West Virginia Chemical Spill Not an Excuse for Regulatory Expansion, Says New Report

Today, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow and chemical policy expert, Angela Logomasini, Ph.D., released a report examining the myths and facts surrounding the Jan. 9 chemical spill in West Virginia that affected 300,000 residents. According to Logomasini, some environmental groups have taken this opportunity to incite fear, propagating misinformation to pressure lawmakers into action.

“Contrary to what Americans hear after such chemical spills, there are plenty of chemical laws and regulations on the books, but West Virginia state and local communities have not implemented them well,” said Logomasini. “Unfortunately, adding a new layer of regulation on top of what we have, isn’t likely to fix the problem. Rather, we need to investigate where officials failed to employ emergency planning measures so that they can minimize the probability of future accidents.”

Logomasini’s report, Myths and Facts About the West Virginia Chemical Spill, outlines nine harmful myths generated by media and activist hype followed by the facts about current regulations and the real-world risks associated with exposure. Here are two:

Myth: The spill offers evidence that we don’t have enough regulation of the chemical industry.
Fact: Myriad regulations exist, but state and local officials failed to implement them correctly.

Myth:  There is no toxicological data on Crude MCHM (chemical mixture involved in spill).
Fact:  Both the federal government and the manufacturer have conducted numerous tests that indicate low toxicity.

“In order to minimize the probability of accidents and keep people safe, government officials must keep this issue in perspective, learn from it, and avoid advancing opportunistic legislation,” said Logomasini. “Chemical technologies have important benefits that we should not overlook when accidents happen. Instead, we should focus on better managing the risks so we can continue to enjoy the benefits. Crude MCHM, for example, is used to make coal burn cleaner and be more energy efficient.”


View Competitive Enterprise Institute’s OnPoint, Myths and Facts About the West Virginia Chemical Spill, by CEI senior fellow Angela Logomasini.