VOLUME 91, NO. 20 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 Editors: Louis Dubose, Michael King Assistant Editor: Mimi Bardagjy Associate Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Publisher: Charlotte McCann Office Manager: Ayelet Hines Production: Harrison Saunders Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Development Director: Susan Morris Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Intern: Chloe Puett Contributing Writers: Barbara Belejack, Robert Bryce, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Julie Hollar, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, John Ross. Staff Photographer: Alan Pogue Contributing Photographers: Jana Birchum, Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Jack Rehm. Contributing Artists: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Bob Eckhardt, Sissy Farenthold, John K. Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Liz Faulk, D’Ann Johnson Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocanas. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040righted, 1999, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January profit corporation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: www.texasobserver.org . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. In a campaign season, you might think that such an environmental record would be receiving close examination from the media, but at least in the early going, the press has been more than kind to the front-runner. Publications have devoted volumes of speculation to Bush’s possible youthful drug use, and his devotion to wife, family, and baseball, but have been considerably less interested in his record as Governor. On environmental matters, the Texas press has done some good work, particularly during last spring’s legislative session. The reporting had virtually no effect on the dailies’ inert editorial perspectives, but the Houston and Dallas papers followed the air pollution bills in some detail although without the crucial acknowledgement that the Governor’s voluntary program, opposed by every responsible environmentalist in the state, was a done deal from the pre-session moment Bush announced it. Now that Bush has seized the national spotlight, there are a few signs of more attention to the environmental issue from the national press. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, in an October 10 examination of Bush’s record by Mark Sherman, acknowledged that Texas pollution has grown worse throughout the nineties, and pointed out that the Governor had to be forced to do something about it. And on October 3, The Boston Globe’s John Aloysius Farrell was the first national newsman to take a close look at the genesis of Bush’s voluntary anti-pollution program, reporting that industry representatives essentially drafted the legislation. Farrell tied the program indirectly to the cozy campaign-finance relationship Bush enjoys with polluting industries. “Bush’s campaign finance records show the grandfathered companies have since donated an additional $300,000 or more,” wrote Farrell, “giving Bush more than $1.1 million in donations from these firms since 1993.” But Bush’s policies are not simply a quid pro quo he shares the corporate conviction that environmental regulation of industry is simply an expensive nuisance, inferior to “market-based” voluntary controls \(which have left more than 65 perOne might hope that other reporters will follow Farrell’s lead. More often the national reporting has been conventional political handicapping, wondering whether Bush can be hurt on this issue by Al Gore, who is at least perceived as an environmentalist, and who has recently been making reference to Bush’s “carrying dirty water” for polluting industries. Indeed, one amusing counterpoint in the early coverage takes the opposite tack: Gore’s reputation as a “tree-hugger” can only hurt him, because Bush is a sensible moderate who understands the needs of the private sector. That’s the argument of Jonathan Rauch of The National Journal, who a month ago excoriated Gore for his “hysterical” book about ecology, Earth in the Balance. Rauch described the book as much more of a political liability than having snorted cocaine. And earlier this summer in the same publication, Margaret Kriz congratulated Bush at length for having handed his presidential environmental planning over to private-sector, industryfunded policy wonks firmly devoted to the belief that market-based solutions e.g., selling public water to the highest bidder will solve all environmental ills. Houstonians might take that as a warning for the Bush White House. They should start saving money against the day they find themselves required to purchase clean air from the likes of some of Bush’s biggest backers: Texas Utilities, Exxon, Dupont, and Dow. M.K. For the extraordinary paper trail documenting the Bush administration’s industry -driven undermining of state air pollution control policy, consult the web site maintained by Texas PEER \(Public Employees www.txpeer.org . For more on Bush’s record, see www.TomPaine.com . 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 29, 1999 s-
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