now,” he told the fellow from Fizzlick, “they have been dead right, and you all have been dead wrong.” Toward the close of the second day’s hearing, Rep. Richard Lehman of California said admiringly to Gonzalez: “You’ve sat here for 16 hours. I think your bladder belongs in the Smithsonian.” “I haven’t donated nothin’,” Gonzalez replied. An Air Force plane was waiting to carry the members, the staff, and some of the witnesses back to Washington, but, now that the hearing was over, the old Henry Gonzalez reappeared. People lined up across the committee table from him and kept asking him questions, and he kept answering them. A big-bellied fellow, presumably from the Air Force, stood in the middle. of Centro de Artes and bellowed out as if to everyone in the chamber, “Plane leaves in ten minutes!” Still, Henry talked on with the citizens. The fellow shouted out again, as if to the hangers-on near one of the exits: “Plane leaves in five minutes!” Henry talked on, finally leaving when he was ready to leave. The Air Force was not about to take off without the Chairman, and the . Chairman knew it. BACK IN WASHINGTON, while hanging around the offices of the House Banking Committee gleaning what facts I could about various matters, I realized even more vividly that Gonzalez bas moved from being a member of the House baying at the moon to being a Chairman who is constantly conducting hearings. “We didn’t realize what an astounding difference it would make,” Gail Beagle, his administrative assistant, told me. In a trice, a lecturing backbencher in his own party has become a man of both principle and power. Many days the people in his Congressional office never see him. His dedicated legislative aide, Kelsey Meek, has become the staff chief of the committee. Jake Lewis of Corpus Christi, a staffer on the committee for 27 years \(running back to Wright else for the committee with kindness and sophisiication. They all know that something really wonderful has happened. A good man has the gavel. R.D. JOURNAL Environmental Truce in East Texas TEXARKANA As pollution-fighters in the northeast Texas towns of Daingerfield, Lone Star, and Hughes Springs now know, environmental wars do not end with an emperor bowing to his foes. Sometimes they wind down with whimpers. But all soldiers know when a war is over. So it has been for Citizens Opposing the permitting of Thermal Kinetics’ proposed hazardous waste incinerator. In the wake of a substantial citizens’ uprising in the Triangle of the Pines, Lone Star Technologies parent company of Thermal Kinetics has been remarkably quiescent. It never submitted its application to the Texas Water Commission. But corporate losers do not hoist the white flag, and exuberant populists do not overrun their gates. Thus the fruits of victory are often measured by the absence of turmoil. Victory has been in the air for almost a year. Walter Hammerschick, a retired chemical engineer chairing COP’s technical committee, has told Texarkana-based Friends United for a Safe Environment the fight is over. We were able to organize the people by telling them the truth. Maybe with a little bit of emotion, but we told ’em the truth.” And he added: “The politicians know that the votes do not come from those who give campaign contributions, but from those who vote. We, the people, should have the right to say ‘No.’ ” COP, taking a cue from Nancy Reagan’s imperative to “Just Say No,” said “no” loudly, creatively, aggressively, and repeatedly. COP mobilized politicians right and left, gaining assistance from both State Senator Richard Anderson, D-Marshall, and his opponent Bill Ratliff, R-Mt. Pleasant, who defeated him in November. The group also found allies in Republican Senator Phil Gramm and Democratic Congressman Jim Chapman. One potent COP cannonading came in petitions to the President to declare EPA Superfund sites where Lone Star has disposed of its hazardous wastes in the past. COP sleuths found 92 violations by Lone Star Steel for which the firm had paid only $5600 in fines. COP still has five Superfund petitions in hand, ready to fire off, one at a time, if the war resumes. Wars always cost. By May 1988, with an armistice apparent, COP reported it had spent about $48,000 in its effort that began the preceding August. This broke down to $32,000 for legal services \(primarily related $16,000 for other professional services quite a bill for citizens fighting to keep from being poisoned. But though the Thermal Kinetics confrontation is now history, COP’s army or at least its generals have not disbanded entirely. Like little battles for liberation elsewhere, the Morris County fight has spread. COP’s leaders have busied themselves with teaching the art of environmental warfare to their neighbors. Before 1988 ended, COP had counseled victorious resisters in New Diana, 23 miles from Daingerfield, where a dump of undisclosed nature was proposed, and had helped organize Texas POWER \(People Organized growing statewide coalition. Meanwhile, peace or armed truce has brought Lone Star Technologies its own crises. William Howard Beasley III, chair man of its board and CEO, in September was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. What may prove to be more devastating ultimately is a series of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits by current and former Lone Star Steel Company employees. Hundreds of suppliers to Lone Star Steel are also named in the suits, which were filed last year by the highly successful Daingerfield plaintiff’s attorney, Harold Nix. On top of this, in April the parent company, Lone Star Technologies, revealed that its subsidiary, East Texas Steel facilitieS, Inc., had defaulted on $44 million in debt payments. The firm was negotiating with bank lenders to restructure $134.4 million in debt. Amidst these developments Thermal Kinetics as a corporate entity seems to have evaporated. It carries no directory listing in either Dallas or Lone Star, and its oncepresident is now in Tulsa where an incineration-related subsidiary was purchased in 1987. But hazardous waste incineration remains a part of Lone Star Technologies’ corporate picture. A recent news release lists among the firm’s four sectors of activity “the design, manufacture, and marketing of state-of-the-art environmental protection systems.” If you can read the code, this suggests they’re still interested in hazardous waste incinerators but perhaps elsewhere than in northeast Texas. Soon Will Collette, national coordinator for the Citizen’s Clearinghouse on Hazardous Wastes, will formally present COP its Victory Award. He meant to do it last fall but forgot to bring the paperwork with him. That’s about as close to a war’s end as you can get. Start humming, Fat Lady. Shoulda already been on stage, singing. -JAMES PRESLEY James Presley is a longtime Observer contributor living in Texarkana. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7 -APIte.
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