In your opinion what were the main issues expressed by the States
Concerning Homeland Security and states rights at the 2002 State Emergency Response Commission Conference? Please justify your position.
Most of the states attending the 2002 State Emergency Response Conference expressed an overall sentiment that in relation to security, things are going to vary from state to state based on the capabilities of the emergency response agencies in each state, as well as the types of hazards that states are likely to face in addition to WMD's i.e. For example, states have to take into consideration whether they have chemical facilities, nuclear facilities and similar hazardous materials to address. State also has to take into consideration whether or not they have highways that are used to transport hazardous or nuclear waste materials.
Colorado made the point that secrecy regarding Homeland Security measures will not help. This opinion was likely expressed because many things related to the homeland security act are indeed kept confidential in nature. Colorado makes a good point, expressing the idea that the federal government needs to open up and reveal their safety and security procedures so that local emergency response commissions know what is happening or what should be happening during an emergency event. Important information should indeed be available to the public, and that information needs to reach the public in a timely manner so appropriate action may be taken to prevent exaggerated disaster.
Idaho felt that the public has the information it needs, and that the federal government should instead focus their attention on restricting the flow of information to the public, and letting out only the information they felt was necessary at appropriate times and places. Montana seems to agree with this standpoint, arguing that it is up to the Attorney General to assess whether information must be disseminated based on the potential that withholding information will compromise public safety.
Certainly the purpose of the EPCRA is not to spread widespread panic among the general public. It is important that the public is aware of the dangers that exist within their neighborhoods. As mentioned before, if people live in an area where nuclear waste is transported along their highways, this information should be readily available. The public should also be aware of emergency response protocols should a situation arise that such procedures become important to follow. It is also important however, to maintain a sense of peace, and as Montana indicated it may sometimes be necessary to restrict sensitive information to ensure that the wrong information is not released into inappropriate hands. Again it is important to emphasize that no one solution is correct in this situation. The EPCRA must take into consideration each states unique position and the inherent risks that lie within each state. Not two states are alike with respect to emergency response protocols.
Do you believe that the State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and the Local Emergency Response Commissions (LERCs) are threatened for control of local disasters by the Department of Homeland Security?
This question can not be answered with a simple yes or no response. Rather, this question falls into a grey area. SERCS and LERCS each have independent relationships with the federal government. The level of threat a local disaster department or state agency may feel depends on their relationship with federal representatives. For example, a local ER department may have close personal relationships with the state and may be heavily plugged into state wide and national response programs. This is the case for example, for many large departments such as West Metro Fire/Rescue in Colorado. The West Metro Department is a very large local emergency response crew that has a great deal of representation and relationships with federal agents. Many of their fire fighters for example, were called upon to assist firefighters in New York after the devastation that occurred during 9/11.
Some emergency departments have great relationships nationally, and thus they are less likely to be threatened for control of local disaster by the Department of Homeland Security. They are more likely in fact; to work with federal representatives to ensure that disaster response is handled in a timely and correct manner. However, if a local agency is in fact a smaller, more isolated agency that is isolated in terms of turf it is more likely that a security and emergency situation might escalate beyond their control. In this situation…