Need to Know, September 30, 2011: Chemical pollution and the EPA

This week's host Ray Suarez

Ray Suarez is this week’s host of Need to Know. We visit a small town in upstate New York that has been exposed to chemical pollution and health problems, and examine the regulatory system that some say has failed its residents. We also speak with Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks on the proper role of the EPA.

Also: Jon Meacham gives an “In Perspective” essay on longstanding government programs that continue to affect the lives of Americans every day.

Check your local listings for details. And be sure to take our poll on the role of the EPA: Is the EPA doing enough to protect us? Or is it doing too much, burdening us with regulations?

Watch the individual segments:

Toxic law?

Need to Know takes a look at a small town plagued by chemical pollution and disease, and the regulatory system some say has failed its residents.

Is the EPA regulating too much?

Need to Know anchor Ray Suarez interviews Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks to discuss his take on the proper role of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In Perspective: Jon Meacham on America’s regulatory history

Jon Meacham examines the effect that programs initiated by FDR and LBJ continue to have on Americans, despite unawareness of the role government plays in our everyday lives.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

 
SUGGESTED STORIES
  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.

Comments

  • Delightnlife

    We absolutely need to revamp the law to allow the EPA to do its job effectively. People have been the collateral damage of industries’ flagrant use of chemicals without regulatory oversight.

  • Base3014

    The Clean air and water act was supposed to protect us, but it was changed by the Bush administration. We need to be able to trust our food, our water and our air, at the very LEAST! How can this even be debated?

  • Betty Rushton

    Great program, but it wasn’t long enough and may only have gotten to the people who agree.  Where is the place I can vote.  I don’t know if we need more regulation, but it needs to stay current with current problems.  I was alive and active when the clean water and clean air acts were promulgated, I can’t believe we are going back to the old days of Silent Spring.
    Betty Rushton
    bettyrs@atlantic.net

  • John Bass

    We NEED a strong EPA.  Corporate America is doing everything they can  to make more money at the risk of our air & water. In southern Virginia a corporation is trying to mine uranium in flood plain that supplies drinking water many towns including Virginia Beach,Va. We can not continue to allow Corporate America to elect and influence OUR elected officials .  Thank You

  • Anonymous

    When Matt Kibbe, the Tea Party character, said that companies have the “economical incentive” to check the safety of the chemical they use, that they do not want to make their customer sick and loose them, Ray Suarez should have pointed out that in the case of IBM TCE disaster, it was not, is not its customers that are affected, but its employees, and those living near by its facilities.
    I have been working for IBM in Austin for 16 years. Never heard of this before. IBM didn’t consider it a “Need to Know” for me, I assume. I was a bit comforted that IBM is doing to the clean up. And like all company, it would have followed a regulation preventing this problem if one had existed.

  • Phyllis Coleman

    I live in a state that has several chemical plants and they are always trying to cover up any accidents they have.  It is time for the EPA to be stronger than they have ever been.  When I see the number of people with cancer, I have no doubt that pollution is the cause.  Industry has gotten their way much too long. 

  • Carol Steytler

    I find it unbelievable that chemicals are regulated in such a lax manner.  The right to clean air, and water, should come before the rights of industry seeking to exploit the planet.  The rate they are going there will soon be nothing left to preserve.  Everyday I hear of more devastation and abuse by greedy industries that will do anything to make a profit.  Mountaintop mining, tar sands, shale gas drilling, dead zones on and offshore. Utter devastation, with no conscience.  And the fact that there is almost no protection from those charged with doing so is simply criminal, but the more I know, the less I am surprised.

  • eldon skurdahl

    Every Govt Agency should have a sunset law. What was good leg 40 years ago may or may not be good today, the world changes.  If it is good it should  have no problem earning a place in future legistation.

  • Anonymous

    Where was the balance to Tea Party Kibbe commenting on the EPA? That is the kind of thing Fox News does, allowing a right-wing zealot to speak without any counter from someone with a more realistic outlook. If PBS continues to cater to the right, I may have to reconsider my support of them.

