Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Got rocket fuel?

If the Defense Department, the Navy and various defense contractors have their way, you will. This coalition has petitioned the White House to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating perchlorate in drinking water.
The Pentagon and the defense industry is lobbying the White House to prevent U.S. EPA from tightening a health advisory for a rocket-fuel chemical.

Representatives of the Defense Department, the Navy and aerospace and defense companies have met with the Office of Management and Budget this month to discuss a pending EPA decision on the chemical, perchlorate.


Perchlorate contamination of drinking water, which is linked to DOD and contractor activities at rocket test sites, has been documented in at least 35 states and the District of Columbia. The chemical can inhibit the thyroid gland's iodine uptake, interfering with fetal development. [emphasis mine]
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, perchlorate isn't a welcome condiment (like, say, a slice of lemon) for your drinking water. Check out the facts:

Perchlorate is a chemical that occurs naturally in the environment and is also used in explosives, fireworks, road flares, and rocket propellant. A combination of human activity and natural sources has led to the widespread presence of perchlorate in the environment.

Previous CDC studies have shown that nearly everyone in the U.S. is exposed regularly to low levels of perchlorate. People are exposed through eating food, and drinking milk and water that contain perchlorate. Trace levels of perchlorate have been found in both breast milk and infant formula.

High levels of perchlorate (thousands of times higher than the doses estimated to result from consumption of infant formula or breast milk) affects the thyroid gland by blocking its ability to use iodine. The thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is important for proper development of fetuses and infants, and regulates how the body uses energy.

As noted above, perchlorate has been found in baby formula and has also been found in the breast milk of nursing mothers.

The background here is that in January 2009, EPA issued an interim health advisory regarding perchlorate contamination of drinking water. EPA is seeking input from the National Academy of Sciences, and from the public, prior to making a final regulatory determination on whether or not it will issue a national regulation for perchlorate in drinking water.

I understand why defense contractors are lobbying the government not to regulate perchlorate. For them, it's all about the money, and after the presidency of George W. Bush, they need to be weaned from the government teat. But why is it that government agencies feel the need to lobby against policies being formed by another government agency, that are in the interest of the public health and welfare? After all, if you poison all of the people with rocket fuel, eventually there will be nothing left for the Department of Defense, Navy and defense contractors to defend.

It's time for the President to step in and side with the people, and give orders as Commander-In-Chief to the Department of Defense and Navy to cease their lobbying efforts.


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