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tr5 A NEW pAY IN WISr TWAS,Wrni 711E wavilsa Of NEW !WV 1INDEIZ 114 efillAlha OF A NEW Ur s etY something,” ARDT spokesman Eddie Selig said, any such cooperation would be “news to [me]….Couldn’t another company handle the waste processing for the state?” Selig stopped short of mentioning that one of the Vermont utility lobbyists, Kraege Polan, also represents MX Technologieswhich according to the governor’s office has already expressed interest in processing the state’s waste. Waste Control’s proposal to the DOE contained yet another negative characterization of the state’s Sierra Blanca site, and Chairman McBee is beginning to worry that “the specter of what might be perceived as competing sides might cause people to have a [negative] reaction to the compact.” On February 27 in . Austin, Waste Control laid its cards on the table at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, as Representatives Pat Haggerty and Talmadge Heflin, supported by Sierra Blanca Representative Pete Gallego, went after the Authority’s funding. According to the few observers at the early morning meeting, Jacobi never knew what hit him. Peppered by questions about the agency’s bloated budget and questionable past expenditures, the Authority faced a weary committee grown unanimously impatient with the issue. “They’ve expended a tremendous amount of time and resources,” said committee chair Rob June11 \(who also redon’t have much to show for it.” Haggerty calculated that the agency had already spent $12 million on legal fees for only nine days’ worth of actual hearings. The committee voted unanimously to defund the Authority. The Senate might still rescue the Authority’s budget, or at least some of it. But the Authority now seems to be on the ropes. Envirocare is also under siege. On December 8, Waste Control filed pre-trial motions in Andrews and began depositions to determine if the company will sue Envirocare. Those deposed included Khosrow Semnani and Billy Clayton. As for the Texas-Maine-Vermont compact, its fate in Congress remains uncertain. Delayed three times by public opposition, the compact bill was recently reintroduced, this time co-sponsored by twenty-two members of the HouseRepublicans Joe Barton and Tom DeLay lead a bi-partisan team that includes such Texas Democrats as Ken Bentsen, Gene Green, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Sheila Jackson Lee. According to the El Paso Times, however, El Paso Congressman Silvestre Reyes has recently come out against the compact. It remains to be seen whether the fight will turn on environmental principleor become simply another shell Gary Oliver game over which private interests will be rewarded the nuclear pie. Ri egardless of the short-term political victor, the state of Texas , is not likely to emerge from the waste wars unscathed. Unike the oil and natural gas that fueled earlier legislative and regulatory fights, once deposited in the earth the commodity driving this struggle will never leave West Texas. Long after the contracts have been awarded and all the hired guns have been paid, Texans will be living with the legacy of the nuclear industry. When Ann Richards took office in 1988, she announced the dawn of a New Texas. But the revolving door from the statehouse to the lobbyist’s office has a way of ensuring that the Old Texas never really leaves usas Peggy Pryor, Bill Addington, and thousands of other West Texans understand. “I’m not convinced that my water won’t be contaminated,” Pryor said. “It may be deep, but out here stuff seeps through the ground.” On March 17 she led the town’s first non-industry information meeting on the dump, and she’s clearly an excellent candidate for the job. Far better than the waste profiteers and their hirelings in Austin, Pryor understands the nature of both the land and the people. And in the end, as she says, “that’s West Texas, you know.” Land and people. Nate Blakeslee is a freelance writer based in Austin. For the past year, he has been active as a volunteer for the Sierra Blanca Legal by a grant for environmental coverage from the Wray Foundation. Research assistance was provided by the Conspiracy of Equals corporate research seminar, conducted at the Info Shop in Austin. MARCH 28, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13