Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Local news, not of general interest

A friend who must remain as anonymous as a Michael Gordon informant sends this along. It seems the Environmental Protection Agency Midwest Regional Administrator has been canned for, you guessed it, trying to protect the environment. More specifically, her malfeasance in office consisted of trying to protect the environment in a way that annoyed a Fortune 500 Corporation.

Gade has been locked in a heated dispute with Dow about long-delayed plans to clean up dioxin-saturated soil and sediment that extends 50 miles beyond its Midland, Mich., plant into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. The company dumped the highly toxic and persistent chemical into local rivers for most of the last century.

Many local residents see Dow as a lifeline in region plagued by plant closings and layoffs. But all along the two wide streams that cut through this old industrial town, signs warn people to keep off dioxin-contaminated riverbanks and to avoid eating fish pulled from the fast-moving waters. Officials have taken the swings down in one riverside park to discourage kids from playing there. Men in rubber boots and thick gloves occasionally knock on doors, asking residents whether they can dig up a little soil in the yard.

Gade, appointed by President Bush as regional EPA administrator in September 2006, invoked emergency powers last summer to order the company to remove three hotspots of dioxin near its Midland headquarters.

Now, if she'd done something positive, like using her office to benefit the campaigns of Republican politicians, or to advance the cause of Christian dominion, she'd have good performance reviews. But this is just inexcusable.

The point of my post, however, is that this news has not made it out of Chicago. I haven't heard a peep about it anywhere in the national news media, or for that matter in the blogosphere. In the old days, this probably would have been worth some national attention, but now we just take this sort of thing for granted. With bowling scores and shots of bourbon to worry about, dioxin in the rivers is just too minor of a worry.

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