Republicans Parented Environmental Agencies

Monday, February 20, 2012

by Steve Scauzillo, SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, February 18, 2012

image So Newt Gingrich walked into South El Monte this past week and said we should do away with the EPA. Newt, who is a student of American government, had better check his history.

He was standing above one of four toxic plumes contaminating the San Gabriel Valley’s water supply. Yup, we are home to the largest Superfund site in the country – and the South El Monte Operable Unit is one of them.

And in my years of dealing with the EPA, I can’t pretend the agency was quick to act or even efficient. But I can say the agency has put the screws to polluters who treated the Valley as a dumping ground for toxic chemicals and is making them pay. These cancer-causing solvents and metals seeped into the groundwater and polluted pockets of our water wells – like a slow leak under your house for decades that takes an army of bulldozers to dig up.

“Groundwater contamination in the Valley is a legacy of the chemical use and disposal practices common until the 1970s and 1980s, when the Superfund law and other federal and state environmental laws and regulations went into effect,” reads the EPA document on the South El Monte area contamination.

That’s just the start of how the EPA is helping our Valley and, in particular, places at the business end of environmental injustice. Usually, where Mexican immigrants live or moved from L.A. to settle – (other areas where groundwater is polluted include: Azusa, Irwindale, Baldwin Park, El Monte, Covina, West Covina) is where the highest concentration of pollution is found. Not a coincidence. The folks on the west side of Los Angeles County always used our Valley as a dumping ground.

The other day, I heard a Republican environmental consultant (nope, it’s not an oxymoron) give a talk about where all those onerous environmental laws GOP candidates balk about came from. They came from Republican administrations, said Leonard E. Robinson, a former Cal-EPA acting chief and now consultant with Strategic Counsel in Sacramento.

He was speaking to an Industry group at the county Sanitation Districts in Avocado Heights around the same time Newt was traipsing around South El Monte.

“A Republican president started the U.S. EPA. A Republican governor started Cal-EPA. A Republican governor started the greenhouse gases initiative (AB 32 legislation),” he began. [Read rest of story]

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