Other Opinions: Nation still trying to heal from Sept. 11

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By Staff
Six years ago most of us woke to a phone call from loved ones, a friend or a colleague to direct our attention to a plane having crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.
A few minutes later, a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and our world - as we knew it - was turned upside down by the act of terrorists.
On that day we watched as brave men and women worked diligently to try to save the thousands who were crushed by the millions of pounds of steel which had fallen from the attacks.
We watched in disbelief that something so horrible could have happened on U.S. soil.
Indeed it did happen.
It's been six years and still we are a nation trying to heal from that cowardice act.
Today we reflect on the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Today we as a nation, a state, a county and a community should take a brief pause in our day to remember those lost.
We will miss those lost, and their memory will never be forgotten.
The Alexander City Outlook
ADEM needs uniform regulations for businesses
… As noted in a recent review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ADEM doesn't have a written policy that governs how it penalizes businesses or other entities that break environmental rules.
It has a general framework, for sure. State law says ADEM penalties must take into account such things as the seriousness of the violation, including whether there is irreparable harm to the environment and any threat to public safety; the economic benefit derived from breaking the rules; and the history of previous violations.
But there's nothing in writing to flesh out that framework.
That means there's nothing to ensure similar penalties are given for similar violations, nothing to explain the penalty to the public, nothing to keep political pressure from entering into the process.
While the EPA had kind words for ADEM on other fronts, it said the lack of a consistent and clear penalty schedule has been an ongoing concern that needs to be addressed.
Having a written penalty policy would not and should not remove all room for ADEM to make allowances from time to time. But it might require ADEM to acknowledge it is making allowances and to justify why it is doing so. That's important. Another problem cited in the EPA review was ADEM sending multiple warnings to violators without actually taking action against them.
It's not too much to ask that ADEM show how and why penalties are being imposed - or why they are not being imposed, as the case may be.
ADEM has in the past argued that a written framework for penalties would just open the door for more legal challenges. But that's a ridiculous argument. Current ADEM Director Onis &#8220Trey” Glenn must know that; his spokesman says the agency is working on a plan that will address the EPA's concerns.
Let's hope so.
Those regulated by ADEM need to know there's a point system for environmental offenses and what kind of punishment they can expect for breaking the rules.
The Birmingham News

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