Dec 192010

~In other words ALL of the Senate SUX! ~JP

The Senate unexpectedly approved food safety legislation by unanimous consent Sunday evening, rescuing a bill that floated in limbo for weeks because of a clerical error.

The Senate passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act on Nov. 30 by a vote of 73-25. But the bill was later invalidated by a technical objection because it was a revenue-raising measure that did not originate in the House — Senate staff had failed to substitute the food safety language into a House-originated bill.

A coalition of groups supporting the bill sent a letter Sunday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) calling for action on food safety.

“Our organizations are writing to support attaching S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, to the Senate’s proposed short-term continuing resolution,” the groups wrote. “Strong food-safety legislation will reduce the risk of contamination and provide FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help make prevention the focus of our food safety strategies.”

The American Public Health Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and other groups signed the letter.

Democrats first attempted to attach the food safety bill to the two-and-a-half-month spending measure but Republicans balked because they wanted to keep that measure clean, according to Senate aides.

Republicans, however, later agreed to pass it by unanimous consent.

Reid announced he would send the legislation — this time properly attached to a House-originated measure — back to the lower chamber for final approval.

“Our food safety system has not been updated in almost a century. Families in Nevada and across America should never have to worry about whether the food they put on their table is safe,” Reid said in a statement. “This is a common-sense issue with broad bipartisan support.

“Tonight we unanimously passed a measure to improve on our current food safety system by giving the FDA the resources it needs to keep up with advances in food production and marketing, without unduly burdening farmers and food producers,” he said.

The legislation is a high priority for Reid and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Reid’s staff earlier in the day had told a coalition of groups supporting the legislation that it had a chance of passing but the prospects appeared to dim as Sunday wore on. The swift approval by unanimous consent caught some aides and lobbyists working on it by surprise.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the outspoken conservative Republican from Oklahoma, had been blocking the legislation. He lifted his objection at the final moment.

By Alexander Bolton The Hill

Dec 192010

* WaPo If a liberal rag is portending this…we are in trouble tomorrow!!! We are in deep crap Patriots!

Breaking News Alert: FCC poised to approve net neutrality rules
December 20, 2010 4:42:19 PM

The Federal Communications Commission is poised to pass new rules Tuesday that would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or giving favorable treatment to certain Web sites. The rule has been the subject of intense lobbying and watched closely by public interest groups and Internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

UPDATE Excellent EYE-OPENING link from Green Eyes:

—> FCC Broadband Archives (14)

The Democrats have a message for Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps: Don’t screw things up on net neutrality.

Democrats allied with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski are working to put public pressure on Copps as the net-neutrality vote draws near.

Genachowski needs Copps to vote for his plan during a commission meeting on Tuesday if the rules are to pass.

As a result, Democrats who support the plan are pushing this message in the media: If Copps doesn’t vote for Genachowski’s plan, the consequences will reverberate all the way up to the White House. They are arguing that the damage could even hurt President Obama.

A prominent Democrat close to the White House said it this way on Friday: “If Copps votes no on Tuesday, he’d be handing the president a huge loss at a time when the Democrats should have a big win.”

“Voting no…would be snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory and would be giving the Republicans a huge win,” the source said.

President Obama made a campaign promise to support net neutrality, and this vote could be the last opportunity to pass the policy.

It is coming…

Copps, however, sees the proposal as too watery and has pledged to negotiate with the FCC chairman in order to strengthen it.

As the vote approaches, the issue has drawn commentary from Democrats all the way up to the White House. White House spokesman Matt Vogel weighed in this week.

“President Obama believes that Chairman Genachowski’s proposal on open Internet advances this important policy priority and constitutes an important step in preventing abuses and continuing to advance the Internet as an engine of productivity growth and innovation,” he said.

Ardent net-neutrality supporters who want tougher rules are sending their own message: they say Copps may vote “no” unless the plan is strengthened.

Despite the spin wars over Copps’ vote, analysts expect he will fall in line on Tuesday.

