Rep. Peter King Should Listen to You, Not the Chemical Industry

by John Deans

April 11, 2011









There has been a lot of attention on Congress recently as they can’t seem to agree on how to spend tax money, or how much to attack the Environmental Protection Agency. I’ve got some ideas, if they would listen. You know, like creating a program to prevent catastrophic chemical disasters that would create jobs, take money away from the coal, oil, and nuclear industries and spend it on the energy revolution, and please preserve the agency that is protecting us from pollution. But Congress doesn’t always want to know what I think.

They, do in fact, have to pay attention to you, and that’s what I want to tell you about today. A few weeks ago Congressman Peter King (R-NY3) began his hearings on the radicalization of Muslim Americans. While I appreciate the fervor demonstrated by the Chairman of the Homeland Security committee, it was misplaced, and would have served him better a week earlier when he unfortunately supported a weak bill that would preserve the current security gaps at dangerous chemical facilities.

We thought this was absurd and asked you to send him that message if you agreed. And you did. Over 22,400 of you sent him a message asking him to take chemical plant security seriously. We told you that we would deliver your messages personally, so we asked the Congressman for a meeting, but he didn’t respond, so last week we went to Capitol Hill to try to find him. Finding members of Congress in the beehive of the Capitol can be like finding a needle in a pile of needles, so we decided to start at his office. Lo and behold, as we stood outside his door, Congressman King appeared in the hall and I had just a few moments to hand him the letters and ask him to support a comprehensive approach to securing chemical facilities, like he did in 2006 and the House voted for in 2009.

He grudgingly thanked me for the letters and hustled inside his office. It was a bit like catching a glimpse of Sasquatch, but we have this blurry image of the encounter above.

I want to personally thank everyone who sent their message to Chairman King, your voices are the ones he should listen to, instead of the chemical industry lobbyists that stalk the halls of Congress every day.

Over 100 million Americans are needlessly put in danger of a chemical plant disaster from over 300 high-risk facilities. There are safer alternatives out there but the chemical industry isn’t going to make the switch on their own. That’s why Congressman King’s efforts to preserve the status quo are continuing to put our communities at risk. As the House of Representatives fumbles with this issue, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced a bill, with support from over 100 organizations, that will make chemical and water facilities safer and more secure. But to pass this legislation through Congress, Senator Lautenberg is going to need your support and the support of his fellow Senators.

This time tell your Senator to take action.

John Deans

By John Deans

As a former Arctic Campaigner, John worked with lawmakers, coalition partners, activists, and the media in Greenpeace's efforts to protect the Arctic from the dangers of industrial activity.

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