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Nineteen Rights Make a Wrong Before the last legislative session, TENRAC passed a resolution in favor of the one-mile limit the favorite solution of the oil and gas industry, but one that will keep the cities poor. The Coastal Natural Resources Report recommended that the legislature decide the problem quickly, and look for ways to help the cities make up their lost revenues. There was still room for NRPAC to make recommendations, and it was expected to do so, but Louis Beecherl stood in the way. The Beecherl style is the sort of thing high school civics teachers don’t talk controversy at all costs; if possible, pass decisions on to the legislature. Beecherl approves of recommendations by saying they are “harmless,” or “don’t have any meat” to them. And in response to the ongoing gulfward annexation controversy, he said, “. . . let the legislature hack it out. . . I don’t see that that’s even a question. We have already acted on it. Don’t fool with it anymore.” “I believe in the one-mile limit. Let them fight it out.” But TENRAC is supposed to make recommendations and the issues ARE controversial. the people especially oil and gas people. For instance, Beecherl strongly opposed suggesting that counties be required to formulate a dune protection policy. \(Although many Texas counties have the statutory authority to do so in some areas, only Nueces county has would be good for the environment, but could be a hassle for oil and gas producers, who would have to abide by the policies in laying pipelines. Thus Beecherl argued that there should be no requirement for counties to set policies: “If they want to do it, they can do it.” Watered Down Mark Lawless, director of TENRAC’s natural resources division answered, “And I think we are suggesting that this group should make a statement that it is wrong, and that they haven’t done it and would be required to do it.” Beecherl: “What about the people that live down there, and own the land? That’s their area you’re here from Austin and you’re going to tell them what to do?” Lawless: “Yes sir, that’s what we want to do.” It is good to keep in mind that Lawless’ point is the one TENRAC is founded on dunes, like many other natural resources of state, should be held in trust for the people of the entire state so they can enjoy the resources and have the protection they afford. But Beecherl is committee chairman. Disregard facts and studies with aplomb, and make your opinion the law. Thus where ten years of Texas legislation follows the well-tested idea that man-made structures contribute to dune destruction, Beecherl refused to recommend dropping the oil and gas exception from the Dune Protection Act, ostensibly because “I don’t think all these structures contribute to erosion.” Ask the lobbyists if it’s all right. In Committee By the end of the June 9 meeting, the watery recommendations of TENRAC’s study groups were watered down still further. Two of the nine areas of recommendations wetlands and dunes were taken out altogether, and are to be presented to TENRAC for information, but with no recommendations for action. And the other seven areas, worked over by Beecherl & Co. until they were sufficiently “harmless,” will be presented to TENRAC at the next full meeting. Some good things got through the NRPAC. One recommendation calls for disclosure of beach erosion to potential coastal home buyers. Another good recommendation calls for planning to participate in offshore revenue sharing with the federal government, if available; and will set up a search for alternate sources By Alfred J. Watkins Washington, D.C. p RETEND FOR A MOMENT that it is election day and you are a progressive deciding which con gressional candidate deserves your vote. Also imagine that you must choose between the incumbent Democrat and a Republican challenger along the lines of Texas congressmen Jack Fields or Ron Paul. Whom do you select? “Ah, that’s obvious,” you reply. “Democrats are always more progressive, especially on foreign policy and social issues.” If you plan to vote in West Virginia or Michigan or Arizona this November, you would probably be correct. But if you live in Texas and your Congressman is Sam Hall, Phil Gramm, or any of at least a half dozen other nominal Democrats, voting for the Republi of funding if federal funds do not come through. \(Though Beecherl originally said “I don’t think you need to look at it. I don’t think it’s any of their business,” eventually he agreed to go along with the proposal, saying that it “is pretty harmless.” If we are not careful, the good that did get through could still be taken away from us. This is just one public hearing, like many others that will occur before the legislature comes back into town. If the rest of them are like this one, we won’t have to worry about our life, liberty and property being taken away by the legislature it will already have been handled in committee, and all in public hearings. But no one pays attention, because it’s all so dull. Boredom is a smokescreen for the really important things that go on. The greatest thefts are the most banal. As for the report, if there is no public response, then TENRAC will probably accept and pass on the emasculated committee report to the legislature, which will in turn pass it and we will all be the worse for it. That meeting is in September; it’s time to gear up for a fight, if we expect to receive our due. John Schwartz is a law student at UTAustin and former editor of the Daily Texan. can challenger might actually give the Texas delegation a slightly more progressive complexion. This startling conclusion comes from a recently-published article in the nonpartisan National Journal analyzed every member’s 1981 economic policy, foreign policy, and social policy voting record. The study was designed to determine which members are more conservative than average and which are more liberal than average keeping in mind that this is one of the most conservative Congresses in the post-war period. According to the National Journal’s ranking, Mickey Leland, Henry B. Gon zalez and Jim Mattox not only topped the list of Texas liberals but were also among the most liberal members of the entire Congress. They were trailed by Martin Frost and Jack Brooks moder THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5