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Bill Would Cripple EPA's Power to Prevent Toxic Spills

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View Jennifer Chavez's blog posts
13 January 2014, 12:45 PM
"Freedom Zones" act could assure more W. Virginia water spills
The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been severely disrupted by the spill. (iStockphoto)

Those who push an extreme anti-environmental agenda often use the concept of freedom to promote their ideas. They are not concerned with your freedom to breathe clean air or to drink clean water. Instead they want to give corporations the freedom to exploit natural resources without regard for the adverse impacts, and they want to ensure that polluters have freedom from accountability for the potentially deadly impacts of their actions.

In December, Kentucky politicians proposed to “free” unemployed residents from environmental laws that protect their health and well-being.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his colleague Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill they call the “Economic Freedom Zones Act of 2013.” Among other things, the bill would exempt polluters in high-poverty regions from complying with (and would bar the U.S. EPA from enforcing) water pollution permitting requirements under Clean Water Act section 402. (Adding insult to injury, the two politicians are billing this proposal as an anti-poverty measure.)

During the last few days, residents of the nearby Charleston, WV, area have been treated to a tragic glimpse of what a life free of environmental protections might be like. For people in the Appalachian coal-bearing region, these are just the latest developments in a long-running assault on human health and the environment.

The impact of such an extreme proposal is difficult to overstate. While the Clean Water Act strictly prohibits the discharge of pollutants without a permit, it is section 402 of the Act that the EPA relies on in most cases to impose enforceable pollution controls on specific sources and discharges. The Economic Freedom Zones Act would hamstring EPA’s enforcement of water pollution restrictions and oversight of state pollution permitting activities.

Fast forward to last week’s incident in neighboring West Virginia. Early on the morning of Jan. 9, Charleston residents reported smelling a strong licorice odor. Hours later, investigators with the state Department of Environmental Protection traced the odor to a chemical company’s storage tank located on the banks of the Elk River. An estimated 7,500 gallons were spilled.

The name of the chemical company—I am not making this up—is Freedom Industries.

News reports state that Freedom Industries did not report the spill to the DEP until just after noon on Thursday. Worse, despite the fact that its chemical holding tank is located just upriver from the drinking water intake that serves residents in nine counties, Freedom Industries apparently failed to notify the region’s water company at all. The chemical company also failed to report the specific chemical (4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or Crude MCHM, a chemical used in processing coal) to the water company, delaying effective clean-up action for another several hours. Residents still lack access to clean tap water, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been severely disrupted.

A pollution discharge of this sort is completely unacceptable. So is a world in which federal regulators might be barred by politically motivated legislation like the Economic Freedom Zones Act from using every tool they have to prevent and clean up similar spills in the future. indicates that this bill has zero percent chance of passing, or even passing committee.
Nonetheless, it's an awful bill.... a libertarian wet dream. indicates that this bill has zero percent chance of passing, or even passing committee.
Nonetheless, it's an awful bill.... a libertarian wet dream.

Tired Of the BAd news ? Guess What! “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." - Jesus ( Who is your teacher ? )

It is indeed a case of greed and clear evidence of government by the corporations, for the corporations, and of the corporations continues on this Earth. Three cheers to the best government money can buy! BRONX! RASPBERRY! BILABIAL FRICATIVE!

Back a few years ago, it wasn't quite yesterday's news yet, just a little while ago at Sabin's Tavern, a group of buddies got together over a few pints to talk about something that the NSA couldn't hear. They all liked the idea, and not being all that drunk, they got together instead at a marina and boarded the Hannah. They sailed her to a point in Narragansett Bay, chased down a bigger boat, ran it aground, looted it, torched it, and started a rather large fight in doing so.

Ok, it went more like this:

I imagine that there are smiling faces on the executives who are driving the privitization of our global water supply. These kinds of accidental leaks are good for their business. In India they allow the pollution to linger to force dependence on their product.

I started to write my perspective but I am just so extremely irate....I will be thrown off the Internet for the rest of my life! West Virginia is One of the poorer states but WE the PEOPLE NEED CLEAN WATER in order to LIVE! I am so dismayed! Greed, Greed, Greed + POWER is all that matters! Who cares about the people? Politicians like these two
should be ashamed and removed from office!

I had read that the 1% wants to get rid of the 99% and thought it was a ridiculous "conspiracy" theory. But the way laws are going and the way corporations are getting their way, I really wonder. Maybe it's true. But where are they going to live?

I had read that the 1% wants to get rid of the 99% and thought it was a ridiculous "conspiracy" theory. But the way laws are going and the way corporations are getting their way, I really wonder. Maybe it's true. But where are they going to live?

Since the majority of both big parties in the U.S. and Canada are conspirators for the transnational Zionist banksters,it's also no wonder these same politicians are the same clowns on both political sides are also for the international corporations spreading pollution and complete devastation onto the now decaying planet....

It's time corporations are shut down and replaced with nations practising independent farming ... on their birth right planet .... or else the corporate dictators will be disposing of the excess people like they would simply do to any form of proprietary livestock...... ever been in a slaughterhouse?

