Frequently Requested Information
Saturday, April 22 - Electronics Recycling & More Event, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Glynn Place Mall – JC Penney end of parking lot. See flyer for a full list of recyclables and other services..
Environmental Health Advocates to Congress: We Look to You to Protect Us from Chemical Exposure
Scientists, physicians, and health advocates sent a letter to select a Senate subcommittee asking them to protect the public form toxic chemicals and other pollutants that are causing death and disease. Voices from Tanzania to Glenn County Georgia reached out to the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health asking them to make the health of the public their highest priority.
They state “It is no longer a matter of ‘environmental enthusiasts’ versus the nation's economic engine, but rather an urgent matter of preventing thousands of other illnesses and deaths each year that result from a disregard for clean air, water, and food. Dr. Michael Harbut, Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Michigan, says, “I see patients who have been harmed by toxic chemicals and asbestos in their homes, workplaces, and schools. Delays in protective policies mean more children with cancer, and more adults with debilitating diseases that shorten their lives.”
Congressional investigations into the U.S. EPA's decisions on toxic chemicals, climate change, and other health issues have raised concerns about skewing science to limit regulations, thus placing public health in jeopardy. Campaign contributions from energy and chemical companies heavily regulated by the U.S. EPA to members of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health who oversee actions of U.S. EPA are a concern. The Health advocates point to the Subcommittee as a critical safety net that must insist the U.S. EPA carry out their protective mandate.
They point to Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey's who chairs the Subcommittee as an example of a Senator who is fighting for public protections. His upcoming "Kids Safe Chemicals Act" will require chemicals that are exposed to in communities and the workplace to have evidence of safety. “This is an element long missing from U.S. environmental policy and an essential step,” says Dr. Kathleen Burns, who testified for the Department of Justice on harm from coal-plant air pollution. “Chemical hazards and dirty energy sources don't discriminate based on race, income or age.” The authors understand why health leaders in other countries have endorsed their letter to the Subcommittee. "They hope the U.S. will stop ignoring global treaties and join other nations in working for a cleaner and safer world, “ added Burns.
Contributions from the U.S. EPA regulated industries to Subcommittee members' campaigns are legal. The Fair Elections bill introduced March 31st by Senator Spector, the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee, is encouraging to Dr. Harbut. Harbut has witnessed the undoing of many attempts to ban asbestos, carried out by politicians who receive contributions from the asbestos industry. This fact is all the more troubling because asbestos is so hazardous that most developed countries banned it years ago.
Daniel Parshley works to alleviate chemical contamination in his community, which is besieged by four Superfund sites. Parshley was ask to testify at recent House EPA ethics hearings, and is determined that the Subcommittee take its EPA oversight role seriously. He points to a school next to one of the local Superfund sites in his coastal area of Georgia. "The EPA is refusing to test the school contaminated by the adjoining Superfund Site. The EPA Office of Inspector General and a Congressional investigation have both found serious ethical problems with the EPA's handling of this,” according to Parshley. He hopes the Subcommittee will be a strong ally for all communities. "They are a last resort when our politicians and EPA turn a blind eye. Our Senators received large contributions from polluters. At least we can reach out to the Subcommittee who we hope understands the situation and will insist on cleanup."
A nationally-acclaimed journalist who investigated pollution in Houston's most contaminated neighborhoods also sees the Subcommittee's oversight as essential to restoring public health protections. Alice Shabecoff observed that Houston's East End is home to a myriad of petrochemical companies. According to Shabecoff's latest book, Poisoned Profits – the Toxic Assault on Our Children (Random House) ”Children living within two miles of this area, have a 56% increased risk of contracting acute lymphocytic leukemia.” In spite of this and against the wishes of the community, a new school was recently built in the East End. Community members have been unable to obtain help in addressing the pollution problem at the state level or from their own politicians in Washington.
The authors of the letter hope that Subcommittee members will join them in pursuing a safer and cleaner environment, stating: Our shared goals include insuring the safety of water, air, soil, and food supplies through careful management and protection of essential resources. We believe that you share those goals, by virtue of your participation on the Subcommittee.
Alice Shabecoff, who has observed the politics of environmental health, said she hopes that even those Subcommittee members who have taken large contributions from polluting companies and voted against public protections in the past will have a change of heart. "Although Senator Inhofe has a near perfect record of voting against legislation to protect the environment, I'm confident that when he looks at the faces of children who were unnecessarily harmed, he will support essential health protections."
Available for Interviews:
Daniel Parshley, Project Director. Glynn Environmental Coalition, Brunswick, Georgia.
Kathleen Burns, Ph.D. Director, Sciencecorps, Lexington, MA www.sciencecorps.org
Federal Sources on Campaign Funding
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health
Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Reports and Data
Senate Office of Public Records
House Energy and Commerce U.S. House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
Lobbying Disclosure, Office of the Clerk