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COLUMN

Happytown

Nobody likes Rick Scott, liberals (still) love Alan Grayson, Bill Nelson hates chromium and you can't interfere with destiny!

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Nice bioassays!: Don’t drink the water


We’ve been waiting for the Democratic Party to come up with a progressive answer to the right’s Tea Party movement. But when we said we were hoping they’d come up with a candidate that wasn’t shy about embracing the “L” word, we meant “liberal,” not “lunatic.”

In slightly related news (should Grayson actually aim to hop back into the U.S. House, that is) it looks like there’s going to be some legislative bottlenecking to contend with come 2012. Those two hugely exciting new congressional districts we’ve been promised, thanks to our Census bulge, will most likely get caught up in a redistricting quagmire, meaning the redistricting won’t be complete until June 2012 – or, two months before the primary. Less time equals less hanging rope.

It was probably the first time in years that the word “chromium” out-Googled “Chromeo”: On Dec. 20, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group released a study that found drinking water samples from Tallahassee and Miami contained the cancer-causing compound chromium-6. Paranoia alert!

All kidding aside, the metal is actually prominent in the movie Erin Brockovich, so fresh news of its evil swiftly drew the media and an astronaut (and U.S. Senator), Bill Nelson, to the opportunist’s table. “I would urge the [EPA] to develop a Safe Drinking Water standard and monitoring program for this metal,” wrote Nelson (or his communications director) to the EPA on Dec. 22. This inattentive and insensitive note was but a minor sting for the agency, which has already established drinking water standards for all chromium compounds.

The true hit to the EPA’s self-esteem was actually that its heavyset standards look downright frumpy when paraded next to the strapping, svelte regulations from … a state. While the EPA’s acceptable threshold for chromium-6 in drinking water is a morbidly obese 100 parts per billion, the Golden State of California is proposing a much more petite 0.06 parts per billion based on “tumor incidence data from rodent cancer bioassays.” Lisa Kelley, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, says this disparity isn’t out of the ordinary: “Usually the minimum is the EPA standard, and sometimes the state will implement a more stringent 
standard,” she says.

Though an implicit mocking is pretty hurtful, nothing can get worse than having the Supreme Court rule in 2007 that you, environmental protection agency (absence of capital letters intentional), are violating the Clean Air Act. And OK, we understand that the agency was operating during the Bush era, but we’re clinging steadfastly to our idealistic notion that the EPA should protect the environment at all times.

Luckily for Florida, Senator Nelson is not dwelling on the past like the curmudgeons at Happytown™, but rather focused on the killer at hand: chromium. “I would appreciate any information EPA has about known sources of chromium in Florida,” he wrote.

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