Keeping in line with this week’s theme of California’s economic implosion, check out this clip from Jill Replogle’s California Progress Report article “Toxic Risk Assessment Could Be Thrown Out With the Budget Dust”:
“To the dismay of environmentalists, and health and consumer advocates, the one state office responsible for assessing the risk of toxins in the environment, consumer products and food could become a victim of California budget cuts. Scientists and public health workers are alarmed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to eliminate the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)…”
Here’s the kicker: Under Schwarzenegger’s proposal to disperse OEHHA’s duties among other state agencies, the taxpayers could expect to save the whopping sum of…“well under $150,000.” Just to put this in perspective, we’re facing a $24 billion budget gap.
OK, so maybe Arnold thinks that we all want to be orange-haired mutants like him, but the article makes a good point that there are a lot of industries that don’t really want there to be an effective government agency screening consumer products for toxins and maybe they had a little something to do with this seemingly idiotic proposal. After all, industries whose products contain dangerous chemicals don’t exactly have the best track record of looking out for the public’s safety.
This just seems destined to come back and bite us in the ass, and cost waaaay more money than it “saved.” After the toxins regulators are laid off, how long could it possibly take for some public health crisis to emerge as a direct result? It’s like back in February when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was making fun of spending money on monitoring volcanoes and then a volcano blew up the following month and covered Alaska in ashes.
Maybe it would take a horrible accident to teach Schwarzenegger the dangers of not monitoring toxic chemicals, but it isn’t likely to happen before he terminates the OEHHA and, come to think of it, would we really be able to tell the difference…