  • Leon Hertzson

    From the 1960′s through the early 90′s, I was the founder and CEO of a company that consulted with and designed facilities for every high tech industry here in the US and worldwide.  We were in the forefront of every major advance in technology and our military programs.  I could write more than one book detailing the ways in which industry callously ignored worker safety as well as pollution restraints for their local environment. There was serious inclusion of contaminants into products for the consuming public.  In making these claims, I can readily point to the key facts that were the driving force for these results. 
    First is insufficient knowledge of the industrial processes in their science and technology fields.  Poor engineering training can take this blame.  But the main issue came down to money and the bottom line.  And our government regulations can take some of the blame. While there are hundreds of cases in the US that we were aware of, I would like to cite just one. 
    We live on a large island adjacent to New York City. All our water for over 3 million people is ground based from deep aquifers. For years, major industry dumped solvents, chemicals and heavy metals into the soil.  A well known aircraft company was a major contributor.  As a specific case, photographic processing laboratories (the one hour kind) ran all waste chemicals into drainage systems.  Over eight different government agencies supposedly regulated this disposal.  Finally, after years, 100% capture was instituted. So to save money, industry designed a bake off system to reduce volume and the cost of collection and disposal.  Illegal dumping of the concentrated contaminants were prevalent. By baking, the toxic vapors were sent airborne. As to the results, we have well known breast cancer hot spots throughout the island but no one has tied these results to any of the procedures so blatantly ignored. Of course, the finger has been pointed at leaking fuel tanks from all gasoline stations and numerous other possible actions.  A frequent quote is”human safety is always for the other business since mine only releases minor waste products”.  As a sequel to the hour labs, heavy metal waste was and probably still permitted if the amount was small (?) and adequate water dilution applied. 
    I could cite biological waste disposal, serious worker breathing hazards in the semiconductor industries and numerous other similar cases.  Where does the blame lie?  Corporate management refuses to accept technical inputs and dollar bottom line impact is a major no-no. Engineering sometimes is governed by high tech types whose basic education has been too specific and not general enough to understand broad engineering principals.  The story is never ending and I have too many specifics to even start discussing here.

  • S. L. Sanduski

    When toxicity about chemicals like
    trichlorethylene are known, there absolutely needs to be regulation and early
    on. In this case, the people in Endicott
    should have been notified as soon as the risks became clear. Regulation by the
    EPA is supposed to occur first, in order to prevent deaths; the deaths should
    not be the warning bell.

  • http://www.EaglesVoice.com Phillip Erquiaga (EaglesVoice)

     
    This program brings up several issues.  My point of view is that of a person that lives in the middle of the Libby Superfund Site and deals with EPA daily.  More than 300 people (in a town of 3000) have died in Libby from exposure to Libby Amphibole (LA).
     
    Libby is the home of a vermiculite mine once owned and operated by W. R. Grace.  The vermiculite is a form that contains a tremolite form of asbestos known as Libby Amphibole (LA).  This material has been used in over 40 million homes as insulation, has been used as a compound in Gypsum board (Sheet Rock), has been used as a component in potting soil and the list goes on extensively.
     
    Chrysotile asbestos is the most common type and is considered a cancer causing agent. LA has been deemed by many scientists as more dangerous than Chrysotile by a magnitude of 1 to 4. 
    The EPA ignores the science, and makes qualitative health risk judgments, as opposed to doing the proper science and performing a qualitative analysis. They engage in containment in Libby using action plans that change yearly.  They leave homes with vermiculite removed from attics but still in walls and under carpets.  They remove soil in yards to 12” in some places but refuse to remove visible vermiculite in other places.

    The administrative costs of this superfund site are an outrageous 40%.  10 years of EPA in Libby has left a mess that can now never be cleaned because folks will never allow them back on their property.  EPA is a failure in communication and transparency. (Plesee see my nest post).

