The chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River has attracted a chorus of complaints about the lack of regulation and accountability before and after the spill, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller sees a bigger problem.
The West Virginia Democrat said that Freedom Industries’ chemical spill and its bankruptcy filing just a week later are encouraging the state’s “Scotch-Irish” sense of fatalism, during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.
There is “an Appalachian myth,” Rockefeller said, that the federal government will not look out for the state, and that companies like Freedom Industries cannot be held accountable.
“The idea that God has it in his plan to make sure that industry is going to make life safe for you — not true,” he said.
Rockefeller said West Virginia residents have told him they want to leave the state because they have no faith that their water will be clean, either in the short or long term.
That belief, Rockefeller said, was exacerbated when Freedom Industries filed for bankruptcy, which he and several senators said could be a means of avoiding liability for the spill.
“They will cut corners, and they will get away with it,” Rockefeller said.
Much of the hearing was focused on strengthening the Toxic Substances Control Act, which requires testing and reporting on chemical-storage facilities. The Freedom Industries facility had not been tested since 2002. Rockefeller cosponsored a Senate bill with fellow West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, as well as Barbara Boxer and Dick Durbin, which would amend TSCA’s system of assessing chemical risks.
Rockefeller was adamant that federal legislation is necessary to prevent similar chemical spills in the future, rather than leaving the issue to state regulators. That’s partly for practical reasons relating to environmental regulations, he said, but also to put a dent in West Virginians’ passive views.
“You don’t accept the world as it is,” Rockefeller said. “You accept it as it should be, and then you make it conform to that posture.”
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."