Chemicals is also acquainted with the Chemical Council. On April 7, he told the Observer his “right-to-know” bill \(HB 2117, coing held up by House Speaker Gib Lewis. Price pointed out that his bill was one of five out of the first 2,320 introduced that had not been referred to a committee. \(HB 1660, the companion bill to Uribe’s pesticide victim recovery bill, was what was behind Lewis’ delay. In his opinion, it was the Chemical Council \(see “Chemical Industry Opposes Right to Know,” TO, sor in sessions past of occupational health and safety and environmental bills, also knows the Chemical Council. This session it’s his hazardous waste siting bill ire. Watson’s bill would provide legislative direction to those state agencies which develop and then implement rules for the regulation of hazardous waste. Jon Fisher, whose title is director of research for the Texas Chemical Council, told the Beaumont Enterprise earlier this year that Watson’s bill is “environmentally irresponsible.” He explained that Gulf Coast industries prefer to dispose of their hazardous by-products closer to the plant to save on transportation, land acquisition, and insurance costs. The coastal-clay soil, Fisher said, offer “added protection,” and, in his opinion, engineering design could turn a flood-prone area into an environmentally safe site for hazardous wastes. Banning waste sites along the coast, Fisher noted, “is something the Sierra Club has been after for a long time.” “The federal EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has become a joke, and the Chemical Council of Industries has tunnel vision directed only at the profit line,” Rep. Watson told the Pasadena Citizen. “They constantly assert there is no need for siting legislation. The marriage of these two groups is choking the state in its efforts to prevent occurrences such as Times Beach, Mo., and Love Canal.” Obviously, there is no love lost between Ed Watson, who is also president of his Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union local, and the Texas Chemical Council. He suspects. that Gib Lewis’ failure to reappoint him to the House Environmental Affairs Committee, where he had served five terms, was the result of chemical industry influence. As a veteran legislative assistant put it, “Ed Watson got too effective.” An Interest To Protect So who is the Texas Chemical Council, this rough beast plodding through the Capitol, leaving in its wake angry environmentalists and labor advocates, thwarted lawmakers and public interest groups? How powerful is the council, and how does it work? Officially, the Texas Chemical Council is an association of 85 chemical manufacturing companies doing business in Texas. The council claims to represent 90% of the industry in Texas. Members of the council include Dow, Shell, Monsanto, Du Pont all the familiar names as well as names not so familiar. The “If your son-inla w runs the Calendars Committee and determines what gets to the floor, and you’ve stacked the committees the way you want them, you can pretty much let things take care of themselves. ” council is governed by a board of directors, elected annually; its president is veteran lobbyist Harry Whitworth. The larger companies have their own lobbyists in Austin, all of whom meet weekly with Whitworth to coordinate strategy. Also allied with the Chemical Council are the Texas Agricultural Chemical Association and the Agricultural Aviators Association, both represented by Jon Fisher. In reality, the Texas Chemical Council is Harry Whitworth. The dean of Austin lobbyists, the 62-year-old Whitworth was a state representative from Bastrop County from 1947 to 1950. Although Whitworth refused to talk to the Observer, there was no dearth of opinions about him, though most respondents insisted that their comments remain off the record. “I consider him a friend,” a legislatorturned-lobbyist, a man of liberal tendencies, told the Observer. “He’s unfailingly honest, even if he is just to the right of Attila the Hun.” “Harry Whitworth is able, singleminded in his purpose, affable, tough as a boot but realistic,” a fellow lobbyist and former state official told the Observer. “He’s immensely powerful.” “We hate them [the Chemical Council] because they always oppose us,” a former legislator from the Gulf Coast said, “and it’s understandable why they do. They’re just like any other lobby; they have an interest to protect. They just happen to have more money, more influence. They’re not evil people. It’s just that some of their interests are not in the public interest.” Whitworth, who takes favored lawmakers white-wing dove-hunting in Mexico every year, also indulges in personal vendettas, some observers say. “The last time their deal was that the only good candidate was a Republican,” a former legislator observed. “That’s what Whitworth does, and they [members of the Chemical Council] are getting tired of it. I hope that Don Adams [lobbyist for Monsanto] succeeds him. Whitworth, I couldn’t ever talk to. He picks people he doesn’t like, as well as bills he doesn’t like.” Whitworth’s Chemical Council was part of last year’s Associated Research Group, the innocuous name for the gaggle of giant lobbies that invited candidates to Austin to be “interviewed” about various issues as well as about whether they supported Gib Lewis. Joining the Chemical Council were the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Association of Realtors, the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, the Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Motor Transportation, Texas Association of Business, Texas Savings and Loan League, Dairy Products Institute of Texas, and the Texas Retailers Association. By the end of last year’s primary elections, members of the Associated Research Group had donated more than $1 million to more than 150 political campaigns. Usually they all backed the same candidates. Campaign Contributions More often than not, Whitworth and friends backed losers, usually Republicans. FREEPAC, the Chemical Council’s political action committee, contributed for example, $6,000 to Bill Meier, the Republican candidate for attorney general, and also supported the opponents of Reps. Watson and Price and state Sens. Bob Vale, Tec Lyon, John Montford, Chet Edwards, and Hugh Parmer. FREEPAC money also went to the opponents of state Reps. Billy Clemons, James Hury, Ernestine Glossbrenner, Bob Barton, Noel Grisham, Steven Carriker, Steven Wolens, Jesse Oliver, Jim Crockett, Richard Burnett, Dudley Harrison, Larry Don Shaw, David Hudson, Paul Colbert, and Ralph Wallace. Among FREEPAC’s winners were state Sen. Buster Brown
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