supplies struggling to match growing oil demand outside the United States.

"The hopes for a flood of supply in the next several years appear unlikely to happen, particularly when looking at rising demand from the emerging-market economies," said John Kilduff, senior vice president of MF Global.

Rice Farmer said...

Thanks for the essay, Jenna. It's an excellent example of how elites increase their monopoly over information and keep us in the dark.

Other news:
India to build strategic crude oil storages as insurance

Rice Farmer said...

Fuel taxes and road maintenance -- just as I said.

Tyler Havlin said...

Crisis may make 1929 look a 'walk in the park'

As the credit paralysis stretches through its fifth month, a chorus of economists has begun to warn that the world's central banks are fighting the wrong war, and perhaps risk a policy error of epochal proportions.

"Liquidity doesn't do anything in this situation," says Anna Schwartz, the doyenne of US monetarism and life-time student (with Milton Friedman) of the Great Depression.

"It cannot deal with the underlying fear that lots of firms are going bankrupt. The banks and the hedge funds have not fully acknowledged who is in trouble. That is the critical issue," she adds.

Rice Farmer said...

Mitsubishi UFJ is supposedly one of the Japanese financial institutions standing ready to bail out Wall Street, but now we know that MUFJ has problems that are more serious than it acknowledged at first.

Thieves Target Kansas Grain Elevators
Food is now worth stealing, big time. And this is just the start. Here in Japan, every summer there are reports of vegetable and grape thieves who come at night and clean out a field or vineyard. And in the fall, after the rice harvest, come the rice thieves. So imagine how bad it's going to get as food becomes still more expensive. Start your gardens now, and think about posting watchdogs.

Tyler Havlin said...

Fund stops investor withdrawals

A rush to withdraw money from its commercial property funds has forced Scottish Equitable to introduce delays of up to 12 months for its customers.

It affects investors in the Scottish Equitable Property fund, Select Reserve fund and Select Distribution fund.

Aegon UK, which runs the fund, blames the rush to the exits on concerns about the US sub-prime mortgage collapse, recession worries and interest rates.

Tyler Havlin said...

Slower boats to China as ship owners save fuel

Oil at more than $90 a barrel is concentrating minds in the shipping industry. Higher fuel costs and mounting pressure to curb emissions are leading modern merchant fleets to rediscover the ancient power of the sail.

more stories like thisThe world's first commercial ship powered partly by a giant kite sets off on a maiden voyage from Bremen to Venezuela on Tuesday, in an experiment which inventor Stephan Wrage hopes can wipe 20 percent, or $1,600, from the ship's daily fuel bill.