EPA Failed New Yorkers On Post-9/11 Air Quality

Nearly two years after the collapse of the World Trade Center, the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general reports that the failure of EPA officials to properly inform New Yorkers of the dangers of the fallout can be traced to inside the White House. "The news that White House staff ordered the EPA to minimize potential health dangers near Ground Zero was bad enough," NY Daily News' Juan Gonzalez writes. "But the details in the 165-page report about how the EPA lied to the public - and even subverted its own safety standards in the process - are chilling. The original draft of a Sept. 13, 2001, EPA press release, for example, stated, 'Even at low levels, EPA considers asbestos hazardous in this situation ...' Staff members at the White House Council on Environmental Quality turned those words upside down.
'Short-term, low-level exposure [to asbestos] of the type that might have been produced by the collapse of theWorld Trade Center buildings is unlikely to cause significant health effects,' the revised report stated." Gonzalez told Democracy Now! that the man in charge of the Council on Environmental Quality, James Connaughton, prior to his June 2001 White House appointment earned his living as a lawyer defending asbestos polluting companies and other industrial polluters.