No One Should Have to Breathe These Chemicals

In Texas and across the country, the E.P.A.’s gutting of the Chemical Disaster Rule is a matter of life or death.

Comments: 181

  1. Does anyone else think that trump deliberately does things that will hurt our people and our environment - not to mention our standing in the world? His cruel streak knows no end and the damage he has already caused in just 3 years is now irreversible. I can only imagine that he sits in the Oval Office gleefully and evilly thinking of what horrible thing he can do next to wreak havoc on our people and our environment. And his fans love him, despite the fact that they and their families will be affected by his ignorant decisions. I will never understand this.

  2. If Trump and the Republicans gain control of the Congress and White House in 2020 the environmental disasters affecting all of us will be far worse than they have been so far.

  3. The wisdom of Trump’s environmental policies never cease to amaze. Normally the wisdom of any governmental policy is inverse to the number of people it kills. But now I understand. The amount of environmental degradation is directly proportional to political outlook and ideology. The more particulate matter a person inhales, the more Republican they are in ideology. In other words, the greater amount of bodily contamination, the more closed-minded you are. As a result, facts are ignored and logic is thrown out the window. It all makes sense. Of course, I live in Colorado.

  4. Really what a mess this America is. "Families and workers across the country should not have to pay the ultimate cost of this administration’s refusal to do its job: our lives." This government abdicated it's responsibility to protect lives of it's own citizens! Poisoning our environment every hour of the day, mass shootings almost every week, all became business as usual. How are we suppose to grow our family, when our children live in time of active shooter drills. It's getting unbearably hard to wake up and face every day. "We are denied basic health protections simply because the industry does not want to invest in our safety." Greed and Corruption are the culprits!

  5. @ Faivel. Its an emergency actually, but a slow burn one. What will it take to get citizens angry enough to get in the streets in big numbers?

  6. The carcinogenic coast makes a comeback under the Trump administration. Sigh.

  7. NIMBY.... plays well in places of enlightenment and political savvy. Those lacking in those attributes... well... kitcheekoo! Ironically, I know of a front yard that no one living there should or could complain if drilling rigs and frac units were to be installed and turned on. That would be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There's an incredible amount of snake oil just below the surface.

  8. How could anyone in government justify overturning protections for children? or deporting children with life threatening illness who depend on US doctors for care? or separating children from families and locking them in cages? or knowingly allow hundreds of thousands of children to drink lead contaminated water?or children to be gunned down in their schools? supporting rapists and pedophiles in state, local, and federal elections? taking away food stamps for hundreds of thousands of children who cannot "work"? The entire Republican party, Fox news, right wing media and most of corporate America. If Nancy Pelosi drafted these actions as articles of impeachment, then it would be endgame for the Trump presidency. This is why there is such a disconnect with many Americans and impeachment. Almost every American is in agreement that these intentionally cruel actions are reprehensible and the candidate whose makes this case effectively, will defeat Trump.

  9. Why does the Trump administration and some of its minions want people to die due to lack of health regulation? Is it just the profit motive?

  10. @SDG Of course it's the profit motive - it's the only motive they know.

  11. @SDG Yes.

  12. @SDG Yes.

  13. @faivel1--Yes it's a mess and the people's minds are in a mess as well. They seem to think the D party will solve the problem. Gun violence has been happening for many and there have been too many gun loving Ds in Congress to do anything about it. Trump is not responsible for Roundup. It is a bipartisan mess.

  14. How much money is enough? Who are the executives of these companies? The time has come to no longer allow these criminals to hide behind their corporate veils. They must be publicly outed and shamed into doing the right thing, since obviously they are incapable of following the law. Trump's EPA is run by loathesome people with no care or concern for anyone but their own personal interests. Pruitt and Wheeler especially spent their lives defending the indefensible on behalf of polluters and they have unlawfully and systematically changed the rules with no basis in fact or science, as required. On top of that, the Republicans have spent the past 40 years decimating federal enforcement resources, so the odds of getting caught or significant punishment has gone way down. It's a disgrace, but as the author points out, it's more than just that - it's our very lives and those of our future. Speak out now and often!

  15. @Bassman "Trump's EPA is run by loathesome people with no care or concern for anyone but their own personal interests." I'd change that sentence to "The GOP is run by loathsome people with no care or concern for anyone but their own personal interests." Republicans care about their own greedy selves and families but not at all about other people. They are devoid of morals, character, integrity and honesty. In their minds, the people who die due to environmental degradation "deserve it" because they're not rich enough to move. And they believe this while simultaneously calling themselves "Christian." They are truly deplorable.

  16. Each day, Trump and his Republicans act to make our planet less & less inhabitable for our children and grandchildren. The window of opportunity to effectively mitigate Climate Change is rapidly disappearing. The remaining 2020 Democratic Candidates will try to cut & paste portions of Governor Jay Inslee’s comprehensive & actionable Climate Change Mitigation Plan. We must go with the Real Deal. The winning Democratic Party 2020 Ticket: President Warren (build a green economy) + Vice President Inslee (save a blue planet)! W+IN 2020! +++++++++++++++ FYI: Here’s an excellent article by David Roberts of Vox which explains Governor Inslee’s Climate Change Mitigation Plan:

  17. Texans love the GOP, love Ted Cruz, love Donald Trump, love their guns, and got their environmental catastrophes and air and water pollution go ahead from the loves of their lives. You get the leadership you deserve and have to live with the abhorrent decisions and actions they take.

  18. @BS Spotter Texas has millions of residents who do not vote for these politicians, and we should all stand up for their rights as well as our own. Air knows no racial or economic boundary. Those toxins will hit our lungs too, NYer.

  19. Make America a poison pit again. Thanks trump. Thanks GOP and the mesmerized republican base who love him. May a chemical cess pool bubble up under Mira Lago.

  20. The environmental policies (really lack thereof) alone should be enough to reduce the number of voters for GOP to 0. Zero. And I'm not exaggerating.

  21. Root cause analyses of aviation accidents is the reason we have such a safe aviation system in this country. I grew up in an era when about every month there was a major plane crash. Now we go years without fatal commercial crashes. It isn't prayer. It's regulation and effort. Frankly, we need it in medicine, too, but that's another story. Take away regulations and we have more accidents, carcinogens, asthma, cancer, firearm death and disability. Then, the party in power wants to take away people's medical care, food stamps, and other safety nets, offering thoughts and prayers. One party, for all its faults, is against this approach, knowing that "here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” (JFK)

  22. Ms. Parras could have provided data supporting the objective benefit of EPA's regulation in order to make a convincing case for continuing their rules. Chemical exposure can be deleterious, but most of our society wants their benefits.

  23. @Nettleton Payne I understand what you are saying. Yet, if one looks at pollution control devices for air pollution in particular, one can see that in most circumstances it improves the efficiency of the process producing less waste and oftentimes includes an element of energy recovery. Upfront costs for high-level polluters may be high but it generally pays for itself over time. In addition, written into the EPA rules for all pollution control mechanisms is expense of the control to the organization. Striking a balance of best control/least cost is part of the mandate. Here is an easy way to look at it, how many convenience stores with gas stations do you pass by on an average day? Benzene is just one of several volatile compounds being continually emitted out of every nozzle and the relief valve on at the place. And those are small potatoes in the world of regulating pollutants, probably in most places unregulated entities.

  24. --- Well, might it not be a good move to stop supporting the Republicans and Trump if you're worried about little things like industrial safety, environmental hazards, floods, gun violence, or for that matter, the spiraling deficit and tariff idiocy? ---- Looking at you Texas. Just a thought.

  25. @andrew: when I lived in Texas, it seemed like a crazily complacent population when it came to pollution and hazardous chemicals including many who were directly affected. Sure they cared about people hurt or killed, but it seemed like very few considered their government responsible for enacting tighter safety standards. It was more like “we don’t need anyone coming in here and telling us what to do” and, though not always directly stated, there was always some whiff of personal responsibility - that you knew the risks of fires, explosions, etc. and could just move away if it bothered you that much.

