Half a century ago, Pennsylvania native Rachel Carson authored “Silent Spring” and, for all Americans, stirred the consciousness and brought into sharp focus the environmental destructiveness and widespread poisoning of wildlife resulting from governmentally sanctioned pesticides.
Unfortunately, we are discovering all too late the degree to which our national leadership has lost its focus. And governmental neglect of its environmental responsibilities has, with occasional exceptions, continued.
Our community is now challenged by that neglect. For years, military bases around the country used firefighting chemicals that had not been studied. The volume of the firefighting training certainly resulted in those chemicals entering the groundwater at those bases and in the surrounding areas. Yet, neither the EPA nor the military studied the consequences of that groundwater infiltration to hundreds of thousands of citizens using drinking water derived from that groundwater.
In the 1990s when the federal government began to close military facilities, there was an environmental evaluation of the bases, in part due to a valuation process when those properties were sold. In the 2000s, when the Willow Grove Naval Air Station closure was to be finalized, Horsham was told of pollution issues. But not one of those issues related to the firefighting chemicals leaching into our groundwater.
Only in 2014, decades after these chemicals were first used at those bases, was the issue of groundwater contamination finally stirred. The damage had been done.
Now, as amply disclosed at the EPA public input session held recently, the governmental failure at the federal and state level has resulted in exposure to chemicals for more than a decade. The present flurry of activity by various legislators, administrators and environmental attorneys may highlight the need for preventative measures in the future, but it more acutely highlights the failure of acting reactively versus proactively.
Too often the desire to not upset the apple cart, gambling that most voters will accept the status quo as “good enough,” has brought us time and time again to the brink of failure and beyond. This brand of leading from the rear is intolerable.
And any leader willing to accept this is as business as usual needs to go.
This is why I seek your vote. The status quo has failed us. And insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
It’s time for a greater measure of sanity in our state government.
Daryl Boling is the Democratic nominee for state representative in the 152nd District.