August 23, 2003

EPA Watchdog Rips White House on NYC Air

Two more US GIs died in Iraq overnight. (For
what?)Meanwhile, in one of many numerous attempts to
exploit the 9/11 tragedy for political gain, the
_resident and his Brain (Rove) choose to hold their
2004 national convention in NYC. Yes, come to NYC, Mr.
_resident, go to "ground zero" and read the latest
batch of lies from those index cards. I am beginning
to believe that the welcome you receive will indeed be
loud and massive, BUT not what your handlers and its
captive "US mainstream news media" imagined...Maybe
the Dixie Chicks will be waiting for you, maybe Merle
Haggard will be waiting for you, maybe the familes of
the 9/11 victims will be waiting for you, maybe the
families of the US GIs who have died in your foolish
military adventure will be waiting for you, maybe
those who lost their life savings in the Enron debacle
will be waiting for you, maybe the Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity will be waiting
for you, maybe some of the millions of have lost their
jobs in the economy that you trashed will be waiting
for you, maybe the millions of New Yorkers who were deceived about the environmental hazards post9/11 will be waiting for you, maybe Wesley Clark (D-NATO) will be waiting
for you...

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030823/ap_on_go_ot/epa_air_safety
EPA Watchdog Rips White House on NYC Air
Sat Aug 23, 5:40 AM ET Add U.S. Government - AP to My
Yahoo!

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - At the White House's direction, the
Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites)
gave New Yorkers misleading assurances that there was
no health risk from the debris-laden air after the
World Trade Center collapse, according to an internal
inquiry.

President Bush (news - web sites)'s senior
environmental adviser on Friday defended the White
House involvement, saying it was justified by national
security.

The White House "convinced EPA to add reassuring
statements and delete cautionary ones" by having the
National Security Council control EPA communications
in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according
to a report issued late Thursday by EPA Inspector
General Nikki L. Tinsley.


"When EPA made a Sept. 18 announcement that the air
was 'safe' to breathe, the agency did not have
sufficient data and analyses to make the statement,"
the report says, adding that the EPA had yet to
adequately monitor air quality for contaminants such
as PCBs, soot and dioxin.


In all, the EPA issued five press releases within 10
days of the attacks and four more by the end of 2001
reassuring the public about air quality. But it wasn't
until June 2002 that the EPA determined that air
quality had returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels well
after respiratory ailments and other problems began to
surface in hundreds of workers cleaning dusty offices
and apartments.


The day after the attacks, former EPA Deputy
Administrator Linda Fisher's chief of staff e-mailed
senior EPA officials to say that "all statements to
the media should be cleared" first by the National
Security Council, which is Bush's main forum for
discussing national security and foreign policy
matters with his senior aides and Cabinet, the
inspector general's report says.


Approval from the NSC, the report says, was arranged
through the White House Council on Environmental
Quality, which "influenced, through the collaboration
process, the information that EPA communicated to the
public through its early press releases when it
convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete
cautionary ones."


For example, the inspector general found, EPA was
convinced to omit guidance for cleaning indoor spaces
and tips on potential health effects from airborne
dust containing asbestos, lead, glass fibers and
concrete.


James Connaughton, chairman of the environmental
council, which coordinates federal environmental
efforts, said the White House directed the EPA to add
and delete information based on how it should be
released publicly. He said the EPA did "an incredible
job" with the World Trade Center cleanup.


"The White House was involved in making sure that we
were getting the most accurate information that was
real, on a wide range of activities. That included the
NSC this was a major terrorist incident,"
Connaughton said.


"In the back and forth during that very intense period
of time," he added, "we were making decisions about
where the information should be released, what the
best way to communicate the information was, so that
people could respond responsibly and so that people
had a good relative sense of potential risk."


Andy Darrell, New York regional director of
Environmental Defense, an advocacy group, said the
report is indicative of a pattern of White House
interference in EPA affairs. "For EPA to do its job
well, it needs to be allowed to make decisions based
on the science and the facts," he said.


Marianne L. Horinko, EPA's acting administrator, said
the White House's role was mainly to help the EPA sift
through an enormous amount of information.


"We put out the best information we had, based on just
the best data that we had available at the time," said
Horinko, who headed the agency's Office of Solid Waste
and Emergency Response, which oversaw the World Trade
Center environmental monitoring and cleanup.


"And it was using our best professional judgment; it
was not as a result of pressure from the White House,"
she said. "The White House's role was basically to
say, 'Look, we've got data coming in from everywhere.
What benchmarks are we going to use, how are we going
to communicate this data? We can't have this Tower of
Babel on the data.'"


The EPA inspector general recommended that EPA adopt
new procedures so its public statements on health
risks and environmental quality are supported by data
and analysis. Other recommendations include developing
better procedures for indoor air cleanups and asbestos
handling in large-scale disasters.


___

On the Net:

EPA Inspector General: http://www.epa.gov/oigearth

National Security Council:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc

Council on Environmental Quality:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq

Posted by richard at August 23, 2003 06:44 PM