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Senate Proceeding on Dec 21st, 2009 :: 0:36:10 to 0:53:55
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Max Baucus

0:35:50 to 0:36:11( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: quorum call: a senator: mr. president? senator from montana. mr. baucus: i ask that furer proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order the time until 6:30 p.m. will be divided in one hour alternating blocks of time with the controlling the first block.

Max Baucus

0:36:10 to 0:53:55( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Max Baucus

Max Baucus

0:36:12 to 0:36:32( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: mr. baucus: i thank the mr. president, i ask consent that david barlava, an intern in senator dodd's office be granted floor privileges for the remainder of today's session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, i want to take a few moments talk about a provision in this package about which i am particularly proud.

Max Baucus

0:36:33 to 0:36:58( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: it would finally follow through on the federal government's responsibility to provide screening and medical care to residents at super fund public health emergency sites. the term public health emergency is defined by the comprehensive liability act of 1980, otherwise

Max Baucus

0:36:59 to 0:37:21( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: known as sfphe. it reserves the designation of public health emergency for the most hazardous superfund sites. this is where the potential release of a hazardous rises to a level of an emergency. when a public health emergency is declared, the law requires that t secretary of health and

Max Baucus

0:37:22 to 0:37:43( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: human services to provide screening and medical care services to people who have been exposed. to date the government has not created a mechanism to allow the secretary to deliver this screening and medical care required under current law. what the -- but the bill before

Max Baucus

0:37:44 to 0:38:04( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: us today finally provides that mechanism. first it authorizes a grant program for screening services. these screeningsould determine if a medical condition is present, that is, attributable to environmental exposure, and then it allows those individuals with a diagnosed medical condition due to the environmental exposure at the

Max Baucus

0:38:05 to 0:38:25( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: site to get the medicare services. it establishes a pilot program to provide additional medical care appropriate for the residents of the superfund site at libby, montana. this provision is important

Max Baucus

0:38:26 to 0:38:47( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: because it will provide vital medical services to americans who, through no fault of their own, have suffered horrible effects from their exposure to deadly poisons. it will provide the medical services that we woa under commitment under the prior legislation, that is the superfund act.

Max Baucus

0:38:48 to 0:39:09( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: and this provision is especially important to me for a very special reason. the environmentalrotection agency currently has designated where pollution and contamination present a danger to public health and well fare. throughout the history of the program, the e.p.a. has found

Max Baucus

0:39:10 to 0:39:31( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: one site where conditions are so severe and the contamination is so pervasive that it warranted the declaration of a public health emergency. that declaration occurred on june 17th of this year. the e.p.a. administration jackson found a public health

Max Baucus

0:39:32 to 0:39:53( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: emergency exists at the superfund site in montana. libby, montana is a beautiful town, small millions acres of land. it is an idyllic spot

Max Baucus

0:39:54 to 0:40:14( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: families -- it is also that's gone through lots of stress -- lots of economic difficulties of the -- the timber industry has virtually shut down, ming there is not quite what it used to be in years past. people have they love libby. it is almost isolated in the

Max Baucus

0:40:15 to 0:40:38( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: northeast of montana. most people have not been to libby, but they have a wonderful sense of community in hometown. however, liberty is also a superfund site. it is the home after big mine. it is a place where hundreds of people have grown sick and have died. died due to the pervasive

Max Baucus

0:40:39 to 0:40:59( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: presence of asbestos spewed from the mine and operations of w.r. grace. gold miners discovered vermiculite. in 1963w.r. grace bought the

Max Baucus

0:41:00 to 0:41:20( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: mining operations and made a lot of money, frankly, and the mine closed in 1990. the e.p.a. first visited libby in 1999. it was declared a superfund site. cleanup had very pervasive. very difficult. very hard to

Max Baucus

0:41:21 to 0:41:44( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: between the e.p.a. and the people in the community. a lot of people in the community was doing the right job in the right way. i had to get involved in the right way to hold e.p.a to the fire. they didn't know how clean clean was. they did not do a good job, mr. president.

Max Baucus

0:41:45 to 0:42:05( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: john was the first on site coordinator to convince e.p.a. what they needed to do. anyway, cleanup began in and we still have a long way to go. for decades the w.r. grace operation belched 500 pounds

Max Baucus

0:42:06 to 0:42:27( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: of asbestos every day in and around libby. people used raw vermiculite to put on their highways, in little league ball fields, in their attics, it was used

Max Baucus

0:42:28 to 0:42:48( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: someone said it is not right with all of this asbestos. it's hard to put your finger on it. one day i visited libby, i went up to the mine, i was stunned to see the miners come off the mine, into their buss, they were caked with dust. it added new meaning to dust bin.

