The Bush administration has come up with the wrong formula for protecting the country's 15,000 chemical plants from terrorist attacks.
Terrorists could kill thousands of people by targeting a plant with toxic chemicals near a populated area. Under proposed rules from the administration, plants that use, store and produce dangerous chemicals would draw up their own security plans to submit for approval to the Department of Homeland Security. Plants that failed to carry out this requirement or take other steps mandated by the department could be fined or shut down.
But the administration's proposal would allow the department to pre-empt more stringent state regulations. And excessive provisions for secrecy would create what Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman calls a "virtual black box" around the federal program, making it unaccountable to Congress and the public.
Perhaps worst of all, the proposal would not require chemical companies to use less-toxic materials when economically feasible, as called for under a bipartisan House measure that passed in committee last year. Companies that use safer materials are not only at less risk of a catastrophic terrorist attack, they also are less likely to endanger their communities when chemicals are accidentally released.
The administration's proposal would take effect in April. Congress needs to replace it with a measure that looks less like a wish list for the chemical industry and more like a plan that gives top priority to public health and safety.
- Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel
The glitter of Mardi Gras has been washed away for another year, and the smudge of ash will be gone tomorrow. But the mark that Katrina has made on our hearts and minds is harder to remove.
We will need both joy and the deeper reservoirs of faith and strength to prove that it is not indelible.
- The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
Parents in poor countries do not love their children any less than we love our own. When they succeed in rising above a subsistence income, the first thing they typically do is remove their children from working on the farm, domestic service or factory and enroll them in school. By raising incomes in poor countries, free trade and globalization have helped to pull millions of kids out of the work force and put them in school where they belong.
- Testimony of Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute before a U.S. Senate subcommittee examining overseas sweatshop abuses