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low Panhandle Rep. Jack Hightower point to when they discard the idea that their area will ever be home to the MX. Hance’s press aide has speculated that there is less than a 10 percent chance the MX will be located in Texas. Tower shares that opinion, calling the Texas site “highly unlikely.” Worried Panhandle residents, however, point out that politics, not military or environmental concerns, have a way of being the decisive factor in governmental decisions. They note with some rancor that they are already home for the nation’s only nuclear weapons manufacturing and assembly plant Pantex which is just northeast of Amarillo. They also note that other government agencies are conducting studies to see whether or not the nation’s highlevel nuclear wastes should be stored under Panhandle soil. “It’s a political question,” SANE’s Cortright said on a recent swing through the Panhandle. “The answer depends on two things: first, how much opposition there is in Nevada and Utah to MX, and second, how much opposition there is in Texas and New Mexico.” There is considerable opposition in Utah and Nevada. In fact, during November general election balloting, 70 percent of the residents voting on a referendum issue voted against having the MX in their area. But opposition is just beginning in the Panhandle one of the most conservative and traditionally Republican areas of Texas. It’s largely a grass-roots movement, centered in farming communities like Hereford, which is about 40 miles southwest of Amarillo. Frank Ford, a health food evangelist who turned Panhandle grain into a fortune, is one leader of the Texas campaign to stop the MX. He began circulating petitions for citizen signatures late in November. He wrote the petition’s preamble him self: “We, the undersigned citizens of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, hereby serve notice that any feasibility study for placing the MX missile in this area is a gross waste of taxpayers’ money, that this is one of the richest agricultural regions in this nation, that the world food supply is shrinking, and that any consideration of this area for a network of nuclear silos and targets is going to be met with fierce and determined resistance by the citizens of this area through the court system and the legislative and executive branches of state and federal government . . . ” Many other opponents root their opposition in the same soil, saying the government could use its own desert property in the West for missile deployment. The Texas Wheat Growers Association, a hide-bound conservative group, passed a resolution at its late November convention calling for removal of the Panhandle from consideration for the missile project. The Public Land Council of the National Cattlemen’s Association opposes the system. The New Mexico Farm Bureau passed a resolution in November opposing the system’s location in the New Mexico area. The MX Action Group has just formed in Lubbock. The Panhandle Environmental Awareness Committee, which recently filed a lawsuit asking that Pantex be made to complete an EIS, is also fighting the MX project. Even organized government groups are taking the MX very seriously. The Panhandle Regional Planning Commiselected officials from 26 counties and as many cities and other governments, appointed a special committee in August to scrutinize the Air Force EIS when it is finally released. The committee is chaired by former state Senator Max Sherman, now president of West Texas State University, and includes the chairman of the board which oversees the Texas Department of Health. At its first meeting, the committee passed a resolution demanding that the Air Force comply with federal regulations in conducting “scoping” hearings in West Texas before issuing its EIS. Scoping hearings are intended to help set the parameters for the resulting EIS. The Air Force skipped this part of the procedure in the Panhandle, but in response to the committee’s resolution, the Air Force held December hearings in Amarillo and Dalhart, and in Clovis and Portales, N.M. Strong opposition surfaced at the hearings, with representatives of environmental and farm groups, as well as urban citizens, arguing against the system on grounds that it would ruin a great agricultural area and that the system is a massive boondoggle which will increase the arms race and world-wide tensions. Sister Regina Foppe, a Victory Noll Sister who lives in Lubbock, summed up the feelings of many in an eloquent plea for more human-directed enterprises: “We cannot afford to contaminate or destroy either human life or the environment,” she said. “If we allow it to happen or set the stage to encourage it to happen, we destroy ourselves with it.” Whether the public will succeed in changing the political climate enough to persuade the Air Force to put the MX somewhere else remains to be seen. Hearings are scheduled for January or February after publication of the draft EIS. Next summer, President Reagan will decide where to locate the system, if, in fact, he wants the system at all by that time. By the end of the decade, Nolan Henson either will be able to look out his window at some of the finest steak-onthe-hoof in the nation or he won’t have a window and he won’t have a home. Thanks for the Advice The environmental impact statement project has been called a “whitewash” by some employees of Henningson Barbara-based consulting firm preparing the statement. According to a report in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, HDR staffers have complained that management routinely edited and rewrote sections of the MX EIS in order to “make the data look better.” A sociologist who left the firm after working on the MX statement for a year called the relationship between the Air Force and HDR “sweetheart contracting.” A look at HDR’s record shows it isn’t the first time the company’s credibility has been questioned. In 1974 HDR prepared an EIS on the Navy’s Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. A challenge from a citizens group led to a federal appeals court ruling that the statement was deficient and that a supplementary report was needed. Specific charges of deficiencies in the MX EIS include over-reliance on hightech computer technologies, inadequate wildlife studies, insufficient field study and inadequate study of the MX’s socioeconomic impact. HDR staff scientists have criticized the firm’s use of sophisticatd Landsat high altitude photography, which they claim gives insufficient detail for adequate study. The analysis based on Landsat photos amounted to “guesswork” according to one staff member. The picture may not get better a negative EIS at this stage of development in the program would cause delays and could cost millions of dollars for redesign. Paula Manley THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15