Monday, October 3, 2011

Peter Roskam called me the other day about the job-killing EPA

While relaxing at home one evening, my antiquated landline rang. Why whomever could it be calling me on this line? I wondered. It was Republican Illinois House member Peter Roskam conducting a Telephone Town Hall Meeting

Roskam does these phone call "town halls" where the listener can listen to Roskam speak to people or, if they are so inclined, press the pound key to be transferred to a staffer to screen a question for Representative Roskam. I did so and told the nameless staffer I'd like to ask Representative Roskam a question about his yes vote for HR 2018, A Republican House bill in which 223 of 236 (94.5%) of Republicans voted to eliminate the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Representative Roskam took my question. I told him in light of the egregious and on-going dumping problem by the BP plant at Whiting Indiana how did he feel it was a responsible position to vote to eliminate the Federal Government's power to regulate and stop Corporations from polluting and put that power in the hands of the States, when his constituents' drinking water was directly affected by another State Government's decision.

For reference, the Indiana State Government voted to allow BP to ignore the EPA and the Clean Water Act on the amount of Mercury it dumps into Lake Michigan. Mercury is toxic substance to humans that once it enters the human body can not be gotten rid of and leads to heavy metal poisioning*. The reason we Chicagoans can not eat Lake Michigan fish? Too much Mercury. The BP Whiting Indiana plant also dumps a dozen toxic byproducts of oil refining, including benzene, toluene and suspended solids containing mercury, lead, nickel and vanadium

The BP Whiting Indiana plant has a history of flouting EPA regulations and dumping huge amounts of toxic pollutants into our air and drinking water. And while in 2007 the Indiana Government was paid off to state BP would self-regulate and was working within Federal guidelines, the truth is BP was blatantly polluting the Lake.
In 2009, BP acknowledged that for the last six years its Whiting refinery violated federal pollution limits on benzene, a highly toxic chemical linked to leukemia and other health problems.

BP reported that it had processed too much benzene at the refinery's sewage treatment plant, about 15 miles southeast of Chicago.

Last year alone (2008), the company processed more than 95 tons of benzene waste -- about 16 times the amount allowed. BP also violated the 6-ton limit from 2003 to 2007.
Whiting Refinery was cited who violations of U.S. and Indiana EPA regulations in October 2008,
Federal regulators say BP PLC violated the Clean Air Act by beginning to make modifications at its Indiana oil refinery along Lake Michigan to process Canadian crude without the proper permit.
So, faced with the fact that his vote would allow a Corporation based in one state, in this case Indiana, to flout laws and regulations and directly harm the citizens of other states, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan all draw water from Lake Michigan, how could he justify it?

Well, here's how all Republicans justify their actions, by anecdotal analogy. Peter Roskam related to me a story about how some nice small business in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois was hampered in their mechanical engineering designs by the over regulation of the EPA, which demanded they produce an engine type which they could not possibly produce thus causing the small business to fail. If there is one thing the Republicans do well it's stay on message.

The Republicans have been proclaiming the EPA kills jobs, and obviously Roskam's folksy aw shucks small business anecdote was unassailable and proved the Republican message. Plus this being a telephone conference, I was not allowed to ask a follow-up about his vote about the Clean Water bill, but that is to be expected.

Now, Representative Roskam seems like a nice moderate conservative, but it's his type and his willingness to go along with the Michele Bachmann's of the Party and their crazy, fringe, plutocratically controlled views, in this case "The Job-Killing EPA" and vote overwhelmingly for bills which are clearly harming the American people.

* - Sir Isaac Newton most likely suffered from mercury toxicity due to his early alchemical work.

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