Max Baucus

0:42:49 to 0:43:10( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: just caked with the stuff on their clothes and they get in the bus, they come home, and one person i talked to and really got me interested in doi something about this, a guy name les, he told me when he got off the bus, he would go home, caked with dust and embrace his wife.

Max Baucus

0:43:11 to 0:43:32( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: the kids would jump in his lap. guess what, les is now dead from asbestos, his wife is ill and one of his child consequence. think of the pain he has gone through. first, dying

Max Baucus

0:43:33 to 0:43:54( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: worse, he caused his wife to be ill and caused his son to die because of this disease. mine workers brought the dust home with them onheir clothing. they contaminated their own families without knowing the dust was poison. we knew something was wrong, but we didn't know it was that wrong. i think the company knew exactly what it was doing. in fact, i might say, mr. president, the company has been

Max Baucus

0:43:55 to 0:44:15( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: subject to a criminal action against the allegations are that the officers knew that they were contaminating the people and didn't disclose it. the suit went on for a year. it's true that the officers were acquitted in my personal judgment because of prosecution, but just -- just a

Max Baucus

0:44:16 to 0:44:36( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: lousy prosecution. but not only did people thought that the officers were contaminating people, but the people in libby, montana. the asbestos was everywhere. and the w.r. grace company not help matters. i might say this is the same company -- there is a book

Max Baucus

0:44:37 to 0:44:59( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: written about them in a movie called "civil action" grace contaminated the water in massachusetts. they knew what they were doing. it's clear they knew what they were doing. as i recall was granted against w.r. grace grace is doing. they are now bankrupt. they shoved all of their assets

Max Baucus

0:45:00 to 0:45:20( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: to another location so though against w.r attach their assets. and all the shenanigans this company undertook for their own benefit at the expense of the people in libby. when i say, expense, i mean

Max Baucus

0:45:21 to 0:45:42( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: dead, dying because of this asbestos. not regular asbestos. this is where the fibers are deeper, they're stronger and they get in your lungs an cause more damage and it takes longer to detect. it's that vicious. th severe. today we know that nearly 300

Max Baucus

0:45:43 to 0:46:04( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: residents of libby have died. 300. it's a small town. thousands more have become sick with asbestos-related disease. that's 291 deaths in a town of just over 2,600 county of 18,000. lincoln county, mtana, home to libby, has the highest age-adjusted death rate due to

Max Baucus

0:46:05 to 0:46:26( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: asbestosis in the entire nation. libby is an isolated community with limited access to medical care. the median household income in 2007 w $30,000. when i s isolated community with limited access to medicare, what do i mean? there is not much there. and the companyas reneged on their insurance policies. the company had mediocr insurance policies for folks,

Max Baucus

0:46:27 to 0:46:47( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: but as time goes on, the company just backs off, backs off. it's really what's happening a lot in health care reform here. they rescind, they renege their policies for one reason after another. know they have asbestos-related cancer or other lung-related disease, they don't have the resources to go to get the medical attention.

Max Baucus

0:46:48 to 0:47:09( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: i have been at this for years. let me tell you, frustrating and so wrong what's happened to the people of libby, montana. it is this combination of devastating characteristics that led the e.p.a. administrator in june to find the public health emergency does exist at at the libby superfund site. this finding was based on years

Max Baucus

0:47:10 to 0:47:30( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: of work, having originally been recommended by the e.p.a. in 2001, and i might say i have read the transcripts between e.p.a. administrators and to o.m.b. back in those years, and it is -- and the e.p.a. administrator back then in the republican administration recommended this action be taken but squelched at the white

Max Baucus

0:47:31 to 0:47:51( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: house, squelched at the white house by o.m.b. the correspondence is clear this is exactly what happened back then in a previous administration. that is why e.p.a. has never used this authority. and the agency indicates that there are vently no sites under the national priorities list that come close to the conditions at it's worth highlighting a few

Max Baucus

0:47:52 to 0:48:15( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: parts of the administrator's finding. let me indicate what they are. the administrator has said the -- "libby asbestos site is unique with respect to the multiplicity of exposure routes, the cumulative exposures experienced by community members , and the adverse health effects from asbestos exposure already present and documented

