From our correspondent in Chicago, Derek Monroe:
The issue of lllinois (IL, USA) ethylene oxide (ETO) emissions that harm my neighbors is neither new or local. This problem represents a generational capture of our government and our political classes by the corporate interests. In case of Illinois it is an indictment of the Democratic Party that ruled the state for decades under the longest serving leader of legislative body in the nation and it chose to do absolutely nothing about it.
The fact that despite numerous worldwide studies done on the subject matter proving ETO’s harm and there is still no official regulatory number that will allow IL and Federal EPA to act and crackdown on this environmental damage speaks for itself. The issue goes beyond the local politics of our elected officials receiving political donations from industrial lobbyists or holding a political PR stunts one year before the elections as was the case in the College of Lake County (CLC) this week. Ultimately it is about the sociopathy of our society that allow regular people to be rolled over while projecting an image of freedom and democracy for all. Actually the system is turned against us. According to the independent legal analysis provided by Greensfelder Law Firm the IL EPA permitting and licensing process that legalize the pathology of pollution is used against the very same victims seeking justice in courts. The process of victimization continues beyond the air we breathe as it goes into our court system and corporate legal structures allowing polluters to escape real financial penalties and ultimately justice.
As far as the general impression of the meeting in the CLC it was something I saw in the past and I thought I will never see again. It reminded me of exactly the same callous indifference I saw in 1980s footage of meetings with Soviet officials in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster or personally in Fukushima, Japan in 2012 . In case of Chernobyl the population was kept in check with nurses in white coats administering shots to people who were out of line with their emotions while in Minamisoma the politeness of the victims was exacerbated by feeling of collective guilt of being victimized. Here in Illinois the anger was to be diffused by the official explanation of the process that exists for its own sake of perpetuating the bureaucratic inertia resulting in maintaining the status quo. The event didn’t answer any questions that matter as it was never designed to. Instead it was meant to send the message to the population that yes, we hear you and we are working on the problem until the next electoral cycle. As result the ETO issue will escalate as our political class will not allow the state to be seen as “unfriendly” to business interests thus turning off the spigot of money before the important 2020 elections. Shutting down one ETO plant in south suburban Willowbrook is the same game played with the Arthur Andersen LLP played by George W Bush administration in the wake of the Enron scandal. As result it bought an appearance of financial regulatory enforcement that came all falling down in financial crisis of 2008. However the Illinois make believe PR event had one some very real component showing the real pornography of power at play. It went beyond showing the grief and anger of the victimized public transferred into fake political and personal empowerment. The real imagery of power was personified by the three armed policemen placed at the event indicating that our neighbors are no longer trusted and respected.
Instead they are feared.