White House misled NYC on air quality

I can't believe this isn't a bigger story in all of the news outlets! Thanks to Newsday, increasingly one of the best papers covering NYC and the evil Bush regime, we learn that the White House pressured the EPA to say the air quality was fine in lower Manhattan after 9/11 when it apparently wasn't, or at a minimum they had no evidence that it was safe. Re-opening Wall Street was more important than protecting the health of New Yorkers.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the White House instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to give the public misleading information, telling New Yorkers it was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was not available.


"When the EPA made a September 18 announcement that the air was 'safe' to breathe, it did not have sufficient data and analyses to make such a blanket statement," the report says. "Furthermore, The White House Council on Environmental Quality influenced ... the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones."

On the morning of Sept. 12, according to the report, the office of then-Administrator of the EPA Christie Whitman issued a memo: "All statements to the media should be cleared through the NSC [National Security Council in the White House] before they are released." The 165-page report compares excerpts from EPA draft statements to the final versions, including these:

The draft statement contained a warning from EPA scientists that homes and businesses near Ground Zero should be cleaned by professionals. Instead, the public was told to follow instructions from New York City officials.


A warning on the importance of safely handling Ground Zero cleanup, due to lead and asbestos exposure, was changed to say that some contaminants had been noted downtown but "the general public should be very reassured by initial sampling."

The report also notes examples when EPA officials claimed conditions were safe when no scientific support was available.

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This page contains a single entry by published on August 23, 2003 11:50 PM.

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