Friday, April 26, 2013

Bush Administration Responsible for No Oversight of West, Texas, or Other Fertilizer/Chemical Storage Facilities by EPA

“Perry reworked the language and helped to get it added to the spending bill in a conference committee. Under the new amendment, the DHS would have nominal authority to regulate the chemical industry but also have its hands tied where required.”

What Phillip Perry, VP Cheney's son-in-law, did was to add language the chemical industry wanted to an appropriations bill rider that moved the task of regulating and oversight of chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Another day, another group that has bought and paid for Republican members of Congress.  This time it is the chemical industry which is only being highlighted after the West, TX, fertilizer plant blew up last week while storing large amounts chemicals that should have set off red flags. EPA is no longer in charge of regulating these plants while the Texas Department of Health who had the authority seems pretty worthless as they took the owner's word with no inspections.

Seems chemical manufacturer's thought giving DHS authority for regulation and oversight with little money provided by Congress would allow them to operate as they chose without no regard to safety.  As we saw in West, Texas, the lack of oversight blew up in their face with a plant storing chemicals that were way over the limit allowed in unsafe storage units with no markings so fire department officials didn't know what was in the storage tanks.  Because of not knowing what was stored, the volunteer fire department used water instead of foam which is used to fight chemical fires.  The owner of the facility has already been sued.

This picture is from the site of the West, Texas fertilizer storage facility the night of the explosion where 10 of the 13 killed were volunteer fire fighters, one was a paramedic, and one was from Dallas search and rescue -- all first responders who died because of lack of oversight and inspections of this plant:

With Chris Hayes connecting the dots on MSNBC with this video, it shows what happened which eventually led to the West, Texas, fertilizer plant exploding.

Summary of the Chris Hayes video:

Let’s recap: The Bush administration’s own cabinet secretaries come up with a plan to regulate these chemical plants. It’s stymied by Phil Perry once. The Bush administration sides with the chemical industry when it’s brought before Congress. And then, basically in a backroom maneuver, Perry does the chemical industry’s bidding by moving the oversight of this from the EPA, which the chemical industry hates, to DHS, which the chemical industry thinks they can more easily manipulate. 
Now, fast-forward six years. The West Fertilizer company is storing more than 13-hundred times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by DHS. And it does appear now, that not only did DHS literally have no idea that the West Fertilizer company was storing ammonium nitrate. But according to Congressman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up.

Everyone in America should watch this video which connects the dots which all lead back to the Bush Administration, Phillip Perry, and the chemical industry:
Bush and the West explosion: The untold story of deregulating chemical plants
, @youngcollier11:26 PM on 04/25/2013
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Seems the Bush Administration was in the hip pocket of chemical manufactures starting with Vice President Cheney's son-in-law, Phillip Perry, who is responsible for non-regulation of chemical plants by the EPA with his various positions in the Administration. Will someone please tell me why family of the President or Vice President is allowed to even work in the Administration. Cheney's daughter, Liz, also went to work for the State Department during the Bush years. You want to look at the main problem of the Bush Administration - look no further then the former head of Halliburton, Dick Cheney. His son-in-law along with the chemical industry and their bought and paid for puppets in Congress helped contribute to the plant in West, Texas, blowing up.  

Then there is the K-factor involved when it comes to fertilizer and chemical plants:
Koch Fertilizer, LLC
Koch Fertilizer, LLC, which is one of the world’s largest makers of nitrogen fertilizers. Koch Fertilizer owns or has interests in fertilizer plants the United States, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and Italy, among others. Koch Fertilizer was formed in 1988 when the Koch companies purchased the Gulf Central Pipeline and ammonia terminals connected to the pipeline. The next year, the Koch Nitrogen Company was formed in order to market ammonia. The next few years saw purchases of various ammonia facilities in Louisiana, Canada, and elsewhere, and ammonia sales agreements with firms in Australia, the U.K., and other countries. The year 2010 saw the founding of Koch Methanol, LLC, and Koch Agronomic Services, LLC. In October 2010, a plant in Venezuela was nationalized by the government. In 2011, the firm acquired the British fertilizer firm J&H Bunn Limited.
Do you think that the Koch Bros were a major player in getting Phillip Perry to insert language into a bill to move control of chemical plants from the EPA to DHS so they would have less oversight, regulation, and scrutiny?  I certainly do and would suggest they probably rallied the rest and still are too prevent any oversight and regulation to another one of their industries. IMO, the Koch Bros with their aim to destroy all oversight and regulation by the Federal Government contributed to the West, Texas, disaster along with their puppets in Congress.  Are the Koch Bros taking their quest for lack of oversight and regulation on what they own worldwide as they buy up chemical and fertilizer plants around the world?