As JUST Piper has reported all along VOTE on 2/21

“The two Democratic Commissioners can block approval of the net-neutrality rules, but we believe it’s in the majority’s interests to coalesce around a decision,” analysts at Stifel Nicolaus said in a note this week.

“So while we expect some tough bargaining that goes down to the wire next Tuesday, our sense is an order likely will be approved, with some modifications, but not radical changes, to the draft, given the tightrope the FCC leadership appears to be walking,” they said.

Even Copps has seemed to express that he might not be able to extract all of his demands from the chairman’s office.

“We are hoping and working for needed improvements,” Copps told Bloomberg.

“I cannot say we’ll get there.”

~Friends, we have to activate BIG Time! Watch for Updates here!

By Sara Jerome The Hill

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is making progress in narrowing gaps with his two Democratic colleagues over his controversial plan to adopt sweeping new rules for the Internet, National Journal has learned. But with the talks very fluid, and differences remaining, there’s still a possibility that the regulatory initiative could be pulled at the last minute from the agenda of Tuesday’s commission meeting.

EXCLUSIVE: FCC’s Dems Narrowing Net Neutrality Gaps


‘Net neutrality’ sounds nice, but the Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

How did the FCC get here?


Dec 192010

From: palinpromotions via twitter by Thomas S. Schmitz

~JP’s wish list! No, the Piper in this story of hope is not moi’ ~JP

We have all thought about what the Sarah Palin Presidency will be like. For starters the obvious: no bowing, no fisting czar’s, no wealth redistribution, no dithering, no enemy appeasement, no marxism, no liberation theology, no bailouts, no collective salvation, no free Obama money, no comprehensive anything, and by all means the first spouse will not be allowed to wear clothing that resembles a cat pee stained sofa.

Can’t you all just imagine Piper playing on the White House lawn with the puppies of those fluffy white and black blue eyed Iditarod sled dogs? Or Willow going to Prom? Trig’s birthday party?

The Palin White House Christmas will be especially fun. Gone will be the days of Michelle Obama trying to shame teenage girls into eating disorders. Bristol, Willow, and Piper will be in kitchen baking cookies and making a ginger bread house.

Angels will be allowed again on the White House Christmas trees (which will again be called Christmas Trees; not Holiday Trees) in place of the left over Chairman Mao balls from the disgraced Obama’s.

Michelle Obama is now back in Chicago and once again not proud of her country.

Then, on Christmas eve, Madame President Sarah Palin addresses the nation:

My fellow citizens. As Americans we all know that the unequivocal worth of a happy family is something that has not changed in human civilization. A family of grandparents, parents and children, together with their extended family and friends, is the cornerstone of a prosperous America. When Todd and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary we were devout and appreciative of the closeness and foundation of our own family as they joined us for the celebration. Now, this Christmas celebration, of course, represents the birth of Jesus Christ. Amid many things, the Christmas story is a story of family; a family going through a difficult time. The Inn had no room for Mary and Joseph; they had to fend for themselves in a stable, and the infant baby Jesus had to be placed in a manger. This family had been excluded. It may be because of this ancient strife that, throughout his spiritual leadership and pastoral care, Jesus of Nazareth interacted and was sociable with people that others condemned, scorned, and even hated.

As we celebrate Christmas with our families let us remember the glory and greatness of the family. The family is a pillar and key element of our society. As a Christian Woman, as a Mother, and as your President; I would like to use this Christmas Eve 2014 to honor our nation’s Judeo-Christian foundation and reunite a family this Christmas.

Barack Hussein Obama became the forty-fourth President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

Pursuant to resolutions of the House of Representatives, its Committee on the Judiciary conducted an inquiry and investigation on the impeachment of the President extending many months. The hearings of the Committee and its deliberations, which received wide national publicity over television, radio, and in printed media, resulted in votes adverse to Barack Hussein Obama on recommended Articles of Impeachment.

