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November 4, 1999 - BUSH PUSH FOR POLLUTER IMMUNITY

Austin...Texas Governor George W. Bush has led the fight to shield corporate polluters from prosecution under the nation's most extreme "environmental audit privilege" law. According to records released today by Texas PEER, Gov. Bush agreed to moderate Texas law under threat of federal intervention and loss of the state's power to enforce national environmental statutes.

During his first year in office, Gov. Bush supported a sweeping audit immunity law shielding corporations who performed internal environmental reviews from criminal and civil prosecution. The law was enacted despite opposition from the U.S. Justice Department and Texas prosecutors who expressed concerns that the bill would cripple pollution enforcement by conferring greater legal protections upon corporations than individual defendants.

It took federal regulators nearly two years, culminating in face-to-face negotiations with Gov. Bush, to secure changes in the law that deny immunity to corporate polluters who—
> create a serious threat to public health;
> break federal criminal laws; or
> economically profit from environmental violations.

Secrecy of corporate pollution violations remains a central part of the Texas audit immunity law. Texans who suffer health effects or other damage as a result of covered misconduct may not have access to the data even in court.

NOTE: More on polluter immunity. Next week we look at specific cases and the threat of prosecution faced by state environmental employees. The following week, Texas PEER lists the corporations who have escaped prosecution and the extent of their financial gratitude.



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