Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Politico is reporting that the incoming Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Representative Darrell Issa has begun pandering to big business as he looks for things to investigate. See, http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=4EF9419A-BEB3-7585-05E2D9D88A6E95A1.

One of Issa's issues centers around the "Effluent Rule" which Issa says will cost America "$810.8 million annually, resulting in the closure of 147 construction firms and the loss of 7,257 jobs."

That sounds terrible until you think it through. Are these construction firms really saying that they'd rather close their doors than not let sewage run into the public waterways? Darrell Issa is providing the nation of a perfect example of that which trickles down, and it isn't wealth or prosperity.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Civil Enforcement Division has published an online example of a construction site that did not comply with EPA guidelines. The case is called Richmond American Homes and can be found online at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/richmondamericanhomes-infosht.html. Richmond American Homes is owned by M.D.C. Holdings, Inc., which entered into a settlement with the United States, and the States of Maryland, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Here is a list of some of the typical problems found on construction sites owned and operated by M.D.C. according to the EPA.

The types and severity of alleged violations vary for each site but generally include: discharge of polluted storm water to storm sewers or waterways without obtaining an NPDES permit; failure to develop an adequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for minimizing the amount of sediment and other pollutants in storm water runoff from the sites; failure to install or implement appropriate storm water controls or best management practices (BMPs) required by the SWPPP (for example: silt fences were not installed in all required areas; BMPs to prevent sediment from entering storm drains were not installed; no BMPs were installed at construction entrances to prevent offsite trackout of dirt; concrete washout basins were not installed to prevent concrete from flowing into storm drains; portable toilets were located directly on top of storm drain inlets without BMPs to prevent spills from entering the storm drain); incorrect installation of BMPs (for example: silt fences were not properly trenched in; sediment ponds were not completed prior to commencing site grading); failure to keep BMPs in effective operating condition (for example: silt fences and storm drain inlet protections were full of sediment and no longer effective; silt fences had fallen down or had holes; construction entrances needed additional rock); failure to adequately or routinely inspect BMPs to ensure proper operation and maintenance.

M.D.C. paid a fine of $795,000. Apparently Darrell Issa has no problem with port-a-potties being parked over storm drain inlets. After the construction firms let concrete and or mud flow into those drains they aren't of much use anyway. And it isn't the job of the construction industry to be good corporate citizens, to protect the environment, or to build in a responsible manner. Darrell Issa will have them build down and dirty, throw it up quick and cheap, make the profit and move on.

The choice is being made clear by the Republicans of the 112th Congress. They are letting us know in the clearest terms that they are the party of the big business interests. Rather than expect construction firms to do their jobs correctly, Issa wants to let business run wild and ignore the rules protecting the water flowing into our rivers and lakes. That's the water we eventually use to drink, cook, and bathe.

I can just see it now, as Darrell Issa takes credit for all the new jobs our nation's underfunded municipal waterworks will have to create to clean this effluent out of our water and rebuild our concrete and mud clogged infrastructure.

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