On June 25, the House took an important step towards learning the truth about the disastrous decisions of the federal government’s response to the environmental disaster created by the attacks of 9/11. In coming before my hearing in the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, former-EPA Administrator Christine Whitman was finally called to answer for the serious health risks her statements following 9/11 subjected rescue workers and residents to. For example, her falsely reassuring statements that the air around Ground Zero was “safe to breath

When asked about these statements, Administrator Whitman failed to provide adequate answers for her deeds. When asked about the White House approval of EPA press-releases, she stated that neither she nor her top staff knew who was responsible for these changes. Nonetheless, these anonymous approvals became the official statements of the agency.

Those who trusted the pronouncements of the federal government in the days following the attacks of 9/11 are suffering respiratory illnesses because of the poisoned air they were permitted to breathe. The government failed those first responders who bravely assisted in the clean-up effort at Ground Zero, as well as the residents and workers who returned to downtown Manhattan, by never providing them with guidance about removing toxic debris from their homes and offices. Monday’s hearing was Administrator Whitman’s opportunity to answer for her actions. Sadly, she allowed it to pass her by.