Turning legislative tricks for corporate Johns

Thursday, May 2, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Prostitutes are amateurs compared to Texas State Sen. Kel Seliger, whose going rate is $20,000-a-pop. At least, that's what he was paid last year by Waste Control Specialists.

First, some background. A decade earlier, WCS parlayed political donations to Gov. Rick Perry into a special deal to build a low-level nuclear waste dump in a West Texas county, right up against the New Mexico border. Headed by Harold Simmons, a right-wing Dallas billionaire and GOP moneyman, Waste Specialists originally promised to take atomic trash from only two states. But after dumping more donations into Perry's 2010 campaign, Simmons was allowed to take trash from 36 other states.

Now, back to Seliger. In exchange for taking 20K from WSC for his 2012 re-election race, he has dutifully rolled over to sponsor a bill in the Texas Legislature this year to let Simmons ratchet-up from low-level waste to highly-radioactive stuff. The bill would also block residents of neighboring New Mexico from contesting this change in Texas courts. Why take this gratuitous slap at New Mexicans? Because towns there actually are closer to WSC's nuclear dump than any Texas towns, and – since radioactivity pays no heed to state borders – Sierra Club members in Eunice, New Mexico, are opposing the Texas permit.

Having taken Simmons' money, Seliger has been pushing hard to turn the trick for him, but the senator is finding that even his Republican colleagues are disgusted by his shamelessness. As the GOP chair of the Natural Resources Committee asked about Seliger's kinky proposition: "Why would we limit affected parties to three sides [of the county] and not the fourth?" The New Mexican neighbors, he said, are "still Americans," and "they should still be offered the opportunity to protest the plant's permit." Stay tuned at www.texas.sierraclub.org.

"Bill would prevent N.M. residents from fighting Texas waste dump," Austin American Statesman, April 17, 2013.

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