    The bottom line is that EPA is too big to have care about public health. They are too arrogant to admit they could be wrong.  We don’t need more EPA.  We need an agency that scientifically tests compounds before their release and begins studies of all chemicals in use, then has the authority to regulate them as needed to protect public health.  EPA is not the agency as evidenced by their work to date around the country.

    NOTE: Has anyone told you that you could (probably) are exposing your children to LA by living in your home?

  • http://www.EaglesVoice.com Phillip Erquiaga (EaglesVoice)

     EPA National Community Involvement Conference – June 27-30, 2006
    “Marketing the Message in Libby”
     
    Concurrent Session: 8:30-10am, Milwaukee Room; 6/28/06
    Ted Linnert’s Script:
     
    [Note: This script was integrated into the presentation as Peggy Churchill, Libby RPM, scrolled through her PowerPoint slides.]
    Goodmorning, I’m Ted Linnert, CIC for Libby – thanks for choosing our presentation, I hope you won’t regret it….
    As you all know RPM’s and CIC’s live in completely separate yet perversely parallel universes. Our presentation this morning is an experiment intended to be empirical proof of this phenomenon……
    Peggy, speaking as a project manager and engineer, will briefly describe the background of the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site and then go into detail about our Community Involvement activities at the Site.
    I, on the other hand, or I should say, in the other universe, will be speaking solely as a marketeer this morning, not as a CIC really, but as a private sector marketer.
    I’d like to introduce a new concept to the community involvement mix: it’s called “Social Marketing.” Even within the marketing discipline, Social Marketing is a relatively new concept but since this is an EPA CI conference we’re not going to dwell on explaining Social Marketing in depth. Very simply: Social marketing is a strategy for changing public behavior.
    Examples of Social Marketing that we’re all familiar with include the DARE program to keep kids off drugs, or anti-smoking campaigns, or Smokey the Bear saying that ‘Only you can prevent forest fires,’ or dare I say environmental education campaigns promoting various hygiene techniques to reduce lead exposure.
    I’m not claiming that EPA deliberately set out to initiate a “Social Marketing” campaign per se at Libby, quite the contrary. As you’ll see from Peggy’s slides, the Site Team intended to take a marketing-based approach to their CI program at the Site, but I am going to try to make the case that they were unwittingly implementing a classic Social Marketing Campaign. I’ve only been working at
    1
    the site for about a year, but it’s been my observation that the CI program put in place by my predecessor and the rest of the Site Management Team is indeed a Social Marketing campaign, whether they’d care to admit it or not.
    I will interrupt Peggy at various intervals during her presentation to guide you, as my carefully recruited marketing focus group (I’ll bet you thought you were exercising free will when you signed up for this presentation!), through a few simple exercises leading to the formation of a message. You are the perfect demographic to help us define and hone the message we need to convey to the public in Libby. So Peggy will give you the facts, I will sort of facilitate the focus group – two different universes, one presentation………
    I trust you all picked up a worksheet for this exercise as you came in – if not, raise your hand and we’ll get one to you. Also, don’t forget to pick up as you leave our handout on Social Marketing as a momento of this momentous event.
    OK, without further ado, here’s Peggy to give you an overview of what’s going on at the Superfund Site in Libby, Montana……..
    [Peggy: Slides 1-?, Ted interrupts before Peggy begins her “General Approach” section]
    OK focus group, before Peggy bores you into a coma, let’s get down to business…..
    Social Marketing takes the classic “Four P’s of the Marketing Mix” used to help sell a tangible product or service 1. Product, 2. Price, 3. Place (or distribution), and 4. Promotion and modifies them to market an intangible product offering, such as our message in Libby.
    The 1st “P” (product) becomes the Problem. Social marketing, like traditional marketing, focuses on the consumer, in this case the residents in Libby. So in the first blank section on your worksheet, using the information Peggy has just given you, please answer: ‘What is the problem in Libby?’ What is it that the people want and need from the EPA in Libby?
