by BAR editor and columnist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
Whistleblowers achieved their greatest legislative victory in modern times in a fight against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Now headed by a Black woman, Lisa Jackson, the EPA continues to put corporate interests over people’s health and welfare. “Women whistleblowers in general and Black women whistleblowers in particular seem to fall under the knife of the black woman leading the EPA.”
Activists Back on the March Against the EPA
by BAR editor and columnist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
“It is unbelievable that the first Black President and Lisa Jackson, a black female, would look the other way as communities of color suffer.”
The winter of our discontent is passing and the American Spring is here. Environmental, human- and civil-rights activists are taking to the streets again to make their voices heard.
I’ve written previously of how the Obama administration has launched sustained attacks on whistleblowers, who either blew the whistle on the desecration of American 9/11 victims and servicemen’s bodies at Dover Air Force Base, spoke out about the FDA’s approval of medical devices that carried risks, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lying about the cleanup of the BP oil spill.
A recent broadcast of Democracy Now on NPR revealed how serious those EPA lies are. And, this is why occupation, civil rights, and environmental groups from around the country will gather on Friday, March 30th to launch the “American Spring” with a demonstration at the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. The demonstration will also commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act (No FEAR). This law was also borne out of the corrupt and discriminatory environment of the EPA.
“What kind of future will our children have if the EPA keeps caving in to corporate demands and allowing exploitation of people and the planet?” Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician and organizer for NOW-DC asked. Dr. Flowers was referring to the recent decision by the White House to ignore the recommendations by EPA scientists calling for a revision of smog (clean air) regulations. The consequences, according to these scientists would be dire, approximately an additional 7,100 deaths per year.
“The Obama administration has launched sustained attacks on whistleblowers.”
The business community successfully lobbied the White House not to sign the smog regulations even though the Centers for Disease Control have reported acceleration in asthma cases, especially in African American and Hispanic communities with currently 12,000 deaths a year.
EPA whistleblower, Susan Morris, recently received a finding of retaliation from the Office of Special Counsel against EPA for its failure to follow civil rights laws. As a guest speaker for Women’s History Month on radio WPFW with Verna Avery-Brown, she said, “It is unbelievable that the first Black President and Lisa Jackson, a black female, would look the other way as communities of color suffer. It’s time for EPA to turn around their decades of corruption and do the right thing by its employees and the American public.” The increase in many of our serious illnesses can be traced directly to the government’s refusal to require corporate America to stop polluting our environment.
There appears to be a trend in federal agencies ignoring threats to public safety and doing what suits business, even at the cost of lives. Hugh Kaufman a 40-year veteran of EPA and a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response helped lead an investigation, as EPA’s chief ombudsman, into the Agency’s attempt to cover up the hazards at Ground Zero in Manhattan. The independent inquiry by Kaufman and former EPA Ombudsman Robert Martin garnered significant national attention. EPA’s response to the concerns that they raised was to abolish the ombudsman's office. Kaufman is fortunate to still have a job. However, women whistleblowers in general and Black women whistleblowers in particular seem to fall under the knife of the black woman leading the EPA.
“When the ingredients are mixed with oil, the combination of Corexit or any dispersant is more toxic than the oil itself.”
Discussing the BP oil spill, Kaufman told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that the dispersant being used to “clear the oil spill” was more toxic than the oil, and was actually making it harder to remove the oil. Kaufman said that since Watergate days, people have said, "Follow the money, and in this case that is again what you have to do.” He continued: “Who saves money by using these toxic dispersants? Well, it’s BP. But then the next question [should be] who owns BP? And, I think when you look and see who owns BP, you find that its majority ownership, a billion shares, is a company called Black Rock that was created, owned and run by a gentleman named Larry Fink.”
Vanity Fair recently published an article about Mr. Fink and his connections with Mr. Geithner, Mr. Summers and others in the Obama administration. Kaufman stated, “At least three Congress folks — Congressman Markey, Congressman Nadler and Senator Mikulski and the EPA have all the information on what the ingredients are. The largest ingredient in Corexit [the dispersant] is oil. But there are other materials. And when the ingredients are mixed with oil, the combination of Corexit or any dispersant is more toxic than the oil itself. We know enough to know that it’s very dangerous, and to say that we just have to know more about it is a red herring issue. We know plenty. It’s very dangerous. And in fact, Congressman Nadler and Senator Lautenberg are working on legislation to ban it. Well, not only do you have airplanes flying and dropping them on the Gulf region, like Agent Orange in Vietnam, but a large amount of it is being shot into the water column at 5,000 feet to disperse the oil as it gushers out. And so, you have spread, according to the Associated Press, over 44,000 square miles, of oil and dispersant mix....”
We have to ask again – who does the EPA represent? Who, in this election year, does the Obama administration believe will vote them back into office? The one percent who funds Obama or the voters he makes promises to? OccupyEPA is a rally to voice our collective discontent. It is time for the people to derail the corporate insistence on environmental suicide.
For more information see: www.OccupyEPA.com
See Marsha on C-Span Book/TV at:www.marshacoleman-adebayo.org.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA is available through amazon.com and the National Whistleblower Center. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit lead to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR.)