Proud because our Moms showed up in force. No one from the community was invited to testify at the hearing, which is a shame. But our members from East Palestine had a lot to say about the fear they are now living with and the breakdown in trust between the community, the train company, and environmental cleanup officials.
I’m proud that Moms Clean Air Force was able to open those doors to the Senate and get mothers who have been impacted by petrochemical disasters into the room and in front of cameras. Mothers from East Palestine, Ohio, who were 1,000 feet away from the chemical fire. And mothers from Louisiana, where petrochemical pollution is an everyday problem, disasters happen frequently, and generations of children face elevated risk of leukemia and other illnesses.
I was angry because the petrochemical industry has gotten off lightly with violating our clean air laws—the laws and protections we work so hard to achieve. The CEO of Norfolk Southern train company was squirrelly, to say it kindly, in his responses to questions about the company’s responsibilities. He refused to say, for example, whether he would support a recently proposed bipartisan bill that would require modern braking systems.
Environmental protection officials from Ohio and from the federal government blithely talked about “safe” levels of dioxin, even though they never did proper testing. Dioxins are a group of super-toxic forever chemicals that have been linked to lymphomas, leukemias, and other cancers.
And if—as the Ohio EPA kept insisting—the air is clean and the water is safe, why are people suffering from burning throats, headaches, and mysterious skin rashes?
And what of all the other people across the country who have had train derailments change their lives? What about the millions of people on the Gulf Coast who every day breathe the toxic air pollution from the vast petrochemical industry—most of which is owned by foreign companies that could care less about our air and water and health and safety.
Where have our laws, our safeguards, been for all these decades? The petrochemical disasters have piled up during Republican administrations—and just as badly during Democratic administrations. No one, not one single president, not one single EPA administrator, not one single attorney general, has done enough. No one.
Administrator Regan has begun to address petrochemical toxicity. Biden’s Department of Justice has taken some steps to hold petrochemical companies accountable. None of it is enough. Yet.
Petrochemical disasters and pollution must end. We cannot morally or legally tolerate the abuse of people for the sake of making more plastic.
Please take two minutes today to sign our petition to Biden and Regan—your voices matter. Always.