  26. @Mary You were smart to move!

  27. Why are you not protesting in the streets? Thousands will die from cancers they would not otherwise have experienced. Babies will be born with various maladies and defects. Children will suffer and not develop to their potential. The environment will be degraded at least for years. We know all this, but the US — especially the GOP —puts the dollar for the few above the slow, painful deaths of thousands. Literally unbelievably evil.

  28. @Jens Jensen I think the American people are worn down by the multitude of toxic sites and inequality. These dangerous industries have always been favored over the welfare of citizens. And today even more is being permitted to bring Americans into increasing dangers. Polluters are in charge of the country because of contributions to political campaigns. There is a place in Louisiana called "Cancer Alley" that sits next to a chemical plant and another one is being built nearby. My mother who would be about 100 years old today always used to say, "Life is cheap in the orient." Well, it's cheap in the US today.

  29. @Jens Jensen Thanks for your perspective, Jens. Know that many of us are deeply aggrieved by the immoral, illogical and unconscionable actions by the Trump administration and trying to raise awareness and support for environmental protection but are frustrated at every turn. I frequently write my senators on these issues; the Democrat (Tammy Baldwin) responds positively, upholding science and favoring action to address environmental needs; the Republican (Ron Johnson) never responds. He seems more obsessed with promoting debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine. This is typical of the stagnating political divisiveness in our country. America should be at the forefront of leadership in addressing Climate change and other crucial environmental issues. I for one am deeply embarrassed by our lack of leadership in the global community due to this administration's policies and of course fearful and frustrated over the consequences of their actions.

  30. @Jens Jensen Here in the US, we don't have as good of wealth distribution as Denmark, so a lot of people are too busy finding food and housing to notice, some others are rich and want the chemical companies stock to go up, while some are just too dumb or uneducated to care. But some do care and there have been some marches for climate and environment, most notably in 1970 for Earth Day. I think they should also protest in the street that Danish pharmaceutical companies are legally allowed to provide lobbying money to US congressmen to keep insulin prices high in the US. Some people with diabetes cannot afford their own insulin due to this legal but greedy manipulation.

  31. Don't you all realize in the U.S. that your president mr. trump does not care about pollution. He is too greedy and without the intellect to care. And he probably thinks that at his age pollution won't affect him since it has not already (a questionable statement).

  32. @Sonny Bifler He is out to undo everything Obama did, so nothing else matters.

  33. My understanding is that many of these companies prefer to locate where state regulations are lax. So to what extent can tightening state level laws and regulations play a role in possibly mitigating some of the effects of the Obama regulatory rollback? Understanding that of course this won’t help the people of Houston or when the disaster doesn’t respect state boundaries...

  34. Gutting pollution standards is unconscionable but there's another issue here. We NEED chemical plants and refineries. No matter how well run a plant is there is always risk. People scream about the effects such plants can have on the communities around those plants BUT in most cases the manufacturing plants were there first with communities growing up around them. Those communities serve the poor BECAUSE land near those plants was cheap. But perhaps homes should NOT be built so close to potentially dangerous places. It makes sense to have chemical plants, refineries and such in industrial areas far from populated centers (and close to shipping channels which accounts for why these plants are in Houston). It does NOT make sense to allow houses mixed in with these plants.

  35. @cynicalskeptic It made sense when minorities were red-lined out of the safer areas. It makes sense when real estate agents steer minorities into those areas.

  36. @cynicalskeptic People choose where they live. If next to a refinery is cheaper, so be it and poor me when my kids have asthma; it's their fault for being next to where I chose to live. If I live on the ocean where it's prettier, so be it and poor me when hurricanes come and ruin my house, and it's the president's fault because he didn't lift a finger for climate control.

  37. @Jens Jensen we did today, and there were more of us. We’re trying, but there are many who really really like fossil fuels. I’m sorry to hear of Ms. Parass’s troubles. Justice: where can we find it? Our world and this administration is so cruel. We will vote them out for sure!

  38. And where is the People to stand up and protest (if they are aware of it at all ) ? do enough care as long as they think it means getting a paycheck (whether true or not) ?

  39. I wonder where the doctors are in all of this? I am disappointed that as a group they have not shown more moral leadership. A few decades ago, psychiatric hospitals were closed to save money. Smaller clinics which never really materialized were supposed to replace them. Instead, we now have terribly sick patients imprisoned or freezing in subway stations and psychiatrists barely have a word to say about it. Pediatricians as a group don’t seem to speak out about guns or the fact that our kids are being poisoned for profit. It’s policy. Doctors enjoy enormous prestige and a decent income, but they have caved morally. Not all of them of course, but as a profession, yeah.

  40. @LI Many doctors did not receive training in environmental health and toxicology, so they do not know the health consequences of exposures. The larger question is why they don't step up and learn. And that is the important question about mortal leadership that LI has asked.

  41. COPD and asthma inhaler making companies must be delighted.

  42. @LI I think most people are just trying to survive. I would love to participate in protests against Trump, write letters to my senators, change the world. But I get up at 4 A.M. Work until 4 or 5. Do laundry, shop for groceries..... I am too exhausted to fight back. Such a shame.

  43. My understanding is even without the regulatory rollbacks initiated by Trump and his corrupt administration the Texas regs were pretty lax. That was identified with the news of the 2013 West, Tx explosions. Given the number of hazardous and fatal exposures due to the inadequate oversight I continue to be surprised at the constant election/re-election of GOP state and US legislators in Texas. Vote Blue!

  44. The Republicans support pollution. Look how Trump brought back toxic and deadly coal. They get big campaign money from these toxic companies. Why would any one in their right minds bring coal back. The mining companies make gigantic mountains of coal ash which contains arsenic,mercury lead , cadmium . All chemicals that get into our water supply. In Fell township Pa a coal ash dump or culm dump has been on fire for decades spilling green house gasses into the air adding to climate change. Texas is a Republican state and they all think like Trump we don’t care. We need to put Trump on chargers for crimes against humanity and the Texas Republican leaders also. Lock them up .

  45. @D.j.j.k. Superfund sites have existed for decades and still have not been cleaned up. American industry has been polluting our water and land for many more decades. Industry doesn't care who the president is as long as they make a profit. Read the article about Santa Barbara CA to learn more about people who don't care about the environment or climate control. The problem is not the White House, it's us and our neighbors always wanting someone else to take care of the problem. Did you try to put out that fire?

  46. @John Bowman Even Pope Francis a few years ago warned Trump to save the planet for the next generation. He said you harm the environment you harm humanity. I still stand by my tough statement try Trump for crimes against humanity and your Texas GOP leaders . We have the Popes blessing to do it.

  47. @John Bowman So what are you and your fellow Texans doing to try and remedy your situation? Do you have kids, grandkids, any relatives you care about?

  48. I can totally relate. We have horrible issues with chemical pollution in Salt Lake City as well. We don't have quite as many refineries as Houston, but we do house the largest open pit mine in the world, and we have a few refineries. The problem we have is that the pollution doesn't go anywhere. Since we sit in a bowl surrounded by mountains, pollution gets trapped and causes all kinds of issues every winter. Right now, visibility is about ten feet outside, and the air has been stagnate for about two weeks. It stinks, and you can taste it. We rely on storms to push it out. Meanwhile, an audit on Utah industry just concluded that Utah’s oil and gas program hasn't issued a single fine for environmental regulations in 24 years.

  49. The photo of the three women reminds me of a scene from "Chernobyl." It shows a group of people standing on a nearby bridge, looking at the nuclear reactor after the core exploded. At the end of the series, the credits show a list of people lost in that tragedy. It indicated that all the people standing on the bridge died.

  50. @Northcoastcat A few years back my husband and I took a river cruise from Odessa to Kyiv, when one could still visit Crimea. When we got to Kyiv, there was an optional trip one could sign up for and that was to visit Chernobyl. The one couple we knew about who chose to go were from Texas! So maybe there is something in the Texan psyche that makes exposure to danger exciting!

