By Jeff McMenemy
Posted Feb 11, 2019 at 6:43 PMUpdated Feb 11, 2019 at 6:43 PM
GREENLAND -- Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney believes “the central question facing this country is how terribly divided we are.”
“I think we need more unity and more common purpose in this country. We’re way too divided and someone has to run (for president) who actually cares about that,” Delaney said after visiting the Coakley landfill Monday with scientist and former state Rep. Mindi Messer and state Rep. Mike Edgar, D-Hampton.
Delaney, a businessman who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland’s 6th Congressional district, described himself as a “problem solver” who believes the country over the last several decades has “been too busy fighting and not spending enough time solving problems.”
One way to do that, he said, is to offer Americans a “different kind of leadership. We need a president who doesn’t act like half the country is entirely wrong about everything they believe,” he said.
“One of the things I’ve said as president in my first 100 days I would only do things in the first 100 days that have bipartisan support in the Congress,” he said. “There’s a huge list of things in the Congress right now that actually have strong bipartisan support but never get acted on.”
Asked for examples, he pointed to “criminal justice stuff, infrastructure, digital privacy, national service, there’s a whole bunch of really good ideas, immigration even there there’s common ground, but they never get acted on because we engage in these kind of big ideological battles.”
“I just think it would be amazing to have a president look at the American people at their inauguration and say, ‘I represent every one of you, whether you voted for me or not,’” he added.
Delaney listened to Messmer talk about how contaminants from the Coakley landfill have contaminated a well at a private home near Berry’s Brook and the Breakfast Hill Golf course.
The wells were contaminated by 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency describes as “a likely human carcinogen.”
The landfill in Greenland and North Hampton accepted waste from 1972 to 1982 and then incinerator waste until 1985. It was capped in 1998.
People living near the landfill have been concerned for several years that contaminants leaching from the site will contaminate their drinking water wells, especially since 1,4-dioxane and PFAS chemicals have been found at high levels in monitoring wells at the landfill.
Delaney heard about the issues at Coakley and visited Monday “to see what’s going on on the ground.”
“This issue affects people in many ways more than anything else,” he said.
Delaney planned to open his campaign office in Manchester on Monday night, and says he already has six people “on the ground in New Hampshire.”
He believes the EPA needs to be more aggressive in setting enforceable drinking water standards for PFAS chemicals.
“We’re seeing all the data that there are strong correlations between this and cancers and other conditions,” Delaney said. “It’s one of the reasons I’m a big supporter of the EPA because you need a framework.”
“The thing about water is it doesn’t know state boundaries ... that’s the issue with fracking and all of this stuff, you can’t rely on a state-by-state framework,” he said. “There is clearly a role for federal regulation of air and water quality.”
In addition to being a suspected carcinogen, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states PFAS exposure can harm childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, hurt the immune system and interfere with the human body’s hormones.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in products worldwide since the 1950s, including firefighting foam, non-stick cookware and water-repellent fabrics and carpet.
Delaney said his professional life has “always been about getting things done.”
“I grew up in a blue-collar family. I was a successful entrepreneur and now I’ve had the privilege of serving in Congress,” Delaney said about his background.
In terms of other issues he’d like to address, Delaney maintains there are “a lot of big things we’ve got to deal with, healthcare and education, environmental policy like we’re talking about today.”
In addition, he said, “huge parts of our country have been left behind with all the change that’s occurred driven by technology and globalization, and we actually need to get down to solving some of these problems.”