uction costs running about $4 a bushel and market returns down to $2, farmers are just plain going broke, and they want President Carter to do something. In their campaign for increased price supports, farmers have staged a variety of protests. In Gray and Roberts counties this month, people collected wheat in shoe boxes and mailed about a hundred to the White House. Farm wives in Ochiltree County organized Women Involved in Farm Economics, and sent the President three thousand letters, enclosing in each enough money to buy the wheat in a loaf of breadthree cents. Farmers in Falls, Milam and Bell counties have voted to take their case directly to the people on Labor Day by driving tractors, grain trucks and other farm machinery in long processions on interstate highways and other byways. And protests have spread. Farmers in Colorado and Wyoming are joining the movement, and a representative from the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is expected to meet soon with Gray County activists. ‘Panhandle farmers are raising cain about the price of wheat. With prod Protest meeting in Zabcikville 141IwS gu i3 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Shortly before the Legislature convened for the special session on school finance, the three big oil companies that were putting up 52 percent of the capital for Seadock, Texas’ proposed offshore deepwater port, withdrew from the project, complaining that federal licensing restrictions were “excessive.” U.S. Dept. of Transportation regulations for Seadock operations contained both antitrust and pro-environment provisions, leading U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks to say in testimony before the House merchant marine and fisheries committee that Exxon, Mobil and Gulf Oil withdrew from the Seadock consortium because “they were faced with putting the public’s interest in front of their own . . . profit motivation.” Maybe so, but Brooks’ opposition to Seadock should be weighed against his support of a competing onshore facility in Galveston, which happens to be in his district. Houston congressman Bob Gammage, on the other hand, likes Seadock, which would be built in his district. When Gov. Dolph Briscoe threw the matter of Seadock financing to legislators convening for last month’s special session, members behaved as if civilized life in Texas would come to an end without the superport. Unlike 1975, when the issue of public vs. private ownership of the facility set off protracted debate, the funding guaranty proposal sailed through both houses with hardly a note of dissent. Much of the Texas coast is repre sented by labor-backed members who led the liberal-moderate charge for pubtime around, the public ownership vote was swelled by a better-public-than-none faction. Just about the only opponents were a small group of Republicans and conservative Democrats worried about creeping socialism. Two exceptions: construction, and big labor were all on the same side,” Lalor told the Obserer, “and no one wanted to throw his body in front of that juggernaut,” save himself and Weddington. On the Senate side, there were four nays, all conservatives. Mason Guest of the Galveston Sierra Club vainly pointed out that there might not be enough fresh water in the Freeport-Galveston-Houston area for both the additional refineries and the estuarial ecosystem of Galveston Bay, but nobody seemed concerned. For better or worse, Briscoe now has the power to set the Texas Deepwater Port Authority in motion if private funding fails. Half a million dollars in seed money would come from the state, with actual construction financed by revenue bonds which, theoretically, are backed not by the state treasury, but by superport income. The bill’s fiscal note, however, warns that default on the bonds could result in “some negative reflection on the credit standing of the state.” Briscoe can pull the plug on the superport any time before the bonds are floated, and some practicing paranoids speculate that the oil companies are waiting for Texas to run interference with the federal agencies before buying back in. “If Exxon figures Seadock is a bad investment for them,” wonders a knowledgeable legislative aide, “how can it be a good investment for the state?” Reason dictates that the three big oil companies would rather risk taxpayers’ money than their own, since they.will have access to, and probably management of, the superport no matter who builds it. A legal technicality has temporar ily prevented Hardin County commissioner T. S. Hooks from allowing Colby Lumber Co. to chop down thirty acres of the Big Thicket. With unex plained fervor, Hooks talked his fellow commissioners into approving Colby’s $6,000 bid to fell thousands of trees bor dering the historic Ghost Road, a nar row, eight-mile thoroughfare that for yths has delighted Thicket lovers with its insectivorous plant life and tunneling canopy. Many enthusiasts claim to have seen strange figures flitting through the AUGUST 26,1977 12
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