    [give attendees a few minutes to write]
    In traditional marketing, the 2nd “P” (price) is pretty straightforward (professional marketers might not agree with this, because there’s all sorts of research done to determine what a consumer will choose to spend for a certain product, but that’s not our concern today). For our Social Marketing case study of Libby, I’m going
    2
    to call the 2nd “P” Perception. What do the folks in Libby perceive going along with EPA’s cleanup plan is going to cost them? What are they going to have to give up, how much emotional capital are they willing to spend to support our cleanup? Please think about this for a few seconds and fill in the second blank on your worksheet.
    [give attendees a minute, Peggy begins again, then after “Step 1c – Identify Messengers, Ted begins again:]
    I don’t think the “P” for Place needs to change in this case, it’s Libby, Montana, no changing that. But please give some thought about how our message should be distributed within Libby and then write these message distribution channels down in the third blank. As Peggy has mentioned, we’ve got a pretty comprehensive message distribution system already in place in Libby, but maybe you’ll think of something we missed.
    [give them a few minutes, then before Peggy’s slide “Step 1e – Develop Measures of Success”, Ted prattles on]
    As crass as it may seem to us socially-conscious environmentalists, let’s also leave the 4th “P” (promotion) alone too. In classical marketing, promotion consists of the integrated use of advertising, public relations, promotions, media advocacy, personal selling, and entertainment vehicles. Isn’t this really what we do at Superfund sites? Isn’t this what Peggy, project manager, has been describing in her very engineer-like way? Or is it? In your 4th blank on the worksheet, please let us know what else we could or should do more of, less of, or what you’d advise us not to do anymore at all…..
    [After a minute or two, back to Peggy measuring success, then before the “Case History” slide]
    At any Superfund Site and especially at Libby, there are certain aspects of a classical marketing campaign that normally require extensive research that are handed to us as a given when we show up to begin a removal action.
    The Problem is already apparent in some form or another and our Baseline Risk Assessment defines it with prescribed scientific accuracy.
    The Place is a no-brainer, but distributing the message effectively within it might take some thought.
    3
    I feel that the Social Marketing challenges in Libby fall under the “Ps” of Perception and Promotion.
    Let’s deal with Perception by creating a few more “Ps” as subheadings under it, and I’m suggesting People and Partnerships. As Peggy mentioned, in classical marketing, targeting one’s audience is major component of any campaign. At a Superfund Site and in Libby in particular, this is done for us – the people affected by the contamination are our audience. Of course, the residents of Libby or any community are not an entirely homogenous population thus certain segments of the population may have to be targeted differently; but asbestosis or mesothelioma don’t discriminate, these diseases have targeted everyone in Libby – basically the entire population is at risk.
    At the core of any Social Marketing campaign are those who are intended to be the consumers of the campaign’s products. Professional Social Marketeers call this audience “Target Adapters” because they are the specific people whose acceptance and adoption of the social product will fulfill the objectives of the campaign. This feature of Social Marketing couldn’t be more applicable to Libby. The residents of Libby must accept and then adopt the so-called products or mesages of our campaign – be it the buy-in that there’s a problem, be it the acceptance of our cleanup plan, or be it the adoption of some behavior modification, for example adopting and acting in accordance with whatever Institutional Controls we leave in place after we’re gone.
    People are drawn to adopt a social product on the basis of feeling, which in turn triggers attitudes. In the fifth blank on your worksheet, please tell us what you think we can do to further influence the feelings and attitudes of the people in Libby.
    [they write, Peggy begins her “Case History”, then at slide “Step 1f –We Developed a Plan, Ted:]