As a result of certain acts of treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors during the Office of President, Barack Hussein Obama has become liable to possible indictment and trial for offenses against the United States. Whether or not he shall be so prosecuted depends on findings of the appropriate grand jury and on the discretion of the authorized prosecutor. Should an indictment ensue, the accused shall then be entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury, as guaranteed to every individual by the Constitution.

It is believed that a trial of Barack Hussein Obama, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.

Now, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Loiuse Palin, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Barack Hussein Obama for all offenses against the United States which he, Barack Hussein Obama, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 2008 through January 20, 2013.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty fourth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

Todd, Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig, Trip and I wish all Americans a joyous Christmas, and a properous New Year.

God Bless you, and God Bless America.

AUTHORS NOTE: For reference and protocol The Presidential pardon sequence was inspired by President Gerald Ford.


~Organize for Palin…click image—

Dec 192010

No enthusiastic sky watcher ever misses a total eclipse of the moon. The spectacle is often more beautiful and interesting than one would think. To prepare for the rare event on Dec. 20-21, here are some tips to keep in mind.

The 12 Stages of Monday’s Total Lunar Eclipse

The lunar eclipse early Tuesday morning will be the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the Winter solstice since 1638. The Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Lunar eclipse to provide ‘impressive show,’ NMSU astronomer says.

A lunar eclipse is scheduled to occur on the Winter Solstice and the 72-minute show should be visible to about half of the Earth’s population.

The eclipse of the moon will begin late in the evening, Dec. 20, and will become a total eclipse early in the morning of Dec. 21. This will be the only total lunar eclipse for 2010; a partial eclipse was visible on June 26.

“No telescopes or binoculars are needed to observe this fairly spectacular event,” said Kurt Anderson, professor emeritus in New Mexico State University’s Department of Astronomy. “Weather permitting, our clear winter skies should provide an eerily impressive show. Even then, the eclipse is best observed away from the glare of city lights.”

A lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon passes into the shadow of the Earth.

Starting on Dec. 20, the full moon will rise in the east at about 4:40 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, but the eclipse will not begin until about 10:29 p.m. when the Earth starts to block out a portion of the sun’s light. This phase of the eclipse is not very noticeable to Earthbound observers, Anderson said, and will appear as a slow dimming of the moon’s brightness.

The main partial phase of the eclipse will begin as the moon starts to enter the Earth’s umbral shadow about an hour later at 11:32 p.m. Observers will see the sharp edge of this darker shadow begin to move across the face of the moon, beginning at its eastern edge. The umbra is that part of the Earth’s shadow within which an astronaut on the moon would see the Earth completely covering the sun. The eclipse will become total at 12:41 a.m. on Dec. 21 and totality will last until 1:53 a.m. From 1:53 to 3:01 a.m., the moon will move out of umbra during the second partial phase of the eclipse. Finally, the penumbral part of the eclipse will end about 4:05 a.m., well before the moon sets in the west at 6:26 a.m.

“Watchers should note the circular arc of the Earth’s shadow as it crosses the face of the moon during the partial phases of the eclipse,” Anderson said. “This offers proof of the Earth’s sphericity, as pointed out by Aristotle in about 350 B.C.E.; only a sphere always casts a circular shadow.”

During totality, the moon usually assumes a dim reddish hue because of sunlight refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere. An observer on the moon during this part of the eclipse would see the Earth as a dark disk completely obscuring the sun, but surrounded by a bright red ring of refracted sunlight. The Earth’s atmosphere acts like a prism to bend this sunlight toward the moon, but absorption and scattering in the atmosphere removes almost all but the reddest wavelengths of light.

Anderson said that typically, there are four eclipses in a year. 2011 will be unusual as there will be four solar eclipses and two total lunar eclipses. All of the solar eclipses will be partial and will not be visible in the United States. The first lunar eclipse, on June 15, 2011, will not be visible from the United States and people will only be able to see the beginning partial phases of the second eclipse on Dec. 10, 2011.

