THE BACK PAGE Buying Buster How do you reward a state senator who in the last legislative session, voted against the Sierra ClubN position on every critical environmental vote? If you’re Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock you re-appoint him to chair the Senate Committee on Natural Resource& /t’s no secret that Lake Jackson Republican Buster Brown never met a Chemical Council lobbyistor bill he didn’t like. His anti-environmental votes last session included: Ill A vote for the “takings” or propertyrights bill, which environmental groups considered the worst bill of the session. The bill requires the taxpayer compensation for any property owner who can prove a government action or decision lowered the value of his property. A vote for a bill that would have required cost-benefit analysis of environmental rules or regulations before they could be adopted. Cost-benefit analyses are obstacles to environmental regulation because it is always much easier to calculate potential costs than intangible benefits \(such as clean carried it after its sponsor became ill. A vote for a bill filed by Ken Armbrister have shifted all burden of proof for TNRCC pollution control permits from the applicant to parties opposing the permit. Rather than requiring permit applicants to prove their activities would comply with regulations and not harm public health and the environment, this bill would have required citizens and local governments protesting permits to prove the permits would violate the law or exceed pollution limits. Brown himself sponsored an amendment that would have established a statute of limitations for violation of pollution control laws, and carried a bill that would have limited the TNRCC’s ability to adopt any policy more stringent than federal policy. Brown then loaded the bill up with so many bad industry amendments and dead antigreen bills that it became known as the Christmas Tree Bill. No one expected the Lieutenant Governor to appoint Natural Resources Vice Chair Carlos Truan. Just the idea of a 15-0 pro-environmental voter as Natural Resources chair could have depressed oiland-gas stock prices. But the reappointment of Brown to the Natural Resources chair was like a two-for-one stock split for lobbyists and corporations that hold substantial equity positions in him. A few of the Senator’s financial supportersjust between last July and Decemberinclude: Lobbyist Dick Brown, who carried Freeport McMoRan bills that limited the city of Austin’s ability to protect the Ed The West Gulf Maritime Texas Gulf Coast Political The Car Dealers PAC Dow Chemical’s The Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association \(think underSan Antonio’s Valero Energy PAC The Chemical Council’s FREEPAC Texas-New Mexico Power Company ReTemple Inland’s East Texas timber and Atlantic Richfield’s PAC, which filed as an out-of-state political action committee KOCH-PAC, funded by Kansas-based oil giant Koch Industries, a “deregulate everything” group now investing in politicians far from Kansas, and with good reason: according to The Nation, Koch is currently subject to a federal suit over oil spills in Brown is not the quickest study in the Senate, and a few sessions ago had some trouble understanding that spousal rape was not an oxymoron. But he understands pay to-play governmenthe raised $158,068 between June and December of 1996. This session he is carrying the Lieutenant Gover nor’s water bill. Unless it wins the backing of the environmental groups, Buster Brown remains a safe bet to go 0-for 15 on Sierra Club monitored votes. 32 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 14, 1997
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