All In   |  April 25, 2013

Who should be regulating chemical plants?

In the wake of the West, Tx. fertilizer plant explosion, Chris Hayes sits down with former Obama EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to ask her who should be regulating chemical plants.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let's bring in lisa jackson , form formerly of the epa . who should being regulating these plans? epa or the department of homeland security ? should we have a stake in that battle?

>> first, let me express sympathy of the 14 families mourning dead today and the over 200 folks who have been injured. to answer your question, it absolutely matters. firstoff on the whole, this is about the role of government, something we've spent now years hearing conservatives, republicans in the house saying we need to get rid of the epa because it's stymying and the role of government is to step in when things like this happen and the role of the epa is to monitor the toxic abuse. i started my career 22 years ago working on cleaning up toxic clean up as a chemical engineer . there's expertise there that isn't being used for neem of the country.

>> that's what is so surprising about the aftermath of west texas when i heard about how much the department of homeland security is supposed to be looking after this. there's not an institutional memory inside the department of homeland security doing this type of thing. you would expect the epa an important breaks to haureaucracy to have the capacity to do.

>> not only bureaucracy but they have environmental science and engineers the most of any agency except for nasa. there's lots of talent there. i want to be really clear. christie whitman , when she was administrator worked with her counterpart in the cabinet, tom ridge . there was no problem working with the department of homeland security and secretary janet na napolitano. we need to use the authority we have now because i'm afraid just like gun control , there's a lot of nodding and gnashing of teeth and no one will change anything. although this appears to have been a tragic industrial accident , what if it wasn't? what about the plants out there so susceptible to terrorism that would be very similar to this?

>> that, i think, is a really important point, like in the aftermath of newtown, people say a background check wouldn't have prevented newtown necessarily but lots of other gun violence in america . and the same here, this is an opportunity for us to look at how do we oversee chemical plants. i have learned following the story we don't maybe oversee them in the most optimal way because the chemical industry fought very hard to make it that way.

>> they use two things against the people. this isn't about epa or department of homeland security . these are the american people who didn't realize because they didn't have access to information what they were living next to, where their children were going to school. there's two things the industry does. first, they piece around regulation so no one sees the full picture. that's clearly part of what happened here. epa had some information and homeland security had some, i'm sure the state had some amount. not enough resources. they also keep information from the public. you know, they say, while we can't give this information out because then terrorists will use it, and right after this accident, the industry started to make sure epa didn't release information on what kind of chemicals were at this plant and they hid it behind homeland security . when people have information, they protect themselves.

>> lisa jackson , former epa administrator , who did an incredible job, if you don't mind my saying, at the epa . great to have you with us tonight.

>>> that is "all in" for this evening. rachel maddow now.

>> everybody within the sound of our voices, i want to say, if you missed what chris just said about the chemical plants and how that went haywire during the bush administration , stay up and wrap the rerun.

>> thank you.

>> thank you for staying with