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harder to tell about the pollution of Texas rivers, because after Bush got elected governor, the state virtually stopped monitoring water quality. The pesticide-monitoring program has also been largely abandoned; according to the E.P.A., 59 million pounds of pesticides were used in Texas in 1998. ush began briskly in 1995 by call ing for the resignation of all three of Ann Richards’ appointees to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the closest thing Texas has to an E.P.A.. The commission is known in state government as Trainwreck, since that’s the closest we can come to pronouncing the acronym T.N.R.C.C.. It was established in the early nineties to monitor air quality and to grant state permits for new refineries, chemical and industrial plants, and landfills. Trainwreck was never a center of environmental activism, to put it mildly. But by the end of Bush’s first term, it had clearly become what government professors call “a captive regulatory agency” controlled by the industries it was established to regulate. Richards’ appointees to Trainwreck with more than a decade’s experience as an administrator in state environmental agencies; a woman county commissioner from Austin, a town notoriously full of tree huggers and whale savers; and a woman county , judge from West Texas, where they equally notoriously do not hug trees –they don’t even have trees. Bush replaced this trio with three guys so sympathetic to big polluters it left Texas environmentalists whomperjawed. John Baker is from the Texas Farm Bureau, the agricultural interest group that sells discount insurance and tires to farmers and ranchers. Although the bureau purports to speak for Texas farmers, it is actually a large insurance company whose portfolio is loaded with agricultural chemical stocks. The bureau has opposed all efforts to regulate pesticides in Texas. The next new commissioner was Ralph Marquez, who spent thirty years working for the Monsanto chemical company and then became a lobbyist for the Texas Chemical Council. The man from Monsanto went to Washington, D.C., using his position as one of Texas’ top environmental officials, to testify that ozone is “benign”; he opposed efforts to strengthen federal air-quality standards. And finally, the man who may well replace Carole Browner at E.P.A. should Bush become president, our Barry McBee. McBee is a boyish lawyer in his mid-forties who worked in Bush the Elder’s White House. He was called back to Texas by Rick Perry in 1994. Perry, he of the good hair, now lieutenant governor, had then just been elected state ag commissioner. If Karl Rove is Bush’s brain, McBee is certainly Rick Perry’ s gray matter. He’ s a smart technocrat who has spent most of his life in government and is also an evangelical Christian who would occasionally fall to his knees and pray before casting a vote to open a hog farm in the Panhandle. At one Trainwreck meeting in 1997, McBee launched into a homily on Christian love and mercy just before casting a landfill vote; a major industry lobbyist said later, “It absolutely scared the shit out of everybody in the business community.” “I do hope that people would say and know that I am a Christian,” McBee told a reporter in 1997. He is the perfect W. Bushie, a combination of Christian and corporate. In the Texas Senate, to which McBee transferred after his old boss Perry was elected the guy, McBee is known as “the skinny Hitler.” They’re col orful in the Texas Senate. Bush’s appointees to Trainwreck spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying against and rallying industry opposition to the new federal air-qual ity health standards enacted in 1997. Before November of ’97 they made many trips around the state for meetings with people from industry, urging them to write their congressmen. They held “rallies” where six to eight people showed up, all happy to denounce the feds. Rebecca Flores-Harrington, now with the AFL-CIO, spent many years organizing for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers. In 1986, when Jim Hightower, a populist Democrat, was elected state ag commissioner, Flores worked with him to develop a policy requiring farmers to warn workers when fields sprayed with pesticides were so “hot” they could cause illness or even death. One worker had already died of pesticide exposure, offed like a bug sprayed with Raid. “The policy was really nothing radical,” said Flores. “We just wanted signs posted that would warn workers that a field has been sprayed, and that for two or three days the fresh, active chemicals in the field could kill them.” When McBee went to work as deputy director of the Texas Department of Agriculture, one of his first acts was to dismantle the right-to-know regulations that protected farmworkers. “It took us years to get the system to work for us,” said Flores. “He took it apart in one day.” According to a 1999 study, “Pesticides and Texas Water Quality” by the Texas Center for Policy Studies, the number of pesticide stations sampled went from twenty-seven in 1985 \(under quacies in the monitoring program. When Bush moved McBee to Trainwreck, the agency reduced public participation in its hearings. That policy was challenged by APRIL 14, 2000 .trw.vei. wileVir.441 ,4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 .41