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FARM INCOME is the SAME in 1977-78 as it was in 1974 while the price we ALL pay is inflated by 33% UP OVER 200% ON SOME FARM ITEMS WU’O uipal TO CHANOV THAT TO /MOP MAISITROOY !SATINS Texas ITS Farmers Oa Union OK 800 LAKE MR DR. WACO, TEXAS 76710 817 772.7220 THE COS PRICE Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 ‘Dialogue Comptroller comments Now, you know that those U.S. Department of Commerce figures are no good \(Obs., And you also know that most government reports ain’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Except mine, of course. I’m glad you liked my “big Texas sombrero.” Bob Bullock Comptroller of Public Accounts Shell begs to differ I do not disagree with your statements that strip mining can consume enormous amounts of water, affect its quality, cause erosion, flooding, and kill fish \(Obs., that lignite burning in power plants can pollute the air and cause acid rain. When you add this all up, your reader has got to have the blue blazes scared out of him and start thinking that lignite mining and coal burning could become one of the greatest tragedies ever thrust on Texans and, for that matter, modern civilization. But hold onit does not have to be that way. Granted, you have seen and reported on some of these shortcomings and prospective dangers, but recent new laws come down hard on these abuses and force the industries to either clean up their respective acts or face stiff fines and risk having their entire operations closed down. That’s the way it’s going to be; mining interests in Texas and throughout the U.S. will either abide by these tough regulations or elect not to mine. While we cannot speak for other mining interests in Texas, Shell intends to develop its Milam County mine interest in full compliance with the 1977 Federal Surface Mining Control Act and all other federal, state and local regulations applicable to the operation. In Milam County, we will take almost eight years to acquire land, design a mine plan, conduct environmental studies, secure our permits, sign a long-term sales coal contract, order our equipment, and train our employees, before we even start to mine. This is not a clandestine, covert operation, and it is pure fantasy for you to say that “the public isn’t even aware that anything is afoot until suddenly one morning citizens wake up to find a 20-story-high power shovel parked on the edge of town.” An operation of this magnitude requires a continuous, open dialogue with the area’s citizens. Such has been and will continue to be the case in Milam County or any other place where Shell has operating interests. The public can rest assured that we don’t intend to go into that area and operate irresponsibly with total disdain for the land and the people who live there. Our employees will live there too, and we fully expect them and our operation to become an integral, vital part of the community. Your point that the mining industry likes strip mining, unfortunately, leaves the impression that its higher productivity and lower mining costs are exclusive benefits of industry. There are other benefits, too. For example, strip mining is much safer for the worker. It was associated with 24 fatal injuries in 1976 compared to 109 for underground mines. Non-fatal disabling injuries in 1976 totaled 1,898 for strip mines compared to 11,055 for underground mines. Importantly, when strip-mined Texas lignite is compared to alternate coal supplies acquired through underground mines, higher transportation costs, etc., the Texas consumer is the ultimate winner. Texas lignite mined with a higher productivity, lower costs, and convenient access to present and future Texas generating and industrial plants will yield lower utility rates and lower prices than alternate coal supplies obtained from underground mines. It’s a matter of economics and a competitive market place at work rather than an illegal monopolistic control of one supply source. So, before you write off mining as another rip-off of the Texas consumer, give it a chance; we think you will be pleasantly surprised. E. M. Munger Shell Oil Company Houston Defensible? So the Pentagon’s “extraordinary expense” fund which paid for Bill Clements’s farewell present is essential to the “mission of the Defense Department” \(Obs., should invade, does he plan to throw his cufflinks at them? J. D. Phaup Kingsville IF YOU ARE an occasional reader and would like to receive The Texas Observer regularlyor if you are a subscriber and would like to have a free sample copy or a one-year gift subscription sent to a friend here’s the order form: SEND THE OBSERVER TO name address city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscriptionsend card in my name sample copy onlyyou may use my name $14 enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $14 MY NAME & ADDRESS THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 24 OCTOBER 6, 1978