Today's developments in both Chicago and Michigan associated with dioxin contamination and Dow are reminiscent of a time in 1983 when Dow and the U.S. EPA dominated national news for weeks. That was a result of disclosures that the company had been given inside access to internal EPA draft reports on national and regional dioxin contamination and also allowed to doctor them to remove passages the company found objectionable. This was just nine years after Watergate and the resignation of a President in a scandal, and both the public and the culture of Washington rejected the idea of political interference with the execution of the laws. In the end, in part because of the Dow-related disclosures, an EPA administrator and deputies were fired and another was jailed.|
There are clear differences in the situations. For one thing, Washington, D.C.'s scandal threshold has risen a great deal in a quarter century. The media have dumbed down the definition of unethical behavior by Presidents and political appointees. Still, it's time for a Congressional investigation and/or a special prosecutor to probe misfeasance and malfeasance of office by the current EPA Administrator and the White House.
Another difference is that Michigan government's hands aren't clean, either, this time. The illegal dioxin pit facilitated by state and county government poses a potentially huge ecological risk and future liability for taxpayers. But the Granholm Administration and/or state lawmakers still have time to take appropriate steps to protect the public interest.