Given that the Bush-backed bill moving oversight of big places storing fertilizer from EPA to DHS is law of the land, and Republicans in Congress aren’t going to change it, the administration has been considering recently granting the EPA the original authority that Christine Todd Whitman wanted. The chemical industry lobby hates this. So in February, 10 Republicans and one Democrat teamed-up with a bunch of chemical industry groups to fight this tooth and nail. Here’s a letter from the groups to members of Congress. It reads in part:
“We have concerns about EPA’s arbitrary application of the General Duty Clause as well as the potential for future expansion of the General Duty Clause to regulate the security of chemical facilities.”
President Obama who as a Senator in 2006 sponsored a bill to make chemical plants safer.  Sounds like it was a reasonable bill, but the Republicans in the Senate killed the bill on behalf of the chemical industry.  After all, the GOP office holders need their wealthy donors to keep filling up their campaign coffers.  If something blows up in their face due to their obstructionism on oversight and regulation of chemical plants, no worry as it is only collateral damage is the way they act today.

Following is an excerpt of what Chris Hayes, MSNBC, is saying in the video above about what happened during the Bush Administration to kill oversight of chemical plants by the EPA. No wonder Christie Todd Whitman who headed EPA along with Tom Ridge who was the first head of Homeland Security did not come back for 2nd terms. 

We pieced together this story. Here’s what happened: in the wake of 9/11, there was tremendous concern about the vulnerability of chemical plants, including plants that stored fertilizer. The EPA knew that these chemical plants posed a legitimate risk to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The vulnerability of chemical plants made headlines across the country.
Two Bush administration officials, Christine Todd Whitman, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency at the time and Tom Ridge, who was head of Secretary of Homeland Security, came up with a plan to deal with the vulnerability. Whitman believed that the EPA was already empowered to expand her agency’s oversight of chemical plants under a section of the Clean Air Act and she and Ridge worked out a deal to do so. 
That’s until the son-in-law of former Vice President Dick Cheney walked into the room, a guy by the name Phillip Perry, who was at the time the general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget. And he made it clear that the Bush administration was not going to support granting regulatory authority over chemical security to the EPA. According to reports, Perry claimed that their proposal was tantamount to overreach, and that they would need Congress to specifically authorize it. 
So, Christine Todd Whitman and Tom Ridge figured that the obvious thing to do was to go up to the Hill, and ask Congress for the authority necessary. But as Whitman writes in her book, “It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America”:
“Although both Tom and I agreed such legislation was necessary, strong congressional opposition–led by some Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee–to giving EPA even the modest additional statutory authority made it difficult to secure administration support for a meaningful bill.”
Basically, the Bush administration from above, pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry doesn’t want to be regulated by the EPA. Fast forward a few years, to 2007, and Phil Perry–again, Dick Cheney’s son-in-law–is now over at the Department of Homeland Security as the department’s general counsel. And what he manages to do, in an uncontroversial bill, in an appropriations rider, is slip in industry-friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But DHS is given none of the tools it would need to actually do that. 
Excerpt:  Read More at MSNBC 
Bottom line is that we can add another industry, chemical and fertilizer manufacturers along with the storage facility owners to list of people/groups who have bought and paid for Republicans in Congress.  Thanks to the Citizens United ruling, it has gotten much worse to the stage the Republicans in Congress work for the NRA and other groups and could care less about the rest of us.

Since the Republicans in Congress for the most part don't care about us then it is time to show them the unemployment line in November 2014 and then cut unemployment benefits for members of Congress to $1 a day!

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