18, 1999 - BUSH
CONTRIBUTORS IMMUNIZED FOR POLLUTION VIOLATIONS
Austin....Campaign contributors to Governor George W. Bush were nearly
three times as likely as non-contributors to receive immunity from
prosecution for pollution violations under the Texas "environmental
audit privilege" law, according to documents released today by Texas
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). Corporations
pushing for relief from the prospect of environmental prosecution
have contributed millions of dollars to Bush campaigns and account
for almost half of all the immunities granted thus far.
Since the 1995 passage of the audit privilege law, one of Governor
Bush's earliest environmental initiatives, 242 companies have filed
1,040 privileged internal audits with the Texas Natural Resources
Conservation Commission (TNRCC). Texas corporations averaged more
than four environmental violations in each privileged filing. Under
the Texas law, corporations are protected from prosecution for violations
they "self report."
Companies affiliated with campaign contributions to Governor Bush
filed just 17 percent of all privileged audits but account for fully
48 percent of all requests for immunity from prosecution, according
to records compiled by Texas PEER.
"Money talks in Texas but under the audit immunity law it can also
buy silence," commented Texas PEER Coordinator Erin Rogers, noting
that state environmental employees are forbidden from revealing the
contents of corporate audits. "One of the most troublesome aspects
of this law is that even the victims of pollution — the families and
communities of ordinary Texans— cannot learn what the companies have
done under the veil of privilege."
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· P.O. Box 1522; Austin TX ·
441-4941 · txpeer@PEER.org