    The other “P” I’d like to throw in here under People is Partnerships. We CIC’s call it working with Stakeholders. I’m not going to tell you about working with stakeholders because you’re already the experts in this field. Peggy has described some of the many stakeholders we work with in Libby. But how does this fit into a Social Marketing campaign?
    Many social causes, including environmental protection, take on the character of a public issue. Typically these social change campaigns in the eyes of a Social Marketeer require the assistance of a mediating institution and in the case of Libby that’s us, the EPA. We need to bring all these disparate community groups together, or least get them all on board to work individually or collectively to
    4
    achieve our goal. TAGs and certainly CAGs are examples of EPA’s efforts to mobilize influence groups. As Peggy (may have) mentioned, sitiing around the table at a CAG meeting in Libby is LAMP, CARD, Lincoln County, the hospital, Clinton, media, EPA, State, the audience etc. – all the usual suspects.
    There are a couple more “Ps” I’d like to quickly throw in as subheadings under the last classical marketing “P” of Promotion. The first is Policy – Social Marketing programs can succeed in motivating individual behavior change, but that is difficult to sustain unless the environment they’re in supports that change for the long run. If an existing policy or political environment needs to change or evolve, advocacy programs can be an effective complement to a Social Marketing program. I may be stretching this a bit, but I submit that some of our activities in Libby that Peggy is describing to you, such as our “Dream It, Do It” seminars, Contractor Workshops, and our O&M working group are attempting to change existing policies and conditions in Libby.
    Can you think of or have you used in the past other methods of changing the policies or cultural environment at your Superfund Sites? If so, please write them down in the sixth blank on your worksheet. Suggest to us how you would mobilize these influence groups in Libby…….
    [they write, after a minute or so Ted continues]
    The last “P” I’d like to stick under Promotion is PurseStrings. In our world, funding looms large as a limiting factor of what we can do to Promote our message to say nothing of the amount of actual cleanup work we can do on the ground. We all know funding is a major factor in what we can do at a Superfund Site and Peggy has touched upon how funding has affected our work in Libby – I’m not going to belabor the point.
    [Peggy finishes up her slide show, with the “Focus Group Exercise” slide in view, Ted sums up:]
    It strikes me and I humbly submit to you this morning that our traditional Community Involvement Plan at a Superfund Site is almost a textbook example of a Social Marketing Plan. The CIP has all the Social Marketing elements strategies, tactics, action items, budgets, implementation, controlling, maintenance, and evaluation of results. But this is not a presentation on CIPs – I’m sure you could find another concurrent session on that topic somewhere in the schedule. I just wanted to get you folks to look at our CI program in Libby from a completely different angle. Perhaps it will help you at your Sites, perhaps
    5
    you will analyze your CIPs from a different perspective from now on, perhaps I haven’t come close to making the case.
    In any event, I’d really appreciate one last bit of help from this very able focus group. In the last blank on your worksheet, in 25 words or less, as they might say in a marketing promotion on a cereal box, please write down, based on what both Peggy and I have said this morning, what you think the overriding message to the Libby community should be…….These will be judged and we actually have some really cool prizes from Libby, Montana for the three best messages…….
    [Give attendees at least five minutes time permitting, Ted speaks:]
    When you’re done, please pass your worksheets to Jeff and Karen, our independent judges from CDM……..
    While Jeff and Karen are judging your messages, Peggy and I can take some questions………..
    [Jeff and Karen are judging, when they’re done they will give us a nod…Ted or Peggy:]
    OK, our judges have made their decisions, let’s bring them up here……. These are the people who do all the work and Peggy and I take all the credit. This is Karen Ekstrom and Jeff Montera from our contractors at Libby, CDM.
    [turn mics over to Karen & Jeff, they do their thing……]
    That’s all folks! Thanks for your help! We really appreciate it!! Best Focus Group ever!!!!!
    [Peggy, Ted, Karen, & Jeff bow in unison to the clamor of thunderous applause]
    6

