On Tuesday, Cuomo Administration officials attempted to blame the Federal Environmental Agency for its own failure to warn the citizens of the upstate town of Hoosick Falls that their water was poisoned.
The statements occurred at a hearing held by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Two more Senate hearings will follow.
It was a Clintonesque pattern of delay, deny, deflect, and diffuse until the scandal cools off. For almost three hours, commissioners for the New York State departments of health and environmental conservation repeatedly claimed that the EPA had failed to provide clear guidance on the PFOA chemicals found in the town’s water supply. PFOA, a chemical used in a Teflon plant long operating in the area, has been linked to cancers, thyroid issues and other serious health problems in humans.
The contentions by Cuomo’s surrogates are contradicted by State documents proving that Governor Andrew Cuomo ignored federal findings of polluted water in the upstate rural village of Hoosick Falls.
The documents show that Cuomo’s administration dismissed Federal EPA calls to alert the people of Hoosick Falls to the crisis. Moreover, Cuomo’s officials actively disputed the concerns of the EPA specialists.
EPA has long held that 400 parts of PFOA per trillion in a water supply is dangerous. Later, they lowered the level to 100 parts and still later 70 parts per trillion. Regardless, at the time Cuomo administration officials were assuring residents that their water was safe, the municipal water supply had already tested at 600 parts per trillion, far greater than the EPA’s original threshold.
EPA Regional Director Judith Enck was having none of Cuomo’s dissembling. “The EPA had numerous discussions with the state of New York,” Enck told POLITICO New York. “They were not confused, they disagreed. The reason they told EPA at the time was they felt like our 400 number had a large margin of safety and therefore they did not rely on that as the number to follow.”
Last December, the EPA finally bypassed Cuomo and warned residents against drinking the tainted water. The Cuomo administration finally took action against the polluters a month later.
Don’t look for a Harry Truman-like “The Buck Stops Here” sign on Andrew Cuomo’s desk. You won’t find one.