Washington, D.C.– Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) released this statement today after a devastating chemical spill left 300,000 West Virginians without water for several days:


“Our thoughts today are with the people of West Virginia who experienced days of school shutdowns, business closures and mandatory water restrictions because a chemical used to clean coal leaked into the Elk River. Chemical spills are not acts of nature. They happen when corporations don’t invest in safety and when state and federal regulations allow dangerous, outdated facilities to go uninspected for decades.


“Every time we hear weaker regulation means a better economy, we should remember what happened to the Elk River and the effects of the spill on working families in West Virginia. We should also remember the devastating chemical fires in the Cuyahoga River in Ohio, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and every other American landscape damaged in the name of corporate profits at taxpayer expense. The narrow interests that want weaker environmental standards, fewer workplace safety regulations, lower corporate taxes, and limited labor rights aren’t representing working people.


“The same day the Elk River spill occurred, the House of Representatives passed the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act to make it easier for polluters to get away with massive toxic spills. The bill lets polluting industries avoid insurance that covers the costs of environmental damage in case the company goes bankrupt. When corporations don’t pay for their cleanups, taxpayers foot the bill.


“Across the country, we’ve seen a concerted effort to take from the middle class to give to the wealthy, and we’ve seen the horrible collateral damage it’s caused. The Elk River incident is just the latest in a long string of reminders of the costs of that agenda. We stand with the people we represent and Americans everywhere who demand real accountability, a fairer economy and an end to the corporate profit-at-any-cost way of doing business.”