  51. "In Houston, we struggle to get chemical facilities to follow the law." "When an explosion happens, nearby neighborhoods, mostly Latinx and people of color, are exposed to this toxicity." Even when the EPA had stricter regulations, plants in Texas lagged in meeting them. Texas has a reputation for being libertarian in many areas such as factory regulation, immigration, and zoning. factory regulation: Texas is slow to enforce regulations on chemical factories. It tolerates chemical leaks. immigration: A lot of the Latinx people in Texas either moved to the U.S. illegally or are descended from immigrants who entered illegally. For decades, Texans turned a blind eye to immigration status. zoning: Houston does not have zoning laws. This allows cheap housing to be built near chemical factories that tends to be inhabited by “mostly Latinx and people of color". The Harvard economist George Borjas found that the rate of Black employment drops as the number of illegal immigrants increases so Texans libertarian attitude toward illegal immigrants economically hurts many Blacks. The latter cannot afford to move to a safer area. This attitude also meant that many Latinx are here who would otherwise live in Mexico or Central America. There are so many and such a high percentage have little education that they, too, can only afford to live near chemical plants. Would the author be happy if Texas had been enforcing all laws in every area, and if Houston had zoning laws?

  52. Dear Ann, Your comment is wrong that most Latinos either crossed the border without documentation or are descended from undocumented migrants. Perhaps it would be helpful to read about the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848)— the subsequent treaty make the southern part of Texas, American territory. That area, south of the Nueces River had been settled by Mexican colonists for a hundred years. Most of the Garza’s, Longorias, Cisneros, and Guerra’s you meet are probably descended from those people.... meaning they were already in Texas when the Americans arrived and changed the boundary. My Paredes ancestors lived on the Texas side of the Rio Grande by the 1820s- and my great great grandfather Paredes fought in the Civil War. Yes there are many migrants and children of migrants these days.. however stories of Tejano (what the people were called) families living along the river and in San Antonio,Victoria, Goliad, and Laredo by 1800, are more common than you think.

  53. @Bento Spinoza I am glad you described the Latinos who moved to Mexico colonists because this acknowledges that they did not live in Texas or other areas of what is now the United States in 1492. They lived in what is now Mexico, Central and S. America. After the Spanish, the French, and other European governments finally left Mexico, Mexico did hold title to Texas and what was to become the southwestern U.S. for a very few years. France may have tried to reconquer Mexico, had the U.S. government not reminded them of the Monroe Doctrine. Some Mexicans did move into these areas (joining the few who had been allowed to move there under the European governments). Then Texas declared its independence from Mexico, and asked to join the U.S. And, the U.S. beat Mexico in a war and was able to claim the rest of what is now our southwest. I wonder what percentage of the Latinos who now live in Texas are descended from the colonists who moved there before Texas declared its independence, how many are descended from those who have since entered legally, how many are descendants of illegal aliens, and how many are, themselves, illegal.

  54. What is amazing is how the Republicans can put people's health at risk and still get votes. And do nothing about climate change and also get votes. Somehow they have gotten people to vote against their own self interest and instead vote in favor of the self interest on the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries. I think the trick is to stir up anger against others, particularly liberals, people of color, and foreigners. While Republicans are destroying the health and shortening life spans of many of their most loyal supporters they getting these supporters so angry that they aren't paying attention to what the Republicans are doing to them. It appears they are getting away with it despite the efforts of numerous environmental organizations to protect all people from polluting industries.

  55. @Bob It's part of the plan. Funding for public education has plummeted over the past few decades, so many working people are not exposed to the information or do not know how to process it. TV is so much easier, isn't it? After a hard day's work, do you really expect people to open a book?

  56. @cd Yes exactly. They remove access to abortion to increase birth rate, de-fund education to bolster the indoctrination, poor healthcare and deregulation of dangerous industries to shorten lifespans. It's easier to rule over a captive electorate if the churn is high and they have no capacity to resist.

  57. Rules or not, part of the cost of doing business for corporate America is the cost of lawsuits and damages resulting from making profits. As long as one is making money, breaking the rules won't hurt you until you're caught, and even then you can litigate for years while continuing to profit and avoid the rules. Think Boeing 737 Max, Juul, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon, etc. Lobbyists can exert a lot of pressure on rulemakers and oversight bodies. If all else fails, there's always bankruptcy after which a phoenix rises from the flames.

  58. @John Bowman Wait a sec, wasn't the Max grounded after the second crash in Africa, and with no crashes at all in the US or Europe. And they broke no laws, they got official approval before flying it. John, I think you are making stuff up. Also talcum powder causes one in a million users to get cancer, but it was not invented by J+J, they just branded it. It was around for 100 years before J+J ever existed. Again, John you are not really understanding the specific situation.

  59. @Will Hogan Johnson and Johnson knew there was asbestos i their talcum powder but hid the fact. Now, a lot of powder is cornstarch based so it isn't contaminated. They could have done it sooner. As to the Boeing planes, they were allowed to regulate themselves and were warned by their own test pilots that there were problems with the system, but chose to go ahead anyway. It has cost them millions if not billions that could have been avoided if they hadn't ignored facts!

  60. Texans have repeatedly voted for limited regulations. If they are willing to take on the consequences of limited regulations, then so be it. West Virginia and Louisiana has similar disdain for regulation and are more trusting of industry. They also pay the price. You can’t force one to vote in their own interests.

  61. @Practical Thoughts Many of these companies provide limited health care for their workers, who will turn to public hospitals. "They also pay the price" is inaccurate. Ultimately WE do, the snobby coastal types. Same thing happened with the coal industry. This is part of the 'economic miracle' which Trump brags about. Unfortunately it's squandered money that will be paid for after he's out of office. Probably under a democrat. Like Obama, who cleaned up the mess after Bush.

  62. There is a concept called Environmental Racism- just what Ms Parass is talking about. It’s true that Texas has always been lax in protecting its residents. However it doesn’t help that Washington is making things even more dangerous.

  63. The E.P.A.’s decision to repeal the Chemical Disaster Rule and roll back other controls is unconscionable. This is not acceptable at this point in our enlightenment of the ill effects of chemicals. Chemicals play a useful role in civilization, but safety must be a key priority to do this properly. We have known for a long time that left to their own devices, industry will maximize profit at the expense of polluting and killing people. We must advance past the age when laborers toiled in coal mines and chemical factories in unsafe conditions. This is an attempt for the Trump administration to return us to the age of the robber barons. This cannot be tolerated. Our own health - and the health of our children - depends on it.

  64. The lead photo shows billowing black clouds. I showed it to my 14 yo. His response was, "Why are they standing there taking photos of toxic air? Also, if there is another explosion, they could be killed on the spot. They should be running in the opposite direction." Seems that the wisdom of a 14 y.o. outweighs that of people who live by the plant. Not blaming those people. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that people are educated about risks and to prevent such disasters from happening. By the way, the first NYT article on this disaster stressed that folks weren't going to have a good turkey dinner and did not even mention if there were workers who died.

  65. Tell your son the photo was taken by Marie D. De Jesus of the Houston Chronicle/ via the Associated Press. He is correct in saying people should be running in the opposite direction for their own safety. But Ms De Jesus is a photo journalist. In disasters and emergencies, journalists run towards the event, often at great personal risk. They get the facts and the photos to tell the rest of us what is happening in our world. But there is another important part in the process. Those who read and see what is happening need to realize how the event will affect their world. Then they need to work with the tools of democracy to ensure such harmful events that affect peoples’s lives don’t happen again. The heroism of frontline journalists is essential to democracy. But so is citizen involvement as well as political response to bring about environmental protect. People are becoming cynical. Activists are burning out. Many politicians are more concerned with money and power to bother about the welfare of constituents. But journalists are still running towards disasters.

