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the chemical companies destroying the Karankawa countryside. On one level, “Joe Willie’s Problem” is a comic set-piece, as a hapless sheriff and his deputies attempt to arrest a man who can effortlessly hex their guns, radios, sirens, squad cars and jails. But it also exhibits Morgan’s melancholy yearning for some valiant, mythic rebellion against the terrible and seemingly unstoppable devastation that the corporations “bidness as usual,” have wreaked upon our fragile Texas coastlands indeed upon all of Texas. Like the goose-goofy teacher on the beach, Neal Morgan has tried to embrace his small corner of Texas, even as he feels it slipping away beneath him, to a darker and unknowable fate: “I could see every town in Texas all around me on the beach with their bright lights shining. I pulled them to me and tried to hold them, but they just kept trickling away and returning to the beach. Then God and the devil painted the night with that scream” The book comes to a close following that Manichean moment, and its author suggests that it remains impossible to tell the meaning, or the outcome, of that horrifying scream. Sematech Continued from page 8 faced today by workers and neighborhoods in Santa Clara, Texas and elsewhere. Sematech, whose members include the 14 companies that produce 80 percent of the integrated circuits for the Department of Defense, promises to develop the new wave of semiconductor technologies, and transfer its innovations to its member firms through a system of rotating engineers and managers who work with the center for two years then return to their home companies. In a position paper presented to Sematech; CRT pointed out that “by bringing producers together under one roof … and by issuing development contracts to equipment makers, Sematech can ask for or specify pollutions prevention objectives directly. For instance the consortium could help coordinate goals and timetables for phasing out reliance on toxic solvents, gases, glycol ethers and other hazardous production chemicals.” While Sematech officials insisted that “we report to our members. They don’t report to us,” the consortium has agreed to continue meeting with the local citizens, and will respond in writing to the suggestions put forward by both CRT and neighbors. CRT wants a thoroughgoing reassessment of Sematech’s mission, prioritizing safety, access to information, health and the environment. At War With the Japanese Currently Sematech’s primary objective is beating the Japanese in an international struggle to dominate the $620 billion chip market. Its immediate goal is to produce a smaller chip than those currently available from Japan. “We’re at war with the Japanese,” one Sematech representative told the CRT delegation, standing before a market share chart outside the chemical vapor deposition area, “and this is the front line right here.” Receiving over $100 million annually in federal, state and local subsidies, Sematech represents one of the federal government’s most controversial moves towards a national industrial policy to coordinate what is currently the dominant industry in the US. With 2.7 million workers and 1988 sales of $279 billion, according to the American Electronics Association, the capital-intensive electronics industry, dominated by a handful of multinational corporations, has become the focus of a wide ranging debate over national economic priorities and the role of government subsidiy in world competitiveness. Sematech promotional material equates government subsidy with innovation. “Our overseas competitors have, with their government’s encouragement and support, targeted specific industries for domination. The U.S. electronics industries, which invented silicon chips, was one of those targeted. As a result, the U.S. lost leadership in the market and its ability to compete has eroded.” As a corollary to this argument, when the consortium came to Austin, receiving over $55 million in state and local subsidies, Sematech boosters claimed this “innovation” would stimulate job creation, both locally and nationally. The Austin Chamber of Commerce, according to a 1988 New York Times article, estimated that the 800 original jobs at Sematech “could be parlayed into nearly 10,000 by 1995.” In this trickle-down vision, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on research capital for a few companies will lead to jobs and a military secure in its technological edge. But several angry locals complained at the May 17 Town Meeting that the original 800 jobs had dwindled to only, 500 for Texas residents; one woman said that no one she knew in the largely Latino Montopolis area could think of a neighbor or friend working at the site. “I remember all the hype, and the vast opportunities for the community,” said Gilberto Rivera of the United East Austin Coalition, “We all came out and said we supported Sematech because it meant jobs. We used to believe in jobs for job’s sake, but now we have grown up and want information, safety and responsibility.” One local contractor said that promises of minority contracts in the construction phase were never fulfilled. \(Sematech officials say they haven’t The People’s Industrial Policy While Sematech’s success in “the war against Japan” continues to be controversial, it has made the first significant steps towards the toxic chemical source reduction demanded by CRT and other environmental groups. CRT, however, insists that the planning for new production processes must involve citizens at every step. According to Sematech’s environmentalhealth specialists, the consortium labs have, on their own, already substituted solid arsenic for arsine gas, the most lethal chemical commonly used in semiconductor production. A single leaking cylinder of arsine gas, spread through the rapidly circulated air of a clean room, could quickly kill everyone at a production site and affect a wide area around a plant. This is one innovation for which the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition has fought in Northern California. Further, Sematech expressed a committment to Freon-113 reduction in its new processes. Freon, long noted for ozonelayer destruction, and banned from aerosol use, evaporates into the air after being used as a cleaning agent in chip manufacturing.. According to the recently released 1988 Toxic Release Inventory, Texas industries released 2.9 million pounds of CFCs into the air. Finally, Sematech health specialists assured the delegation that worker safety was a priority in the contracts Sematech signed with tool manufacturers. However, in order to ensure that hazard response and worker safety, as well as toxic-substance control would be the central objectives of a government and taxpayer sponsored industrial policy for the semiconductor industry, CRT members asked that further meetings be scheduled to create an ongoing channel of communication with the community. “The Montopolis neighborhood has been here since the 1800’s and has a long tradition and tremendous needs,” said Frank Compos of the Montopolis Montessori School, which is situated across the street from the Sematech plant. “I want to know how Sematech is going to do something for us. This could be a tremendously historical interaction that can make a difference nationwide. I would like to see a worst case scenario for Sematech and see it presented to the community. There is nothing wrong in holding you guys [Sematech] accountable to the community. We can go out and dialogue, offer people an open place for questions and concerns.” Suzanna Almanza, the local CRT liaison suggested that the public should have direct oversight over a publicly funded industry group. “You have advisory boards. We would like to be that advisory boardthe people who are here. We would like to set up another meeting and see a response to the recommendations put forward today. We want to see the funds go to the community, a community protection plan, and we want to start a Good Neighbor Policy.” Sematech verbally agreed at the meeting’s close to respond to all of the community and CRT concerns in writing, and to meet on an ongoing basis with the delegates who live in Austin . K.M. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21