Sunday, January 18, 2009

Office For Sale

Really good luck struck reporters for the Dallas Morning News when bankruptcy filings fell into their hands in the matter of placing a polluting industry into El Paso, TX. The prospective polluter could have kept records under wraps without the bankruptcy filing. The process revealed is enlightening in a way, showing what steps the company took to get friendly commissioners put on the 'supervisory' board, and provides a lesson in corruption.

As we all are well aware, in Texas voluntary disclosure of pollution, which set in under the cretin in chief now leaving the occupied White House, allows industry to keep from conforming to law. The process of peppering what supervision there is with industry shills is another enabling method.

...the El Paso permit posed a problem. The smelter was shut down and in dubious shape. In a federal case, the Environmental Protection Agency assumes that a plant mothballed for two or more years has enough cracks, leaks and rust to require a whole new permit and lots of questions – not just a renewal of its old permit.

By 2007, Asarco had been dark for eight years.

But this was a state permit. Asarco needed only to persuade the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

It was in that context that Giblin had to consider the elevation of Buddy Garcia.

Just shy of 40 in March 2007, Garcia was a relative unknown who had been an aide to his family friend and hometown mentor, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, and held a raft of jobs under Perry.

In spring 2007, the governor handed him one of Texas' most powerful posts, and he became one of three full-time commissioners on the TCEQ. He was not a lawyer, engineer or rancher – he had a political science degree from Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State – but if confirmed, he might cast the deciding vote.

On March 7, 2007, around a table pulled into the middle of the dark-paneled Senate chamber during a recess, Garcia got his first public grilling on Asarco. It came from Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, a nominations committee member, lawyer and determined enemy of Asarco's plan.

Shapleigh read the TCEQ's mission statement and then detailed Asarco's history: pollution, bankruptcy, local opposition, legal questions over its permit, a 1998 EPA memo on hazardous-waste burning in the smelter and demands for a criminal investigation.
As Garcia's hearing concluded, Senate approval looked like a lock, based in part on pledges like this: Garcia said his door would always be open – "unless precluded by law."

The next week, he got his confirmation.

The records are rife with events such as these. The regulators in Texas are another example of foxes guarding the henhouse, and that is how the right wing intends it to be. Convinced that destruction of public interest promotes the economy, they plow ever deeper into corruption and venality.

If they were intelligent life, though, they wouldn't be in the right wing now, would they?

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Blogger Elpaso said...

See for more information --

The Bankruptcy court, the Federal Dept. of Justice Bankruptcy Trustee, our El Paso Politicians, the NM politicians -- none are discussing or trying to find out what Dioxins are here from the decade of secret toxic-waste burning for profit. We don't know the Dioxin level, the PCB levels, the actinides, the polonium (radioactive lead) levels -- nothing.

The TOXIC WASTE is being ignored.

Please help us spread the word. It is not just the TCEQ at fault - it is our EPA, some people in the DOJ (not all), and political pressure to put in an elevated toll road right by the ASARCO stack next to our water supply -- to put in an international rail border crossing within the 30 mile toxic "shadow" of Asarco - and for Mexico to build the Camino Real highway to another proposed port of entry 2 miles from ASARCO's stack.

There is pressure to create a regional environmental authority to match the recent creation of a Regional Mobility (highway/rail) authority -- that has no accountability and has legal ability to make contracts in Mexico, TX and NM, here. Already fuel taxes are being tested in Cd Juarez for use against environmental "damages". Local people will have no ability to request open records or FOIAS for what would go on inside a regional environmental authority - and there'd be no accountability.

Bill Sanders NM and others in Mexico are building the test-international-city called San Jeronimo-Santa Teresa right within the toxic shadow of ASARCO; and there is a lot invested (35,000 maquiladora workers making slave wages on one side; and a planned community on the other side with parks and roads).

What we need is good science and total disclosure of what the EPA and DOJ let us know (10/2006 - see ASARCO secretly and illegally burned for profit for a nearly a decade. No one has told us and we need and deserve to know.

Don't put all the blame on the TCEQ -- look at the EPA (region 9) that encompasses NM and TEXAS and ask them why they didn't protect us.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Thanks, I have shared this with several folks with an interest in environmental concerns.

7:24 AM  

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