Saturday, April 21, 2007

Our Tax Dollars at work

Most people don't know that the U.S. Congress runs its own power plant. Yes, it is four blocks south of the Capitol building and was first fired up in 1910. It still burns coal, thanks to powerful senators from West Virginia and Kentucky. This ancient plant heats and chills water that travels through pipes to federal buildings in a network of tunnels were temperatures often reach 160F. Tunnel workers were only recently ordered out of the tunnels because of the presence of asbestos. This was not a secret to the workers and was ignored for years by those who should have been mitigating the condition. The plant is fitted to burn oil as well as natural gas, but senators from coal producing states won't allow this cash cow to slip through their fingers. Our region has trouble meeting the standards set out by Congress in the Clean Air Act and, not surprisingly, the prevalence of respiratory problems is much higher here. Yet Congress continues to sacrifice the well being of a region in favor of their states. Could it be they might lose votes if they did the right thing? DC has no vote. We are at the mercy of seemingly uncaring, self-indulgent legislative and executive branches. We are half a million hard-working Americans who want to be treated like every other American. The only way that will happen is with grassroots support in all states.

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