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giflutrm Ps:H.171c . C014 ;AI T. Christi-based subsidiary, of “extensive sham recycling” of more than 5,000 tons of hazardous waste in the 1990s. “This activity, plain and simple, was illegal treatment and disposal of hazardous waste,” the EPA concluded in the memo. ASARCO officials have responded that the EPA’s charges have already been addressed in a 1999 civil settlement that was modified in 2004. Under terms of the settlement, the company agreed to remediation and to pay penalties of just under $20 million. Meanwhile, ASARCO is seeking approval from TCEQ to reopen its El Paso copper smelter. In a perverse form of polluter logic, company representatives told state lawmakers earlier this year that revenue from the facility could help pay for environmental remediation. Despite a rdcommendation from two adminiStrative law judges 6-deny the permit, TCEQ is allowing the company to fix deficiencies in its proposed pollution controls. And in the unlikely case that criminal charges are filed against ASARCO, the company could still receive a permit from TCEQ, says Neil Carman, clean air director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. Terry Clawson, a TCEQ spokesman, says “criminal convictions relating to compliance with requirements under the jurisdiction of the TCEQ” would be considered during permitting. A pending criminal investigation, however, has no effect. Rodriguez says allowing ASARCO to reopen in light of its track record defies common sense. “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” he wrote to TCEQ, “and ASARCO’s past behavior is cause for alarm on behalf of El Paso, for both their pocketbooks and their health.” HOME ALONE State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh nami. In 2008, more than $300 billion worth of volatile subprime home loans will spike to higher interest rates nationwide, and a torrent of foreclosures will likely follow. In Texas, where subprime mortgages have glutted the housing markets of several cities, the effect may be severe. Mortgage lenders grant subprime loans to homebuyers who don’t make enough money, or whose credit is too poor, to qualify for a standard mortgage. 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 16, 2007