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home : opinions : opinions August 19, 2014

4/16/2012 10:00:00 PM
Editorial: Foxes now in charge of chicken safety
The Daily Courier

As a news organization, we're generally opposed to any measures that allow or encourage governments - or businesses - to withhold information potentially important to the public. That of course would include information relating to potential environmental harm that can affect the lands or people around them.

That's why we are looking with some trepidation at the approval and signing last week of HB 2199. The act allows firms in Arizona to self-audit their environmental situation, and to keep that information confidential, even from state regulators to whom they previously would have had to report dangerous situations.

In fact, the law states that, "a state agency employee may not request, review or otherwise use an audit report during an agency inspection of a regulated facility or operation."

So if a business such as a mine or factory knows it is polluting and thus endangering the populace, the proprietor is allowed to softly whistle when the regulators come around and legally admit to knowing nothing about hazards his or her business created.

Supporters of the bill said the confidentiality aspect will encourage potential polluters to check up on themselves and take measures to correct issues before they reach the stage of endangering people or property, according to David Kimball, an attorney who lobbies for the Arizona Mining Association, who told a state Senate committee that the previous regulations "provide a disincentive to go out and discover problems."

We have to ask, though: If you're running an operation that uses toxic chemicals, should you need more incentive than the safety of your fellow employees or citizens to know those materials are being safely handled?

And, if you discover that a health hazard exists, shouldn't you let the neighbors know?

Predictably, the Sierra Club unsuccessfully opposed the measure. Sandy Bahr, director of the club's Grand Canyon chapter, said she believes the law will make things precarious for whistle-blowers, while increasing the perception that anyone who insists that such reports be kept secret must have something to hide.

The law itself specifically states that it provides no civil or criminal immunity for operations the state independently finds are not in compliance.

Bahr isn't buying it.

"If no one can see it ... and there's punishment if you talk about it," she told the committee, "it seems like a de facto immunity to us."

We rather think so too, but we'll trust them - just as soon as they get those foxes out from around our henhouse.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: To One That Knows

Who are you talking about? Which business (s)? Do you really know? Or are you just repeating the assumptions and rumors that so many who ARE NOT in the know seem to do? There wasn't an issue of "non-reporting" which caused the Superfund, but by stating so, it makes everyone feel better. As much to everyone's dismay, the different areas of this Superfund site have different issues and are not all in the same.

So, please enlighten me as to what "non-reporting" are you talking about? Mining activities stopped in the area during the 70's, decades before anyone or any organization realized there could be issues and since then there hasn't been anything "new" created and put somewhere which seems to be implied (falsely, I may add) by many in the community who ARE NOT in the know.

If you are going to make a statement such as this, make sure you DO KNOW. I would be very interested to hear which businesses you claim are guilty of "non-reporting"......

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: Bad Buddha

In honor of Prescott's bike month, KM back pedals furiously.

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: Dear KM

No, not all businesses take shortcuts.

Just like not people rob and cheat. But we need rules, safeguards, and enforcement for when they do. We can't trust them to police themselves....

And by the by - not everything has to be a shortcut. Acceptable businesses practice change over time. Some businesses would rather not expend the money to stay current and responsible. Not when things are "fine" just they way they are...

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: To KM !!

To KM:

I do not think your size business are the ones that people
Are upset about.

1. CITI bank
2. bank of America
3. MF Globa
4. BP
6. Monsanto
7. Dupont
8. news of the World- Murdoch companies

And these are the only ones who have recently been fined or caught doing unscrupulous activites.

Combine that with the most recent decisions by the Supreme court and money in elections it does not take a rocket scientist to predict we are in for a tough time for the small people. Which most of us are.

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: One That KNOWS


Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: K M

Wow, is there really that little faith in business today? After reading these comments, most of you make it sound as if every business operating today is corrupt or taking shortcuts. How sad!

I was just trying to state that there seemed to be a panic over this law which in reality, it probably won't have the kind of impact that some of you think it will. Legitimate businesses will conduct and police themselves, just as they have in the past!

All the business that I am associated with believe in Corporate Social Responsibility and will usually have an Ethical Code of Conduct that they adhere to. Are there organizations/businesses out there that do not believe in this philosophy? Yes, unfortunately there are, but that does not mean that every business out there is to “make as much money as possible” and “ignore problems”.

Unless you are independently wealthy or self-employed most of us have either had to work for a business or own one, so what does that make us? I don’t want to burst any bubbles but we (businesses) are not the evil ones and I cringe when I hear of those that don’t want to play by the rules but we do have rules in place that monitor what we do as I stated before.
Within most companies operating budget, there are “environmental” and “safety” costs that are planned for along with an additional percentage set aside for new issues, regulations and laws that might arise within that fiscal period.

It is a shame that because there have been some that have not played by the rules, everyone is ready to throw the rest of the business world under the bus!

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: Jeanette C

This action is guaranteed to create jobs. That's what we've been told all along - less regulation means more employment. And one thing we can be sure is that we can trust business to always do the right thing. Woo-hoo.

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: Dear KM

It's too bad you politicize this issue ("the left thinks businesses can't monitor themselves").

The truth is - businesses that stand to lose money (or make less) if they have to "clean up" their act simply won't do it unless there is a reason to do so. Making it "right" isn't reason enough for many businesses. The fear of getting caught and fined or shut down makes things happen. You honestly think businesses will aggressively police and audit their environmental practices if it is so easy to sidestep that issue???

This makes it REAL easy to ignore problems, continue to make as much money as possible, then if and when said problems come to light - simply shrug your shoulders and say "oops", we'll fix it now that we "know" about it.


I've seen it first hand in construction, mining, and working on the line in plastics factory. I've voted Republican since 1953 and have no issues seeing the problem with this bill.

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: KM. This is exactly the mind set that got us into a mess of trouble.

Banks with no rules. Investment houses with no rules. Mortgage lenders with no rules. No rules at all. No government involvement. No responsibility for doing what is right. A recipe for disaster. Might just want to learn from our mistakes. But AZ will never learn...

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: Unbelievable !!!

This whole law assumes that businesses actually care about the effects of their pollution. Some do. They already plan for minimizing impact and they take measures to protect employees and neighbors when issues arise. The problem is that many don't care at all and will do anything to hide situations dangerous to their employees or the community. It is already difficult to make them accountable and now with this law, there is practically no way to control the damage they can do! This political move will lay waste to the future usability of much of our land. I'm all for helping businesses to profit, but sooner or later, some of us will see the value of our homes disappear when we realize we've been contaminated and must, by law, disclose it to potential buyers. In 50 years we'll look back and say, "what were they thinking?"

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: get real...

Typical from republicans in this state. They seem to care so little for the electorate and so much for their particular interest groups' friends. When will people voting for the GOP wisen up and realize that their party no longer represents their best interests?

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: K M

This was no surprise from the Courier Editorial Department! Foxes, Chickens, Henhouses? You play right into the hands of the "conspiracy theory" wacko's. Going through life with the glass half full philosophy is so sad. This new (and not needed) law will not change how companies do business. If you are a manufacturing, processing, etc., type of business, you will be monitored through safety inspections by either OSHA or MSHA. Now, if there are violations or hazards in the workplace, those agencies are suppose to be there to find them (because the left thinks businesses can't monitor themselves). Then again, those are government workers and we all know how well they perform and we could never blame the government for missing something, so I guess that means we will have to blame the businesses. Wow, that means the left is still happy!

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