Tuesday, January 14, 2014

West Virginia Chemical Spill now into Ohio River -- Cincinnati Takes Precautions

Note to all:  Sorry I have not been posting on this blog but had a hard time shaking bronchitis, medicine made me groggy, tired, and spacey plus a lot going on the last six weeks including the Oklahoma Sooners beating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans -- one of the many giddy Sooner fans around the world about that win.  Feel great today and ready to get back to work.

When deciding what to post, it wasn't hard as once again Speaker Boehner made a complete and total jerk of himself when he talked about there are too many regulations as relates to the chemical spill in West Virginia and current regulations need enforced.  I swear Boehner now has mush for brains or is it dollars for brains to make that type of stupid statement that no new regulations are required due to the chemical spill in WVA or regulations are not enforced from the Party that keeps cutting funding for the EPA.

"The issue is this: We have enough regulations on the books. And what the administration ought to be doing is actually doing their jobs," Boehner said at a press conference. "Why wasn't this plant inspected since 1991?"
I can answer why nothing is being done -- not enough manpower.  Since the GOP took over Congress for most of the time since 1994, it has been about increasing defense spending and gutting the EPA and other regulatory agencies in addition to the safety net for the elderly and poor.  What an idiot but then I have come to expect that from Republicans led by Boehner and McConnell -- blame President Obama for everything.  Only narrative counts for the GOP today as facts don't matter.

Found out today that the intake valves along the Ohio River that supplies the water for Cincinnati and surrounding areas are being prepared to shut down due to the chemical spill in West Virginia so the chemicals don't get into their water supply, but Boehner says "no new regulations required."  In case you didn't know it, Boehner comes from the Cincinnati area so this affects where he lives and their water supply but that's okay because he is one of many Republicans who refuse to criticize the Koch Brothers and their allies.

Here is what the EPA and OSHA had to say on inspections:
On the flip side, the spending deal offered only modest relief to cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency under sequestration. Republicans even bragged about successfully cutting the EPA's funding by 20 percent since 2010 when summarizing the bill.
The EPA announced plans last month to significantly reduce inspections over the next five years. The agency said the move was necessary for a more "effective allocation of resources" to focus on the biggest polluters. 
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has also suffered under recent budget cuts. Due to low pay, the agency has struggled to hire and retain inspectors, resulting in so few workplace inspections that the average site will only face an inspection every 99 years.
OSHA officials had scheduled an inspection of the Freedom Industries facility in 2009 but canceled it because the facility didn't fall under the agency's special emphasis programs, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
West Virginia Democrats are being tepid with their response so the question is WHY?
WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of West Virginians were still without safe tap water Monday after a spill reported on Thursday dumped chemicals used to clean coal into the water supply. While lawmakers from the state have issued supportive statements, the state's Democrats have been cautious saying whether there needs to be additional chemical safety regulations or oversight.
Here is what their Democrat Representative had to say and his spokesman and following that you see the reason for their tepid response:
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was asked whether he would pursue any legislative changes following the spill at a press conference Monday in West Virginia. "My committee ... will be exercising our oversight authority, but in due time," said Rahall. "We want to look at what happened, how we can keep it from happening again and if, God forbid, it were to happen again, how can our response be better than it was this time?" 
Rahall's spokesman told The Huffington Post that the congressman was traveling back to Washington on Monday afternoon and could not be reached for additional comment.
Rahall is already facing reelection pressure in a state known for its allegiance to the coal industry. He got some relief Monday, when the American Energy Alliance, a group backed by the Koch brothers and allied with coal interests, backed off on ads in the state accusing Rahall of supporting a tax on carbon. "Given the more pressing concern facing West Virginians as a result of the recent chemical spill in the Elk River, the American Energy Alliance is pulling our three week initiative to promote accountability for Rep. Nick Rahall over his vote to support a carbon tax," American Energy Alliance president Thomas Pyle said in a statement. "While we remain staunchly opposed to a carbon tax and committed to holding public officials accountable for the actions, now is not the time for this advertisement. Our efforts in the next several weeks in West Virginia are more rightly directed at helping the families in the affected region."
So the anti-middle class Koch Bros were already running ads against Rep Rahall hoping to defeat him because his support of carbon tax.  Now they back off because of the spill.  Imagine that -- Koch Bros are joined with the company that did the spill and now backing off.  Why not launch a full fledged investigation of why this plant had not inspection since 1991.  That doesn't take a genius to figure out they could pretty much do what they wanted over those years thanks to GOP gutting the EPA which got worse under Bush-Cheney from 2001 to 2007.  How many spills have happened that we didn't hear about?