  66. @Svirchev that’s because no one was killed in this explosion. I believe three people were injured, but only slightly.

  67. @Svirchev Perhaps your son has not yet had the opportunity to learn that many people do not have the means to run from their homes.

  68. I am surprised that there are so few comments on this op-ed, while so many readers spend their time debating the "electability" of various candidates--most of whom are so in thrall to the corporations that they are unlikely to make any significant changes, if elected. (Sanders and perhaps Warren are exceptions.) And I agree in part with Stephanie in NYC, who suggests that Trump "deliberately does things that will hurt our people and the environment." He has demonstrated his love for cruelty time and again. To those evangelical leaders who preach that God sent Trump to America, I reply that they are looking in the wrong direction. Any supernatural being who sent us the orange-haired one must have a distinctly sulfurous odor.

  69. The EPA under trump should now be called ‘Earth Punishment Agency’.

  70. His supporters shrug their shoulders - he can do no wrong.

  71. This chilling article reminds us that in addition to the corruption and obstruction of justice perpetrated by Trump being investigated in the Impeachment hearings, his administration has systematically rolled back environmental protections from toxic chemicals, clean water regulations, and numerous other conservation initiatives. These often-overlooked actions put human health at risk and as recounted in this article often constitute a form of environmental racism. Many of these rollbacks are motivated by his obsessive spite for President Obama and his ties to corporate titans. Governmental agencies meant to promote public health and the common good are under the control of corporate cronies while science is denied and suppressed. The blatant immoral disregard for the environment and human health being perpetrated by this administration needs to be more strongly addressed by Democrats running for president. So far it hasn't. We get so distracted (and exhausted) by the political drama that these life-threatening issues get overlooked. We need another prophetic voice like Rachel Carson to wake us up before it's too late.

  72. @Steven Dunn That voice is young Greta Thurnburg. If her generation is allowed to grow up instead of falling victim to Trump and his destroying of our environmental protections, I think they will fight industry and fight hard if only just for survival.

  73. All these articles threaten economic growth. Stop complaining and enjoy deregulation.

  74. One man’s “economic growth” is another man’s terminal cancer. If you wish to take a simplistic, Libertarian view of the issue than you must internalize mitigation costs for the physical damage done to human beings by the business activities of these industries. Then and ONLY then can we consumers make a TRUE choice based on cost/ benefit analysis. As it stands, w/out meaningful regulation, we are providing a huge subsidy to petrochemical industries that’s paid in blood by the poorest in our nation.

  75. Unfortunately, America is dedicated more to greed at the present time. Nothing else is important.

  76. Ann I don't understand your point here. Because you feel that Texas has turned a blind eye to illegal aliens from Mexico (and Texas use to belong to Mexico before it was taken from them) the really important regulations of safety for people working in these plants and ones who live around them aren't an issue? Immigrants was not the issue here, they are not the ones causing chemical spills, or are they responsible for people breathing in benzene or heavy metals. Cancer is the number one killer of children in the United States now and will continue to be so if people don't get their priorities correct.

  77. I grew up within half a mile of the Texas Petroleum Chemical plant that recently exploded and burned in Port Neches, Texas. Both my grandfathers worked in that plant, and retired from it. The local area --- the county --- has more chemical plants and refineries than I can count, the densest collection of them on the planet, I'm told. Growing up, I was accustomed to the skies being lit at night by burning flares and lights from the stacks, and the sharp smell of poisonous chemicals was a constant. That's the smell of money, everyone said. And that was true then, as it is now. Local people there could earn a good living without much education. Meanwhile, people who lived elsewhere --- the readers of the Times, for example --- turned up their noses at the wretched environmental and health conditions in Southeast Texas, though every day of their lives they used products made there. They still do. You do. We all do. Every day. Gasoline, diesel, other fuels, rubber, plastics, fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals of all kinds... this is what our civilization and our economies and technologies are built on. Your paychecks are founded in this arrangement, your pension funds are invested in it. It's killing us, driving many other species to extinction, and badly damaging our planet, but we seem incapable of changing the arrangement. It would simply cost too much. Well, that's the world I grew up in. It hasn't changed much.

  78. @An American Expat "this is what our civilization and our economies and technologies are built on" And this is why correctly enforced regulations are essential to at least mitigate the ills brought on by our consumption habits.

  79. Oh well let’s just die... or maybe we can get vote for protective laws to ensure that you can safely live near industrial areas. Your children are just as important as those living in the Mar-a-lago estates. Sick workers and their families need strong Protective laws.

  80. For decades, Republicans have decried "job-killing regulations" and managed to succeed in turning a large percentage of our population against the mere word "regulation." Anyone and everyone who cares about safety needs to change the dialogue to "protections." There are reasons these protections were made into law, let's focus on regular people and not the Koch brothers and their ilk. They don't live near factories and they don't care. But they shouldn't be the ones who define the issue.

  81. i think i'm going to do a study on these chemical plants, their ultimate owners, their general managers, the people who work in this industry. there is no industry in the town where i live, columbia, missouri, as the town is completely academic, with 3 colleges, including the university of missouri (where we have a nuclear reactor!). then i will publish this study, with names to shame each one of them for putting profit before life. there is my contribution as i cannot protest in the streets.

  82. I completely agree with everything you say here. Just one big problem: you have accepted the GOP label of “regulations” when we need to be talking about “protections.” By using their term you are missing the opportunity to influence a largely uneducated electorate. If getting your building permit was difficult, then cutting “regulations” sounds great. But these are protections for air, water, and our grand parks. So call them what they are and call them out often: we are losing PROTECTIONS that keep us safe, that protect air and water quality. It is protections that this administration is gutting. Everyone needs to understand.

  83. To repeat, but in case some readers missed my comment, one doesn't need to be a psychiatrist to see that Trump's toxic emissions into our planet are primarily a projection of his need to emit his own personal toxicity everywhere; his 'business' rationale (if you want to call short term gain, long term disaster 'rational') is secondary and just to placate his GOP base.

  84. Tell your neighbors not to vote Republican unless they want big business to have the last word on regulations.

  85. When will Texans say enough? When will the residents near these facilities go on strike? When will they stand up for the safety of their children? We all need to think global and act local.

  86. Just watched the movie "Dark Waters" staring Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins. Interested in what the American people are up against with the greed and sinister crimes of American corporations this is a true telling story. Be prepared to get angry and also cry at the suffering that's caused by governmental and corporate corruption. "Unbridled Money (Power)" the root of evil.

  87. Donald Trump and all republicans bear the responsibility for cutting out our vital environmental and worker health and safety regulations over these past 3 years. Republicans believe all environmental regulations are hogwash. That somehow any environmental regulation is too much for industry to bear, and too much that our American workers will not be able to find work. They are wrong. In eleven months, democrats will take over. Trump will be kicked out of the white house. And the senate and house will be led by democrats. And republicans will be on the sidelines, where they belong.

  88. Only if you VOTE!

  89. All of those "senseless government regulations", "useless regulators" and "fake science" that talk radio, right wing news sites, and Fox/Sinclair television ranted against on a daily basis for the past decades are going, going gone! Mr. Trump has worked the miracle that every free marketer ( read pirate) in the country has prayed for during the past four decades. Companies are now free to pollute to their hearts content. The law is on their side. You can't sue. You can't complain. All you can do is pray they don't build a plant near you, and if you do, you'd best move if you want to live a longer, healthier life.

  90. Let's start with corporate "rights". Corporations do not have a right to endanger people for profit. Period. If a company can't make, store, and transport is product safely and without exploitation of workers, consumers, and the environment, then there is no market for their products, not at that price with off-the-books costs. The notion of corporate "rights' is the overarching problem. Corporations are artificial, privileged, paper entities with no souls and no consciences. How are they to be accorded rights like natural real people? The corporate veil separates the acts of the corporation from the personal acts of its owners, directors and officers. There is no "right" to pierce the veil. Further, corporations exist only by through government license. Government (according to the American Law of the Land) is established by real people to serve their common needs. It is logically (and legally) ridiculous for government to have any (non-delegated) power to endow a paper entity with rights like the humans that created and empowered the government. To do so is to invite tyranny for profit, exactly the situation we have in America, which is Fascism. Benito Mussolini said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”. The harsh truth is that the US federal government is fascistic and should be "altered or abolished" in accordance with the terms of the Declaration of Independence.

