Texas Propaganda on Hazardous Waste Bill
An article that implied there was an irresponsible bill specific to Hazardous Waste activity in Texas was circulated this week by a local Houston talk show host. While reading the piece, a lot of alarm bells started going off. I saw the same article on a website called wetexans. The latter site belongs to Debra Medina, former gubernatorial candidate. My concern was triggered by a mention of a compact with Vermont. Those of you who know me, realize much of the past two years, my focus has been on usage of interstate compacts in strengthening state powers and protection on the healthcare issue. The article did not reflect indepth knowledge of how interstate compacts work, particularly this one. I decided this was a strong accusation about the bill in question and I wanted to learn more. More troublesome is the fact the Sierra Club was quoted in the article as raising the initial doubts about the power of this bill. Fear mongering for any reason, is not appropriate as an action. The Sierra Club is an extremist leftist organization which puzzled me more, as the two sources for the article claim to be conservatives. In Dallas, an article was written by a liberal blogger who quoted Mother Jones (yet another leftist organization).
Here is the link to the first opinion piece that was circulated with false accusations and inaccurate information: http://community.icontact.com/p/thecivilright/newsletters/thecivilright/posts/the-patriots-digest
Here is the link to the second opinion piece on Hazardous Waste: http://www.wetexans.com/dumping-on-texas/ Originally this second article was identical to the first one. It was changed one day after news of my investigation n Austin was brought to the attention of the ladies. Although “facts” of this news article are cleaned up a little, the inaccuracies are still there.
The opinion piece was regarding Texas House Bill 2184. Click on the following link to go the Texas State Legislature site for the complete information on the bill: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/billlookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=78R&Bill=HB2184#
Sierra Club had issues with the vagueness of the article and were worried about the implications of “any kind of waste could be dumped in Texas” by taking away part of the necessary process. The two ladies perpetuated blogs that took this bit of information, coupled it with the fact a private company is involved and developed a story of political favors, taxpayers that would suffer, and the overall horrors of Hazardous Materials and Texas. A piece of journalism that capitalizes on fear, doubt, and uncertainty at the expense of Texans. Who were the two women attempting to “help”?
I went to two sources for fact checking. First, I read all the published materials on the Texas legislative website to discern what we are talking about. Most importantly, I went to Austin yesterday, to speak directly with the legislator who sponsored the bill. Texas State Representative, Tryon D. Lewis spoke with me at length about the initial state compact previously developed around the disposal of hazardous waste and the why of it. The states simply cannot afford to develop their own solutions, so the usage of private companies is not unusual. Representative Tryon does not know Mr. Simmons, the head of the private company used in Texas(note the accusation of political favors in the article) . The facts I found to refute the premise and the focus of the article are abundant. The “compact” mentioned previously is actually an interstate compact. Texas agreed several years ago, that low level hazardous materials could be disposed of in remote Texas locations. It was the most cost effective way to dispose of Texas Waste and provide help for disposal of waste from Vermont. As with any Interstate Compact (especially involving hazardous materials), there are a lot of reporting checkpoints and safeguards on this process.
Here are the facts for Texans: Texas taxpayers are not in jeopardy on these projects. There are bonds and securities put up by the private company prior to any project. Another fact is low level radiation waste becomes benign after a relatively short time. The amount of waste and type of waste is fully regulated and this bill does not change the substance of the interstate compact. Texas does receive some revenue on these projects.
The current bill does not change anything, but the mechanics of an existing state compact.
The blogs by the two ladies mentioned, indicated there was a lot of room for latitude and misuse of the law with regard to the type of hazardous waste, etc. This simply is not the case. A Sierra Club quote was used to support their theory. Other blogs that are all fired up about the possible misuse of this law, have appeared in other parts of the state use quotes from Mother Jones, another leftist article.
What is clear is these are not the works of conservatives, nor was the articles accurate. The biggest question in all of this: “what are writers hoping to achieve by circulating these articles”.