Just when you thought the federal government, with the help of Congress, couldn’t waste any more money — take a look at the politics behind the $400 million cleanup of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri.
The landfill has been designated a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency, even though numerous studies conducted by the EPA show the site is safe.
“EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters,” notes the agency’s website.
In 2015, the EPA concluded:
The available scientific data indicate that people living near and working outside the boundary of the West Lake Landfill are not currently being exposed to contaminants from West Lake Landfill that are above a level of concern.
But EPA has never been known for sound or scientific-based environmental policy. Though the EPA found the site, which has been operating for over 60 years, wasn’t harmful to humans, the bureaucratic agency has been planning the cleanup for over 25 years. The landfill had already been placed on the “National Priorities list.”
So because the EPA lacks any common sense, the agency decided to move forward with a remediation plan that’s not necessary in the first place.
In 2015, the agency chose a private company to clean up the landfill and erect an isolation barrier to prevent future hazardous waste run-off from the site. The work was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.
Enter the Teamsters union. It engaged in fear mongering and lobbied members of Congress to transfer the clean up of West Lake Landfill from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers. The Teamsters even filed a human rights complaint with the United Nations. (Insert eye roll here.)
“Workplaces should not be a threat to workers, nor the workers and families living around them,” said Chuck Stiles, Assistant Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division.
Not only would this bureaucratic government agency shift cost American taxpayers $400 million, but also it would create lots of higher wage jobs for union workers. About 20 percent of Teamsters workers are employed by the federal government. Evidently, non-union work places are a toxic threat to the Teamsters.
In February 2016, the Senate passed a bill to transfer the clean up to the Army Corps of Engineers. Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced the legislation. In an effort to bypass regular order in the Senate, McCaskill placed the bill on the suspension calendar.
Presently, the bill is sitting in the House, where supporters with ties to big labor unions are pushing to get it passed without scrutiny. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership ought to take the bill up through regular order where the people and their representatives can understand what’s at stake and weigh in. Shifting the clean up of the West Lake Landfill from EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers, which isn’t needed in the first place, would delay the project another 25 years.
Bad environmental policy should not be made worse by dramatically increasing costs with a Teamsters/Federal government alliance. There should be no secret deals to benefit special interests groups with taxpayer money.
Crystal Wright is editor of the blog Conservative Black Chick and author of the new Book Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division.