El Paso Times

This is the first total lunar eclipse in two years. This will be an extremely rare event, due to a unique combination of factors. Early in the morning on December 21 a total lunar eclipse will be visible to sky watchers across North America (for observers in western states the eclipse actually begins late in the evening of December 20), Greenland and Iceland. Viewers in Western Europe will be able to see the beginning stages of the eclipse before moonset, and in western Asia the later stages of the eclipse will be visible after moonrise.

From beginning to end, the eclipse will last about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. For observers on the east coast of the U.S. the eclipse lasts from 1:33am EST through 5:01 a.m. EST. Viewers on the west coast will be able to tune in a bit earlier. For them the eclipse begins at 10:33 p.m. PST on December 20 and lasts until 2:01am PST on Dec. 21. Totality, the time when Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon, will last a lengthy 72 minutes.

Dec 192010

H/T Bill Turner

President Ronald Reagan used to say that the scariest words in the English language are: “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Two hundred or so years earlier, our Founding Fathers had essentially the same thoughts when they declared independence from the British Crown based on its refusal to take into account the grievances of the colonies and its peoples, and instead attempted to beat them into submission.

~It is unreal to me that the left has insulted our Patriots for wearing patriotic makeup & outfits and THIS is what they offer?!…~JP

Today, as we observe the holidays and ready ourselves for a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the New Year, in the face of continued control of the Senate and White House by the Democrats and President Barack Obama, these words and thoughts ring louder than ever. Never before in the history of our sacred nation has the “State of the Union” been worse and indeed more hostile to the needs of the American people. And both Democrats and Republicans are responsible!

I have written in earlier columns that I sincerely believe that we have entered a new revolutionary period in American history. With each passing day, I become more convinced of it. And, regrettably, I believe that we are only a year of so from violent revolt if things do not radically change “on a dime.”

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We’d all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well you know
We’d all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright

Here are the signs of the violent revolution to come:

First, the economy continues in a tailspin, with unemployment increasing. Families do not have the financial means, even assuming they are able to bring home a salary, to pay for their children’s higher education, buy a new car, much less put good wholesome food on the dinner table. Couple this with glacial growth in the economy, our dependence on foreign capital to keep the nation afloat and the continued real-estate crisis and the picture is more than bleak.

And God forbid we have another large terrorist attack or an oil field or two in the Middle East blows up – the entire world economy could easily go down for the count. People get real upset when they do not have money; plain and simple. Just ask any employer who has missed or is late on a pay period for his employees. He or she is lucky not to be lynched. Our government has not only missed several pay periods, it is taxing the populace into submission and wasting these revenues on projects and graft that return nothing but more hardship.

Second, the prospect of war overseas looms large and is imminent. Thanks to the neglect of three successive administrations toward Iran, the fanatical mullahs of Tehran are on the verge of acquiring atomic weapons and undertaking in earnest their long-desired quest of worldwide Islamic rule. Because of President Obama’s and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s policy of appeasement, the situation is now even more dire and will require almost certain military intervention by Israel and the Western powers to stop the potential Holocaust that looms on the horizon.

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well you know
We’d all love to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright

Then there is North Korea, which already has atomic weapons and had just this week threatened a nuclear war against its southern neighbor, the United States and its allies. Of course, that’s not to forget about Hugo Chavez, that communist Venezuelan despot Obama hugged and fawned over at the Summit of the Americas a couple years back. He has just acquired hundreds of missiles from Vladmir Putin’s Russia. Chavez is, not coincidentally, a close ally of not only Castro’s Cuba, but Iran and North Korea. These “trouble spots” are on the verge of blowing up, requiring massive U.S. resources, financial and otherwise, to address. This in turn will put even a greater strain on the American economy and our nation’s military, particularly with the continuing counterproductive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our government has more than failed big time; it has lead us into an international hellhole.

But the crises domestically and internationally are not all. “Above all,” it’s the arrogance, indifference, incompetence, immorality, corruption and slough of our government officials and their body politic, and the media, which are destroying the country.

Our Founding Father and perhaps greatest American president, John Adams, declared just days before signing the Declaration of Independence that without ethics, morality and religion, we can change our rulers and our form of government many times, but we will have no lasting liberty.

