January 13, 2000
ADDS MILLIONS TO PUBLIC TAB FOR TOXIC CLEANUPS
Austin....Texas Governor George Bush sponsored an industry rewrite
of state hazardous waste laws to shift millions of dollars in toxic
cleanup costs from banks and landowners to state taxpayers, according
to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (Texas PEER).
As one of his early environmental initiatives, Gov. Bush commissioned
an industry-dominated "workgroup" to reevaluate Texas's hazardous
waste cleanup laws. The resulting plan largely eliminated the "polluter
pays" principles found in federal and most state hazardous waste cleanup
("Superfund") laws. The final bill which Gov. Bush signed into law
contained a stunning array of new devices to limit liability for lenders
and fiduciaries for toxic cleanup and public health impacts, including:
> "covenants not to sue" to absolve companies of the prospect of being
> "certificates of innocence" to immunize lenders and landowners from
the financial consequences of what is found on their land;
> "partial settlements" where the polluter pays less than the full
cost of the cleanup.
"By conferring ‘certificates of innocence' on banks and industrial
property owners, Governor Bush has made the innocent taxpayer financially
responsible for the pollution of others," stated Texas PEER Coordinator
Erin Rogers. "Today, the ordinary citizens of Texas have less power
to trigger cleanups, less notice of when promised cleanups are not
being completed and less ability to hold polluters responsible — the
only thing they have more of is financial liability."
NOTE: Next week, Texas PEER traces campaign contributions from the
beneficiaries of the Superfund rewrite.
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· P.O. Box 1522; Austin TX ·
441-4941 · txpeer@PEER.org