Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greenpeace Continues Pressure

There is an editorial on today that appears to be part of the continued push by Greenpeace and other groups to pressure Congress to pass comprehensive chemical security legislation. The piece was written by Rick Hind, the Legislative Director for Greenpeace. Rick avoids my earlier complaints about pressuring this Congress for action next year (see: “Push for New Chemical Facility Security Law”) by calling for action this year when Congress comes back into session. While it is not yet clear that their will be a post-election session this year, I am happy to see this tactical change in message. Isolating the IST Message I am disappointed that Rick only addressed a single issue, Inherently Safer Technology, in his editorial. The coalition of environmental, labor and political action groups (of which Greenpeace is a member) letter that was sent to all members of Congress cited ‘four fatal flaws’ in the law authorizing the current CFATS regulations. All four of those flaws should have been addressed. This is especially true when the vast number of facilities that “use and store highly toxic, volatile chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and chlorine gas” are exempted from the current interim regulations. Adding the IST provisions to the regulations without removing the exemption for water-treatment and waste-treatment plants will achieve little. I understand that it is easier to preach a single message that is easy to characterize as a clear-cut black and white issue. I do think that it ill serves the argument to oversimplify the discussion in this way. This is even more important when the argument is being made to the members of Congress, not the body politic. No one is running this year on homeland security issues. There is nothing to be gained by resorting to easily refuted scare tactics. Move Forward on HR 5577 Having said all of that, I do agree with Rick Hind that Congress does need to take action. I agree completely with his final statement; “It's not too late for Congress to redeem itself when members return to Washington after the election.”

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