As his administration winds down, George Bush is still turning the EPA into a department without teeth thereby allowing American's to suffer and die because of it. As recently as mid-October the Bush Administration has toned down regulations designed to protect American's from the deadly results of lead poisoning.
This isn't about lead, its about the biggest polluter in our government, the Pentagon, and chemicals used for decades on military bases. Chemicals that are known to cause illness, cancer and death, that were not disposed of correctly and now Americans living near Kelly Air Force Base, just as one example, are paying the consequences of those actions.
It's about how the Bush Administration is attempting to cover it all up by fucking with how and why the EPA collects data, uses it and reports it.
BushCo has lowered the bar when it comes to toxic waste. This should be his true legacy in my humble yet vocal opinion. From a Salon.com article:
Beneath the Alvarados' house and those of their neighbors are shallow pools of groundwater that are polluted with tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a chemical associated with cancer, liver and kidney disease. Before the Kelly base closed in 2001, mechanics used PCE to degrease parts on airplanes and fighter jets. For decades, they chronically dumped the solvent into poorly sealed or unsealed waste pits on the base, where it seeped underground, forming a plume that sprawls over four square miles under 23,000 homes and businesses. Locals refer to the area as "the toxic triangle."
On cool or rainy days, when the Alvarados close the windows and shut off the air conditioning, a sweet chemical smell floods the house. When they eat dinner during these times, says Robert, 66, it's like tasting something acrid. "We drink bottled water but there's nothing we can do about the air except go outside and wait," says Lupe, 64.
Robert, a handsome man with almond skin, limps across his cramped living room with a black metal cane. He shows me a letter that recently arrived from the local hospital, congratulating him; he'd qualified for a kidney transplant. A few years ago he suffered a brain aneurysm, causing him to become nearly blind. His wife and one of his daughters both have battled thyroid cancer. "We know at least 15 people on this street alone who have some sort of cancer," says Robert, a former labor relations employee at Delta Air Lines. "We call ourselves the living dead."
In the Alvarados' front yard, a purple cross sticks out of a cluster of banana trees. The crosses, distributed by a local community group, punctuate front yards throughout the neighborhood. They mark homes where people are battling cancer or other illnesses, an estimated 25 percent of households, according to local activists.
Surveys conducted by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have found elevated levels of kidney, liver and cervical cancer, leukemia and low birth weights in the neighborhoods that surround Kelly Air Force Base. A survey by the University of Texas found that 91 percent of adults in the area experienced multiple illnesses, including chronic sinus infections, nausea, heart and lung disease. Based on these studies, the area qualifies as a cancer cluster (with a higher rate of terminal illness, per capita, than areas of a similar size), says Wilma Subra, a chemist and environmental health activist based in Louisiana, who has consulted with Kelly community activists.
Although it has conducted limited testing, the EPA acknowledges that it's possible for PCE vapor to rise from groundwater into people's living rooms and kitchens. Yet it says the Alvarados and their neighbors have nothing to fear. Based on EPA air quality tests inside five area homes, the nation's environmental guardian claims that it's safe for residents to live above the plume for the next 40 to 100 years, or the amount of time it will take for the chemicals to naturally dissipate.
No one in the government has studied PCE for over a fucking decade. Yet they have the audacity to say its not 'that' harmful to humans and other living things. Read the quote below from a scientist at the EPA:
"It feels like Stalin-era Russia, like the administration set themselves up to decide what's allowable science and what isn't," says a high-ranking staff scientist at the EPA, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Until the recent economic crash, this has been such an anti-regulatory administration. One of the ways to undermine regulations is to undermine the science behind them. It's absolutely shocking what's going on."
Public health officials say this attempt to derail the scientific evaluation of toxins is one of the most damning legacies of the Bush administration. In late September, the Government Accountability Office issued a scathing critique of the EPA's new toxic-assessment procedures. It concluded that the secretive procedures compromise scientific credibility and sacrifice the public's trust in government. Despite such hefty criticism, public officials fear that because the new procedures have been instituted at the EPA so far below the public radar, their harmful impact will survive long after Bush leaves office. It will take a bold and expedient move by Barack Obama or the next Congress to curtail the influence of the Pentagon and other government agencies on the EPA.
Obama needs to do lots of things when he takes office. Restaffing the EPA is hopefully high on his list..people's lives depend on it.