The cesspool of Washington and our state capitals, furthered by what is generally a degenerate mainstream media, has had more than a corrosive effect on our Judeo-Christian culture. The people have lost any respect for their so-called “leaders.”

Last week I was watching an episode of Glenn Beck on Fox News. While I generally agree with Glenn and believe he has served the country well, he went off on blasting Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for releasing hundreds of thousands of allegedly classified government documents into the public domain. Beck called Assange a “traitor!” Then, turning to the studio audience, Glenn asked them, with a confident air that they would agree with him, what they thought of Assange.

All but a few in the audience refused to condemn Assange and WikiLeaks, despite the respect and adulation they have for their television mentor. The response of the group was telling and scary. The American people sided with Assange and WikiLeaks and threw cold water into their adored host’s face. And why was this? Because “We the People” have come to see the government as so evil that even if it takes allegedly illegal means to bring it to its knees, to prevent its further oppression, this seems justified.

There we have it in a nutshell. No matter how hard the conservative and leftist media may try to twist the minds of the American people, they have a mind of their own. And, as of today, that mind is on rebellion against the government, at all costs.

Big Peace

Dec 192010

~My most favorite animal!

Lion Cubs at Smithsonian’s National Zoo Test Out Yard and Receive Names

Seven lion cubs born at the National Zoo are now sporting seven names. Just before the cubs made their debut in the lion yard this morning, the Zoo announced their names: John, Fahari, Zuri, Lelie, Baruti, Aslan, and Lusaka.

“We were touched to receive so many thoughtful name suggestions for the cubs from so many different sources,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Zoo. “Each of the seven final names has a special meaning or connection that the cubs will carry with them during their time here at the National Zoo.”

The names of Shera’s cubs, which were born August 31, are:

* John: The sole male in the litter is named after John Berry, who was the Zoo’s director from 2006 to early 2009 and is currently director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Berry helped to bring the cub’s mother Shera, aunt Nababiep and father Luke to the Zoo in 2006.

* Fahari (fah-HAH-ree): The National Zoo advisory board chose Fahari, which means “magnificent” in Swahili, for this cub. Keepers say that early in life she was the big eater among both litters and for a long time was larger than all of the other cubs, including her brother. Although that has changed recently, keepers are confident that she will continue to be bigger than life.

* Zuri (ZUH-ree): The Friends of the National Zoo board chose the name Zuri for this female cub. Zuri means “beautiful” in Swahili. The lion keepers say it is a fitting name for a cub whose coat is thicker, plusher, and redder than the others in the pride.

* Lelie (la-LEE-ay): Lelie is the winning female name submitted by a first-grade classroom at Marshall Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia, in the Name a Cub: Cam Contest, which the Zoo hosted with the Washington Post. Lelie is Afrikaans for “lily,” and the students selected it because lilies are common at Kruger Park, which is the largest national park in South Africa and provides refuge to about 2,000 African lions.

The names of Nababieps cubs, which were born September 22, are:

* Baruti (ba-ROO-tee): Baruti is the winning male name submitted by a daycare class at Bright Horizons Child Care & Education at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., in the Name a Cub: Cam Contest. Baruti is an African name meaning “teacher,” which the class thought was appropriate for a lion that keepers describe as “quiet” and “calm.”

* Aslan: This cub received his name December 10, when Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes, actors in The Chronicles of Narnia movies, visited the Zoo to reveal that the cub would be named Aslan after the lion in the films.

* Lusaka (lu-SAH-ka): The name Lusaka holds a special place at the Zoo—it is the name of the beloved 18-year-old lioness that died at the Zoo last January. The lion keepers decided it would be a nice tribute to the lion who they considered the matriarch of the lion/tiger house and describe as having an “overload of personality.” Keepers picked this cub in particular because she was Nababieps’s sole female cub, and sometimes they see the older Lusaka reflected in Nababiep’s disposition

Smithsonian’s National Zoo PR

Dec 192010

For example:

Grenade throwers who disliked a Virginia district court judge’s ruling for the state in its suit against the federal government’s health care law are trying to create controversy about the judge where none exists, Virginia’s attorney general said Sunday.

