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Thursday, October 06, 2005

BREAKING: Senators From Both Parties Come Down on EPA for New Orleans

FINALLY, the Congress has awakened to the reality that the government is possibly sending people back to a dangerous situation in New Orleans and not fully clueing them in on the health risks. Note, these are both D's and R's. The public health should not be a partisan matter, and it is good to see that in this case, it is not.

Read the AP Story on it here:

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/12836077.htm

Some choice quotes:

  • "EPA may not be providing people with the clear information they need," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "EPA should be clear about the actual risks when people return to the affected areas for more than one day."

  • "The people of New Orleans need to feel safe, need to feel like there's a plan," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

  • The committee's chairman, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., expressed skepticism about the two-page government handouts on environmental and public health risks that EPA helped compile.
    "It bothers me a little bit," Inhofe said. "How many people are going to see the report?"

  • Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., called the government's response to Katrina "apparent chaos."

  • Some recalled the Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, when the White House directed EPA officials to minimize the health risk posed by the cloud of smoke from the World Trade Center collapse. Within 10 days of those attacks, EPA issued five news releases reassuring the public about air quality without testing for contaminants such as PCBs and dioxin.

  • It was only nine months later - after respiratory ailments began showing up in workers cleaning up the debris and residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn - that EPA could point to any scientific evidence, saying then that air quality had returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels.
    "I hope that we're not seeing history repeat itself," said Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.


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