At President Obama’s request, EPA to develop safety plans for chemical plants by November
by Rick Hind
September 9, 2013
A small town in Texas will never be the same after fifteen people lost their lives when a fertilizer plant exploded back in April.
The explosion was so big it registered as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake and destroyed a 37-block area of West, Texas. The most tragic part of it all is that the explosion along with the death and destruction that followed didnt have to happen.
There are safe, affordable alternatives to the dangerous chemicals like the ones used in the Texas fertilizer plant available right now. But instead of making the switch, the chemical industry has chosen to spend its money lobbying Congress so that it can keep putting millions needlessly at risk. And up until now, that strategy was working.
Things are changing though. President Obama recently issued a directive to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop plans for new safety measure at chemical plants by November. What happens next is up to us. Its your voice versus the chemical industry.
You’re likely close enough to a facility that stores or uses deadly chemicals, like chlorine gas, to be at risk if something unexpected were to happen. Most people in the U.S. are.
Chemical safety isnt just an environmental issue — it impacts communities everywhere. Thats why weve been working closely with a diverse coalition of groups including labor and environmental justice groups to send a clear message to the administration: the time to act is now.
President Obama has been outspoken on this issue in the past. In fact, back when he was a Senator from Illinois he had this to say,: “We cannot allow chemical industry lobbyists to dictate the terms of this debate. We cannot allow our security to be hijacked by corporate interests.”
A decade ago the EPA proposed using the Clean Air Act to enforce commons sense rules for chemical plants like the one in West, Texas. For a decade Congress and two Presidents have been dragging their feet.
Legislation that would address this problem has completely stalled in Congress and is going nowhere thanks to the deep pockets of the chemical lobby. It’s up to the President to do the right thing and he needs our support to make it happen.
If the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and the West, Texas explosion have taught us anything in the last couple of years, it’s that disasters happen. There’s no sense for millions of Americans to remain needlessly at risk from dangerous chemicals when safer alternatives exist.