FEATURE Zero Tolerance by Nate Blakeslee 8 The Drug War has it all: feds as fenders, felons as narcs, cops as commandos, midnight fire fights. And real casualties. 15 Las Americas 18 Guantanamera by John Ross Maury Maverick 20 16 Why are the Children Dying? Jim Hightower Bush Babies, Dollar Ballots & Fair Pay Political Intelligence BOOKS AND THE CULTURE A Kind of Hardening 23 Poetry by Frances Schenkkan Bush Family Dynasty 24 Book Review by Michael King Real Pictures 27 Art Review by Saundra Goldman Afterword 30 Haggard Music by Dick Holland The Back Page 32 Dead Day’s Dance by Olga M. Garza Cardona Cover photo by Jana Birchum DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 An Air of Power by Michael King Left Field 5 Renegade Town, Bush Beat & Touchdown Jesus? James Galbraith 13 A Deluded Europe Molly Ivins 14 Ooops! of Our Times Kevin Kreneck THIS ISSUE EDITORIAL Bush’s Hot Air exas produces more poi sonous pollution than any other state. According to the toxic inventories self-reported by industry and collated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Texas is number one in air pollution and chemical carcinogens, including a whole host of particularly poisonous substances like benzene and vinyl chloride, generally emanating from the chemical complexes on the Gulf Coast. In early October, residents of Houston learned that the city is about to surpass Los Angeles as the nation’ s smoggiest metropolis, largely because Los Angeles has shown steady improvement due to state regulation while Houston has just as steadily gotten worse. Houston and DallasFort Worth have long officially violated federal clean-air standards, and several other metropolitan areas are soon likely to be added to the list. The state’s pollution does not stop at its borders, of course; dioxins produced by TXI’ s notorious cement-kiln waste incinerators have been found in the Great Lakes. That’s why it’s difficult to take Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush seriously when he tells a campaign audience as he did recently in New Hampshire “I’m for clean air and clean water, and have a record in Texas to prove it,” or when he claims, as he did to a Houston reporter last spring, “You’ve got to ask the question, ‘Is the air cleaner since I became governor?’ and the answer is yes.” \(To his credit, the Chronicle’s R.G. RatBush is certainly not solely to blame for the continuing deterioration of the state’s environment. His predecessors in either party have been little better, and the Legislature is deservedly infamous for its slavish devotion to the perennial prizewinners in the pollution sweepstakes: the oil and gas, petrochemical, and utility industries. But as Governor, Bush has gone out of his way to defend the state’s major polluters against effective regulation, even when his own agencies favored it. Specifically in the case of air pollution, this year the Bush administration ramrodded an industry-written, “voluntary” anti-pollution program, which allows long-grandfathered facilities \(the sources of more than half of the state’s massive industrial air pollution, and more than that produced by all the sist in unsafe methods that were outlawed for new facilities nearly thirty years ago thereby rewarding polluters with a competitive advantage. In a word, the state of Texas doesn’t just tolerate corporate air pollution: it subsidizes it. Bush is now taking credit for this year’s legislation that may finally require some major utilities to clean up their act, but if he’d had his way, the law wouldn’t have crossed his desk it was forced upon him in return for utility deregulation, another billion-dollar plum for the industry. OCTOBER 29, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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