  91. @Ralph Huntington McConnell's stacking of the Federal Judiciary, will make your points moot. The Federal Courts should be called the corporate protection courts.

  92. Who cares about in this era here where corporations rule. Forget about public and worker’s safety, when the greed for profit takes over other priorities . Nondisclosure and arbitration agreements shield the corporations from many unwanted and unforeseen claims and threats.

  93. Remember Christine Whitman telling us that the air around Ground Zero was safe?

  94. Please see the book, "The Green Amendment" by Maya K. Van Rossum or search that term to read about her call for a Constitutional amendment that gives citizens the right to live in an environment that does not make them sick. I agree with her that it is a basic human right not be forced by circumstance to live in a place that makes you ill. Read all about it.

  95. The problem is that the laws don't promote solution of the problems. Relatively small fines don't promote fixing the problems that resulted in the fines What really works are conditional fines. Example: In the sixties the state EPA visiting a plant I worked in and said they we had to stop putting a waste water stream into the local river and we had two years to find an alternative. When asked what if we couldn't find one, they said "we have one, we will shut down your plant". That got the plant manager's attention and not quite two years later, the waste had been converted to a salable product. Another important aspect was they did not want engineers wasting their time writing progress reports. So what you need are similar conditional fines. "If you do not fix this problem within one year, you will pay a fine of five million dollars." And mean it. That gives them up to five million dollars to solve the problem. Too much of environmental effort is focused on fixing blame, not fixing the problem. That is why superfund failed. 2/3 of the funds were spent fixing blame. I worked in chemical plants. When something went wrong, had I focused on fixing blame, I would not be here to write this.

  96. One of the main reasons I’ve always thought our government necessary is to ensure the public has clean air and water. It seems to me that no president should ever be able to take it away.

  97. President Trump and his cronies are not taking away access to clean air and water. They are selling it.

  98. Its pretty dispiriting for us all to know what is needed and see the reality that there is not political will to act. Blaming the Trump administration is popular, but we have known the details of how the earth is dying for many years and no nation has the political fortitude to act. As it gets closer and closer to the end, the societal cost of fixing climate change looks increasingly unlikely to be faced. As we get closer, the fraction of the populattion that feels something needs to be done increases slightly, but the needed changes get increasingly undoable. It is bizarrely fascinating to see Australia, one of the greatest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, begin to face the fact that their wildfires are not a normal, climate seesaw phenomenon. China has begun to deal with climate change, not because of a principled committment, but because they want to improve air quality in Chines cities. India has not reacted the same despite killing air quality. Some of us, located in regions well above sea level (e.g. Rochester) and far from heavy air pollution will probably survive the first years of the catastrophe. Whether the human race will survive now seems to depend on whether the reduction in CO2 emission that results from massive population loss will be enough to save some. Don't be cocky. When we are reduced to 5% of the population, probably half of the survivors will be climate change deniers.

  99. You make a compelling case for opioid addiction as a reasonable alternative, given the circumstances. And guess what? It’s most prevalent in these same economically marginal and toxic areas that scream for less regulation. It would be interesting to study whether exposure to dangerous industrial pollution first leads to brain death, since the majority of the affected areas are Republican strongholds.

  100. @WHM You really “ Hit the nail on the head”, WHM. I often can’t help but think that we humans are an insignificant species living on a minor planet revolving around a small star in a huge universe. However, being a member of the human race, I and most people that surround me still have an innate sense of the struggle to survive. We often consider ourselves an intelligent species, but doesn’t it seem inane and insane to do everything possible to destroy ourselves? I am not a religious person, but lately I feel that all I can do is pray for some miraculous turnaround in the fate of the planet. Your observations to make total sense.

  101. We will spend the next 2-3 decades trying to fix what the Trump Administration has destroyed. In four short years (God help us when in our idiocy we make it eight) he will have made it fine to pollute the air and water, remove safety rules from industry , blow mountaintops and toxic waste from coal extraction into rivers and valleys, and increase our overall usage of energy and water with no increase in benefit, and assured an increase in toxicity and virulence in our food supply. He has also stripped all of the talent out of our government; firing scientists (or forcing them to uproot to Kansas city) and replacing key positions with lobbyists. Go GOP! Make America a Third World Again!

  102. Getting rich quick by subverting the regulations that secure our health and safety is no way to create a safe future for our children. Trump and his herd of followers are leading you all off the cliff. Climate change and his facilitating of it is his biggest crime. Getting off the burning planet will not be easy and billions will be left behind.

  103. Mantra of the Right; "Government by and for the Corporations." Trump's cronies are gonna be the death and sickness and general injury of millions of humans, American or not. Lets not forget their names and bring them to justice when we extract ourselves from this debacle of a Presidency.

  104. So "the turning point happened in 2013", but the Rule wasn't put in place until "one month before President Trump took office"? In 2016, a chemical and engineering journal noted that: "EPA’s plan falls short of protecting workers and communities and has too many loopholes that would allow companies to continue business as usual. They add that even if the proposal is finalized, EPA lacks the resources to enforce the new provisions." Both parties side with industry against public safety. The Democratic Party tries to put PR wallpaper over their industry-friendly policies (with an assist from liberal news outlets), and the Republicans shamelessly demonstrate contempt for public safety. The end result is decreased public safety. If you are supporting the so-called pro-business "moderate" candidates, you are perpetuating this madness.

  105. @Ed Watters It was the Republican controlled legislature that failed to fund the EPA to the necessary level. Remember Mitch McConnell's promise to block President Obama in every way he could? Doesn't matter that he hurt American citizens in the process!

  106. Brief incidental exposure to these chemicals is harmless. The author exaggerates the impact of the rules that were improperly adopted, primarily because she is hyper sensitive, which is not an appropriate standard.

  107. @No The author is expressing concerns about long-term exposure. This is not harmless, especially for children.

  108. No you’re wrong. Hyper sensitivity is not a death sentence - but long term ( 5yrs plus) exposure to chemical pollutants most certainly are, ask doctors working for the American Lung Association.

  109. @No Speaking as a Cell Biologist and Biochemist, NO chemical exposure that is above established thresholds of toxicity to different cell types "is harmless." Yes, the overall body may appear superficially non-impacted, or may seem to have recovered, but long term effects in some cells, particularly chemically-induced mutations can persist for a lifetime. The willful ignorance of abandoning well-established scientific and medical knowledge for the sake of corporate profits should be treated as a corporate crime irrespective of whatever legal loopholes have been created to protect industrial profits.

  110. This administration is willing to kill us all in the name of more profit for their cronies. The fact that they've been able and willing to undo forty years of progress on air quality, in addition to gutting the rules on chemical and other industry polluters, shows clearly that we need to impeach and remove this president, and follow that up with a 2020 electoral landslide that takes the Senate as well as the White House out of Republican hands.

  111. @Dawn Helene Don't worry, when we're all dead, those cronies will have to do the hewing of wood and drawing of water all by their whinging selves.

  112. I was injured at a refinery by chemical poisoning. A Superfund cleanup project was underway and a large release of benzene, chlorine, hot volatile hydrocarbons, heavy metals and steam blew out of a tank across a public road. I was hospitalized with lung damage and chemical burns. The following day the same facility erupted again bringing the fire department to close the public road that bisected the plant injuring more workers. 24 hour security cameras caught it all, hospital records show poisoning and lung damage by inhalation, news accounts, police reports verify the incident. A year later "no evidence was found of any health and safety violations" case dismissed. By then I had operations to remove cancer, had both hips replaced and was totally disabled and financially ruined. So thanks America, for social security has been paying my rent for 20 years instead of holding the oil company responsible. Justice isn't for everybody. Isn't it time I got over it?