Attorney General Ken Cucinnelli said some “lefty blogs” are trying to stir up discord over an alleged conflict of interest by Judge Henry E. Hudson, who ruled last week that the individual mandate in President Obama’s signature domestic initiative is unconstitutional.

Shortly after Hudson delivered his ruling last week, critics called into question Hudson’s impartiality since Hudson is a partial owner of Campaign Solutions, a political consulting company that Cucinnelli hired during his 2009 attorney general bid.

“That grenade came over the wall for some lefty blogs hours after the judge ruled that the United States couldn’t get our case dismissed, well that’s shocking timing on that,” Cucinnelli told Fox News.

Cucinnelli added that the supposed conflict of interest is merely a reaction by opponents to the health care ruling.


“It’s just kind of a cheap shot from the left. They’re upset with this guy now. You notice they didn’t do it before he ruled on anything. It only comes in after the fact,” he said

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose state is now one of nearly two dozen with court cases against the law, said the distinction is not about politics but about “differences in the federal judiciary about interpreting the United States Constitution.”

“The question is whether or not the United States Congress, under the tax and spend clause or the Commerce Clause, can force a citizen in Virginia or any other state to buy a good or a service — in this case, a health insurance policy and, if you don’t, to exact a penalty, a fine,” McDonnell told “Fox News Sunday.”

McDonnell and Cucinnelli say Virginia wants to push the case directly to the Supreme Court — rather than through the circuit court as the Justice Department wishes — because to take it through the entire judicial process adds nothing to the debate but merely costs the states money.

Cucinnelli said the only ruling that ultimately matters is the Supreme Court’s. He expressed optimism the court would rule for the state.

“By the end of January, with the elections last month, we will have over half of the states suing as parties, as plaintiffs their own federal government over the same issue, the individual mandate. I am unaware of that ever happening before in history, which really speaks to how far overreaching the federal government is here,” he said.

Full FOX article

Dec 192010

Julian Assange is a hack. If you want real leaks, Klavan on the Culture is releasing its archives of thousands of videos showing what’s really going on behind the scenes in our government.

Dec 192010

~Ironic how Chicago wanted to sell their water bottled and Nestle is stealing water…“Great Lakes” “Blue Gold”
–click image…

The Jardine Water Purification Plant, formerly the Central District Filtration Plant, is the largest capacity water filtration plant in the world, located at 1000 E. Ohio Street north of Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.

Jardine Water Purification Plant

The cancer-causing metal made infamous by the movie “Erin Brockovich” is turning up in tap water from Chicago and more than two dozen other cities, according to a new study that urges federal regulators to adopt tougher standards.

—> Erin Brockovich: Hinkley, CA still plagued with toxic pollution

Even though scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Toxicology Program have linked the ingestion of hexavalent chromium to cancer, the EPA doesn’t require Chicago or other cities to test for the toxic metal. Nor does the EPA limit the dangerous form of chromium in drinking water.

To take a snapshot of what is flowing through taps across the nation, the Environmental Working Group hired an independent laboratory that found the metal in treated drinking water from 31 cities. The amount in Chicago water was 0.18 parts per billion, three times higher than a safety limit California officials proposed last year.

A handful of other cities were significantly above the proposed California limit, including Norman, Okla.; Honolulu; Riverside, Calif., and Madison, Wis., according to a report to be released Monday. Levels in Milwaukee water were the same as what was found in the Lake Michigan water pumped to 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs.

In other major cities, hexavalent chromium levels ranged from 0.20 parts per billion in Los Angeles and Atlanta to 0.18 in New York and 0.03 in Boston.

The new findings could pose another challenge for utilities that are detecting dozens of unregulated substances in treated drinking water, including pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals that can pass unfiltered through conventional treatment methods. Chromium can be found naturally in the environment but also is released by industry into waterways.