Then there is Senator Manchin who as the former Governor, I would have thought would have have been beating the drums about this spill:
Sen. Joe Manchin's (D) office also was reluctant to say anything specific about potential new rules. "Right now we are focused on making sure West Virginians have water and we get through this crisis before we start proposing or thinking of proposing new regulations," Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott told The Huffington Post. "Senator Manchin will certainly be looking into this matter and figuring how we prevent it from happening in the future." 
Manchin will speak Wednesday at an event on energy policy sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group representing coal companies. His spokesman confirmed the event is still scheduled.
At least Senator Jay Rockefeller, the other WVA Democrat Senator came through calling for an investigation:  

The state's other Democratic U.S. senator, Jay Rockefeller, issued a statement on Friday calling for a U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation into the spill. He said he was "profoundly troubled" by the disaster and wanted the board to determine the cause. The CSB has announced that it will investigate, and Rockefeller has followed up with a call for additional funding for the board. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about additional rules or regulations.
How about enforcing the rules and regulations already on the books and giving the Environmental Protection Agency the money and manpower they need?  Is this why the GOP has been so adamant about destroying the EPA so that their big donors like the Koch's get a pass on chemical spills?

My first thought when I saw this chemical spill was what is the connection to the Koch Brothers and I was not disappointed as sure enough those chemicals come from Koch Industries -- same group that want no regulations over chemicals used in oil and gas and now can add coal to the list:
A chemical spill in West Virginia last week cut off access to safe tap water across nine counties, and although it involved a chemical used by the coal industry, state officials have been pushing back strongly against suggestions by reporters that the disaster had anything to do with the state’s dominant industry — coal. 
However, the fact is that the chemical industry is also very important to the West Virginia economy, and it is heavily entwined with the coal industry, which requires a substantial quantity of chemicals at various stages before it gets from the mine to its point of use. 
Clearly, the spill — which affected 300,000 people and shut down restaurants, schools, hospitals and hundreds of other businesses and institutions — is closely related to the state’s dependency on the coal industry, despite protestations to the contrary. 
That, in turn, undermines the coal industry’s insistent positioning of coal as a “clean” fuel. While new technology has reduced pollutants from burning coal, everything around the burn point is still status quo, from destructive mining to fly ash disposal
With that scenario in mind, let’s take a look at how the disaster is playing out in the local paper, the Charleston Gazette (highly recommended: follow reporter Ken Ward, Jr. on Twitter, @Kenwardjr). 
The West Virginia chemical spill and the Koch connection 
The industrialist Koch brothers have become notorious for their holdings in coal and other fossil fuels, their aggressive promotion of global warming denial and their efforts to monkeywrench environmental progress. 
What hasn’t garnered as much attention is their involvement in secondary industries on which the coal industry depends. 
Charleston Gazette reporter David Gutman tracked down the Koch connection to the chemical spill in an article over the weekend titled “Freedom executive Kennedy had felonies.” 
The full article is worth a read for the insights it provides about the top executives for Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the spill, but the relevant detail involves the source of the company’s chemicals. 
The spill involved Crude MCHM, a foaming agent used to clean coal. According to Gutman, that’s not the only coal-related chemical stored at Freedom Industries. The company is also a distributor for a line of coal processing chemicals called Talon, which is a product of the Koch company Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC.
Read More at Triple Pundit 
Was looking for the spill from the Koch Industries plant in AR into a river that goes into MS and am appalled at the number of chemicals dumped into our waterways in middle America in addition to what I was look for in Arkansas.  What is wrong with our Congress who sold out to chemical manufactures over the American people?  Don't they have families who could be harmed?

