Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Court Rules That Corporations Should Pay to Clean Up Their Disasters, and More

From:  Truth Out 

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 00:00 
  By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | Video Report 

In today's On the News segment: The DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that corporations, not taxpayers, should pay to clean up their own disasters; Maine will get to vote on marijuana legalization this November; Canada will protect 85 percent of British Columbia's rain forest from development and destruction; and more.


TRANSCRIPT:
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of Science and Green news ...
You need to know this. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals says that it's time to end the era of "privatize the gains, and socialize the losses." Last week, the public interest law firm Earthjustice broke the news that one of our nation's highest courts says it's time for the EPA to make polluters pay to clean up their own messes. Working on behalf of conservation groups, Earthjustice attorneys filed suit to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalize so-called "financial assurance" rules that require companies stay financially viable enough to pay for the potential cleanup of any toxic substances that they produce. In other words, these rules prevent companies from causing a toxic spill then declaring bankruptcy to avoid the cost of clean up. And these rules have actually been in place since 1983, when they were issued as part of the EPA's "Superfund" law. But that agency pretty much ignored them until a 2009 court ruling ordered the EPA to start enforcing these regulations. Since that 2009 case, the agency had once again started to ignore these important rules, which left taxpayers picking up the tab for toxic spills. So, Earthjustice and other groups filed suit to force the agency to follow the rules that are already on the books. And the DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that corporations - not taxpayers - should pay to clean up their own disasters. Their ruling stated, "It is a common practice for operators [of sites that produce hazardous substances] to avoid paying environmental liabilities by declaring bankruptcy or otherwise sheltering assets." And they agreed that holding corporations accountable will also give them a financial incentive to make their businesses as safe as possible to begin with. Amanda Goodin, one of the attorneys for Earthjustice, said, "Today's court ruling is clear - we will no longer see polluters cheating the system, evading their financial obligations, and skipping town on their toxic messes, leaving taxpayers stuck with hefty cleanup bills." Next time a big company considers skimping on safety in the name of profit, they will have to be willing to back up that decision with corporate dollars.  MORE