It Ain't Easy Being Green, Part 2, The Bush Tales

I’ve taken Gore to task for his rather abysmal record on the environment and his seeming inability to push the Clinton administration away from the conservative viewpoints it sadly embraced. We’ve seen that Gore really did little else other than offer lip service for any realistic programs that would protect the world’s environment from the abuses of the Global Economy for the last eight years.

The next question one must ask, of course, is would a Bush administration offer any solutions that the Democrats haven’t? Can we use the history of the state of Texas under Governor Bush to shine a light onto those policies being offered in the heat of the campaign? Has Bush a record of success in his state that he could translate into a national agenda to protect our planet?

Well, Tumbleweed most assuredly has an environmental record in Texas that we can learn from. Problem is, of course, that if he does become President and he also brings his environmental agenda with him, you can expect chunky air, thick brown water and soil that grows only the Frankenseeds that his owners in the chemical and agricultural industries sell.

Let’s look at just a few of the rankings from Texas that Bush brings to the table. Understand, not all of these problems are directly the fault of Tumbleweed but in most instances, the problem hasn’t exactly been addresses with any energy or dedication.

Texas is the #1 state in pollution released by manufacturing plants. ( 1 )

Texas is #1 in pollution by industrial plants in violation of the Clean Air Act.( 1 )

Texas is #1 in the production of greenhouse gas emissions. ( 1 )

Texas is #1 in overall toxic releases. ( 2 )

Texas is #1 in recognized carcinogens in the air. ( 2 )

Texas is #1 in suspected carcinogens in the air. ( 2 )

Texas is #1 in developmental toxins in the air (affecting brain and nervous system development in children). ( 2 )

Texas is #1 in cancer risk. ( 2 )

Texas is #1 in ten other categories of dangerous air pollutants in the environment, as well. ( 2 )

Of the 21 air-quality indices looked at by the EPA, every single one has gotten worse under Bush. ( 2 )

Along the Texas Gulf Coast, the area is home to the largest concentration of refineries and chemical plants in the United States which are responsible for 904,000 tons of air pollution and have for over thirty years. The main reason that this filth continues is the fact that, immediately after his election as Governor, Tumbleweed demanded the resignations of the entire board of what passes for an environmental protection agency, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (known in the state as “Trainwreck” due to its acronym T.N.R.C.C.). He replaced those three with John Baker (from the Texas Farm Bureau, an interest group that has opposed every single effort to regulate pesticide use within the state and which, in its other facade as an insurance company, owns a huge portfolio of chemical stocks), Ralph Marquez who took over as commissioner (and who spent thirty years working for Monsanto chemicals company and was then a lobbyist for the Texas Chemical Council who went to testify before Congress that ozone is “benign” and opposed efforts to strengthen federal air quality standards) and, finally, Barry McBee (who will replace Carole Browner at the EPA should Tumbleweed buy the presidency).

McBee is an excellent example of what Tumbleweed’s idea of “conservation” really is. Known as “the skinny Hitler” by his fellow statesmen in the Texas Senate, he has been known to fall to his knees to pray before casting another vote to open another hog farm somewhere in Texas. Another time, prior to another vote to open another landfill, he launched into a long winded homily about Christian love and mercy. McBee is so weird that he even scares his lobbyist friends from the business community.

As the deputy director of the Texas Department of Agriculture, nearly his very first act was to destroy the right-to-know protections for farm workers that had been introduced in 1986 by then state ag director Jim Hightower. The only requirement of the regulation was to post signs to warn workers when fields had been sprayed with pesticide that were still of a concentration dangerous to their health.

During the same period, McBee reduced the number of pesticide monitoring stations from twenty seven in 1985 to one in 1997 and reduced even the information available from that single station.

Under McBee, the already weak-kneed Trainwreck became the polluter’s best friend and protector. The agency introduced the policy of providing industries with advanced notice of “surprise” inspections.

