Clinton Announces Witness List for Senate Hearing into Federal Government Failures on Environmental Impact of 9/11 World Trade Center Attacks
Senate Hearing to Examine the Federal Response to 9-11, Including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Programs to Test and Clean Indoor Spaces in Lower Manhattan, Lessons Learned from 9-11 and Federal Readiness to Respond to Releases of Hazardous Substances in Future Emergencies
Committee to Hear Testimony from President's Council on Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agen
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced the witness list for the hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health into the EPA's response to 9-11 and lessons learned for future emergency preparedness.
The June 20, 2007 hearing, to be held in Washington, DC, will include testimony from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Susan Bodine, who oversees the EPA's emergency response office. The EPA will testify about their post-9/11 activities, including their two programs to test and clean indoor spaces.
The hearing will also include testimony from James L. Connaughton, Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). After the release of the EPA Inspector General's (IG) report about EPA's 9-11 response in August of 2003, Mr. Connaughton committed the Administration to establish the EPA World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel. That panel examined a range of issues relating to contamination of indoor spaces that were raised by the 2003 IG's report.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) will also testify about investigatory work they have done at the request of Senator Clinton and Congressman Nadler to evaluate the EPA's efforts to test and clean indoor spaces in New York City. Read More >
The Senate Sub-Committee will also hear from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and a local resident, to examine the federal response to 9-11, including risk communication and EPA programs to test and clean indoor spaces in lower Manhattan. The hearing will also examine lessons learned from 9-11 and federal readiness to respond to releases of hazardous substances in future emergencies.
"We need to examine what went wrong and assess whether the federal government is better prepared to respond to environmental hazards in future disasters," said Senator Clinton. "I also remain concerned about potential indoor contamination resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Center and want to take a close look at the EPA's inadequate program to test and clean residential areas in Manhattan."
For over five years, Clinton and Nadler have staunchly criticized the Administration's misleading public statements about post-9/11 air quality, as well as its continued failure to provide a proper testing and cleaning of indoor spaces contaminated by WTC toxins and its lack of provision of health care for the thousands of people who are ill as a result of exposure to the pollutants.
"New Yorkers were depending on the federal government to provide them with accurate information about the air they were breathing. And they are still depending on the federal government to assess the level of ongoing risk," Senator Clinton said. "I hope this hearing will get to the bottom of what went wrong with the EPA's testing and clean-up plan in response to the post-9/11 environmental disaster, what lessons were learned, and what the EPA intends to do to protect New Yorkers going forward."
Senator Clinton's hearing, along with the companion House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing to be chaired on June 25, 2007 by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), represent the first comprehensive Congressional oversight investigations into these environmental matters since the immediate aftermath of the attacks. The two hearings together will take a comprehensive look at the failures of the Federal government in responding to the environmental crisis that resulted from the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. While in the Majority, Republican House leadership steadfastly refused to hold a single hearing on this matter.
"More than five years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the EPA's work to address the environmental health consequences of those attacks remains unfinished. Starting from the EPA's assurances immediately following the attacks, and continuing throughout the past five years, the EPA's response to September 11th has not adequately protected public health and the environment," Senator Clinton said. "There has also been a familiar pattern in which the Agency has sought to downplay the potential risks and convey false assurances regarding World Trade Center contamination, rather than developing a scientifically sound approach to assessing and reducing these risks."
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT