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And under federal law, a state cannot regulate the disposal of D.O.E. waste at a private facility opened for that specific purpose. After Chisum failed to stop the private license in early May, he warned, “We may be in a situation where we’re going to get D.O.E. waste and there’s not anything we can do about it.” By mid-May in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, Republican committee chair Buster Brown had seized Chisum’s bill and made it even worse, using an unrelated sunset bill to kill the LowLevel Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority, and providing additional guarantees that a private company will hold the rad-waste disposal license. On the floor of the Senate on May 21, as Speaker Clayton waited in the lobby, Brown began his presentation with the rad-waste lobbyists’ mantra: “The state of Texas has spent $53 million in a failed attempt to locate a nuclear waste site.” The argument that inevitably follows holds that the slow, deliberate siting process has failed and it’s time to move quickly to license and build a dump. “We’re not alone,” Brown continued, noting that Nebraska spent $96 million and failed, California spent $93 million and failed, and Illinois spent $88 million and failed. “No new, traditional low-level radioactive waste disposal site has succeeded in getting a permit in the United States over the past twenty-five years,” Brown said. Assisted by a well-intentioned but ineffective challenge from Corpus Christi Senator Carlos Truan, Brown made the case for a twotrack system that would pit the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission against “a private entity” in competition for a permit, or two permits, to dispose Of radioactive waste in Texas. Under Brown’s bill, the Texas Department of Health would probably end up holding the state license for the federal compact dump, in which electric utilities, industries, and hospitals will dispose of radioactive waste by burying it in trenches. The more lucrative \(and far private entity with a private license in this case Waste Control Specialists, which already operates a hazardous waste site in Andrews County, where elected officials from the county, city, and school district are working to attract a low-level radioactive waste dump. “All the sites failed,” Brown said, referring to Nebraska, California, Illinois and Texas, “because they have one factor in common. They were not wanted in that community. Texas has something of a unique situation. We have an area in Texas that wants the site. That area is Andrews. County.” \(Brown didn’t mention the problems with geology and hydrology the T.N.R.C.C. found at Brown continued, with what might be considered the public relations component of the bill he had reworked on behalf of Waste Control Specialists. Before any site can be approved in Texas: a public hearing must be held in the community designated for the dump; the county commissioners court must pass a resolution endorsing the project; the company must agree to spend 10 percent of its revenue locally; the company must agree to hire residents from the area in which the project is located. Brown used Truan’s clumsy questions about D.O.E waste to his advantage, arguing that the D.O.E. waste that a private license is certain to attract cannot be kept out of Texas because the Department of Energy has the right to dispose of waste in any state, de 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER Buster Brown Jack Rehm spite the objections of state government. Then, in the same breath prohibit the agency from disposing of radioactive waste in a state if the state government objects. Brown went on to use to his advantage an Austin American-Statesman article that Truan had brought in to use in an argument against the bill stopping short of taking the paper out of Truan’s hand. “Are you sure you read the article, Senator, or did someone tell you about it?” Brown asked. Floor debate in the Senate is most commonly used to make pronouncements to the public or establish legislative intent not to sway votes. When twenty-one votes are required to bring a bill to the floor, it’s likely that the bill has the sixteen votes required to pass. In fairness to Truan, the most skilled, well-prepared, and agile debater in the Senate could not have stopped a bill being advanced by the largest team of lobbyists any private interests have set upon one single piece of legislation this session. Brown’s deal was done. Lubbock Republican Robert Duncan added an amendment that ensured the dumpsite will be located in Andrews County. El Paso Democrat Eliot Shapleigh failed in an attempt to keep the license in the state’s hands, then succeeded in tossing in a stealth amendment that caught Brown by surprise prohibiting any Texas site from accepting D.O.E. waste created by the production of nuclear weapons. \(Waste from weapons testing is already prohibited. In an interview on the floor just after passage of Brown’s bill, when asked if his seemingly minor amendment might in fact eliminate all D.O.E. waste, Shapleigh said, “We’ll just have progress, Brown’s bill easily passed the Senate. There’s a widely recognized distinction between Representative Warren Chisum and Senator Buster Brown. Chisum is a Republican conservative with great deal of personal integrity. Brown is a Re JUNE 11, 1999