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Zero Population Growth In the past two months, nine Zero Population Growth chapters have been founded m Texas. The organization is dedicated to convincing persons to limit their families to two children on the assumption that if population growth continues at its present rate, the world will quickly run out of critical resources. The organization will be lobbying during the 1971 legislative session to legalize abortion and to make all methods of birth control freely accessible. Following are addresses for Texas ZPG chapters: Arlington: c/o Miss Sandra Edwards, 1644B Carter Drive. Austin: c/o Dr. Guy Bush, 4605 Balcones Dr. Beeville: c/o Miss Elizabeth Hall, Route 1, Bee County College. Dallas: Miss Jean Douglass, c/o STOP, 908A Magellan Circle.. Fort Worth: c/o Jerry Arnett, 3471 Paint Trail Tarrant County ZPG, P. 0. Box 16223. Fredericksburg: c/o Wina Baethage, Harper Road, Box 4. Houston: c/o Mrs. Nancy Berg, 3401 Elegia. San Angelo: c/o Dick Snyder, 420 West Beau, Apt. 12. San Antonio: c/o Judith Currie, 407 Yukon. to punish polluters. He suggested that the committee “take a look at the law and see what action has been taken.” O’Rourke explained that the Railroad Commission, rather than the Water Quality Board, has jurisdiction over oil polluters. The commission can request that the attorney general levy a $1000 a day for each infringement of commission rules, but no such penalty has ever been administered to an oil polluter. The Land Office can make an oil company shut down operations because of a leak, but such action is rarely taken. O’Rourke asked Roy Payne, director of field operations for the Railroad Commission, what it would take for him to recommend action against a polluter. “We have three outstanding Texas lawyers whc, make up the Railroad Commission,” Payne answered. “The only way we can recommend legal action is for them to approve. . . . That is the prerogative of the commissioners.” PAYNE AFFIRMED that the commission has never filed a lawsuit against a polluter. “Most spills are of an accidental nature and consequently no punitive action has been taken,” he explained. \(This explanation prompted Felton West of the Houston Post to columnize: “Well, hallelujah! As long as things are just accidental, let’s don’t enforce the law. Let’s just use it against those who blow up their oil wells or pipelines on purpose because they don’t Payne went on to say, “Any time we feel we have a case, we won’t hesitate to go to court,” but, he added, “You can’t go to court without substantial evidence you look foolish if you try.” Under questioning by State Rep. Frances Farenthold of Corpus Christi, the administrator said that the Railroad Commission’s primary interest is in cleaning up spills, rather than in preventing pollution. He said the commission has discussed the possibility of drawing up a contingency plan for oil spills, but it has yet to do so. Administrators’ reluctance to take steps to prevent pollution or to punish polluters is debilitating enough, but the situation is made even more difficult by the fact that pollution control duties are spread among a number of agencies, all with different aims. The Railroad Commission emphasizes cleaning up spills; the WQP, stopping pollution; Parks and Wildlife, protecting flora and fauna. None of the agencies is charged with broad ecological responsibilities. “There is a confusion of responsibility along our coastline. Between the Water Quality Board and the Railroad Commission there is a no man’s land. I find it a source of constant confusion,” Mrs. Farenthold told Hugh Yantis, chief enforcement officer for the Water Quality Board. Yantis disagreed. “It’s either in Mr. Payne’s jurisdiction or in mine. There is not a no man’s land,” he said. Representatives from the RR Commission, the WQB, the Parks and Wildlife Commission, and the Land Office all insisted that they cooperate to the fullest in the area of pollution control. Yet, O’Rourke \(or Mr. O’Leary as Roy Payne insisted upon calling him throughout the by the Parks and Wildlife Commission that were unknown to the Railroad Commission. Implicit in criticism of the state’s pollution control setup was the need for a central agency with broad authority to protect the environment. State officials mentioned a few plans for immediate improvements. A composite map including the routes of all pipelines in the state of Texas is being compiled. Once it is completed, it will be easier to spot the possible sources of a particular oil leak. The Water Quality Board, Yantis said, “has a fairly complete outline for an oil spill plan.” Corpus Christi has the most comprehensive spill contingency plan, and the WQB will distribute copies of it to all Texas mayors with the suggestion that they draw up similar papers for their areas. STATE OFFICIALS ARE conferring with President Nixon’s staff concerning the recently announced national plan for federal cleanup of oil spills. The Water Quality Improvement Act of 1970 authorizes a $35-million revolving fund to pay for the, cost of cleanups, and Nixon says he will ask for an appropriation of the full amount. The plan calls for the training of a Coast Guard “strike force” to deal with oil spills. Ship owners responsible for dumping oil are required to reimburse federal cleanup costs for up to $14 million or $100 a gross ton of the vessel, whichever is less. Owners of onshore and offshore facilities are liable under the plan for up to $8 million in cleanup costs. During the Austin hearing, Senator Schwartz indicated that he favors requiring oil companies to file oil spill contingency plans with the state as a prerequisite for the granting of drilling permits. Schwartz suggested companies be required to post bonds which they would forfeit for non-compliance with Railroad Commission regulations. The Galveston senator mentioned that company responsible for the recent massive spill off the Louisiana coast, has a five-year lease on a portion of Galveston Bay. “Chevron oil has been indicted by the federal government on criminal charges,” Schwartz said. “I don’t want an oil company as honest as Chevron Oil to be in a position to destroy Galveston Bay for all time.” He recommended a rule to prevent a company under criminal indictment in a drilling case from drilling within the state of Texas. Schwartz argued that the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty is the right of an individual and not of a corporation. Schwartz indicated that he and other Galveston citizens might mount opposition when Chevron petitions the Railroad Commission for a drilling permit in Galveston Bay. It will be the committees’ duty to propose pollution control legislation to the next Legislature. Meanwhile the fate of state’s bays and beaches will be in the hands of the oil companies. K.N. The ricebirds The rice birds flew and flew and flew; I saw them over bayou, highway, dump. The ricebirds held formationflyers Of the escadrilles, drilled in poignant Waves of rug-like sweeps, stiff Nomenclatures of the dawn. GEORGE W. de SCHWEINITZ Beaumont June 26, 1970 3