Texas may get a lump of radioactive waste in their stocking if billionaire donor to Governor Perry has his way

UPDATED: Thanks to everyone who commented!  We’ll have a blog wrapup/ news release ASAP.


And check our flikr photostream here on the blog for non moving pictures from this morning, if that’s more your thing.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled snark, already in progress. 


Supervillain Harold Simmons sitting on a pile of radioactive waste

Bond Supervillain and sometimes Grinch Harold Simmons, picture from D magazine

This morning when I woke up my precious 2 year old son, he asked if I could sing him “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch“, and while I was singing and described the Grinch’s moldy, garlicky, spider-infested brain, heart, and soul, I couldn’t stop thinking of Dallas Billionaire Harold Simmons and the unelected bureacrats who decided the holidays were the perfect time to try to permit nuclear waste coming to Texas.  And while I wouldn’t normally touch them with a 39 1/2 foot pole, touch we must.

Whatever your plans for the holidays — putting up decorations, sending cards to friends and family, buying gifts and a much-needed vacation– I’m sure they did not include telling an obscure state commission you don’t want Texas to become the nation’s radioactive waste dump.  But more than any figgy pudding, that is what we must bring, and bring it right here!

Wait… you’re saying you weren’t planning to closely read and comment on a proposed rule that would put a big ole “for sale” sign on our state for anyone with unwanted radioactive waste?

Well that’s exactly what Michael Ford, the governor’s appointed (i.e. unelected) chairman of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (i.e. radioactive waste czar), is counting on.

At a meeting announced just hours after the November polls had closed and election winners and losers had been announced, the TLLRWDCC (I know, it’s a mouthful even abbreviated) voted 5-2 to repost a rule that would allow out-of-state radioactive waste generators – primarily nuclear power plants on the coasts and in the midwest – to send  their waste here.

Worse still, the TLLRWDCC managed to post the rule the day after Thanksgiving, ensuring that media and public attention would be minimal. The posting started a 30 day comment period during which the public can let the TLLRWDCC know how they feel about it. So let’s run the numbers and… oh, fabulous, comments are due the day after Christmas! Happy holidays, indeed!

Ford brought up this bad idea last summer, but polls showed a majority of Texans didn’t like the proposal.  Bill White made it an election issue, accusing Governor Perry of making the state a radioactive waste dump to benefit his donor.  So Perry’s Waste Czar pulled the proposal, waiting until day after the election to announce that the process would move forward once more.

But announcing a meeting the day after the election with just 10-days notice for people to travel to Midland (where the capitol press would be unlikely to follow), and then posting the rule itself such that the comment period would meet the literal definition of “the holidays” was only the beginning for Mr. Ford.

A commissioner named Bob Gregory who, like Ford, was appointed by Governor Perry asked that the comment period on this rule be extended to 90 days since a 30 day comment period would transpire during the holidays when most people are too busy to pay much attention to matters of civic engagement. Mr. Ford and 4 other members of the TLLRWDCC voted against Mr. Gregory’s very reasonable solution for this very obvious problem.

The bottom line is that Mr. Ford and several of the commissioners are afraid of public scrutiny. Last spring they received over 2,000 comments from Texans opposed to the rule. That was before the issue made the front pages of newspapers all across the state, so they have good reason to be afraid.

During the holidays many Americans take time to be with family, to exercise their generosity, and to reflect on all they have to be grateful for. Mr. Ford and 4 of the other commissioners have decided to cynically use this to keep the public out of the process on this enormously important matter.

And while you’re getting dumped on, someone will get a really nice Christmas gift this year.

This smacks of a political payback. Harold Simmons, whose company owns this dump, has spread his cash far and wide, giving Governor Perry over $1 million since 2000 (making him the governor’s 2nd largest individual donor) and funding campaigns for every member of the Texas Supreme Court among others. While Simmons gets to make billions off this waste, Texans will get the responsibility for managing it for 10,000 years and cleaning it up — Mr. Simmons’ license expires in just 15 years.

But there is hope. Send your comments to the Compact Commissioners telling them the only good radioactive waste importation rule is one that bans any waste from coming to this state unless there is a national emergency. Tell them lawmakers in Texas bargained for only Vermont and Texas waste, and that’s what the people of Texas expect. And tell them that Christmas isn’t a weapon to be wielded against the public.

The Grinch about to go down a chimney

The Grinch is likely to file a defamation suit against me for comparing him to Harold Simmons.

Please go to www.TexasNuclearSafety.org where you can learn more about this issue and submit comments to the commission, and I hope you’ll give ’em what-for because they certainly deserve it.

Keep Texas from becoming what they want it to: an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots. So, Mr. Ford, Mr. Simmons– between the three of you, I think I’d take the seasick crocodile. And the three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink. Stank! STUNK!