By now, we are all aware of the horrific repercussions of the recent West, TX fertilizer plant explosion. Several of our Advocate Capital friends are leading the charge to raise funds for those affected.
You would think that tragedies such as these would create a public call for more and better regulation to help ensure that these accidents are less likely to occur in the future. However, this has not occurred in Texas. A recent article in the New York Times explores the reasons that Texans remain wary of regulation, even in the face of disasters like this and increasing choruses of experts that say that increased regulation could have gone a long way towards preventing the explosion.
The article analyzes the state’s history of antipathy towards regulation despite the fact that the state has had the highest number of workplace fatalities for much of the past decade. According to the article, “Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May, 2012. Compared with Illinois, which has the nation’s second-largest number of high-risk sites, more than 950, but tighter fire and safety rules, Texas had more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs.”
Texas currently has no state fire regulations and state law actually prohibits municipal and county governments from implementing local fire regulations. “The Wild West approach to protecting public health and safety is what you get when you give companies too much economic freedom and not enough responsibility and accountability,” said Thomas O. McGarity, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and an expert on regulation.
The full article can be read here.
Paul B. Myers
Chief Credit Officer
Photo Credit: A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive via Flickr