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i fIN The Texas 1LJBSERVER PUBLISHER, RONNIE DUGGER s’ The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1979 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 004045191 Editorial and Business Office 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 Publisher’s Office P,O. Box 6570, San Antonio, Texas 78209 Eby Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a threeweek interAwes twice a year, in January and July: 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. 750 prepaid. One year, $15: two years. $28; three Years. $40. Airmail, foreign, group. and bulk rates on request. Microfilmed by MCA 1620 Hawkins Avenue. Box 10, Sanford. N.C. 27330. POD CHASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. MANAGING EDITOR Linda Rocawich ASSOCIATE EDITOR Eric Hartman PRODUCTION MANAGER: Beth Epstein ASSISTANT EDITORS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob Sinderrnann Jr. STAFF ASSISTANTS: Lorraine Atherton. Jeannette Garrett, Dave HOser. Donna Ng, Anne Norman, Martha Owen, Karen White, Harris blestgt. D. Bleich, Ave Bonar, Berke Breathed, War, Won, Bruce Cory, Keith Dannemiller, Jeff *John Henry Faulk, David Guarino, Roy rd Jack Hopper, Dan Hubig, Molly Ivins, 444-ry Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Hans*akin, Ray Reece, Susan Reid, Laura ‘..:Sargent, John Spragens Jr., Sheila R. ; Ralph Yarborough 1 of free voices We will serve no up 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 con tents 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 of free voices. Observations On Clements and the oil spill San Antonio Sensational as the Ixtoc I and the Burmah Agate oil spills have been, especially for Texans along the coast, these disasters are only a part of the situation. In 1978, the last year for which the facts have been compiled, 14,741 oil spills were brought to the attention of the U.S. Coast Guard, and they resulted in 8,000 civil-penalty lawsuits. As anyone who knows the score would expect, the Texas Legislature has done little to protect citizens and businesses damaged by such spills, and Gov. William Clements would be better advised to address that fact than to continue to use his high office to defend the company he founded against the charges that it was liable for Ixtoc I. The area of that one well in Campeche Bay, Ixtoc I, is expected to produce 800 million barrels of high-quality oil, and by the end of 1980, because of discoveries in the bay, Mexico plans to be producing 2.25 million barrels a day. Since there will be much more deep drilling in the Gulf, Ixtoc I, the worst oil spill in history, may be merely a precursor of what’s ahead. The Ixtoc I blowout occurred June 3 in the well’s “Christmas tree” complex of tubes and valves that rises above the ocean floor. When oil-firefighter Red Adair could not seal it up, two offset wells were drilled to relieve the pressure, but both seem to have missed the oil formation. Engineers for Mexico’s national oil company, Pemex, forced more than 100,000 two-inch metal balls into Ixtoc I to reduce the pressure, but these may only have changed the form, without much reducing the volume, of the Gulf-polluting flow. Working with Brown & Root, Pemex positioned over the well a 310-ton steel bell \(called, natin a spout so that it can be pumped off. But the Pemex experts have been admitting that the well may not be finally shut down for months, even though it has already spilled more than 100 million barrels of oil into the Gulfmore than twice the amount spilled in the worst previous spill, from the wreck of the Amoco Cadiz off the French coast in 1978. The underwater gusher that despoiled Texas beaches last summer could despoil them again when the seasonal tides reverse next spring. The satanic spirit that supervises the pollution of the earth, evidently displeased upon seeing the Texas beaches returning to their pristine splendor this fall, arranged then, for November 1, the collision of the oil tanker Burmah Agate and the freighter Mimosa eight miles off Galveston. Both ships burst into flames; 32 crewmen died. The tanker was carrying 390,000 barrels of light crude oil in 30 tanks, and while the fires on the Mimosa were doused, those on the tanker raged on. “Firefighting efforts were completely frustrated in the first 48 hours after the collision by this country’s complete lack of salvage equipment at its major ports,” according to Captain Roger Madson of the Coast Guard, chairman of the clean-up task force off Galveston. “They had to call in a company from the Netherlands, and they had to bring in and outfit two foreign flag vessels to handle the fire.” Meanwhile, of course, tarballs and oil gunk stained the beaches again. “The firefighting effort has been totally in adequate to the task,” according to a telegram from State Sens. Babe Schwartz of Galveston, Carlos Truan of Corpus Christi, Vol. 71, No. 20 December 14, 1979 BUSINESS MANAGER: Cliff Olofson ADVERTISING SALES REPRESENTATIVE Rhett Beard, 700 Rio 2 DECEMBER 14, 1979 Cover photo: F. Baldwin