Evacuation: a mandate Chris Christie can get behind

Good short piece in Slate today pointing out the hypocrisy in Gov. Chris Christie’s comments on people ignoring his orders to evacuate given his comments on the individual mandate at the center of Obamacare.

Sandy Socialists by William Saletan for Slate, Oct. 30, 2012

Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, was angry. Monday afternoon, as Hurricane Sandy bore down on his coastline, he berated people living on the state’s barrier islands “who refused to adhere to my mandatory evacuation order and said they were going to ride it out. … We’re putting other people in harm’s way now, too—the first responders—to get them out. So these decisions were both stupid and selfish.” The governor went on:

I asked you please to get off the barrier islands. But there are some towns in Atlantic and Ocean Counties that are only 50 percent evacuated … For those folks on the barriers: You’re putting other people in harm’s way as well. We already have rescues ongoing on the barrier islands. This is putting first responders in significant, significant danger, and it is not fair to their families for you to be putting them in that danger because you decided that you wanted to be hardheaded.

[…]

What’s odd about Christie and other Republican governors is that they recognize this principle only when a hurricane hits. When it comes to injury or disease, which we know will strike everyone on this planet, the Republican governors defend your right to ride it out. They oppose any requirement to buy health insurance. If you get sick, the rest of us will shell out to rescue you.

Romney had it right when he touted the mandate not as a government takeover but rather as individuals taking responsibility for themselves.


Keeping up with Sandy, Mitt, and Herbert Hoover

Here is the weather channel’s live stream of coverage of Hurricane Sandy:

I tried to get my coverage from CNN, but since I don’t subscribe to cable, I couldn’t stream their content.

While we look forward to the clean-up from this gargantuan storm, let’s all keep in mind what Mitt Romney has to say about FEMA:

Fun fact: the federal involvement in disaster recovery began with then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover taking charge of the response to the Mississippi River flood of 1927.  From a piece by Kevin Kosar from the Congressional Research:

In short, the federal response was an executive branch response. President Calvin Coolidge created a quasi-governmental commission that included members of his Cabinet and the American National Red Cross. This commission encouraged the public to donate funds to the relief effort. It also gave Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover near-absolute authority to organize and oversee its response. Hoover used this authority to weave together federal resources, American National Red Cross volunteers, and the private sector to carry out the relief and recovery program.


Iowa still second in wind energy

My friend Bob put it best: Iowa needs to become the Saudi Arabia of wind.

And, yes, the Production Tax Credit is well worth the investment to help this industry get going. We give oil companies tax breaks for goodness’ sake.

Although I do have to hand it to Romney-Ryan–obviously I disagree with their position on the PTC, but I do applaud their decision to not alter it to pander to a swing state. I wish the same could have been said about Obama in 2008 vis a vis the bullshit that was/is “clean” coal.

Iowa Environmental Focus

According to a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy, Iowa is still number 2 in wind energy production behind Texas.

Iowa installed 647 megawatts of new wind power last year, increasing the state’s total wind power capacity to over 4,300 megawatts.

For more information, read the full article at The Gazette.

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Hidden dangers in household cleaning products

While we all know the dangers of mixing bleach and ammonia, there are lots more hidden dangers lurking in the cleaning products we have under our sinks.  Environmental Working Group has a great Hall of Shame of cleaning products on their website–broken down into categories such as “Greenwashing,” “Dead zone detergents,” and “Banned abroad.”  The list is available at this website, or on this pdf.

Some highlights:

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

It’s labeled “non-toxic” and “biodegradable.” It contains:

  • 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes;
  • A secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants. Some members of this chemical family are banned in the European Union.

Worse, the company website instructs the user to dilute the product significantly for even the heaviest cleaning tasks. Yet it comes in a spray bottle that implies it should be sprayed full-strength. Such use would result in higher exposures.

Scrubbing Bubbles – Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer

These products contain up to 10 percent DEGBE, also called butoxydiglycol, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3 percent in aerosol cleaners. It can irritate and inflame the lungs.

