he White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:
In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”
“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”
Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.
Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.
Five members of The Panic Hour were followed into the City Hall rail station in Center City Philadelphia. Kyle Prouty was illegally searched and detained by SEPTA police officer Nicole Lawson at 3:20pm on 5/20/13. Kyle was charged with “disorderly conduct” “obstructing a highway and other public passage” and “resisting arrest”. The people in this video had just left an arraignment hearing for Adam Kokesh and Nikki Allen Poe who were kidnapped from a peaceful marijuana rally on 5/18/13. They are currently being held illegally in Federal Detention at the Federal Detention Center 700 arch street Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
These things are getting completely out of hand! Unfuckingbelievable!
Eight years ago, in an opinion warning of the “violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government,” retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor offered a challenge to her fellow conservative justices eager to weaken the wall of separation between church and state: “[t]hose who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?”
Today, there are five justices on the Supreme Court who would trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly. And they just announced that they will hear a case that gives them the opportunity to make this swap a reality.
O’Connor was the Court’s leading supporter of the view that government cannot endorse a particularly religious belief or take action that might convey such a “message of endorsement to the reasonable observer,” and this view put her at odds with the four other members of the Rehnquist Court’s conservative bloc. When she left the Court, she was replaced by staunchly conservative Justice Samuel Alito, and most Court observers expected decades of precedent protecting against government endorsements of religion to fall in very short order.
Instead, the Roberts Court’s majority has thus far been content to chip away at the wall between church and state a piece at a time. In Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Court immunized many Executive Branch actions from suits claiming they violate the Constitution’s ban on “law[s] respecting an establishment of religion.” And in Arizona Christian School v. Winn, they empowered government to subsidize religion so long as those subsidies are structured as tax benefits and not as direct spending. But the core question of whether the government can “demonstrate … allegiance to a particular sect or creed” likely still must be answered in the negative.
The case the Court agreed to hear today, Town of Greece v. Galloway, is likely to change that. The ostensible issue before the Court is whether a municipal legislature violated the Constitution’s ban on separation of church and state when it began its meetings with overtly Christian prayers roughly two-thirds of the time. Yet the case also explicitly tees up the question of whether a government “endorsement” of religion of the kind rejected by O’Connor is permitted under the Constitution. If you’re placing bets, the odds are overwhelming that five conservative justices will say that such an endorsement is permitted.
With O’Connor gone, the much more conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy becomes the swing vote on questions of church/state separation. Kennedy has held that “government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise,” but it is not clear that he would forbid much else under the Constitution’s ban on government establishment of religion. By the end of the next Supreme Court term, however, it is very likely that his views will carry the day.