Jon Corzine: Putting the Greenpeace Agenda above Americas Safety
For over a decade these groups have tried to banish vital industrial chemicals, especially chlorine, with false claims about potential harm. Their efforts failed. So now theyve switched tacks and are trying to piggyback their agenda on the terrorist threat with Sen. Corzines legislation, the Chemical Security Act of 2003, and its alleged purpose of protecting "the public against the threat of chemical attacks."
For example, rather than giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sole charge of establishing and enforcing new chemical industry rules, Corzines bill would force the Department to work in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Yet the purpose of establishing the DHS was to pull agencies under a single authority for better coordination. Further, whom would you trust more to keep the bad guys out of a chemical plant, the FBI, CIA, and the Coast Guard or those "special ops" bureaucrats at the EPA?
Parts of the Corzine bill looks innocent enough unless you understand the parlance of anti-chemical legislation.
Thus, it calls for "high priority categories" to be designated "based on the severity of the threat." The first term means "spending a bunch more bucks to reduce potential risks," which might not be bad except that "severity of the threat" is entirely theoretical. Its based on documentation that environmentalists had earlier convinced Congress to force industry to prepare, called "Worst Case Scenarios" or (WSCs).
"Um, if its okay with you Id rather fight the EPA than Homeland Security."
Yet the "reality scenario" is that in the past 80 years a billion tons of chlorine have been made in this country with no deaths outside any facility. The actual accidental rupture of a train car in Missouri last year carrying 80,000 pounds of chlorine might have, on paper, killed thousands; in reality nobody died on or offsite.
The bill also demands that, when feasible, facilities switch to "inherently safer technology." This is shorthand for drastically cutting the use of chlorine, about which Greenpeaces Joe Thornton told Science magazine in 1993, "There are no known uses . . . which we regard as safe." Little wonder that Greenpeace has set aside a page on its website encouraging members to "Take Action!" to support the Corzine legislation.
Never mind that thousands of products and materials are made with chlorine, or that over 98% of water supply systems that disinfect drinking water use chlorine because of its germicidal potency, efficiency, and economy. It kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Without water chlorination, the number of U.S. deaths from horrible diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery would each day swamp the number killed by terrorists on September 11.
About 85 percent of all pharmaceuticals contain or are produced using chlorine chemistry, including Cipro and other drugs that combat anthrax and other bioweapons.
No chemical plays a more important role in the war on terror. Water chlorination prevents spiking reservoirs with germs. Chlorine disinfected the offices contaminated by the anthrax mailings. Chlorine is used to make the bullet-resistant Kevlar that protects our soldiers and police officers, as well as aircraft, missiles, and rocket fuel.
Osama bin Laden has declared he will destroy our economy, that the September 11 attacks have "shaken the throne of America and hit hard the American economy at its heart and its core." But whatever the economic damage of those attacks, it would utterly pale in significance to irrationally slashing the use of chlorine products and their derivatives that contribute to 45 percent of the nations Gross Domestic Product.
Fortunately, Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe has introduced alternative legislation thats superior in many ways to Corzines.
The Inhofe bill emphasizes not the restriction or banning of various chemicals but rather taking "security measures" to "reduce the vulnerability of the source."
It also gives sole jurisdiction to the DHS, which is, interestingly enough, fine by the EPA. "It doesnt matter to us who takes the lead," Craig Matthiessen, associate director in the Agencys Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office told me.
Mathiessen notes that DHS would certainly employ EPAs expertise both in prevention and in emergency response because, "once theres a discharge, it doesnt matter whether it was accidental or terrorist-caused."
Further, only Inhofe pre-empts state open-records laws that might allow Osama and friends to discover exactly what safety precautions a facility has taken. Nobody would have access to secret information but the DHS itself and emergency response agencies not even the EPA.
Why? As a July 2000 General Accounting Office report found, there are "serious and pervasive problems that essentially rendered EPAs agency-wide information security program ineffective."
This rupture of a train car last year carrying 80,000 pounds of chlorine might on paper have killed thousands; in reality nobody died.
Thats who Corzine wants to co-administer anti-terror regulations?
EPA may have cleaned up its act somewhat since then, but "Im assuming DHS is going to be more secure than EPA" says Mark Greenwood, who ran the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics from 1990 to 1994. "EPA has historically, and particularly in the last decade, been oriented towards public disclosure. Obviously DHS has a security orientation."
Obviously, DHS is the agency to do the job and Corzine is merely trying to hide a green agenda behind a red, white, and blue veneer. Any congressman can introduce industry-bashing bills whenever he wants, but anti-terror legislation must be just that. You cant play around when the enemy plays for keeps.