Safeguarding corporate interests often entails depriving citizens of basic rights to safeguard themselves and their families.
Warren Darrel Chisum is no household name in the nation or even the state where he holds a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. But he does represent some of the simple-minded and dispassionate thinking of conservative politicians in my home state.
Rep. Chisum came to my attention in an e-mail alert from the Environment Defense Fund (EDF), a reputable organization I associate myself with. It turns out that the EDF is only one of many such groups to alert Texans about what Mr. Chisum is up to recently concerning the air we breathe and safe drinking water. It appears that this oil and natural gas producer in private life is trying to attach some amendments to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality operations bill (House Bill 2694) that “would make it virtually impossible for ordinary Texans to challenge the permit application for new pollution sources, like coal-fired power plants.” (SOURCE: EDF alert e-mail)
According to Annalisa Peace (you gotta love that name) with the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA), Chisum’s amendments are “designed to give polluters yet another advantage in the contested case process. It would place the ‘burden of proof’ on those contesting a pollution control permit. Currently the burden of proof is where it should be – on polluters – to demonstrate that their discharges into the water or emissions into the air will be within legal limits and will not produce adverse impacts”.
It seems odd that someone with any common sense at all who lived in close proximity to a coal-fired power plant would be aware that there are serious health risks that don’t exist in areas say like the wide open ranges of the Texas panhandle, near Pampa, where Mr. Chisum is from. Perhaps therein lies the problem. “Out of sight, out of mind” may be where Warren is coming from. He doesn’t have enough experience living amongst toxic emissions from commercial industrial enterprises to fully grasp the threat they can pose.
He’s on record for attempting to build a nuclear waste site in sparsely populated Andrews county, which is close to 300 miles from his hometown. There’s perhaps more jack rabbits in Andrews than there are people but Chisum’s willingness to place this dump site in there tells me two things. One, he’s aware that nuclear waste is nasty and dangerous to human health and two, those nasty and dangerous toxins are nowhere near his ranch in Gray county. If he were not in a political position to effect whether or not a nuclear waste dump was moving near his ranch, do you think he would support the amendments he is now trying to foist on fellow Texans?
It seems like all that’s being asked of Mr. Chisum here is to preserve the right to challenge when industries who use toxic chemicals in their production process are attempting to move into or near areas where families socialize and raise their children. Now I understand that many safety precautions are presumed taken and that certain levels of toxic elements pose no serious health risk to the population. But extra measures are still required to ensure that chemicals like arsenic, mercury and formaldehyde do not exceed acceptable levels and that all efforts are being stringently adhered to in order to prevent accidents that could release unacceptable levels into our air and water supplies.
To ask citizens who may challenge permit authorization for nuclear waste sites and dirty coal-fired power plants to prove that these places pose a threat to their well-being is to simply deny the potential risk they pose. Highways are fundamental components of our economy that aid in transporting good and services across the state and the country but we don’t plan them near neighborhoods where air quality is affected and the potential from getting hit by a car is greater. It’s not done because it’s unsafe and people have a right to challenge such actions. Yet Mr. Chisum doesn’t think that right should extend to places where radioactive material like radium and uranium exists along with the carcinogens of benzene and toluene.
Mr. Chisum is the pro-business, anti-government type that fill our legislative halls who too readily accept donor money from the very industries citizens need to be on their guard about. The fringe element that make up a large portion of this group also have some odd notions about things that leave reasonable people wondering if they didn’t fall head first from a large rock. In Mr. Chisum’s case it was how he extended “a courtesy to a member of the Georgia legislature”, Georgia state Rep. Ben Bridges, by using House operations to deliver a memo connecting the theory of evolution to some ancient teachings of the Pharisees.
Pro-business, anti-government types are what conservatives in Texas like until they see that some businesses have thorns and no moral compass and are protected by a representative of the government they installed. People like Chisum dismiss their critics too easily with a wave of a hand and tell us they have put a cop on the corner during working hours to insure a crime-ridden ghetto is safe. Then they drive off to their secure, gated community where a patrol car is there, 24-7, to keep people from stealing their material wealth that our labor has helped create.
All we ask for Mr. Chisum is what your Tea Party sympathies offer – preventing government from depriving us of our rights. Working people in Texas and the rest of the nation do what it takes to help generate wealth for corporate stockholders and foreign investors. Is it too much to ask that you give your constituents a modicum of security from the thieves who steal their good health. Can you throw us bone and let us at least still be able to reasonably protest what normal people would consider blatant disregard for others?
Warren Chisum bio – wikipedia
- URGENT: Chisum Amendments to Destroy Contested Case Hearing Process (texasgreenreport.wordpress.com)