Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘human health’

Last week, I, Stephanie Thomas, Houston Organizer for Public Citizen, joined members of community and environmental groups testifying in opposition to Polluting Pruitt’s proposed rollbacks of the 2017 Chemical Disaster Rule.

The Chemical Disaster Rule helps better protect workers, first responders, and fenceline communities. So what exactly is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gutting?…

Almost all of the disaster prevention measures in the Chemical Disaster Rule.

What’s Being Lost

The repeals mean that industry will no longer be required to invest in third party audits when accidents happen nor will facilities need to conduct a root cause analysis as part of incident investigations following incidents with a catastrophic release or a near miss.

The EPA is merely putting out fires, not working to prevent the fires, explosions, and deaths from happening in the first place.

Safer technologies? The EPA proposal rescinds requirements for certain facilities to complete safer technology and alternatives analyses to minimize the amount of hazardous substances used. Also, they are rolling back demands to use less hazardous substances, incorporate safer designs, and minimize the impact of releases. This seems like a a no-brainer, but unfortunately, these rollbacks toss safer technology out the window.

Even first responders will be losing out. The proposed changes remove a requirement to provide, upon request, information to the public on chemical hazards, including substance names, safety data sheets, accident history, emergency response program information, and LEPC contact information (Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) must develop an emergency response plan, review the plan at least annually, and provide information about chemicals in the community to citizens).

Let us remember Hurricane Harvey and its devastating chemical impacts along the Gulf Coast – most notably the explosion at the Arkema facility in Crosby, Texas. Floodwaters caused the backup generator to fail, leading to explosions of unstable organic peroxides and the release of a slew of toxic chemicals, including an unpermitted release of cancer-causing ethylbenzene. Had the 2017 chemical disaster rule been in place, first responders and community members would have had access to safety data sheets providing information for protecting themselves against the harmful chemicals released into the air and water; and would not have had to file lawsuits such as the one filed in Harris County by first responders alleging Arkema failed to take adequate safety steps to secure dangerous chemicals ahead of Hurricane Harvey.

Known Impact to Communities

By the EPA’s own account, more than 150 chemical incidents occur each year. And the agency knows that repealing these rules will hurt minority, low-income communities the most. 

Who benefits? The chemical industry – and all for a measly $88 million per year, a drop in the bucket for these big corporations.  

The EPA only provided one opportunity to testify on the rollbacks to the Chemical Disaster Rule. While I was glad to be able to testify there, that’s not good enough. Because this proposal knowingly harms communities, impacted communities need a seat at the table.

While the EPA leaves out environmental justice communities, industry interests are well-represented within the agency. Several administrators and counselors for the EPA have served as lobbyists and litigators for industry. Just yesterday, the US Senate held a confirmation hearing for DowDupont lawyer Peter Wright, who will likely be leading the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, which oversees the Risk Management Program.

It’s no accident that these rollbacks are being proposed at a time when industry’s foxes have taken over the henhouse. The EPA should be supporting the health and wellbeing of Texas communities, not padding the profits of corporate polluters.

Read Full Post »

The Texas Progressive Alliance would like to thank everyone for reading all of the weekly blog roundups this year. This is the last roundup of 2009, and we are all looking forward to 2010.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to be afraid of drug cartels buying our politicians. We’ve all seen what money and power did to health care reform. Imagine all that drug money buying power here. It’s time to legalize drugs and take away the profit.

You can’t make this stuff up at Bay Area Houston. GOP “Bubba” white supremacist wanted for murder.

Barnett Shale Communities can breathe easier after a VICTORY last week when TCEQ issued a new emission policy following the release of Texas OGAP’s Study: Shale Gas Threatens Human Health. Read the study and view documents TCEQ will use to record odor complaints and take necessary enforcement action.

WhosPlayin picked up on the TCEQ policy change, and also weighed in on strange comments by a Flower Mound Councilman explaining his vote not to impose an oil and gas moratorium. Speaking of councilmen, Lewisville has a teabagger councilman who wants to turn down a $913,000 stimulus grant from the federal government.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the potential for a contested party chair race in Dallas County. And, it is among the Democrats.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men, on Robert George, the conservative Christian “big thinker” who dresses up old prejudices in new rationales.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog is terribly excited that Gordon Quan is running for Harris County Judge.

Off the Kuff writes about Harris County Board of Ed Trustee Michael Wolfe, the silliest officeholder in Harris County.

Escalation in Afghanistan, a health care reform bill lacking a public option, and another climate change bust in Copenhagen has left a lot of Obama believers stranded at the intersection of Hope and Change. PDiddie has stepped off the bus; read why at Brains and Eggs.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the GOP property tax swap has fixed nothing, as most people knew back when it passed, The Texas GOP and the Texas budget.

Neil at Texas Liberal said that all of us in life seek the 60 votes of hope and kindness to defeat the filibusters of despair and anger. The Senate of life is always session so that we can rustle up the needed votes.

###

By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

Read Full Post »