West Virginia Senator: My Residents Are Losing Faith in Government

Sen. Jay Rockefeller said the political fallout from the Elk River chemical spill is perpetuating the state’s sense of fatalism.

Rockefeller: Dems unified on FCC issue.
National Journal
Jack Fitzpatrick
Add to Briefcase
Jack Fitzpatrick
Feb. 4, 2014, 7:47 a.m.

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 »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
1 days ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
1 days ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
2 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login