While the potential health threats of many pollutants are still being studied, researchers say there is a clear risk of stomach cancer from drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6.

“For years scientists assumed this wasn’t a problem because acids in our stomachs can convert chromium-6 into chromium-3, an essential nutrient,” said Rebecca Sutton, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization. “Newer science is showing our stomachs can’t take care of everything, which means the dangerous form of chromium is getting into our bodies and can cause damage.”

EWG Finds Toxic Hex-Chrome in 31 Cities
The Washington Post, Lyndsey Layton
Published December 19, 2010

Click here to read the entire article

Studies outlining the dangers of chromium-contaminated water add to long-standing concerns about inhaling metallic vapors, in particular by workers at chrome plating factories.

Officials at the Chicago Department of Water Management did not respond to repeated inquiries last week from the Tribune, but other water officials said tap water is still safe. Bottled water, which often comes from municipal tap water supplies, wasn’t tested.

Lon Couillard, water quality manager in Milwaukee, said more study is needed to determine the sources of chromium. He suggested that in some cases it could be coming from chrome-plated plumbing fixtures, not passing through municipal treatment plants.

“They’re trying to scare people,” (And people SHOULD be!) Couillard said of the environmental group that found hexavalent chromium in his city’s tap water.

Hexavalent Chromium Dangers! Click Image…

The source of chromium in Chicago drinking water is unclear, though federal records show that some of the nation’s biggest industrial sources are four steel mills in northwest Indiana that discharge wastewater into the city’s source of drinking water.

Last year alone, records show, the U.S. Steel and Arcelor Mittal mills dumped a combined 3,100 pounds of chromium into Lake Michigan and its tributaries, less than 9 miles away from Chicago’s water intake crib off 68th Street. (The federal Toxics Release Inventory doesn’t require industry to report specific types of the metal, but chromium-6 and chromium-3 convert into the other form and back in the environment.)

Indiana officials once sought to relax limits on chromium discharges from U.S. Steel’s massive Gary Works, the largest industrial polluter on the Great Lakes. State officials backed down and imposed more stringent restrictions after Tribune reporting prompted federal regulators in 2007 to block a new water permit for the steel mill.

Industry has fought for years to block tougher federal and state limits on chromium, which has contaminated drinking water supplies across the country. The award-winning movie “Erin Brockovich” dramatizes one of the most high-profile cases: a miles-long plume of hexavalent chromium dumped by a utility in rural Hinkley, Calif., that led to a $333 million legal settlement over illnesses and cancers.

California often sets environmental policies that later are adopted nationwide. As the scope of the chromium problem has become more apparent, drinking-water utilities that could be forced to improve treatment methods have joined companies that discharge the metal into waterways in opposing regulations.

Attorneys for both interest groups delayed California’s proposed safety limit by requesting an independent review of the science behind it. They also are questioning peer-reviewed findings by California and federal scientists by commissioning their own research.

“Honeywell is committed to protecting health and the environment,” a lawyer for the aerospace conglomerate wrote in a November 2009 letter to California officials. “We also believe that decisions about chemical risks and cleanup goals must be based on sound science.”

Since then, four of the five reviewers who took another look at California’s proposal supported the state’s conclusions. One reviewer, Mitchell Cohen of the New York University School of Medicine, said the chromium limit “should be accepted as one based upon sound scientific knowledge, methods and practices.”

Environmental officials in New Jersey also have weighed in backing the proposed California limit. And in September, the U.S. EPA published a draft review that found hexavalent chromium in drinking water is “likely to be carcinogenic in humans.” The EPA’s report could be the first step toward a national standard.

Outside of California, several drinking water officials said they were not aware of the ongoing debate.

“This is new territory for us,” said Tom Heikkinen, general manager of the water utility in Madison, where the amount of hexavalent chromium was 1.58 parts per billion, more than 26 times higher than the proposed California safety limit. “We’re going to be following this closely to see what the scientists and regulators say.”

– Michael Hawthorne