The Source: Public Safety Through Transparency Or Opaqueness?
The recent decision by Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop making the locations of Tier Two chemicals public has a lot of people talking.
The debate over whether the public is safer by knowing or not knowing what hazardous and potentially explosive chemicals are in their communities brings back images of West, Texas, where a facility housing tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire and exploded, destroying several buildings, injuring 200 people and killing 15.
The attorney general makes the case that terrorists having the locations of these potential-bomb-making materials is a threat to everyone. Abbott's drive-around-and-ask-them response to how people should find out what chemicals facilities were using proved embarrassing when journalists did just that and found several companies unwilling to share.
Public advocacy organizations contend the public's right too know is too great to be sacrificed, arguing it influences where people choose to send their kids to school and where to live.
What do you think? Is the public better served by knowing or not knowing what chemicals are near by?
- Matt Haertner, policy consultant for Public Citizen Texas, a consumer and citizen activist organization.
*This is the third segment in the July 10 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.