On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor, 7-2, of electronics manufacturer CTS Corporation effectively blocking compensation for health and property damage resulting from the company’s polluting of Asheville, North Carolina’s water supply. President Obama, who has a history with North Carolina’s pollution problem, hasn’t budged an inch against the SCOTUS ruling.
During CTS’s operation in Asheville, which shut down in 1987, the company contaminated the water in Asheville which may have been responsible for people getting sick from the toxic chemicals. But according to a North Carolina state law, liability is removed from the company 10 years after its last contamination act, which in this case was 1997.
However, federal law sets a different standard where that time limit begins after the first report of contamination that may have caused health or property damage. Because of the unparalleled time limits, the Supreme Court had to determine which of the time limits applied. Federal law should trump state law in this case, right? Nope. After the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals made that ruling last year, the GOP-led Supreme Court reversed that decision and screwed over the residents of Asheville.
Just last week, 13 people in Asheville were forced to leave their homes because the Environmental Protection Agency reported dangerous levels of airborne trichloroethylene (TCE). TCE is a carcinogen and neurotoxin used by CTS.
In 2012, Obama signed a law intended to give medical care to Marines and their dependents affected by water contamination at Camp Lejeune Marine Base between the late-50s and 1980s. But the bill doesn’t promise any compensation, or justice, for the injured.
The bill was named after the daughter of Retired Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger who was born at Camp Lejeune and died of leukemia in 1985 at the age of nine. Her illness was suspected to have been caused by the contamination of CTS.
Of the court’s decision, Ensminger said “Basically what this is telling industry and polluters is, ‘Hey, if you’re deceitful and devious enough to cross that 10-year finish line, we’re going to reward you.”
Since 2012, the Department of Justice has, on two occasions, backed CTS by filing an amicus brief supporting the Supreme Court, which is the DoJ’s way of saying “Hey, we don’t really know what’s going on first-hand, but here’s what we think anyway. And it’s important just because we are the DoJ.”
The Supreme Court and DoJ have exempted these companies of liability for property damage and injuries caused to these residents. What’s worse is that Obama is on the sidelines, just letting it happen. These actions of SCOTUS and the DoJ, and especially Obama’s inaction, do nothing but provide incentive for companies to continue their egregious actions and cover them up when lawsuits appear on the horizon.