Wednesday, October 29, 2003
$$$ Money Makes the World Go Around $$$
So ... now it begins to trickle out ... almost two years after 9-11 ... A while
back I posted a piece entitled Bush To New Yorkers: Drop Dead, a revealing look at
Bush's interest in the health and welfare of New Yorkers after September 11.
Harvey Wasserman wrote:
The White House directly interfered with planned Environmental Protection Agency warnings about the toxic fallout from the World Trade Center explosions. It had "competing considerations" that came before protecting the health of the people of New York. Among them were re-opening the stock exchange as quickly as possible, and limiting clean-up costs and liability claims.
Because of Bush's lies, thousands of Americans will suffer cancers, emphysema, heart attack, stroke, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, eye/ear/nose/throat disease and much more.
There have been few toxic events to match the explosions that pulverized the two World Trade Center towers. The short-term deaths of three thousand people will be dwarfed over the long term by the lethal fallout.
These were two of the last big buildings constructed with asbestos, whose health effects are infamous. Once ingested, the fibers can and do make cells cancerous. Thousands of miners and others exposed to asbestos have filed lawsuits against Johns-Manville and others.
The EPA knew that spewing all that asbestos into New York's air was a horrific event, and that lives could be saved by taking certain public precautions. Bush stopped that from happening.
And the reports of denial, secrecy and an outright misleading of New Yorkers
keep coming to light. Ah ... the sunshine is beginning to break through the
clouds of dirty air. It seems a fellow named Bob Martin, former independent
ombudsman at EPA, expressing surprise it took so long for the explosive
accusations to be made.
Justin Scheck reports on Whitman's toxic power play in Mother Jones.
Martin says he was drafting a report in early 2002 that would have presented very similar conclusions. That report died when Martin's office was shut down in April of 2002, eliminated in a controversial reorganization plan initiated by former EPA boss Christine Todd Whitman.
"My findings would have come out substantially earlier, and yes, they were buried," Martin says.
Whitman's decision to eliminate Martin's office was hardly a surprise. Martin had a history of clashing with EPA brass, and that tendency only grew with Whitman's arrival, reaching its height when the ombudsman accused the EPA chief of a conflict of interest in relation to the agency's actions at a Denver Superfund project.
Danielle Brian, director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, suggests that the high-profile nature of the investigation wasn't the only reason the EPA balked.
"The reason EPA was so freaked by the ombudsman's investigation is that so many people stood to lose a lot of money" as a result of the cleanups, she says. And, while acknowledging that Martin probably would have been jettisoned had he never started the investigation, Brian claims that the Manhattan hearings "heightened the sense of urgency for EPA" and hastened Whitman's decision to eliminate the office.
Despite the official obstructionism, Martin collected nearly 500 pages of testimony, and began drafting a report which he says would have been critical of the agency and would have called for extensive indoor testing and expanded cleanups throughout the New York area.
At the time, Martin already knew that Whitman hoped to close his office. Two months before Martin held the New York hearings, Whitman had announced a tightly-targeted agency reorganization: Martin's office would be transferred from the Office of Solid Waste to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). What Whitman didn't publicize at the time was that the ombudsman's staff and budget would be eliminated, and that Martin would be required to clear any statements to Congress or the press with supervisors. After a brief legal battle, Martin resigned in protest, and his files were handed over to Inspector General Nikki Tinsley.
"The inspector general never investigated Whitman's statements to Congress or the public, and they never interviewed Whitman," he says.
Of 16 formal proposals made in the report, the agency immediately consented to adopt 12. The number may seem promising, but all of the accepted recommendations relate to how the agency should handle similar situations in the future. The four proposals the EPA has rejected would force the agency to fix the mistakes it made in Manhattan.
Everyone who is surprised by the actions of either the White House or the EPA
wins a free lunch in lower Manhattan!