Tuesday, December 06, 2011

ALEC Deems Kids Eating Rat Poison An ‘Acceptable Risk’


As ThinkProgress has been reporting for some time, the corporate front group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been colluding with the billionaire Koch brothers to privatize government and eliminate environmental regulations that interfere with profits.

GOP legislators in many states have given ALEC free reign to write anti-health care reform and anti-environment legislation. Now, ALEC is fighting to kill Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules limiting the sale of rat poisons that pose a serious health threat to children and the ecosystem.

A top representative for the ultra-conservative group said kids eating rat poison is an “acceptable risk” that does not justify government intervention:

“There are certain levels of acceptable risk in society,” says Todd M. Wynn, director of the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, in an interview about the EPA rules with the Heartland Institute’s Heartlander website. “And parents play an important role by weighing the potential risks and benefits of using a product.”

Unfortunately, EPA expands its reach into the American economy more and more each and every year,” Wynn said. “This year it will be d-Con, but next year another useful product will be burdened by additional regulations or banned outright from the market.” [...]

Aaron Colangelo, an attorney for the NRDC…told the Center for Media and Democracy that “there is not an undue economic burden associated with reformulating these products,” pointing out that the rest of the industry had complied with the new rules without adverse economic impact. Additionally, he said, “the health care costs for treating these kids certainly outweigh the economic costs of reformulation.”

Wynn’s startling admission illustrates the extent to which ALEC is willing to sacrifice the health of Americans to advance their radical agenda. For decades, at least 12,000-15,000 children a year have become ill after accidentally touching or ingesting rat poison that’s spread in pellet form. Poisoned children experience internal bleeding, bloody urine, bleeding gums, and blood coming from their ears. Poor and minority children are disproportionately affected.

Exposure often occurs in settings outside parents’ control, and giving companies the option of voluntary adopting changes has done nothing to help. After thirteen years of studies, hearings, reports and legal battles, “the EPA announced in 2008 rodenticide manufacturers would have three years to adopt limits on the sale of the products.”

For years, ALEC has successfully killed these kind of regulations on environmental toxins and pollutants on behalf of corporations. At their annual conference in New Orleans this year, ALEC distributed a pamphlet titled “The Many Benefits Of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment,” complete with pictures depicting happy wildlife and a healthy environment. Companies like Koch Industries, BP, WalMart, and others join forces to fund this little-known organization that works behind the scenes to fight the dirty battles that no corporation would want to be publicly associated with.

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