War and Peace Bridge
When the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the results of its recent air monitoring at the Peace Bridge, we were…well, skeptical, to say the least.
We challenged the DEC’s conclusion that air quality in the Peace Bridge neighborhood met federal standards. We believed the study was flawed by design and presented our reasons for that in this Weekly Reader (Tailored to Fit, Dressed to Kill) last month.
Now, not only has our position been validated by an independent investigation, but the DEC itself admits it was wrong in making those claims. It says it was a “mistake” to issue a press release stating the air was safe; that the findings of this study (and a flawed study, at that), showed no such thing.
So how did the statement escape review before it was released?
It was reviewed; just not by the DEC.
A false conclusion after a flawed review of flawed findings from a flawed study: Who would do such a thing?
An office of the Governor of New York State, that’s who.
State Sponsored Skullduggery
A smell surrounding Peace Bridge air study
State’s spin on tests results misrepresented key finding; monitoring skipped summer, when pollution is heaviest
Were it not for the dogged efforts of Investigative Post, the Gospel According to the DEC on the safety of Peace Bridge air would have expelled from the mouths of smug politicians and government officials ad infinitum; when fact, according to a preponderance of existing research, academic opinion, and empirical data, the air in the neighborhood adjacent to the Peace Bridge “ranks among the dirtiest in Western New York.”
This neighborhood, the majority of whose residents are not only minority but also impoverished, is distinguished by asthma rates “nearly four times the national average.” Now, at least, we know the cause of respiratory and related illness here is neither self hypnosis nor mass hysteria.
After repeated questioning by Investigative Post, the DEC finally broke down, admitting their conclusion was “a mistake”, and that “the press release misrepresents the situation regarding air pollution around the bridge… .”
One wonders, would this astounding governmental ‘sleight of mouth’ still have been a mistake had it not been exposed like this? And while the DEC is taking the blame for this “accident”, who really is responsible? Here’s a hint: “…the statement was reviewed by [Governor Andrew V. Cuomo’s] press office before it was released.”
What now? According to this WGRZ TV video update, the state intends to retest the air here, this time for real. Do we believe them? What do you think?
For the record (although it’s been reported otherwise), the Peace Bridge neighborhood’s Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association neither requested nor ever publicly endorsed government testing of air quality here–mainly because we anticipated these results.
Where this will lead remains to be seen. But our position is unchanged: the only solution to this grave health threat is to ban commercial traffic from the Peace Bridge.
Moving forward, we have one question: From now on, whom will you trust for the truth?
End Quote/Parting Shot
“If you deny people legitimacy, they will one day, by one means or another, come back and defeat you.” –Malcolm Gladwell