CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "...it is your decision," is what I believe the governor said about drinking the water. This statement assumes that:
1. You have an alternative water source.
2. You have discretion.
Discretion is the freedom to decide, or the authority to decide. On the surface, we all the have the freedom to decide whatever we want. But it is a little more complicated than that, right? I have the freedom to decide to shoot myself in the foot with a nail gun. It is the authority, or knowledge, to decide that actually affords us discretion. I know it would be a bad idea to nail myself to the floor. Thus, I have the authority to decide whether or not I should nail myself to the floor. In that scenario I can employ discretion.
I cannot even pronounce the name of the chemical spilled into our water supply, and when I try to read about it I get lost fast. My discretion says "Don't drink the water," but that conclusion is based on ignorance, not knowledge or authority. And, I have the means to find and gather safer water. I am in a socio-economic stratum that allows me some discretion. Not all of the 300,000 people affected by the chemical spill have the means to not drink the water.
My decision to not drink the water is not based on my authority as a chemist. Sadly, my decision to not drink the water is based entirely on my inability to trust the authorities. I want my state government officials to stand on stage and say, "We will get to the bottom of this. And don't touch the water until we do."
Instead, the state government is acquiescing. Again. The governor seems to be saying, "Look, that was last week. Last week I was real concerned about all this. I mean, like totally up in it, you know? But this week, well, use your discretion."
Sen. Manchin and Gov. Tomblin don't want to blame anyone -- certainly not anyone who makes large contributions to their campaigns. Rep. Capito is holding fast to the statement that the EPA is overreaching.
Sen. Manchin said, "I don't know where else you want the chemicals to be produced. Another country? People say, 'Not in my backyard.' But in West Virginia, we're willing to do the heavy lifting."