Found this report from Iowa which should scare everyone in this Country:
The Environment Iowa report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2010, the most recent data available. 
Major findings of the report include:
•    The Beaver Channel, which runs through Clinton, IA along the Mississippi River, is ranked 39th in the country for discharges of cancer-causing chemicals, at 6,912 pounds in 2010. Many industrial operations processing food, chemical, and other products in the area have caused pollution problems along the channel for years.
•    After the Mississippi, the Des Moines River is 2nd in the state for toxic releases, with 1,140,998 pounds. Following in order are the Iowa River with 981,225 pounds, the Cedar River with 721,163 pounds, the Raccoon River with 384,042 pounds, Silver Creek with 364,758 pounds, then Hecker Creek with 340,668 pounds. There are 47 Iowa waterways for which some toxic dumping was reported in the 2010 TRI data.
•    The Mississippi River is ranked 2nd for total toxic discharges nationally, with 1,874,430 pounds of toxics dumped in Iowa specifically and 12.7 million pounds dumped from facilities all along its course through 10 states. The Missouri River is 7th nationally, with nearly 4.9 million pounds dumped along 5 states through which it flows, 104,311 of those pounds are dumped into the Missouri River in Iowa.
•    Roquette America Inc. was the biggest polluter in Iowa, dumping 1.7 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the Mississippi. Roquette America Inc was the 24th biggest polluter in the country, followed closely by another Iowa facility, Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. at 25th.
•    Three of Iowa’s watersheds ranked in top 30 for most polluted in the nation. The Blackbird-Soldier watershed along the Nebraska border ranked 6th, with 4.7 million pounds. Coming in at 27th was the Flint-Henderson watershed along the border with Illinois, 1.8 million pounds. In 30th place was the Lower Iowa watershed, which includes Iowa City, at 1.7 million pounds.
The report summarizes discharges of cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals that persist in the environment, and chemicals with the potential to cause reproductive problems ranging from birth defects to reduced fertility. Among the toxic chemicals discharged by facilities are arsenic, mercury, and benzene. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders. 
Steve Roe, the President of the Raccoon River Watershed Association noted another reason water quality is so important “half a million people depend on water from the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers for their drinking water.” 
This is what I was looking for when I found the Iowa report -- take a look at this and tell me the Koch Brothers and their various tentacles are good for America -- they are systematically destroying our environment and political process with their billions of dollars they contribute to Republicans and the hard right who do their bidding:
The producers at “Koch Brothers Exposed” have another documentary piece on the environmental and health impact of operations run by Koch Industries. This piece examines the toxic waste water pouring out of a Koch-owned Georgia Pacific plant near Crossett, Arkansas — which residents say is boosting cancer rates and killing people in the community. 
Watch on and consider the implications of a “wholesale rollback” of environmental regulations that leading Presidential candidates are proposing — with the backing of the Kochs and the Koch-fueled Tea Party.

It is well documented that the Koch Bros are funding ALEC who are getting bad laws passed in our states.  A lot of Koch money is also funneled through the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) which was the forerunner to the Tea Party established by the Kochs, Roger Ailes at Fox News, and Karl Rove to ignite a grassroots campaign to take out the Democrat control of Congress and win the 2012 Presidential election for Republicans.  Difference between AFP and Tea Party is that AFP is more educated and work directly for the Koch's while Tea Party is most hard right social conservatives and evangelicals who believe no government is best.  What happened was Koch sponsored groups and allies spent billions of dollars in races across the Country in 2010/2012 but couldn't take the Senate and most importantly could not defeat President Obama in 2012 as he was handily reelected in spite of the false reporting on Fox News and other media outlets.  

Koch Bros are angry and their Republican puppets are accusing President Obama of everything you can imagine.  It has gotten ludicrous and once again some Republicans look like idiots with their responses and attacks against the President.  

We need a huge effort in 2014 to kick the do-nothing Republican obstructionists out of the House leadership and restore some common sense to Government.  We need cuts to the Defense Department and increased funding for the EPA and OSHA so they can go after the likes of the Koch Bros not with a slap on the wrist but hard nosed sanctions and fines.  Money talks and the Koch's and their allies like the Chamber and oil and gas have used their money to buy members of Congress to make sure a lot of regulations cannot be enforced on chemicals. It is up to us to give President Obama a Congress he can work with to make sure the EPA and OSHA are given the money and resources to see that the regulations are enforced and people put in jail for destroying our water and our air.  

Thanks to the Koch Bros,  I have become a full fledged environmentalist instead of a conservationist. We need to protect the environment for our children and grandchildren -- we owe them that.  The only way to do it is to defeat the bought and paid for Koch/Chamber members of Congress starting with Speaker Boehner!

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