West Virginians Don't Know How Fucked They Are Because No One Will Tell Them:
Here's a fun fact from West Virginia, where, you might remember, 300,000 people had to go without water for a period of time because some dicksacks had a storage facility leaking chemicals into the Elk River, just a mile and a half above the intake for a water plant. In response, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (who, of course, is named "Earl Ray") proposed legislation "aimed at creating a new regulatory program for aboveground chemical storage tanks." So far, so groovy, no?
In a press conference two weeks ago, Tomblin announced it, which was a day after a meeting of various groups with the the governor's staff and members of the Department of Environmental Protection. "The stakeholders," as Tomblin's deputy chief of staff called those who met about, you know, the water everyone uses to drink, bathe, water plants, all that water-related stuff.
Who was in that meeting where the legislation was essentially created and finalized? Who were the stakeholders? Oh, you know: "The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was invited. So were the Oil and Gas Association and the Coal Association. Trade associations representing grocers, manufacturers, trucking firms and energy companies were included," according to documents about the meeting that the Charleston Gazette obtained. Who wasn't invited? Any environmental groups. Any citizen groups. No, see, because they must not have a stake in the safety of the water.
Also in the documents are emails from various lobbyists and others in the business community suggesting changes to the legislation. For instance, "Rebecca Randolph, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association...provided a list of 18 different exemptions that would exclude various types of aboveground storage tanks from the governor's bill." Those exemptions did, in fact, make it into the bill.
That was the backdrop for a public hearing on the bill that was held yesterday in Charleston in the House of Delegates chamber, where the legislators indulged the citizens for a couple of hours. They got to hear 52 state citizens say things like "Please, no loopholes, no exclusions," which is the opposite of what the business person said, so, really, no, sorry.
See, the citizens who were there are afraid that their legislators are so in the pocket of the massive pollution-producing capitalist apparatus that runs the state that nothing good will actually come from their government. Said Nancy Ward, "You say this will never happen again. But unless you're willing to pass legislation that is effective and properly enforced, I guarantee it will happen again and again and again."
Why should they doubt the sincerity of the legislature? Perhaps because "about half of the members of the House of Delegates didn't attend -- or left early -- Monday night's hearing in the House chamber." (The bill has already passed the Senate.) Or perhaps because, at the same time, Senate committees are considering a bill that changes how the amount of toxic aluminum is measured in the state's water, a change that will result in more aluminum in the drinking water. (Among other things, high aluminum content is connected to higher rates of Alzheimer's and other shit you don't want.)
Or perhaps because the state hasn't exactly been square with the citizens about the shit that's already in the water. Like, well, formaldehyde. Said an official of the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board, "We know that (crude MCHM) turns into other things, and these other things are bad. And we haven't been looking for those other things. So we can't say the water is safe yet. We just absolutely cannot." He will not let his family drink the water from the faucet.
Yeah, all the flushing of pipes might not have worked. The pipes and the system itself might have been fucked beyond fucked.
If the Rude Pundit were in West Virginia, and it was snowy and rainy, as it has been and will be, he'd wonder just what the hell is in that precipitation and how it is planting the seeds for his future doom.