Opinion

Policy must protect from pollution

It seems that U.S. policies and regulations are only revised when a tragedy occurs. Such is the case of the massive chemical spill in West Virginia. More of these disasters are caused by sheer oversight each year, indicating that current regulation is insufficient.

Some things cannot be prevented. However, the case of the West Virginia chemical spill was not a simple “accident.” The spill occurred when methylcyclohexane methanol, a chemical used in coal processing, leaked out of a one-inch hole in a storage tank and into the nearby Elk River. The contamination reached roughly 300,000 West Virginians, and rendered the water supply virtually useless.

Randy Huffman, head of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, claims that poor regulation is to blame. “There’s not necessarily the kind of robust environmental controls that people might anticipate …on these types of facilities,” Huffman told CNN. After further investigation, inspectors confirmed that the storage tank was outdated and damaged.

We see how regulation can directly affect the lives of Americans. Throughout history, industries become more strictly monitored after injustice is exposed. Upton Sinclair’s portrayal of the meatpacking industry led to major reforms in food production. More recently, school shootings have sparked a fierce debate over gun laws in the U.S. Each time this happens, American citizens act as the proverbial canaries in a coal mine. By now, our government should have learned its lesson.

Perhaps the federal government has too much on its plate to monitor every potential industry threat. We also have more toxins to regulate than ever before. Even still, it could be a matter of practicality or money. However, when it comes to the health of its citizens, a government should not cut corners. We depend on our leaders to make health and safety a top priority, but the chemical spill exposed oversight and regulatory loopholes. If such loopholes continue to exist, we can expect to see more lives interrupted.

 

Amanda Wood is a junior majoring in ecosystem science and policy.

January 22, 2014

Reporters

Amanda Wood


Around the Web

An asynchronous learning model provided an opportunity to create a hands-on process with a three-dimensional approach for a fall class. ...

Claire Paris-Limouzy started freediving for research and ended up becoming a record-breaking athlete who is also spearheading a Scientific Freediving program at the University. ...

Sociology scholars from around the world convened for a virtual conference hosted by the University of Miami on Thursday to explore shifting tendencies in international relocation and the implications for global social change. ...

Lauryn Williams, track and field and bobsled medalist, addressed the University community during Wednesday night’s “What Matters to U” virtual event. ...

During his appearance Tuesday on a webinar hosted by the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, tech mogul Eric Yuan highlighted the importance of a workplace culture of happiness and urged that businesses pay greater attention to the digital divide. ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.