Final Touch Ultra Liquid Fabric Softener

This brand contains quaternium-18 (dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride or DHTDMAC), which also cannot be used in cleaning products sold in the European Union because of its persistence in the environment.

I know that in some circles suggesting we follow a European example is an anathema, but so it goes.

And we thought WI was bad: The DailyDisgust family took a swim in lake Erie

Regular readers (all four of you) may remember that the DailyDisgust recently heard a report on bad water quality at beaches in Wisconsin right after swimming at beaches in Wisconsin.  Not content with having swum in potentially dirty water, we visited a beach on Lake Erie that we knew had serious problems.

Ms. DailyDisgust grew up about a half an hour outside of Cleveland, and we were back there this past weekend visiting her grandmother.  Given that BabyDisgust has taken a real liking to swimming recently, we decided to take her to the beach her mother and aunt frequented growing up.  Warned by friends that this beach was known for contamination, we decided to do a quick google search for any water quality issues.  And, whoa buddy, did we find some!

Report ranks Lakeview Park beach second-dirtiest in state by Cindy Leise for the Chronicle-Telegram, Jun. 28, 2012

Last year, Lakeview had the dubious distinction of having the second-dirtiest water in Ohio, exceeding the standard 51 percent of the time.

Whoa doggers, that’s a dirty beach.  And how does Ohio rate when compared to other states, you might ask?

Ohio’s beaches rank 29th out of 30 states, according to the 22nd annual beach water quality report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental organization.

Whoa Nelly, that’s a state with some dirty beaches.

Even knowing this, we still decided to head on up and enjoyed a pleasant swim.  There was only one red flag displayed which indicated an elevated risk–we just made sure to keep the baby’s face out of the water and gave her a bath as soon as we got back from the beach.


We really enjoyed swimming in lakes in WI…Oh crap!

One of the things we really enjoyed about our time in the Northwoods was the opportunity to get some lake swimming in.  BabyDisgust was tentative at first but really enjoyed it once acclimated.  When we turned on Wisconsin Public Radio on the drive home, however, we found ourselves somewhat less enthused:

OFFICIALS DEFENDING UPKEEP OF WISCONSIN BEACHES by Terry Bell for WPR News, Jun. 30, 2012

Wisconsin officials are defending the safety and cleanliness of its beaches after an unflattering national ranking.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, Wisconsin Ranks 25th out of 30 states for monitoring things including bacteria and other contamination. That may sound bad, but Wisconsin officials say they turn up more problems, as we have one of the most aggressive beach monitoring systems of any state.

While I’m putting this up here as a disgust, it is only because it sounds bad.  In actuality the two lakes we enjoyed were both healthy and clean.


I love the smell of burning garbage in the morning

Iowa City’s Great Garbage Fire of 2012 continues for the fifth day, with estimates for an end to the noxious nuisance in the one week range.  My pastoral idyllic drive into Iowa City has taken on a charming post-apocalyptic feel, and the odor of the burning tires shreds from the landfill lining is as pleasant as the smoke plume is beautiful!

Expert: Iowa City landfill fire large, challenging by Gregg Hennigan for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 29, 2012

At 7.5 acres, the fire would be considered large, said Tony Sperling of Landfill Fire Control Inc. His Vancouver, Canada-based company specializes in helping landfill owners put out and prevent fires.

Another complication, he said, is that what is burning is the landfill lining, which is made up of shredded tires. That means it’s essentially a tire fire, he said, which are notoriously difficult to extinguish.

“You have a real problem with that,” Sperling said.

The fire started at the city-owned landfill, located just west of town, on Saturday night. The city at this time is planning to let the fire burn itself out, saying that’s the safest and most cost-efficient thing to do.

A question: if the floods of 2008 were Iowa’s Katrina (not a term I’d use personally) is this Iowa’s BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill?