We still place far too much emphasis on our “separateness,” our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few.

Here’s an idea: How about just “Americans?” That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our “separateness” is a step backward. Bring back the melting pot.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act was intended to help communities plan for worst-case chemical accidents. It requires companies to disclose the amounts of dangerous chemicals they store and to calculate a worst-case scenario should their stores leak or explode.

The act was passed in 1986 in the wake of the Union Carbide chemical disaster that killed thousands in Bhopal, India.

But a series of terrorist attacks in the 1990s, followed by 9/11, prompted Congress to pressure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to restrict public access to that information.

Bill Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator at the time of Bhopal, said that even before those attacks, many in government distrusted the public and how it might react to sensitive information.”

Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and...