Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article|
House Democrats demand
hearings on EPA air quality assurances after Sept. 11
By Devlin Barrett,
Associated Press Writer, Newsday.com, September 17, 2003
WASHINGTON -- House Democrats on Wednesday asked for hearings into allegations the
Environmental Protection Agency misled New Yorkers about the dangers of debris in the air
around the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We do not want the Congress of the United States to be party to a scandal,"
said the House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, of California.
Pelosi was joined by Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes ground zero,
and others in her party in calling for a congressional investigation of the EPA's response
to the attacks.
Last month, the EPA's internal watchdog found the agency, at the urging of White House
officials, gave misleading assurances there was no health risk from the dust in the air
after the twin towers' collapse.
The White House "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary
ones" by having the National Security Council control EPA communications after the
attack, according to the inspector general's report.
Seven days after the attack, the EPA announced that the air near the site was safe to
breathe, but the agency did not have enough information to make such a guarantee, the
Agency officials have said they put out the best information they had.
The Democrats have written House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., requesting a
"Democrats have shown a consistent ability to overhype their hyperbole," said
Hastert spokesman John Feehery.
A similar push for an investigation by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Joe
Lieberman, D-Conn., failed to sway Republican leaders.
In response, Clinton has said she will put a hold on President Bush's nomination of Utah
Gov. Mike Leavitt to head the EPA to force the administration to answer questions about
the EPA's actions.
On the Net:
Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov
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