When environmental organization’s complaints about the fact that 850 manufacturing plants that had been “grandfathered” under the Texas Clean Act of 1971, meaning they did not have to comply with any regulations by legislated time limits, were now responsible for over one third of all of the pollution in the entire state, Tumbleweed bolted into action. As the champion of the environment that he says he is, he quietly asked two of his buddies in the oil industry to outline a “voluntary” program for these plants. In 1997, these two executives called a meeting of two dozen industry representatives and showed them their new “voluntary” plan. According to a DuPont executive who attended that meeting, the plan was offered as a done deal and that the two presenters stated fairly clearly that, “...the Governor’s Office will “persuade” the T.N.R.C.C. to accept what program is developed between the industry group and the Governor’s Office.” In other words, the criminals were allowed to determine the measure of their punishment or even if they will receive any punishment at all.

Two years later, in 1997, Tumbleweed moved to have this nonsense enacted into law. Written by lobbyists who represent Exxon, Koch Industries, ASAECO and the like, the legislation was opposed by the liberal Democrats in the House and the object of angry editorials by every newspaper in the state, the sugar daddy law was enacted. Again, the industry had only to “voluntarily’ obey the legislation and had only to offer a written plan on how they intended to comply (they still didn’t have to comply - only explain what they would do if they were ever forced to comply).

When the bill’s House sponsor, Representative Ray Allen of Grand Prairie, was asked why he initiated the bill, he replied, “ protect Texas Utilities [a Dallas company’ and to make George Bush green for the presidential campaign.”

Even when Bush forgets himself and strays off message and a bit too close to reality for his owners, he is quickly slapped back down by his handlers and his owners. When he replied, during a 1999 press conference, “Yes, I think that global warning is a problem.”, the American Petroleum Institute declared itself “surprised” and that bastion of intelligent thought Danny Quayle stated that Bush was “surrendering, leading Tumbleweed to admit that there is “some warming, his advisers disagree about its cause and impact.” (2)

The result of all this is that more than 4,400 miles of Texas rivers - one third of those monitored - are so polluted they fail to meet federal standards for recreational and other uses. Despite the harm, Texas ranks 46th among states for water resources protection, yet Bush continues to condemn federal regulations. (3)

Finally, let’s listen to what others have to say about this “green” candidate. According to Deb Callahan of the League of Conservation Voters, “George W. Bush’s tenure as governor of Texas is marked by weak environmental regulations, neglects of Texas state parks, worsening air quality and a general governing philosophy that, if applied nationally, would jeopardize three decades of national environmental progress. We believe that Bush represents the biggest threat to the environment of any leading major party candidate. To boil it down, if Bush applied his ‘Texas knows best’ philosophy to the rest of the nation, we could see 30 years of environmental progress rolled back.”

Peter Altman, the Texas Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, flatly declares, referring to the “voluntary” aspects of the bill, “This is a frightening foreshadowing of how Bush would handle environmental policies at the national level. He [Bush] puts polluters in the driver’s seat.” ( 4 )

Texas has become the polluter's paradise under Bush, with the following information giving us all pause to consider just how dirty America will become under his rule: Over a three year period measured by Trainwreck (three fourths of his tenure in office), the average one-hour peak ozone measurement for 13 Texas cities increased from 115 ppb (parts per billion) to 129 ppb. The final nail in the coffin of Tumbleweed's lie of having any improvements for the environment to offer at the national level comes from this wee fact from the fair city of Houston, Texas, where, in 1997, the city took over the crown as the smog capital of America, when it recorded a record level of ozone particulates of 224 ppb. ( 5 )

Well, gentle readers, once again we learn that another candidate for president in 2000 simply doesn’t have what it takes to lead this nation towards a cleaner, healthier future. Tumbleweed, in fact, outshines nearly every other political candidate at any level in his obviously sick adherence to the edicts of his owners in Corporate America’s pollution industries. We can, thus, eliminate him from any possible fitness for the nation’s highest office.

Again, we have just one viable candidate for the office left and that is Ralph Nader. We’ll see what Nader brings to the table on the subject of the environment in our next article.

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