  113. @Bea Nebby Shocking.

  114. @Bea Nebby Many think McConnell and company are stacking the courts to stop abortion. What they are really doing, is stacking the courts with Corporate friendly judges who will continue to rule against people like you.

  115. The owners of the plants don't live near them. That's all you need to know to understand why they don't want to spend money on safety. To paraphrase Leona Helmsley's remark about taxes: "We don't breathe poisons. Little people breathe poisons."

  116. So much for the ‘responsible capitalism’ movement. Where are these company owners? Investors? Lobbyists, management? Forced responsibility, through these now defunct regulations, class action lawsuits, demonstrations- where are the chemical plant owners that, like some auto manufacturers going with Cal. emissions standards, might begin meeting those regulatory requirements, anyway? No force needed. Donors, backers, users of this administration might be smiling at this short term win; but the long view of our environmental trajectory will see new, much more stringent legislation to come. Unconscionable greed only makes that day come sooner. Keep it up.

  117. Anyone who has not run a business finds it easy to support more and more regulations, whereas those who do run businesses are faced with a myriad of overlapping, unclear and often contradictory demands. What is the best middle ground? Perhaps if the government officials were assigned to work with companies to solve problems, instead of just inspecting for problems, greater safety would occur without an accompanying strangulating morass of bureaucracy and rules.

  118. @Dr B Regulated industries have typically had considerable input into the writing of applicable regulations. It's not really the government's job to find solutions that accommodate the practices of particular businesses, though. Some business models -- those that cannot maintain profitability without poisoning their neighbors -- *should* be regulated out of existence.

  119. @Erik Rensberger I understand why you may believe that, but that has been our approach for decades and has led to burdensome and not very useful regulations that cause businesses to move production elsewhere. There has to be a better way, and if the money spent by the government was used for improvements instead of inspections I believe we'd be better off.

  120. The role of money in the politics of public safety was understood over a cenetury ago. Reread Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People", in which a local doctor doscivers that the spring that brings hekaths eeker to a town is actually poiosnous. Or more recently, Miller's "All My Sons", which told how an aircraft plant conspired with inspectors to pass defective engines as safe. These scripts were for a while on the recommended reading list of Ontario senior high school English classes. They were displaced by "more relevant" texts, that is, currently popular ones. Plus ca change....

  121. Karma can be a bitch, no? Trump and his cronies have a boatload of bad karma headed their way. The only question is when. If you are Hindu or Buddhist, it's in the next life. If this is true, they will most likely come back as fruit flies.

  122. My one brother who suffers from cancer lived in Houston and Wilmington, Delaware, home of major chemical companies. He worked for oil companies and duPont. But he's an avid Republican and loves Trump! Fortunately the Republicans have not taken away his Medicare which pays his huge monthly medical costs for ongoing treatment. Look at the chart of states with lots of chemical plants and the costs to repair environmental damages. Hundreds of millions in Louisiana and Texas. And who pays? Not the chemical companies. We taxpayers do!

  123. These environmental disasters are a direct effect of environmental deregulation and lack of enforcement of the existing regulations. Our president would like the sound of us all living in a place like Love Canal.

  124. Thank you for shedding light on this issue. “one in three children is in a vulnerable zone” is very concerning.

  125. The rule was changed to save industry $88 million per year. Not billion, million. This is a pittance when spread over the cost of all such plants in the country. The EPA has lost its way.

  126. Texas has no zoning requirements. Texas does not require public disclosure of toxic chemicals on site. Texas does not care about its citizens. Why should we?

  127. We are all going to be dead from noxious chemicals long before the seas rise to swallow us. Hideous, dangerous ingredients are lurking in everything people use, eat, buy, drink, breathe on a daily basis and most people are either completely unaware, helpless to do anything about it, or - typically - both. These chemicals persist in our bodies, our water, our soil, and our environment, destroying us and surrounding ecosystems. I think global warming is unquestionably about as serious an issue as it gets, but death by thousands of poisonous chemicals that are the building block of so much of modern life is as dire a situation, if not worse. And there is so little talk about it.

  128. @Beatrix You are absolutely right, we will destroy our planet by all the toxic chemicals and radiation long before climate change makes the planet uninhabitable. Our water, air and land is saturated in chemicals. According to Scientific American there are more than 200 chemicals in the newborn umbilical cord blood.

  129. The Trump administration makes no secret of the fact it slashes regulations protecting health and safety as a means of goosing the economy. They’re cheered for this by the Scrooges in country clubs who value money over human life. Secretaries Ross and Mnuchin are the cheering squad. Who wouldn’t trade a few hundred dead or thousand sickened poor people for truckloads of money they don’t need? The greed of today’s Republicans is pathological.

  130. I am physically sickened by Donald Trump but its not all on him. America does not care about the environment it lives in. If it did America would have made that clear via voting a long time ago.

  131. Perfect opportunity for the Democrats to go to Houston and talk about what Trump has done to the EPA. Test the air and water. The Democrats seem to squander every opportunity to demonstrate what Trump has done to the environment. Medicare for All =Yawn Free college education =Yawn Forgive student debt = Yawn

  132. Class action lawsuits against both the culprit companies, corporate individuals, and local officials or individuals failing to do their jobs. Whistleblowers - where are you? Lawyers - where are you?

  133. The EPA is only one of the many government agencies being deconstructed by the Trump Administration. By heading our institutions of government with grifters and industry cronies, who are diametrically opposed to the missions of these agencies, our country is efficiently being dismantled from the inside. This is exactly what the Republicans want. They are actively participating in this process by similarly polluting our justice system with irresponsible and unqualified judges so we, the people who live in this country, will have no method by which to reverse this destruction going forward. This is not governance. This is treason.

  134. We didn't see Mr Trump topped in his red hat in Port Neches last week lending support to the citizens there. Many that supported him in 2016. Are the citizens of Port Neches still willing to support Mr Trump when he cowers and slinks away ignoring those same citizens? Leaders are supposed to lead, not hide.

  135. Numerous refineries across the United States still use old fashioned alkylation units that utilize hydrogen fluoride at high concentration under pressure. Each of these units is a chemical poison gas disaster worse than Bhopal waiting to happen. There have been close calls in the US where fire or explosion has nearly caused a major release. It is scandalous that such extremely hazardous use of this ultra dangerous chemical is not outlawed. All refineries must be required by law to immediately modernize to end use of this extremely dangerous and out dated technology. Millions of people live downwind of these plants and are kept at risk of agonizing deaths due to the greed of the plant owners unwilling to invest in safer modern equipment..

  136. Our family has personally touched by the effects of a polluted environment. My father-in-law was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC in the 1950s. His family lived on base with him. Camp Lejeune has proven to be exceedingly polluted. In the 1980s, large numbers of male ex-marines who had lived at Camp Lejeune began coming down with breast cancer. My father-in-law was one of them. Next to succumb to breast cancer was my eldest sister-in-law. My mother-in-law suffered from renal toxicity. My wife is now battling bladder cancer. Congress has taken steps to help those who have medical issues specifically attributed to the Camp Lejeune pollution, both service members and their family members. The last of the bills to address this was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. What would happen in today's political arena? And I wonder if the acts to help the victims of Camp Lejeune will be eviscerated by the current president.

  137. The deck is stacked against regular people, who can expect more cancers, more asthma, more of everything bad. This all while the titans fight one another over who will have the most yachts, the most houses, the most money. What the billionaires and would-be billionaires seem to forget is that they, too depend on clean air, a functioning Amazon rainforest, healthy soils, etc. Without these, economies will disintegrate, populations will shrink. There will be no one left to serve them their Chateau Lafite-Rothschild at the lawn party. There will be no wine. There will be no lawn.

