Whopper of the Week: Christie Whitman.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Sept. 5 2003 3:34 PM

Whopper of the Week

Christie Whitman: The perils of premature assurance.

 
"Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of
New York and Washington, D.C., that their air is safe to breath[e] and their water is safe to drink."

Advertisement

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman, as quoted in an EPA press release issued on Sept. 18, 2001

"EPA did not have monitoring data to support reassurances made in press releases up to September 18 because it lacked monitoring data for several contaminants, particularly PCBs, particulate matter, dioxin, and PAHs.

"According to a draft evaluation entitled Exposure and Human Health Evaluationof Airborne Pollution From the World Trade Center Disaster, by EPA's Office of Research and Development, that Office was not able to make health risk evaluations for exposures in the first couple of days because of the lack of monitoring data. For several pollutants of concern, sampling did not begin until September 16, and in many cases the results were not known until after the September 18 press release was issued. EPA was not able to obtain samples and monitor air due to difficulties in access and security, power supply sources, equipment availability, and analytical capacity. As a result, data available before September 18 for making conclusions about air quality for pollutants other than asbestos was limited."

EPA's Response to the World Trade Center Collapse: Challenges, Successes, and Areas for Improvement, a report issued by the EPA's Office of Inspector General, Aug. 21, 2003

"Q: How well did the EPA do in leveling with the people of New York about the safety of the air?

"A: Our concern in our report, which is that EPA did not have all the information it needed to make broad statements about the safety of the air and water. But the most glaring issue we've identified was a September 18th press release where EPA said that the air was generally safe and the water was safe. Early on, it was difficult for EPA to even have access to the WorldTradeCenter site to do the kind of monitoring that it would want to do in order to make environmental assessments.

[…]

"Q: Was [the] White House ... changing the tone of EPA's statements to the public? 

"A: The press releases were part of a collaborative process. The agency and all aspects of the federal government wanted to speak with one voice. …

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 4:33 PM Walmart Is Killing the Rest of Corporate America in Solar Power Adoption
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.