Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dirty Tea Water for Owensville

A few years ago I wrote a Blog post about the dirty water that flows from the Wabash River tributaries in northern Indiana, just west of Fort Wayne, through Lafayette, Indiana, a city I have a personal interest in, to the southern Indiana delta where the Wabash, White River, Patoka River and Ohio River come together just south of Gibson County, a county that I also have a personal interest in. I used an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) inspection report to trace dirty water from several polluters along the way to show that those few people I know are forced to pay for clean water whether they liked it or not. My post connected the dots from the dirty polluters to the water those people drank, dirty tea water. It showed that the war against the EPA that intends to destroy the EPA was nonsense.

But, since then, the war against the EPA has heated up even more, if that's possible. The Tea Party Republicans have since taken control of the House, and bills attempting to stop the EPA are nearly a weekly event. I track bills in Congress through GovTrack, OpenCongress and Popvox. OpenCongress and Popvox give me a way to send my vote and comments to my Representative and Senators, for whatever good it does. My vote is probably undetectable in Washington. And so, I notice again that a House bill is on the side of corporate polluters rather than the side of those people who must have clean water. This bill, H. R. 2250, EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, is attempting to stop the EPA from regulating industrial, commercial and institutional boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators. The sponsor is Representative Morgan Griffith, a Tea Party Republican from the 9th district of Virginia. There are 126 co-sponsors on the bill, some of them Democrats. That's disappointing, but in a quid pro quo Congress, I shouldn't expect more; votes are traded for votes, or money. In this case, it was money. You can see who in Congress got the most money to vote for this bill here.

I think I can say with a high degree of certainty that the major money contributor for this bill is International Paper Corporation. It uses all of the equipment and processes that this bill would regulate, and it is on the list of bribing Congress. International Paper operates twenty-three locations in Virginia, ten in Indiana and over forty in my state, California, and the water it uses at all of these processing plants, whether it is processing wood pulp into paper, or recycling paper trash into new paper, comes from the rivers and tributaries that furnish drinking water. I also think I can say, with a high degree of certainty, that Rep. Griffith did not write this bill; International Paper wrote it, because this bill will cost it money to comply with the regulations. Well, of course it will. So what? If we want to drink and cook with clean water, somebody is going to pay to keep the water clean. The question is, who?

International Paper, IP, would like nothing better than to have taxpayers and water customers pay to keep the water clean. That kind of cost management is called "Externalizing Costs," costs that IP can pass on to taxpayers and customers. And, IP doesn't care which taxpayers pay for it; such as those who live close to the processing plants, or those who live way down river and who know nothing about the processing plant a hundred miles upstream. All those taxpayers downstream know is that their water is filthy and they have to clean it.

Another thing IP doesn't want to pay for is the additional workers it will have to hire to operate the cleaning process, such as a scrubber or filtering plant. Each additional worker it hires reduces profit, at least that what IP tries to sell us although all of the labor cost is a write-off. The truth is that labor costs reduce the amount of money that can be paid to company executives and share holders, and that's about it. The truth is that regulations do not kill jobs; in fact they create more jobs, 1) jobs to make the scrubbers and filtering equipment, and 2) jobs to operate those things. So, don't be sold on the myth that regulations kill jobs. It's a lie.

The water for Owensville, and the area miles around it, including Fort Branch, Poseyville, Mt. Vernon, Evansville, Princeton, and for everyone in Indiana for that matter, comes from artesian wells. These are wells that get water from pressurized ground water because the water table is high enough to push the water into a pumping system. The water table is supplied and pressurized by nearby rivers and tributaries through underground seeps and aquifers, usually through porous sand and gravel that filters out much of the debris in the water. Manufacturing paper uses very high concentrations of some of the most toxic chemicals we know of and, unfortunately, Mother Nature's natural filtering system, the sand and gravel, does not filter out enough of these chemicals. She would have a much better chance of success if most of those chemicals were filtered out by the processing plant itself and she needs help from regulators.

So, if you drink water, and I assume you do, then you need to fight this kind of topsy-turvey, fuzzy thinking legislation. This is a bill that a corporation bought. It isn't one that's for the good of the people.


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