The Bush administration, specifically Dick Cheney’s son in law played a major role in defeating regulations that would have strengthened Federal oversight of chemical plants like the one that exploded in West, Texas. During the time Philip Perry’s father in law was VP, he worker in a couple of government agencies. He was in the White Housec Office of Management and the Department of Homeland Security. While there he successfully blocked the EPA from regulating the Chemical Industry. As General Counsel at the DHS, Perry was pivotal in moving the regulating task from the EPA to the DHS. This was a move that helped the Chemical Industry.
In the wake of the 9/11 Terrorist attack, the Bush administration expressed concern that fertilizer plants could be a danger to the population, because they store explosive chemicals. But despite George W. Bush’s claims of wanting to make the nation safer post 9/11, they instead threw up roadblocks to the regulation of such plants.
The Bush administrations own cabinet secretaries came up with a plan to regulate these chemical plants. It was halted by Phil Perry. When the issue was brought before Congress, the Bush administration sided with the Chemical Industry. Then they pulled the backroom maneuver changing who regulates the plants. Now in 2013, the West Fertilizer company is guilty of storing more than 13-hundred times the amount of ammonium nitrate than world normally trigger safety oversight by the DHS. Not only did the DHS have no idea what the West Fertilizer company was storing, but id didn’t even know it existed untilit blew up.
The Obama administration is considering giving the EPA the authority to oversee such plants, which Perry blocked. The Chemical Industry is of course fighting it. It does not want to lose the sweet deal the Bush administration gave it. The West Fertilizer company gives us an excellent example of why more oversight is needed. Not just to stop another explosion, but to protect the employees of these plants and the surrounding communities. When the plant was actually inspected, there was a pattern of violations that should have been addressed.
Now in our capital Republicans will try to make this into a political issue, a talking point. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is about workers rights and community safety. Democrats need to approach it this way to garner support from Labor Unions and communities. We need oversight, because without companies will take unnecessary risks for a short term profit. We saw what lack of oversight did to Wall St. and the Banking Industry. But of course in will take a major catastrophe like this to get anything done in Congress, or maybe Republicans will block it like Unovetsal Background Checks, which 90% of Americans supported.
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