  • barb shillinger

    I think that chemicals should be tested before they are used, even those that were “grandfathered” in. When it comes to balancing profit with health, I will vote for health every time. These people who defend some of these chemicals that are “highly suspect” would react differently if one (or more) of their family members became sick from contact with them.  

  • barb shillinger

    I think PBS was being fair in allowing the Tea Party view to be expressed, and I felt like the moderator challenged him on several points.

  • barb shillinger

    Which is why the EPA needs to be empowered to protect us from these corporations who only care about their bottom line.

  • barb shillinger

    And IBM should have to buy the houses on the contaminated ground in Endicott (at fair market value), so these people can afford move to a healthier place.

  • Kickback

    Ray Suarez deserves an F. When Mr. Kibbe said that
    the EPA should not have driven good products from the market, Suarez should have
    stepped in immediately and said, “What products were unreasonably banned?
    Give me three examples”. If the EPA were doing a good job as regulator,
    they would surely make mistakes and occasionally ban something wrongly, just
    like doctors operating for appendicitis still sometimes find nothing to remove.
    I don’t think that the EPA is doing a good job; I don’t see how they can
    without a major increase in their budget – more people and much more money for
    labs. In order to block or remove a chemical from the market, they need a panorama
    of tests that cost a lot of money. They don’t have that money. The onus should
    be on chemical manufacturers to pay for the EPA labs to do it right. Suarez could have done a better job also by
    putting the TCE problem in perspective – is it likely that TCE will cause
    cancer in a host not already affected by other mutations, smoking, etc? Suarez
    should have interviewed Bruce Ames of the famous Ames test and ask him to
    comment about the magnitude of the problem caused by TCE and other chlorinated
    hydrocarbons. What about the hydrocarbons we inhale from chlorinated water when
    we take a hot shower?  Chlorination
    is not the only form of water purification. Cancer is multifactorial – no one
    factor, not even dioxin acts alone. Chlorianted hydrocarbons are harmful but they are not at the top of the scale.

    The Americas could become totally energy sufficient- when you count
    reserves of shale gas, shale oil, big off shores finds in Brazil, the total
    reserves of oil and gas in North and South America vastly exceed those of Saudi
    Arabia. However, there are real hazards in obtaining shale oil and shale gas. What
    Mr. cave-in Obama should do is a propose a combined energy & toxic chemical
    control program coupled with more subsidies for nonfossil energy that could move
    us forward in relative safety- it would be relative because diesel pollution is
    very toxic for those who live close to freeways. In the long run, we have to
    get off the petro teat. In the short run, we need to flush the sheiks. We have
    too many drill, baby, drill enthusiasts like Palin, Bachmann and Perry; the
    democrats put up token resistance only to cave in as soon as Rush Limbo shouts
    job destroyer. It will cost real money if the EPA is to test these chemicals in
    a way that will hold up in court. Our corporate dominated government needs some
    backbone to protect the rich corporations from themselves in their frantic rush
    for huge profits- look at BP. I don’t mean only the Macondo well, I mean Texas
    City and many other reckless offenses.

    We need a bigger and better EPA and PBS needs real interviewers not high school
    talk.

  • sadoldlady

    More
    talk, more time gone by, more environmental hazards disregarded. We are all so
    immersed in life as it is that we cannot see how we, ourselves, contribute to
    the overall pollution. For instance, Senator Lautenberg, the suits which you
    and your fellow politicians wear are impregnated with chemicals which “clean”
    them (providing dry-cleaning jobs) but which rub off on your children and
    grandchildren if you find time to hug them. Unfortunately, the EPA’s main
    contribution might have been, all these years, to making us feel that “things are
    being taken care of”.

  • http://www.EaglesVoice.com Phillip Erquiaga (EaglesVoice)

    Please put yourselves in a position of a person that lives in a place contaminated with a substance that is harmful to you, your neighbors, friends, but moat importantly your children.Then read the EPA document that linked here: http://www.epa.gov/ciconferenc….  This should convince you that EPA is only interested in manipulating folks, not Protecting Human Health!

  • http://www.EaglesVoice.com Phillip Erquiaga (EaglesVoice)

    his is the link from my prior post:  Hope it works better.

    http://www.epa.gov/ciconference/previous/2006/download/presentations/marketing.pdf

  • Linda

    Please, write the book(s).

  • Anonymous

    I saw fristhand the spontaneously-combusting rivers and the rotten air (and death reports) that inspired the creation of the EPA.  I do not want to go back.  I want to go forward…better.  Too many chemicals have been “grandfathered” in and are only getting tested 30+ yrs later. We need a strong EPA with teeth, not a weakened one. Our health, our lives, our children depend on it.

