Thursday, February 13, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere...

As the horrible weather has millions of Americans once again either huddling in their homes, or trying to recover from the latest unusually large winter storm, our staff members are doing a bit of both, while trying to remain positive. All the recent disasters around the U.S. haven't exactly made that easy.

We are glad that this week none of us has been stuck in an airport due to the weather, and no one we know has died from weather-related problems. We're also glad we've all had the basics: Safe, comfortable homes to stay in, nice clothes on our back, and plenty of healthy food and water, in both our homes and offices. After recent man-made disasters in both West Virginia and North Carolina, we consider ourselves extremely lucky to be able to go any of the many faucets in our offices or homes, open the tap, and simply drink the water.

Over the last month, major chemical and waste spills have happened in both West Virginia and North Carolina, not once, but twice. These man-made natural disasters have made drinking water for nearly half a million people effectively unusable - even untouchable. It's certainly not been safe to drink.

These disasters are the kinds of monstrous problems that Americans don't usually think happen here at home - unless you live in West Virginia. Or North Carolina. Or in war-torn, barely regulated, third-world nation, filled with greedy industrialists and clueless citizens.

In a sad way, those places in West Virginia and North Carolina where the disasters have happened now partially fit the description of a third-world country.

There's no question that both states have had their safety and health regulations gutted by major industries, including corporations like Duke Energy. Duke was responsible for the "spill" that dumped 82,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina this past week. Residents there now have to deal with levels of arsenic in their water that are far beyond safe, while being told by officials that they should 'avoid prolonged contact' with the water.

In West Virginia, their initial water disaster surfaced more than a month ago, though their experiences with the massive coal corporations foreshadowed this latest incident years ago. Many West Virginia residents are already giving up hope that their state government will do anything to resolve the situation.

It doesn't really surprise us that either state is having problems due to a lack of effective regulations. We also wouldn't be at all surprised to see similar major disasters happen in Wyoming or Idaho in the next few years, as state legislators in both states are currently doing the bidding of ALEC - the American Legislative Exchange Council - in trying to gut their own EPA-style regulations.

Republicans in the U.S. House -  some of whom we're certain were also getting large campaign donations from ALEC-related and affiliated donors - tried something similar earlier this year, when they voted to try to curtail the EPA's ability to regulate things like polluted water. Thankfully, President Obama has already made it clear he'll veto any legislation the House passes with such ignorant ideas.

Unfortunately, for those people in West Virginia and North Carolina affected by the spills, the monster is out of the bottle, and the damage has already been done. Who knows how long it'll be before they can simply go to their taps, and get a refreshing glass of water?