  138. @Biffnyc and @Chris I agree with both of you on the word choice: It would be good for journalists to switch from the word "regulations" and pick up on "protections." The EPA is the Environmental PROTECTION Agency and it is Protections of our air, land, water and, hence, our health, that are being stripped away.

  139. You folks just don’t get it. We Texans love money more than life. We are not different in that respect from any other Americans-the US was founded on the principle of money over life. Ask the indigenous folks about their ancestors. It’s just that we who live in the pollution industry states make our money selling toxic pollution. In New York, folks sell stocks and bonds and what not. In San Francisco, they sell tech. If those things killed people, you wouldn’t stop making them. In the US, Greed is not only good. It is all there is.

  140. @John Tollefson Sad but true of our history. I'm Native American and can say that historically many Americans valued money over life. I should refine that by saying "other peoples lives". While my ancestors were being killed and driven away from their land the truth is many Americans knew what was occurring was evil and wrong. As our society matures I hope we can honestly reflect on the many miseries we caused to get us to where we are today. I say we can do better.

  141. After evacuating thousands of people, the next thing FEMA and the EPA announced was the levels of toxicity in the air from the smoke were "relatively safe" (I was paraphrasing). It only takes a single glance at the black smoke billowing from this disaster to know you should not be within miles of (much less breathing) this.

  142. We have here the same sort of facility as what was on fire Thanksgiving. Butadiene is their production chemical now as then and it is a major ingredient in carpet backing. I worked in 1990 with a recently retired engineer from that plant who told me they found a way to lower emissions. Butadiene was better encapsulated in the latex made from it for carpet backing. My thought was it just came out in homes and workplaces instead. Anyway the local Air Pollution Control Bureau got a grant to study butadiene emissions from that facility and the effects. Then the grant was rescinded. One thing I heard then was that chemical had been known as a precursor to breast cancer. Whether exposure is gotten from offgassing carpet, latex in undergarments, or the air of neighborhoods downwind or all those factors is a guess. Friends and I termed the locations making this stuff and other toxins, like the chlordane plant in Memphis, National Sacrifice Zones. When you look at air output of toxins, Texas is way better at that than football, they are number one. Here in Tennessee we had one facility that made us number three in national air emissions. Where they are now I do not know. Life goes on for the the well and not yet sick and some things never change. That being there are those who go into elected office to represent all their citizens and those who only stand for the interests of those who feed their campaigns the most.

  143. Owners and corporate board members should be required to live in proximity and abide by the regulations that everyone else must. I’ve been saying this since Love Canal. Same should apply to owners of health insurance companies. But as long as they can afford to treat the rest of us as their serfs and wage slaves while they comfortably keep their distance we can forget about any protection. No member of the Trump royal family will ever be directly affected by any of these regulations as long as they can live in their walled enclaves and drink their bottled water and flush their gold-plated toilets as many times as they please.

  144. This is what happens when you elect government officials from an entire party whose mantra has become to "shrink government down to the size it can easily be drowned in a bathtub". As far as dangerous chemical releases go, Republicans in general and Texans in particular are certainly secretly happy that the air can do the killing for them. It's a group that now runs on an underlying framework of wanting The Apocalypse to happen. That means a lot of people will have to die, and they're confident it won't be them.

  145. What these folks in Texas are breathing is “ballot dust.” Did they really think their votes for conservatives were not going to have consequences? They got what they wanted and deserved.

  146. I have said this before, our executioners are the congress men and women who take bribes from these companies who spew poison at us for profit. These corrupt members of Congress represent not us and our health and very lives because the money is just too good to turn down. Good ole Joe Biden made it clear in an interview that here was that smart AOC advocating for M4all and everyone was saying she was taking the Democratic party to the left and he said it simply was not true. The party was not ready for it. Now the polls say that over 80 percent of registered democrats are for M4all and over 70 percent of all voters, including the pesky republicans want it. But you see The Precious Democratic Party is not there yet. Huh? Gee what an awakening, We are not the boss of the people whose salary we pay, they do not represent the voters? We had better review our employee contract with these folks. So only when THEY are ready will we get M4all. And it will be the 12th of never if we keep these corrupt politicians in office. Same with our desperate need and right to have clean air and water. We either gotta pony up more money than the industries who buy up our politicians or vote them out, the bums.

  147. People vote. They get the government they deserve.

  148. Follow the money - not difficult to do with Dump and GOP. Human health? Certainly does not superseded the importance of profit.

  149. why does trump get to decide what happens with the EPA? why are we letting these people poison us, while we pay their salaries with our own tax money? why are we not in the streets? I see what fracking is doing to Pa and anyone who protests is sued by the gas companies. we live in a corporate dictatorship.

  150. The statement announcing this change in the law puzzled me greatly. It mentioned it would help businesses, and that it puts business profits over the health and safety of citizens seems clear. But it was also stated that it addressed concerns of our first responders. How does not immediately knowing the chemicals they will be exposed to, and trying to protect citizens from, in a disaster response help first responders? This was just sort of tucked into the announcement, and seemed like an effort to make this horrific rollback seem patriotic in some way, offering no explanation at all of what first responders “concerns” were being addressed. Has there been some further explanation of this that I have missed?

  151. Contribute to a candidate you like and vote the current administration out of office.

  152. This article is in the wrong venue. You want to put it — shortened — on billboards in Trump country. Everyone else knows that these companies aren’t “poisoning pigeons in the park.” They are poisoning people on the planet.

  153. Among their other delusions, Republicans apparently think they have a special air and water supply that will protect them from the air and water everyone else uses.

  154. It's laughable at this point to call it the EPA.

  155. Do what I do. Leave Texas as much as possible. It is a hellhole. If you don’t like breathing and drinking poison, you need to escape. Texas and other oil states will never change, as they worship money and have no regard for life.

  156. President Trump prevented the Chemical Disaster Rule from taking effect because (wait for it) it was connected to president Obama. There you have it, MAGA and KAGA fans. Nothing to deep to think about when it comes to the reptilian brain of your Dear Leader. So easy. It is my hope that Mr. Trump will eventually reside in a federal prison a vulnerable zone, of course.

  157. I am fully in favor of reversing Trump's regulatory rollbacks once a Democrat takes the Presidency, but this article is overblown. The author fully admits that physicians have told her that her pneumonitis is most often caused by indoor air. The CDC link shows that it is often caused by repeated exposure to mycobacteria, which lives in all of our showers and can cause pneumonia. When it comes to these regulations, we have devolved into fighting emotion with emotion. The right hates regulation for no good reason, and the left believes that industry will kill us if they have their way. Neither is true, but the Trump administration does not base their approach on science nor with a serious consideration of the trade-offs. Regulations should be designed to properly price in external costs, and while we may differ on how to calculate those costs, agreeing on the role of regulation and ending all the demonization would go a long way to bringing the country together. Let's elect a president who is actually up to that task.

  158. “.. that physicians have told her... “ Doctors get their information from the pharmacology industry and scientific research. Test results are based on studies. Recent articles in the news and medical science journals show that those study results can be rigged. Big Pharma and Big Industry don’t have to report on all the studies so some companies funding research only report on the studies that are favourable. This also applies to medical research. So who owns and/or controls the research labs? Who funds the research? Who verifies the results? Big industry. Because mycobacteria in our showers can cause lung problems doesn’t mean the actual cause is the shower mycobacteria. Industry always hides behind the defence that you need to prove scientifically that a particular plant, or mine, or industry causes a particular disease. Proving that requires funding for research. Industry is not going to fund that research so who does? Not the Trump government. So when a doctor says your lung problem might be caused by mycobacteria in your shower, the doctor doesn’t actually know if it is or not. This is a technical defence used in courts by Big Industry. You don’t know for certain, either. Don’t repeat the weasel words used by industry lawyers to slither out from under valid attempts to hold industry accountable.

