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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE KEEP ‘EM GUESSING. A recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on E.P.A. air quality regulations has TxDOT scrambling, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to the top brass at the agency. On March 2, a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court \(normally the most conservative in the naDefense Fund, which had sued the E.P.A. for violating the provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Court specifically invalidated several E.P.A. provisions including “grandfathering” and other loopholes designed by the agency in conjunction with the Federal Highways Administration formerly used to allow highway construccontinue even in cities or regions that are not in compliance with the Act. Currently in Texas, all cities including those whose air quality is bad enough to be in “non-attainment” status \(i.e., BeaumontPort Arthur, DallasFort Worth, El technically in compliance with the Act, because they have acceptable pollution reduction plans on file with E.P.A. \(though the DallasFort Worth plan has recently lem will come when the state’s new non-attainment areas Austin, San Antonio, and Tyler are certified as such, in all likelihood about one year from now. Because TxDOT has come to rely on those E.P.A. loopholes, having the rug pulled out could have serious consequences for road-building across the state. For example, it could take up to three years to come up with an acceptable pollution plan \(called a “state implementation plan,” which time, without the old loopholes, projects could not proceed, according to federal and state transportation officials. According to a memo prepared by the Federal Highways Administration, as many as seventy-three projects totaling a staggering $1.7 billion could be held up by the court ruling. The three TxDOT commissioners and senior staff were briefed on the memo the first week in April. Led by Chairman David Laney, TxDOT brass immediately began lobbying in Washington for relief, either through E.P.A. regulatory power, or from Congress, where Phil Gramm has always helped the highway lobby. However, Laney somehow neglected to mention the court ruling or the memo to the state legislative leadership, despite the fact that he and his upper staff were in front of Rep. Rob Junell’s appropriations committee several times in the weeks following the issuance of the Federal Highways Administration memo. “Apparently, it never came up,” explained TxDOT spokesperson Randall Dillard. In fact, Junell first heard about the bombshell from Austin transportation activist Glenn Gadbois. “We intend to brief them,” Dillard told the Observer on May 11, “but we want to give them not just the problem, but some solutions, too.” Those solutions have not been forthcoming. An internal memo from TxDOT environmental affairs director Dianne Noble to all division directors outlined TxDOT’s plan of action thus far. “After consulting with the Governor’s office,” Noble wrote, “it was agreed that questions regarding air conformity should be replied to as follows: `TxDOT is trying to get back the flexibility given by E.P.A. that has been reversed by the recent court case.'” If that one liner doesn’t hold ’em, the memo went on, “If at all possible, no speculation on the potential impacts to Texas should be discussed.” Political Intelligence suggests a new motto for TxDOT’s communications policy: “What they don’t know won’t hurt ’em.” THE SCUM ALSO RISES. Cream isn’t the only thing that floats to the top. Following President Clinton’s recent nomination of Lawrence Summers to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, several readers reminded Political Intelligence of Summers’ infamous 1991 leaked memorandum about toxic waste in third world countries. Then chief economist of the World Bank, Summers unwittingly provided the world with a refreshingly candid example of the logic of global neo-liberalism, when he presented a brutally frank summary of the benefits of “migration of dirty industries” from the first world to the third. In Summers’ amoral logic: because the “costs of health impairing pollution” depend on the “foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality,” it makes economic sense to have those deaths occur among the workers earning the lowest wage levels, i.e., in the third world. Summers further noted that “under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted,” with “inefficiently low” air pollution. The economics of global capital revealed: life is worth less among those who earn less, and no country is entitled to be pollution-free, no matter how underindustrialized that country may be. “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that,” Summers concluded. Needless to say, when the memo became public, the public was incensed, particularly the low-wage-earning public. Brazil’s environmental minister called Summers’ reasoning “perfectly logical but totally insane.” Summers claimed he was offering a “sardonic counterpoint” [to morality, presumably], in order to “sharpen the analysis,” but he continued to defend the logic beneath the memo. Was Summers fired? Hardly. After another year at the World Bank, he made the jump to the Clinton administration, quickly working his way up to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, where he and Rubin have made the World Bank’s dreams a reality. BLUE AND GREEN. The Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union \(now called PACE, formerly known as O.C.A.W., the Oil, come out against Governor Bush’s voluntary emissions reduction program for it “strictly designed to benefit polluters.” PACE, one of the largest unions in the country, represents the majority of oil refinery workers in Texas. In a letter addressed to all Texas state legislators, PACE vice president Bob Wages urged them to amend the bill, making emission reductions mandatory for all grandfathered plants, and removing assorted loopholes in the Governor’s bill \(see “How a Bill Betion in front of the Governor’s Mansion on May 25, PACE member Billy Phillips, who along with his co-workers has been locked out in a labor dispute at Pasadena’s Crown 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 11, 1999