Jenna Orkin
World Trade Center Environmental Organization

December 13, 2005

Thank you to the panel for all your work these past two years.

Three years ago, EPA's Christmas present to this community was their shutting of the hotline for cleanup.  Two years ago, with the creation of this panel, they gave us another present:  a game called 'the waiting game.'  While we all told EPA what was wrong with their sampling plans, as we'd been doing since 9/11, EPA took two years to reach the same conclusion.  At this point they have the nerve to say, "It's been four years; we have to act."  And the action they're taking is worse than anything that's been discussed here.  Having flunked peer review, EPA is saying, in effect, "To hell with peer review."

Fifty years ago Joseph Welch brought McCarthyism to an end by asking, "Have you no sense of decency?"  No one bothers to do that here because we all know what the answer would be; it's too obvious.

So this Christmas, I'd like to turn the tables and give EPA a present:  this piece of coal.  [holding piece of coal tied in a red bow.]  Feel free to inhale deeply; it can't be seen from an airplane.

Senator Clinton believes that a compromise can be reached so I'd like to proffer one:  Use a small fraction of the seven million dollars currently available, and put it towards sampling to be conducted by independent scientists chosen by the community. 

So much for EPA.  I'll close with a comment about the Council on Environmental Quality which masterminds this panel:

This is not the only process the CEQ masterminds.  In May '01, the Chairman of the CEQ became Chairman of the Interagency Task Force on Energy Project Streamlining which includes representatives from the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, EPA, the CIA and fifteen other federal agencies.

With the arrival possibly this winter and probably within five years of the phenomenon known as Peak Oil,  the Bush administration is understandably obsessed with the imminent waning of oil resources as demand grows.  I know that this testimony seems to be going off into left field but these dots are connected and they're crucial.  Peak Oil will have cataclysmic effects on a world whose economy depends on growth.  Once Peak Oil hits, the economy can no longer grow; it must shrink.  Wars are anticipated, possibly between China and Japan, China and the U.S., Iran and Israel etc.  The way in which Lower Manhattan and now New Orleans are being treated following their respective disasters is a dreadful portent for how the CEQ and the administration plan to deal with the many disasters they expect in the near future as the result of Peak Oil.