The Environmental Wait-Till-It's-FUBAR-Then-Fine-Somebody Agency

Okay so it's a sort of sciency Friday. I had a bit of fun reading the Washington Post this morning.


First up, this article on the largest mining fine in EPA history: 20 million dollars! Now, $20 million isn't all that much for a huge company like Massey but forget that, let's look at what they did: Massey Energy contmainated streams in 4,500 instances for 7 years. That's only $634/instance/year. But don't be fooled, this is great work says EPA lead attorney Richard Klepp:

This is a signal that, you know, EPA is on the job.

Yes Americans, if some company near you contaminates your water and land, you can be sure that, you know, the EPA will be right 7 years...if they did it 4,499 other times. Dang, I feel good about our Environmental Protection Agency! Or is it the Environmental Wait-Till-It's-FUBAR-Then-Fine-Somebody Agency? I can't remember.

Stock up on Windex!

SC Johnson will be touting it's green creds soon (read more here). And just so you know, they're the real deal. I've dealt with SC Johnson and I've never been more impressed with a corporation and long lamented the fact that nobody knew it. (Thanks to reader Kristan for sending the link).

Only embroynic patients to be helped

In the Post's front page story about the mature cloned embryos they discuss the British finding in 2005 of cloning from other human embroyos as opposed to adult cells and offer this helpful paragraph:

That approach offers no help to patients who are already born

Hmm...paging Jay Leno.

Friday Aural Pleasure: I can I get to know these people better?

I only saw this video to Junior Senior's 'Can I Get Get Get' recently. I love Junior Senior, but after seeing this video, I think I like their fans even better. You probably know Junior Senior, if you know them at all, from 'Move Your Feet'

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So the EPA's model of operation for America is one in which the entire environment - water, air, earth - can be completely decimated but it will be fine if we fine them some $$? We won't be able to survive but on the bright side, the Treasury's coffers might fill up.


The EPA also "slapped" the wrist of a developer in the Yellowstone region who deliberately filled in a wetland only to sell the land off for many, many millions of dollars. If the penalty does not hurt the business making a profit, there is no incentive to stop them. And the EPA web site praises their accomplishments...

"August 2004, ENRD lodged a proposed consent decree resolving an enforcement action for the unauthorized discharge of fill material in wetlands and other waters of the United States at a private ski and golf resort near Yellowstone National Park. The defendants' violations had adversely affected several tributary streams of the Gallatin River, a world-renowned fishery. The settlement calls for the Yellowstone Mountain Club to pay a $1.8 million civil penalty, the largest ever in an EPA wetlands enforcement case. Defendants will also restore damaged wetlands and create new ones as mitigation. Overall, the Division's wetlands enforcement efforts yielded assessments of civil penalties exceeding $2.9 million." -…

Many of the laws that EPA has at its disposal are pretty weak, especially when combined with a "business-friendly" administration (this is the 'duh' portion of the comment). EPA has the dual roles of fixing current environmental and human exposure problems while also preventing future harm. With its dual roles and current laws, EPA gets the fastest results of stopping a company from doing something bad now by threatening regulation/litigation and then working out a "compromise" in order to avoid massive legal challenges. Unfortunately, this approach is not very pro-active on prevention part. There is real review of harm that ought to have been prevented by reasonable foresight versus dealing with problems as they crop up (except public outrage).
This has been EPA's approach with regards to polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs, aka Teflon/Scotchgard chemicals) and, to a lesser degree, brominated flame retardants, for example. I'm not sure if the solution is stronger laws, completely separating out the enforcement and solutions roles or something else entirely.

By Insistent Chemist (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

Dang, I feel good about our Environmental Protection Agency! Or is it the Environmental Wait-Till-It's-FUBAR-Then-Fine-Somebody Agency? I can't remember.

I think this is the kind of thing that independent investigators love. Problem seems to be the "independent" part!
Dave Briggs :~)

Ditto on the SC Johnson comment. I used to work in the tox biz and dealt with them as well. They seemed top notch then and apparently, still are.

Wow, I was pretty riled up on the EPA ridiculousness but then you showed me an awesome video. The asian girl singing acapella at the end made it all worthwhile. Extremely redeeming ;)

"We are calling it the, "Environmental Destruction Agency"
I am working with in regard to plastics,
bottles, creams and body care products in plastic. Water in Plastic which is leaching Estrogen 7 times more powerful that the Estrogen we normally create. The whole world is Hormonally disrupted due to plastics, phahlates in Skin Care, Fragrance oils, pesticides, and food sources.
My corporation has a patent on a 3 step skin care system wrapped and packaged in Glass and Organic Packaging.
Certichem is one of the only corporations in the World (funded by the NIH) that is making biodegradle plastics that don't disrupt the body and environment.
Plastics is a Huge Business and needs to GO down, again petrochemicals are used in the business of plastics.
Toxic skin care from petroleum distillates and unidentified nanos by Big Corporations is a 36 Billion dollar business per year in the US.
I speak to Drs. and Scientists all the time and they look at me as if I had 3 heads.
I screamed for years and almost burned out. If it is in plastic, It is toxic. A little poison is a Lot of poison.