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Dubai and Toxic Tank Cars: What are Bush’s Priorities? Statement of Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth

Posted Oct. 31, 2008 / Posted by: admin

Dick Bell, 202-669-4125

The Congress and the press are up in arms about President Bush’s tone deaf defense of the $6.8 billion deal to sell the operation (and security) of six major American ports to DP World, a firm owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, without even going through with the mandated 45-day review process.

But no one should be surprised that the president cannot hear the public outcry about his latest deference to business interests in the face of concerns about protecting the American public from acts of terrorism.

Just look at what Bush was already doing in our nation’s capital to prevent the D.C. Council from taking action against the threat of toxic tank cars. A Navy study found that an attack on one chlorine tank car could kill or injure as many as 100,000 people in a half hour in the District. On February 1, 2005, the D.C. Council enacted a law requiring railroads to route such dangerous cargoes around the District.

Bush signaled his preference for protecting business interests over protecting the security of the people of Washington by sending his Justice Department to court to overturn the D.C. law. When U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan demolished their arguments in a decision upholding the law, Bush and the railroads appealed, where they succeeded in blocking implementation of the law.

By a twist of fate, one of the railroads fighting the D.C. City Council is none other than CSX. Treasury Secretary John Snow, who signed off on this purchase, was formerly the head of CSX before he joined the Cabinet. A year after Snow joined the Cabinet, CSX sold off its overseas port operations to DP World for $1.23 billion. As chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., Secretary Snow presided over the committee’s approval of the ports deal. The Bush administration is quite a cozy little world. If only these officials were as concerned about protecting Americans as they appear to be about keeping the wheels of commerce turning.



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