Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in her remarks to an audience gathered to discuss local groundwater contamination by PFOs and PFAs [“U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Listens To Groundwater Concerns At The 106th Rescue Wing,” 27east.com, October 9], conflates different types of environmental contamination caused by different sources.
Not surprisingly, Gillibrand’s message appears to be that massive amounts of government spending are the remedy to counter “bad decisions for hundreds of years.” She invokes the pollution of the Hudson River by General Electric as an example of bad decisions. Apparently, the targets of her wrath are G.E. and the “current” Environmental Protection Agency of 2019.
The article did not mention any criticism by Sen. Gillibrand of regulatory agencies failing to do their jobs during the period of improper PCB disposal by G.E., which took place from the 1940s through the 1970s — not “100 years ago” as claimed by Gillibrand. She said: “We’re living with that now, and the deal we made with G.E. 10 years ago wasn’t very good, and now we have an administration who won’t make them continue to do cleanup. [G.E. is] scott-free even though PCBs are still in the Hudson River.”
Her claim that G.E. is “scott-free” is a false statement. In prefacing the following comments, I have not now nor in the past had any relationship with G.E. in terms of employment or financial investment. I have worked in the environmental consulting industry for 30 years; however, I have never had G.E. as a client. I harbor no favorable feelings toward huge corporations, and my personal feeling is that G.E.’s pollution of the Hudson River was almost horrific in nature and scope.
However, the “deal we made with G.E.,” in the words of Sen. Gillibrand, was the result of extensive studies, environmental sampling and analysis, and an exhaustive process of developing remedial work plans that show promise of effectiveness as well as the ability to be implemented. Summaries of the amount of sediment dredged, confirmatory sampling and habitat restoration performed during the course of the remediation performed are available on the internet.
Gillibrand states “We need an EPA that actually cares — this current one does not.” The cover letter accompanying the recently issued certificate of completion issued to G.E. notes that the certificate was issued after comments received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the state attorney general were evaluated. The letter also clearly states that EPA reserves the right to require additional remediation by G.E. in the future.
So often, our politicians speak in lofty terms of our right to clean water and air. Yet they often give no second thought to using this issue as a cudgel with which to battle their political foes.
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One fine body…