Max Baucus

0:48:16 to 0:48:37( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: in the administrator found -- "investigations performed by the agency for toxic substances and disease registry, atsdr, have found hundreds of cases of asbestos-related disease in this relatively small community. atsdr documented a december and

Max Baucus

0:48:38 to 0:48:58( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: death rate from asbestosis in the libby area significantly higher than the national average for the period from 1979-1998. the occurrence of disease are not facility workers or their families but are throughout the entire not just the workers and their families but the entire population because as i mentioned this stuff is

Max Baucus

0:48:59 to 0:49:20( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: pervasive, has been used everywhere in the town. ball field, tracks, lawns. it's just awful. "medical care in libby has historically been limited due to libby's isolated location and economic situation, thus reducing the chance of early detection and treatment of asbestos-related disease." end quote.

Max Baucus

0:49:21 to 0:49:44( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: this piece bears repeating." medical care in libby has historically been limited, thus reducing the chance of early detection and treatment of asbestos-related disease." let me just refine that point, mr. president. for a long time, we would be talking to a lung specialist across the country about the

Max Baucus

0:49:45 to 0:50:05( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: libby we got so-so responses about how dangerous it was. why? because virtually none of those doctors have experienced dealing with the per pernicious kd of asbestos we have in libby, montana. it took a long time to get their attention, a long, long time. finally got some doctors to say yeah, this stuff in libby is wicked stuff.

Max Baucus

0:50:06 to 0:50:28( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: finally there is -- and that is why, frankly, the e.p.a. is starting to understand that this how -- how bad this really is. essentially, the lack of access to health care services libby has -- i'll say it again -- has actually worsened the effects of this contamination. it's worked to their disadvantage. so the language before us today helps to solve this.

Max Baucus

0:50:29 to 0:50:50( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: it allows us to fulfill the commitment that we made to the people of libby when we passed the superfund act 30 years ago. and h future another superfund site like libby emerges, the bill before us today will allow the secretary to use the authorities in this provision to fulfill our commitment to provide health care services for those

Max Baucus

0:50:51 to 0:51:11( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: residents as well. but i can never talk about without rembering my friend, les gramsted. i mentioned his name a few moments ago. i first met les in the year 2000 at the

Max Baucus

0:51:12 to 0:51:32( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: les was there, gayla was there, lots of other miners were there, pleading for help, some attention. we're dying. somebody pay attention to us. we're an isolated community up here in northeastern montana -- northwestern montana. please, someone pay attention to us. man, oh, man, did this get my attention. i was just stunned with the stories they told.

Max Baucus

0:51:33 to 0:51:53( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: and i -- talking to les over coffee and huckleberry pie. that's a real popular pie up in libby. les was watching me very closely, very closely as i said you bet i would help, i would help to do something about this. he was very, very wary. after his neighbors and friends had finished telling me their stories, i'll never forget, les

Max Baucus

0:51:54 to 0:52:14( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: came up to me, and he said senator, a lot of people have come to libby. they have told us they would help. then they leave and nothing happens. and he told me that -- i remember thinking at that instant, you know in life sometimes you find four or five or six, seven instances that, man, oh man, whatever it takes, you're going to make sure they

Max Baucus

0:52:15 to 0:52:36( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: get justice, whatever it takes, whatever it takes, you have such a commitment, and that was one. i said to myself boy, i'm going to do whatever it takes to take care of this because these people of libby deserve justice, they have not received it. he said senator, he says i hear you say that, but i'll be watching. and i knew he would watch. i knew that would

Max Baucus

0:52:37 to 0:52:58( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: he didn't actually have to say it because i was going to do it anyway. so i accepted les' offer. nd -- and i have a big, nice photograph of les on my desk. les passed away a couple of three years ago. i spent a lot of time with him at the hospital and his wife and family. just a wonderful picture of les

Max Baucus

0:52:59 to 0:53:20( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: gramsted on my desk. it reminds me of what we have to do for the people of libby and all the people in our state and our nation, help people like les gramsted. it means that much to me. but i have not forgotten les and i won't forget les, and that' why this provision is in here,

Max Baucus

0:53:21 to 0:53:42( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: and i think les right now up there, he would be smiling, says yep, we did not forget libby, we did not forget les, and that's what this provision is all about. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. president, i might say there is a photograph behind me of

Max Baucus

0:53:43 to 0:53:56( Edit History Discussion )

Max Baucus: les, les montana. he is at a cemetery there, lots of graves of lots of people of libby who have died. les played a pretty mean guitar. he was a great guy.

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