Pho to by Da ve De n is on In 1979. environmentalists tried to cut $6 billion from the O’Neill project in Nebraska and tried to halt funding of the Tellico Darn because of the threat it posed to the snail darter, sacred Indian lands, and farmers. But Gramm voted to authorize the $6 billion for O’Neill, and he found no overriding sympathy for species endangered by the Tellico Dam, be they fish, Indians, or farmers. In that first year on record, Gramm earned a 14 percent rating from LCV for four pro-environmental votes; he joined hefty majorities on issues of asbestos in schools, the continuation of the Drinking Water Act, and the development of wind energy. He also took the environmentally endorsed, though minority, position on a vote to limit synthetic fuel production for military purposes. That nearly covers the field in terms of Gramm’s support for environmental issues. In his six years in the House, Gramm had 126 opportunities to take positions favored by the LCV. He took the pro-environment stand 17 times. Of these 17 votes, 12 were cast in opposition to wasteful spending. That leaves Gramm with five pro-environment votes not related to spending, three of which were cast the first year. The other two were cast in his last year. 1984. when he voted not to rescind citizen’s rights to sue the EPA over Superfund performance, and when he voted to conserve the striped bass. All of which leaves four years in the middle when Gramm took no environmental responsibility apart from an occasional anti-spending vote. But as a final example of Gramm’s curious pro-spending tendency, take the 1981 scheme to float 100 giant satellites above the earth, each with 50 square miles of surface area to collect solar energy. Environmentalists opposed the solar satellite project. says the LCV, “because it is outrageously expensive and could cause health threats from microwave radiation. They would prefer that the money be used for decentralized proven solar technologies here on earth.” Environmentalists opposed a 1979 authorization of $25 million to study the satellite project. After all, there was already a study in the works, due in 1980. Yet Gramm helped pass the authorization. The next year, 1980, Gramm helped kill tax credits for solar energy and conservation, and he opposed restoration of funds for research in solar energy. The differences between Gramm and the environmentalists cannot be characterized as a fight between a tight-fisted conservative and free-spending liberals. Nor can it be characterized as a conflict Sen. Gramm at State Republican Convention, Dallas, 1986 between the common taxpayer and the environmental elites. The debate is over spending priorities in which, as in the case of the solar satellites, the environmentalists prefer decentralized energy development close to home while Gramm supports huge centralized systems removed from citizens in space and time to control. RAMM’S RECORD SHOWS he never met a wilderness area he liked or a developer he didn’t like. On May 16, 1979, Gramm cast the first anti-environment vote of his House career, against the creation of 129 million acres of national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, and wilderness areas in Alaska. President Carter called it. “the conservation bill of the century.’ and it passed 268-157 without Gramm’s help. In 1980 Gramm voted in favor of the first “wilderness release” amendment to reach the floor of the House. Wilderness release is a euphemism for no wilderness. A release allows development of some kind, and development is not wilderness. The LCV said the amendment would have “cut the heart out” of a 2.3 million acre wilderness area in Idaho, now the largest wilderness area in the Continental United States. Unsuccessful at “releasing” a portion of this wilderness to developers, Gramm voted against the package. A few months later Gramm voted against a mechanism for controlling development along the stunning Big Sur coast of California. The Oregon Wilderness Act of 1982 was killed with Gramm’s help. “The act was the product of over two years of hearings and negotiations,” reports the LCV. “Although it called for only about half the acreage originally proposed by conservationists, and affected less than five percent of the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed timber harvest in the state, it was strongly opposed by Oregon’s powerful timber interests.” The day after that vote, mining interests killed the Irish Wilderness Area of Missouri with Gramm’s help. “The Irish Wilderness Act had broad bipartisan support from the two Missouri Senators, the Governor, and a majority of the Congressional delegation,” reported the LCV. “But two ,Missouri Congressmen, with the support of the Reagan administration and the St. Joe Mining Company, blocked the bill because it would prevent mining of lead deposits. In 1983 the Oregon Wilderness Act was finally passed despite Gramm’s continued opposition, and he continued to attempt to chip away at any and all conservation efforts. He voted to cut one million acres from the California Wilderness Act. “Even without this reduction,” reported the LCV, “the bill released for commercial uses nearly twice as much roadless national forest land as it protected.” Next, he voted for an amendment which would have weakened protection for National Parks. The Hansen amendment would have prevented citizens from enforcing in court the National Park System Protection Act and would have waived environmental impact studies for developments adjacent to National Parks. In 1984 the St. Joe Mining Co. and the Reagan administration lost their battle against the Irish Wilderness Area while Gramm was absent from the floor of the House. The timber interests of Oregon meanwhile had negotiated a compromise wilderness bill, and the Oregon Wilderness Act passed, with Gramm still in opposition. 1984 was also the year Gramm asked for, and was given by the people of Texas, “a bigger shovel. The feisty boll weevil Democrat-turned-Republican was promoted from the House to the Senate where he could continue to burrow straight to the heart of our national interests, only this time with more chomping power, or, to use the metaphor that Gramm prefers, more digging power. Gramm had used his smaller shovel in the House to dig holes into any government agency or policy that might have promoted a less toxic environment. In 1979, for example, Gramm voted to resume aerial spraying of mirex, despite the fact that it had been ruled hazardous, and despite the fact that it was ineffective against the fire ants it was supposed to kill. Although Gramm lost the fight to dump mirex from the sky he went on to help win the fight to seek THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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