  159. Thank you NY Times for publishing this piece. I wish Ms. Parras had also discussed the role of the State of Texas and its environmental agency in trying to protect its citizens. (I'm from Missouri so I am unfamiliar with Texas environmental policies and protections). I know the governor is Republican, and we all know Rick Perry is no friend to the environment. Where our federal government falls short, can the state step in to try to find solutions? Does it have the authority, and perhaps more importantly, the will-power to do something? God bless the children of Port Neches and surrounding communities.

  160. Eighty-four environmental regulations rolled back and counting by this administration. For a few pennies more profit the oil and chemical industry are gleefully willing to poison American citizens. My feeling is they need to entirely control their chemical waste if they are going to have the privilege of operating in the US. Unfortunately the politicians have been bought and sold by the industry. They use the constant jobs will be affected lie. We know the truth is they don’t want to spend any money on anything affecting the profits for the shareholders. Regulations to protect us actually create more jobs, e.g. an inspector to monitor gas well leaks, but they don’t want to spend any money to protect our citizens. They must be forced to protect us. New lawsuits should be brought daily until the companies pay attention. They only understand money. They are apparently morally bankrupt. Lawsuits and protests are the only avenues of action that will get their attention.

  161. This what the people of Texas want. They want guns in their hands and poisons in the air. Now they have it. They should be happy. They got what they voted for. Why should the country worry about a state that self-inflicts harm.

  162. Having grown up and lived most of my life in Houston, I can vouch for the nasty and smelly air there. People along the TX Gulf Coast live in a toxic stew that subjects them to who knows what. If you live in sight of any of these plants, you can bet you are in danger. As Houston floods more through this paradox of having created this environment that they now have to live in you can guarantee that the share of toxins are not equally shared. After all this is TX and each individual survives at their own peril. Being poor is always a challenge, being poor in Texas means being invisible.

  163. And while rational people scratch their heads wondering why Donald is repealing all these environmental and safety standards, his supporters see only that Donald is trying to save jobs. As David Brooks said, the left looks at Trump and groans that he can't get along with other national leaders. It's a threat to our alliances. His supporters see the same thing and say, Great! Donald isn't getting along with other national leaders. He's not being pushed around. He is also a hero for pardoning war crimes. And putting immigrant kids in cages. And for cheating to win re-election. Wrongs do not become right just because a lot of people approve.

  164. Republican Party is the Party of Death. All their policies shorten lives. This is just one example.

  165. Trump doesn't care about people (poor and middle income folks)

  166. Did anyone notice the timeline here? Obama directs his EPA to start working on this rule in 2013 but, COWARD that he was, blocks his EPA from finalizing it until AFTER 2016 election with only ONE MONTH left in his Presidency. He knew that meant the rule could be rescinded immediately by the next President, as it was. Other EPA rules adopted in Lame Duck window met the same fate. I blame him and Gina McCarthy who did the dirty work of delaying these rules for YEARS. Who were they pandering to? Not the people in harms way. Not the enviros. Not soccer moms.

  167. So deregulation is all Obama’s fault, not the guy (Trump) who actually authorized the deregulation? Obama brought in rage increased environmental protections. Who knows what compromises he had to make to get them passed but he did get them passed. Don’t blame Obama for deregulation. It is all on Trump and those who support him. Even if it is primarily, in this instance, affecting people who voted Republican, we all live on the same planet and it ultimately affects all life.

  168. I just saw ‘Dark Waters’ last night. This is what Trump is taking us back to. Poisonings in our lives. Why? He is a monster.

  169. Please do not mistake this comment for any lack of compassion for the author others in Texas who are fighting for environmental protections. How many Texans are voting against their interest by supporting politicians who denounce any kind of regulation (particularly those imposed by the federal government) as evil, antithetical to the Texan spirit? There is only so much we can save Texas from itself.

  170. Here in Texas we call it the “smell of money”.

  171. Most of these plants are in red states. Like trump? Like less regulations? Like the EPA that he and his minions gutted? You voted for it. You got it.

  172. Texas voted for djt and the republican cult. They are getting exactly what they voted for and it is getting worse, Even in a short three years since the 2016 election there has been an uptick in small particle related lung deaths in the US thanks to the for profit/regulation killing republican cult was put in charge. In 2020 vote as though your life depended on it because it does.,

  173. The people that build these plants assure locals they will monitor air quality. Then Trump guts the EPA so they can disregard those promised standards. My mom’s land is literally next door to a huge Exxon/Saudi govt plant going in in South Texas- a few miles away on the bay there are now chemical and related companies from France, Saudi Arabia, China, Austria. A giant flare burns off gas. It looks like Oz at night. Trump folks and religious nuts on the radio harp against globalization (one lady radio preacher offered Celine Dion and Hillary Clinton as examples of its evils) and how Trump is saving America with nationalism but in practice it looks more like they voted to be the world’s Not In My Backyard’s backyard.

  174. An unspoken (but obvious) cornerstone of Trumpist Republicanism —> “We’ve got too many people in this country, and not nearly enough money.” For the heartlessly greedy, there is never enough money to satisfy their need, their gnawing hunger for wealth, power and priviledge. There are too many regulations. Too many bleeding-heart environmental busybodies. When hard-working, taxpaying plant owners, guys who provide jobs to semi-skilled low lifes, poison a few people who live next to a chemical plant, the newspapers make a big deal out of it. (Who’s stupid enough to live near a chemical plant, huh?) Did you ever read a newspaper story citing figures about how many people a particular industrial facility DIDN’T poison on a given day? President Trump is against regulations. Especially regulations that keep rich people from getting richer, and regulations he doesn’t understand, which is all of them. Think about it. Do we need a president who protects people? We got too many. Or a president who protects wealth and hates regulations? Especially Obama’s regulations!

  175. A PHD thesis could be written on how Trump, his Administration añd the Republican Party actively transformed America, meeting all the criteria, into a third world country

  176. As a retiree from the chemical industry, I can assure environmental skeptics that there is a reason the lower Mississippi River is called Cancer Alley. #MAGA! Riiight. At least for the survivors ...

  177. I wonder if this will wake anybody up to the massive distruction this administration is doing?! The president of this country does not care about the people. Case in point. People wake up and realize that he would just as soon kill you to make a profit!

  178. While Trump's infamous phone call broke the law and is getting him impeached, he really should be impeached and removed from office for the crime of removing federal protections that protected us from pollution and gifting the chemical and fossil fuel industries with the freedom to do whatever they want to do that will make them lots of profits. The president is responsible for the welfare of our citizens and our land, and Trump has done everything he could to cause harm and even death to Americans by favoring polluting, dangerous industries over lives. That is one of the big reasons that he must be removed from power as soon as possible. Trump doesn't care about We The People, he only cares about Trump...and his buds who are profiteering by destroying our land.

  179. The Evangelicals who support Trump aren’t worried but increased disease-causing deregulation. They believe we are in “the end days” and Jesus is going to return and “rapture them up “, leaving all non-Evangelicals to die horribly. It’s all really mind-boggling and difficult to grasp that a form of Christianity is being used to justify abandoning our planet to end-time, rapacious capitalism.

  180. Much of the country, particularly the South including Texas, has expressed boredom over the continuous investigations of Donald Trump. This article, like many others is no longer an eye opener. I'm as adamant a conservationist as anyone, but I'm bored with these articles. Decisions of the Trump administration are going to make life hell for our grandchildren and our children because of poisons strewn around our environment and because of climate change. Yet this is just another Trump caused, REAL, disaster. There is but ONE solution to the issue. Vote all Republicans out in 2020. Will keeping our assault rifles save us? NO! Will overturning Roe v Wade save us? NO! Will building a wall save us? NO! Is Trump creating WELL PAYING jobs or keeping manufacturing in the US? NO! Saving the environment and adopting sustainable energy generation requirements has a chance. Don't care about your kids and grand kids? Vote for Trump and the Republicans in 2020. That will finish us off with a high level of certainty. The damage we're doing can't be reversed. Wait and see is NOT a solution.

  181. Vote (R)egressive! Making America Gasp Again!