The "banksters" are also Christian, Muslim, and Atheist, sir, so park your vile anti-Jewish stereotypes back in the cave from which you have not yet evolved. Shame on you!

Surely it's your own ignorance that translates negative use of the word 'Zionist' to mean 'anti-jewish'! In living memory, 'jews' have been safe and welcome in my U.K. market town since the last purge by the 'christians' of the middle ages. In what dark age are you still living?

Drinking? Time to go back to your hole.

Our freedoms to have a clean environment are much more imperative than our right to consume. When will these superficial, soulless, morons realize that you can't breathe money? That Living Downstream is real. That pollution will find them one way or another if they don't take their actions into account. The movement toward stifling these crooked people from having control over our food, air quality, and most importantly our water supply is one that should never end. No one with this kind of moral compass should have anything to say about where we can pollute and where we won't. Let Freedom ring.

I was involved many years ago in the creation of the Clean Water Act. I read the bill, and although I don't agree with some of things in it, I don't see how this could bill has anything to do with the original intent of the CWA. Either this article was very poorly researched, or it is downright dishonest. Sorry, but I don't see where it would let any polluters off the hook at all, at least under the CWA.

The CWA was created to decide disputes BETWEEN states about which state or states should be responsible for cleaning up pollution in navigable waters shared by two or more states, such as the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. Pollution within the states in their own waters, is up to that state. In fact, most pollution cleanup has been done by the states, not the federal government. Some states have voluntarily adopted EPA guidelines similar to the Clean Water Act.

The Economic Freedom Zone thing may not be a good thing at all, but I think it's wrong to say that it would lead to polluters getting off the hook. I mean, not much has been done to stop them up to this point, anyway.


If you were involved why are you posting anonymously. You also should read further because you are wrong. See the link and understand that it DOES allow the polluters off the hook!

You are exactly right about this post!

Before we the people began attacking environmental pollution via anti-pollution laws, some urban rivers ran black as ink. I mean even the foam from the propeller of a boat was black. Others rivers were opaque in other various colors, so full were they with a stew of poisons. One river in Ohio actually started on fire. Twice. It may sound crazy but that was what the Libertarian ideal (no government regulation) had given us.

Countless other examples of regulating pollution which involve the saving of human lives and the alleviating of human suffering can be given.

You have zero credibility when you say that nothing much has been done to stop polluters up to this point.

Given your willingness to lie so blatantly, no one should accept anything you say as reliable in the least.

Legislation that allows lawmakers to fine polluting corporations does not STOP pollution as the facts before us and globally reported daily demonstrate. It's YOUR statement that lacks credence!

"Economic Freedom Zones" is "economic freedom" for no one but the corrupt 1%.

Another Washingtonian euphemism which is to say, another Washingtonian lie.

Some of the residents around there deserve what they get for electing pure demons for office. I refer to Rand Paul (not even a Kentuckian), Bitch McConnell, and Rockafeller, another implant who was sent there to quell the United Mine Workers and the Uproar over the Buffalo creek disaster, where his daddy drowned about 200 people.

It does appear there is validity to this claim, unless I'm not grasping all the "legal-ese."

I we trying to absolutely destroy the USA. Are these people so worried about the dollar that we would contaminate the water system and other countries have no clean water. We have not paid attention to the fact of the nuclear waste from Japan is contaminating the Pacific ocean to California, that no one is paying attention too. These corporations are running a mock and no one is taking responsible actions. Keep on and we will have no fish, no birds, plants and animals other than the Zombies running the big money corporations.

if any of you looked into anything you would know that the Economic Freedom Zones act has nothing to do with this.

if you read it has everything to do with lowering the tax rate in places where the economy is poorer, such as in Kentucky where the unemployment rate is high. and if you read further down it actually emphasizes the building of cleaner emissions in buildings in non-attainment areas regardless of cost, which don't get enough funding from keeping the air clean enough.

and the definition of a non-attainment area:
In United States environmental law, a nonattainment area is an area considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as defined in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 (P.L. 91-604, Sec. 109). Nonattainment areas must have and implement a plan to meet the standard, or risk losing some forms of federal financial assistance. An area may be a nonattainment area for one pollutant and an attainment area for others.

It appears they do have something to do with this.

There does appear to be some validity to the claim of the OP.

It does appear there is validity to this claim, unless I'm not grasping all the "legal-ese."

They are telling residents to flush lines before using the water. Where else does that contaminated water go? I'd like to see Mitch and Paul drink this water.

I would like them to drink and bathe in the water....their kids and grandchildren!

Who are these people passing these idiot laws so we can make sure we don't vote them?

I can't believe Mitch and Paul introduced this bill.... they should live in those areas not protected!!!!

What is truly sad is that almost everything in America comes down to greed and power. Polluting our water, air and land is no different. There are too many in power that look at their bottom line. They don't care about the people affected but only what's lining their pockets. Sad!!

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