Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pa.'s "mystery liquids": It's all Reagan's -- and Obama's -- fault

Pa.'s "mystery liquids": It's all Reagan's -- and Obama's -- fault

  

Since I've been blogging more about the horrors of fracking in Pennsylvania these last couple of weeks, a lot of you have been asking the same question: When is Attytood going to blame the problem on Ronald Reagan? Well, the good news is that as of today, and thanks to the outstanding reporting of the New York Times, I can!

Some of the recommendations concerning oil and gas waste were eliminated in the final report handed to lawmakers in 1987.

“It was like the science didn’t matter,” Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, said in a recent interview. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”

E.P.A. officials told her, she said, that her findings were altered because of pressure from the Office of Legal Counsel of the White House under Ronald Reagan. A spokesman for the E.P.A. declined to comment.

But look, as they say in "The Lion King," it's in the past. The Pulitizer-quality reporting by the New York Times this week has shown that we have a major problem right this minute, with what one EPA memo called "mystery liquids" that are produced by the form of natural gas drilling known as hydeofracking, or simply "fracking," dumped into wastewater treatment plants that aren't capable of treating them. These mystery liquids go into the watersheds that supply drinking water for much of Pennsylvania, especially the central and western sections. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agengy -- led for two years by appointees of the supposedly pro-environment President Obama -- is well aware there's a major problem in Pennsylvania, and it refuses to do a damn thing.

This should make your blood boil, if it's not already boiling from the glass of tap water you just drank:

Under federal law, certain basic rules govern sewage treatment plants. At their core, these rules say two things: operators have to know what is in the waste they receive, and they have to treat this waste to make it safe before discharging it into waterways.

But in Pennsylvania, these rules are being broken, according to some E.P.A. lawyers.

“Treatment plants are not allowed under federal law to process mystery liquids, regardless of what the state tells them,” explained one E.P.A. lawyer in an internal draft memo obtained by The Times. “Mystery liquids is exactly what this drilling waste is, since its ingredient toxins aren’t known.”

This is why we have an EPA, people -- because we learned by the 1960s and 1970s that for all the wonders of free-market capitalism, the only incentive to stop the scourge of pollution was through the law, and through the threat of fines and even jail for the polluters. Obama's EPA -- cowed by big business and maybe by the Tea Party movement -- isn't doing its job, and Ronald Reagan has nothing to do with that.

Shame on you, Barack Obama.

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Will Bunch
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