As much as I'd love to be bickering over religion with everyone else, I keep getting distracted by stories like this one:
New government rules seeking to thwart terrorist attacks on chemical plants are facing stiff opposition from state leaders, environmentalists and others who say the regulations are flawed, vague and unlikely to protect the public....And this one:
In New Jersey, state lawmakers in 2005 passed stricter chemical security rules than those set to take effect at the federal level. The federal rules, however, would invalidate the New Jersey rules, in effect weakening chemical security in that state, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine says.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today barred media representatives and the public from a closed-door meeting with selected lobbyists and others called to discuss legislative and regulatory changes in the troubled site remediation program....New Jersey has been a focus of post-9/11 security measures, at least in rhetorical terms, thanks to the number of people who live and work near its lengthy corridor of chemical plants. As I said a while back,
“It does not bode well that DEP wants to develop its new toxic protection plan in secret with the usual suspects,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe.
This is what James Inhofe (R-OK) sneeringly refers to as the security argument. In the looking-glass world of conservatarianism, wiretapping citizens without oversight is necessary because it might prevent a devastating attack, but enforcing chemical plant security is an intolerable infringement of fundamental American liberties.Speaking of which, an article in Washington Monthly explains how Dick Cheney's son-in-law Philip Perry was instrumental in overriding New Jersey state law on behalf of the chemical industry:
The only acceptable outcome...would be for Washington to pass legislation giving the industry exactly what it wanted: a fig leaf of regulations to satisfy public opinion and a hidden gun that would take aim at New Jersey’s tough new regulations.The doctrine of states' rights seems to have lost a lot of its appeal for conservatarians, the high-minded rhetoric of Executive Order 12612 notwithstanding. It's one thing for a state to beat up on fags, but inconveniencing chlorine manufacturers is another thing entirely.
Enter Philip Perry....Perry reworked the language and helped to get it added to the spending bill in a conference committee. Under the new amendment, the DHS would have nominal authority to regulate the chemical industry but also have its hands tied where required. For example, the DHS would be barred from requiring any specific security measures, and citizens would be prohibited from suing to enforce the law. Best of all for industry, while the bill didn’t mention giving the DHS preemption authority, it didn’t bar it, either, leaving a modicum of wiggle room on the subject. In other words, if Perry was sufficiently brazen, he could claim for the DHS the power to nullify the chemical regulations in New Jersey.
He was sufficiently brazen.
Enough about that, though. Anyone know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
UPDATE: Apropos of chlorine:
A truck bomb that combined explosives with chlorine gas blew up in southern Baghdad on Wednesday, and officials said it may represent a new and deadly tactic by insurgents against Iraqi civilians.
It was at least the third truck bomb in a month to employ chlorine, a greenish gas also used in World War I, which burns the skin and can be fatal after only a few concentrated breaths.