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for Truan, we want to go home.” But politics, not justice, may have more to do with whether Truan leaves Willacy County. During his filibuster, Truan distributed a letter from Bullock to Sierra Club lobbyist Dan McNamara, declaring his opposition to the bill for three reasons. “First and foremost … [the bill] could undermine Texas’ ability to obtain federal Coastal Zone Manting the creation of numerous districts with their own management plans,” wrote Bullock. “Secondly, it could subvert the Texas Open Beaches Act by allowing these newly-created districts to limit public access to beaches under a “government agency” exemption from the Act. And lastly, it permits districts to issue bonds without the financial “prudence review” required under the Texas Water Code. I believe this lack of review could result in serious abuse of bonding authority,” the letter said. “I am not convinced that this legislation is in anybody’s interest but the American General Insurance Company,” he declared. But according to the Dallas Morning News, Bullock became angry at Truan for distributing the letter, which he considered private. Soon thereafter, Sen. Bob Glasgow, chairman of the Senate redistricting subcommittee, formally unveiled his plan, which included Lucio’s redistricting plan. Truan aide Dave Shapiro rejected the notion that Glasgow a cohort of Bullock’s from the Preston Smith administration included Lucio’s plan because Bullock was angry at Truan. He said the reason was to “protect Eddie Lucio’s ass” in the next election. Shapiro said the redistricting issues were decided in the March 1990 elections, when Truan lost most of his liberal Senate allies. Eroding Support for American General Although Senate redisticting may place the project in booster Lucio’s court, other people continue to fight American General outside. of Austin. On April 12 the Lower Laguna Port Mansfield fishing guide Walt Kittleberger and Houston attorney Richard Morrison held its first public meeting in Harlingen -after establishing its non-profit charter. Over 100 people attended the meeting. The foundation’s ‘stated purpose: to protect the Lower Laguna Madre, particularly from the American General development, by all legal means including litigation. Morrison structured the LLMF after the Galveston Bay Foundation, which he also helped found. The Galveston Bay Foundation was created, he said, to establish a legal entity that could sue on environmental grounds over the widening and deepening of the Houston Ship Channel around Galveston Bay. Morrison says he saw the need for a similar organization concerned with Padre Island, and that the LLMF may sue American General if Richards doesn’t veto the bill. Ted Eubanks, a member of the National Advisory Council for Endangered Species, has already found birds on the endangered species list at the American General site. Morrison says that’s enough to file a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act to protect the habitat. But according to Robert Morton, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, shoreline erosion may threaten the “international destination resort” as much as any lawsuit. South Padre Island, Morton explains, is a “transgressive barrier island,” meaning that the island migrates over time. Worse yet, the island migrates in historic, not geologic, timeover years rather than eons. Man-made canals cut through the island, and two dams on the Rio Grande river stop sediment from entering the Laguna Madre. Before these dams were built, the Rio Grande provided enough sediment to buoy up South Padre from the Laguna Madre side, since tides and hurricanes on the Gulf side move sand toward the shore. The dams create a “net deficit” on the Laguna side, Morton said, which causes the island to migrate. Currently the South Padre waterline erodes at about 30 feet per year. Eventually this erosion could undermine the development just as elsewhere shoreline erosion has cost people their beachfront homes as the water level rose. American General hired the Texas-based environmental engineering firm of Shiner & Moseley to produce a planning document for the resort. This document admits that “shoreline erosion is a concern at almost every potential building site along the Atlantic SEAN FRENCH and Gulf Coasts.” It declares the shoreline at the project site “essentially stable” and from then on dismisses the issue of erosion. The Mansfield jetties, on the Gulf side of the canal, provide some sediment expansion right at the canal’s edge. Morton says this expansion would occur no more than one or two miles south of the Mansfield cut. American General’s “New Century Habitat” will include “three miles of Gulf front,” which means the southern end of the project will experience significant shoreline erosion. Morton says the absolute solution to erosion would be a seawall like in Galveston, but a seawall destroys all recreational beach. , The developers only possible countermeasure would be to implement a “beach nourishment” program. Miami Beach has a successful beach nourishment program, but such programs are extremely expensive and almost always subsidized by state or local governments, according to Morton. Beach nourishment demonstration projects have been successful on the north part of the National Seashore. But the part of the island across from Port Mansfield receives much less rain than areas further north. Dune stabilization, Morton says, would require a large amount of irrigation from the already waterstarved Rio Grande Valley. Developers say water will come from the Rio Grande which supplies almost all the Valley’s water. Also, because the island slowly migrates toward the coast, dunes don’t stay in place long enough for vegetation to take root. The farther south one goes, Morton said, the more washover channels one finds, where hurricanes or THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13