Texas Republicans Helped Chemical Plant That Exploded Lobby Against Safety Rules
BY DAVID SIROTA ALEX KOTCHAND JAY CASSANO AND JOSH KEEFE ON 08/31/17
The French company that says its Houston-area chemical plant is spewing “noxious” smoke — and may explode — successfully pressed federal regulators to delay new regulations designed to improve safety procedures at chemical plants, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times. The rules, which were set to go into effect this year, were halted by the Trump administration after a furious lobbying campaign by plant owner Arkema and its affiliated trade association, the American Chemistry Council, which represents a chemical industry that has poured tens of millions of dollars into federal elections. ...
In its letter to the EPA, Arkema noted that it is a member of the American Chemistry Council — a powerful lobbying group that has delivered $1.6 million of campaign donations to federal lawmakers since 2010. That Arkema-backed group helped spearhead the effort to block the EPA’s chemical plant safety rule. In January, the council was one of 21 groups that sent a letter to congressional leaders asserting that the new rule’s costs were not worth the alleged safety benefits. ...
Burning Texas Plant Was Just Fined for Mishandling ‘Explosive Chemicals’
The disaster unfolding outside of Houston was known to OSHA and EPA officials. And Texas’ governor played a role in keeping the chemicals there secret.
KELLY WEILL, STEPHEN PAULSEN - 08.31.17 3:05 PM ET
HOUSTON — The Crosby, Texas chemical plant burning in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was cited with eight “serious” safety violations last year for failure to prevent the “catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals.”
Arkema Incorporated, the plant’s parent company, claimed it did everything it could to prevent the fires, but safety inspectors this year fined Arkema this past spring. And people living within a 1.5-mile mandatory evacuation zone didn’t know what chemicals were stored at the plant, thanks to a 2014 decision by then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, which classified once-public reports on hazardous chemicals. Abbott is now governor. ...
Chemical safety agency that Trump wants to eliminate begins investigation of Texas plant explosion
By Chris Mooney August 31 at 8:48 PM
Statement from the CSB’s Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland on FY 2018 Budget
START STATEMENT (I added paragraph breaks)
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is disappointed to see the President’s budget proposal to eliminate the agency.
The CSB is an independent agency whose sole mission is to investigate accidents in the chemical industry and to make recommendations to prevent future accidents and improve safety.
For over 20 years, the CSB has conducted hundreds of investigations of high consequence chemical incidents, such as the Deepwater Horizon and West Fertilizer disasters.
Our investigations and recommendations have had an enormous effect on improving public safety.
Our recommendations have resulted in banned natural gas blows in Connecticut, an improved fire code in New York City,
and increased public safety at oil and gas sites across the State of Mississippi.
The CSB has been able to accomplish all of this with a small and limited budget.
The American public is safer today as a result of the work of the dedicated and professional staff of the CSB.
As this process moves forward, we hope that the important mission of this agency will be preserved.
GOP = shortsighted avarice and absolutist egomania.
So sad, so unnecessarily self-destructive,
so many hiding away within their blankets because its all too overwhelming
will only make it worse