Page 18


The Texas OBSERVER e` The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1978 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 70, No. 3 February 17, 1978 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Demo crat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower MANAGING EDITOR Lawrence Walsh ASSOCIATE EDITOR Linda Rocawich EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger ASSISTANT EDITORS: Colin Hunter, Teresa Acosta; Vicki Vaughan PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Susan Lee, Susan Reid STAFF ASSISTANTS: Margaret Watson, Bob Sindermann, Cathy Stevens, Debbie Wormser, Margot Beutler, Leah Miller, Connie Larson, David Guarino, Beth Epstein, Beverly Palmer, Harris Worcester, Gerald McLeod, Larry Zinn, Janie Leigh Frank, Katherine Sicard CONTRIBUTORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely, Don Gardner, Warren Burnett, Rod Davis, Steve Russell, Paul Sweeney, Marshall Breger, Jack Hopper, Stanley Walker, Joe Frantz, Ray Reece, Laura Eisenhour, Dan Hubig, Ben Sargent, Berke Breathed, Eje Wray, Luther Sperberg, Roy Hamric, Thomas D. Bleich, Mark Stinson, Ave Bonar, Jeff Danziger, Lois Rankin, Maury Maverick Jr., Bruce Cory, John Henry Faulk, Chandler Davidson, Molly Ivins, Ralph Yarborough, Laura Richardson, Eric Hartman, Tim Mahoney BUSINESS STAFF: Cliff Olofson, Alice Embree, Ricky Cruz A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal offree voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co.. biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year. in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $30. Foreign, except APO/FPO, SI additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. 7.41311t-‘1.7! Editorial and Business Offices: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 Leave it If simple competence rates a five on a one-to-ten scale of gubernatorial ability, Dolph Briscoe is about a two, and that’s giving the fellow the benefit of all doubts. Recently the governor flubbed another simple task, this time possibly undermining two years of effort by a broadly based citizens committee that had worked with Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong to develop a plan to cope with some of the growth problems along the Texas coast. It was Briscoe’s responsibility to appoint a Natural Resources Council and advisory committee to administer a state coastal management program, hire a staff for the council and then serve as its chairman. Less than a month remains before the NRC is supposed to issue a comprehensive report on coastal problems, complete with recommendations for action, but the council has yet to meet, its staff has hardly done a lick of work on coastal matters and the advisory committeefilled with Briscoe cronieshas only just been appointed. The coastal management issue, as complex as it is important, cries out for state officials who are politically adept problem solvers. For some years now, industry and population have been surging down Texas’ 367-mile coastline, and clashes among competing interests over proper uses and care of the area have taken an increasingly hostile turn. The challenge to state government is somehow to balance the conflicting needs of shrimpers, oil companies, hunters, chemical firms, ranchers, developers, conservationists and others so that all might live and work together without destroying the very region that attracts them in the first place. It is the kind of issue that will confront Texas officials more and more as our population spreads and as large extractive and polluting industries put an ever greater strain on the state’s natural resources. Under the terms of the 1972 federal coastal zone management act, states were encouraged to face up to such growing pains. The feds promised that their own coastal development regulations would be adjusted to conform to approved state programs, and the U.S. money would be made available to help administer them. Land Commissioner Armstrong was designated by then-Gov. Preston Smith to develop Texas’ plan. To help him do the job, Armstrong convened a 40-member advisory committee in 1975, pulling together all of the diverse interests at odds on coastal development. Included were representatives of the Texas Farmers Union, Exxon, the League of Women Voters, Dow Chemical, the Texas Environmental Coalition, the Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, the Texas Nature Conservancy, Tenneco, the Sportsmen Clubs of Texas, Houston Lighting & Power, and the Texas Shrimp Association. To the surprise of everyone, these naturally competing elements were able to work together on each other’s problems and reach final agreement on a legislative package, which was introduced in Austin last year. The Legislature passed the proposals without dissent in the Senate and with only one “nay” vote in the House. Everything was moving ahead, and there was optimism all around. Enter Dolph Briscoe. First he delayed signing the legislation, apparently because he was unaware of its history and because 2 FEBRUARY 17, 1978