In November 1986, the United States Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act ("EPCRA" or "the Act") to help America's communities "deal safely and effectively with the many hazardous substances that are used throughout our society." Under the Community Right-to-Know Reporting Requirements (Sections 311-312), if a facility is subject to reporting under these sections, it must submit information to the ...local fire department with jurisdiction over the facility. West Fertilizer failed to inform the local fire department of the dangers found within its plant, and now those members of that fire department have perished. Governor Rick Perry has been running around the U.S. boasting about Texas and its low taxes, small government, weak regulation, little oversight, anti-union right to work state in which workers and consumers have few protections. Rick Perry is proud to let business owners know that they can move their businesses to Texas where they can avoid paying taxes while they run rough shod over the safety and well-being of its residents and consumers in one form or another. As we learned very recently, there can be devastating consequences to Rick Perry and the Texas GOP's anti-government hysterics and its libertarian approach to zoning laws, i.e. no zoning at all. Rick Perry claims that low regulation levels the playing field. But as we recently learned, low regulation also levels schools, homes, churches and businesses. Not to mention the loss of life where apparently life is cheap in Rick Perry's unregulated Texas. Few of us have missed the news about the horrendous explosion in West, Texas. Many of us were stunned to learn that West Fertilizer Co., located in a farming community outside of Waco, Texas had the capability to literally make bombs. The company had been storing 1,350 times the amount of amonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This amount is 100 times more than what Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren't shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year. Non-disclosure of the dangers found within this plant caused the deaths of the first responder heroes. "It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid," Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. "This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up." Homes, schools, churches and a nursing home were located near the West Co. fertilizer plant. Most have been destroyed. At least eighteen people have been killed and approximately two hundred people have been hurt. When the tools for greed screw the feds, they screw the residents in their communities. You’ll recall that Perry spent 90% of his time ripping Barack Obama’s stimulus initiative and other spending request. But, of course, that spending included poor people. Now that Perry needs to pick up the political pieces from his state’s vehement anti-regulation posture that will likely be directly implicated in the West tragedy, it’s a different story. Who will pay for the damage wrought by West Fertilizer Company's reckless irresponsibility? Who will pay for the funerals of those murdered by the plant's arrogance and criminal behavior by thumbing its nose to federal regulation? Meanwhile, back at Rick Perry's ranch of crony capitalist corruption, the federal government basher in chief, is begging the feds to help clean up the mess and pick up the tab for the damage. Let West Fertilizer, the State of Texas and its corporate partners pay for the devastation it created. We should put an end to this kind corporate welfare for once and for all. Come to think of it, the terrorists we should fear the most in the U.S. are the corporations who are putting profit before people. Maybe the Governor hopes the majority of us are stupid and clueless. That or we will forget about the explosion in West, Texas. Let's prove the Governor wrong. Please say no, Mr. President.
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