    Mr. Kibbe first says that companies shouldn’t be held accountable if they didn’t know a compound was dangerous. Then he says the costs of customer harm is enough to deter a company from having a dangerous product on the market. This is simply not the case. Companies take the profits from their damaging products — and the dumping of them or their waste — and then simply close that company or subsidiary setting aside the restitution and clean-up due. Meanwhile, decades later, our communities are still dealing with the persistent issue of contamination and the deaths of our youth who were unknowingly exposed on “safe” ground.  The persistent dioxin issue in St. Louis County is just one terrible, gut-wrenching example.  Chemicals should be proven safe ahead of time.  And all chemicals are not created equal.  Those with chlorine as a constituent, for example, have proven themselves to be a very deadly, persistent group.  We can’t afford to have our children and our land exposed for decades until the damning evidence can no longer be ignored and we’ve buried our young after years of tortured lives.

  • BVA

    Nobody
    asks for empirical evidence.  Mr. Kibbe
    asserted that the EPA is over-regulating and retarding economic, yet Mr. Suarez
    did not ask for evidence.  Mr. Kibbe
    asserted that uncertainty created by the EPA and other regulatory agencies was preventing
    business leaders from making business expansion decisions.  Mr. Kibbe asserted that the “common
    law” is all we need to protect the public. 
    Mr. Kibbe asserted that corporations will be deterred polluting by
    “economic accountability” (losing their customers). 

     

    Economic
    research, as I humbly understand it, provides objective evidence that suggests
    that most customers don’t care what corporations do to the “commons”,
    unless there is some high profile public awareness campaign.  There are many times more pollutants and polluters
    than potential public awareness campaign leaders and funders.  Still, Mr. Suarez did not ask for supporting
    evidence, a study, something objective, anything with some numbers that would
    cloth Mr. Kibbe’s naked assertions. 

     

    This is
    not commercial network news, this is PBS! 
    What the h… is going on?! 

  • FrancisM

    I am pleased that the recent Need to Know show on PBS reopened the discussion about protecting our environment especially when some political forces are challenging the work and very existence of the EPA.
    It is true that Mr. Suarez allowed Matt Kibbe from Freedom Works an open platform to express himself with very few attempts to challenge his many unsupported assertions. I suspect that if Mr. Kibbe was on a more polarized TV network, the host would have showered him with praise for his insights or on another network the host may have attempted to shouted him down with contrary agreements. I like the fact that PBS brings up the pertinent topics and gives us, their listeners, credit for knowing how to sort out rhetoric, factoids and facts. PBS also asks for and welcomes our opinions.
    I am all for strengthening EPA and revisiting the TSCA. I feel better informed as a result of this show and will probably look for more information regarding the EPA.

  • Marie Isenburg

    I have no interest in prosecuting past activities that were not specifically prohibited when they occurred. Really. I want to deal with what is happening now. As for freedom and liberty, I would like the liberty to live on clean soil, air and water. I want to be free of having my dna and/or neural system altered by chemicals I don’t even know are there. And I need the government’s help. I don’t have the time to do the research myself. I want to act according to my gifts rather than spend my life trying to protect myself from people whose interests conflict with my wish for a healthy environment.

  • Rob1al2

    I think Mr. Kibbe is getting a lot of money from the industry.  So the balance is this, if we have no more than one half of one percent deaths from a toxin then it is safe enough. 

  • Rob1al2

    So how do you measure economic success to health?  What percentage of loss of life is acceptable?   The freedom people aresaying let the market determine control and if too many people die to the point of not supporting the market then the company will fold but the chemical produced is your problem.  

  • FrancisM

    I agree with your definition of one of the roles of government. We need to see signs now that the people we elected to lead our state and federal governments are actually looking out for the welfare of the people who voted them into office.  My hope is that more people will listen to verifiable resources of information and make good judgements on whom we choose to lead our government.  We need to regain our confidence in our leaders so that we can focus our efforts on the things we can do as individuals [our gifts].