As usual, there are a lot of things to talk about this morning. We have beloved leader calling Erdogan to “congratulate” him on his referendum victory. Only, his referendum victory is going to demolish their parliamentary democracy and establish Erdogan as a dictator. Even trump’s own State Department said the vote was not fair and the victory should be overturned, but trump loves seeing democracy disappear, apparently.
Then we have the issue of just where in the world the aircraft carrier group that is supposed to be off Korea really is. It turns out that while trump was declaring this “powerful armada” was heading to Korea, it was off the coast of Australia participating in exercises with the Australian Navy. It was nowhere near the Korean Peninsula. Which means the administration lied, or they had no idea what they were talking about. Neither is very good if you are the leader of a country.
But, while all this stupidity is on full display, there are a lot of things that are not only stupid, but actually dangerous to the American public. Americans are being made more unsafe by trump and his administration, but no one in the media is talking about them.
Remember when trump said he launched his attack on Syria because he saw those pictures “of those beautiful babies” and decided he had to act? Sounds very commendable. Only, American babies all across the nation are at threat of being victims of chemical deaths, and trump is willing to allow it to happen.
This threat comes from hazardous chemical facilities ― from oil refineries to water treatment plants. An accident, natural disaster, or deliberate attack could trigger an explosion or chemical release that could kill thousands of people. Millions of our citizens live and work near these dangerous facilities.
This problem has been with us for generations. The EPA is supposed to protect us from these dangers, but trump has pulled back. First after three years of intensive discussions with chemical companies, plant workers, affected communities, first responders and others, the Environmental Protection Agency on January 13 issued a rule to help protect the American people from these dangers. The rule strengthens the federal Risk Management Program (RMP), which addresses some 12,500 facilities that use or store large quantities of highly toxic or highly flammable chemicals.
So to prove that you do not matter more than the bottom liner of companies, Scott Pruitt, the EPA director acted on a petition from the chemical industry and placed a stay on the rule until June. Now that has happened, the chemical lobbyists are busy trying to kill the rule altogether. And, to give them more time, Pruitt is proposing to keep the rule on hold until 2019.
In 2006, then Senator Barak Obama said that chemical plants are basically stationary chemical weapons. And time and time again, we have seen this observation to be true.
It was just in 2013 that a plant in West, TX had an ammonia nitrate explosion. It was even suspected that the explosion was caused by sabotage. 15 people were killed and 160 were injured. But you probably don’t know this part because it is never reported as it should be. From 2004 to 2013 there were some 1,500 chemical releases or explosions in this country causing 17,000 injuries and 58 deaths. There have been hundreds more incidents since then, with more casualties.
In 1984 a United Carbide company in Bhopal India suffered an accident that caused the deaths of 20,000 people. Don’t think that type of accident cannot happen here. What would happen if a terrorist attacked a large chemical plant? How many people in the surrounding area be killed by release of these toxic chemicals? Our beloved leader says he wants to keep Americans safe, but from what? Obviously he isn’t trying to keep us safe from chemical companies.
The EPA has identified 466 chemical facilities that each put 100,000 or more people at risk of a poison gas disaster. In 2004, the Homeland Security Council projected that a major attack would kill 17,500 people and injure tens of thousands.
The Risk Management Program (RMP) that this rule would have strengthened was not perfect. Chemical industry lobbying already has kept important protections out of the RMP rule. In particular, community, labor and environmental groups had strongly urged that plants be required to move to safer technologies where feasible, as some responsible companies, such as Clorox, have already done voluntarily.
But the final RMP rule does provide for some critical, common-sense reforms: enhancing emergency preparedness; improving investigations of near-miss incidents; increasing public access to chemical hazard information; and, for three industries with the most serious accident records ― refineries, chemical manufacturers, and pulp and paper mills ― requiring safer technology analyses.
I worked for a long time in disaster preparedness planning. One of the biggest concerns I always had was about chemical accidents. This country has had way too many accidents that have led to deaths and injuries. And, not very much has been done to stop or even reduce such accidents. This rule was definitely a step in the right direction. It was intended to protect the American public from suffering more deaths from accidents in refineries, chemical plants, and a lot more.
But, like other rules that protect people, this rule would cost the manufacturers money to implement them properly. And, that would affect their bottom line. And, that is something totally unacceptable to the trump administration. The health and safety of the American people comes in second to company profits. The stay on this rule is a perfect example of that philosophy.
It is no accident that people like the Koch brothers are such strong supporters of the Republican party. It is no accident that Republicans are very willing to save profits and not save lives. The only thing that matters to Republicans is money and power. They believe that money leads to power, and they will do nothing that will affect the donations from people like the Koch brothers even at the expense of the lives of their own constituents.
There are refineries, chemical plants, and other hazardous sites all across the country. Millions of people live in the shadow of these facilities and Republicans say their lives are “expendable” because doing something to protect them would cost the facility owners “too much money”.
The idea of a terrorist attack against one of these facilities is not out of the question either. In 2003, the government’s National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that U.S. chemical plants could be terrorist targets. Security experts have warned of the relative ease with which determined attackers could thwart plant security. The potential for cyber attacks makes the challenge even more serious.
So, as you can see, you are more at risk than you think. But, trump and his administration just doesn’t care if you are hurt or die if such an attack should happen. The rule was too “costly” for the company owners, so it must be killed. And, since it might cause blowback from voters, it must be killed very quietly and very secretly.
I dare any conservative out there to defend this stay of the rule without using money as an excuse. I cannot think of a single reason other than money why this rule should not be in effect right now. I seriously warn America to wake up and see what trump is doing to you. It isn’t getting you new jobs. It isn’t making your life better. It isn’t making you safer.
This administration only has one real goal. To make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. If making the rich richer means you need to be placed at risk, then that is perfect for them. If you happen to live near one of these facilities, you better be prepared to run like hell if an accident happens. Because trump and his administration really don’t care about you.
And, the shirts keep marching along.