Legislators influenced by a ready mix of lobby and campaign dollars are moving another sweetheart bill for the dirty cement and concrete industry.
Cement kilns often cut their huge energy costs by burning toxic waste. Predictably, this produces toxic air emissions, which contain carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates, as well as heavy metals, dioxins and furans (the last two byproducts are linked to cancer, birth defects and fertility and endocrine problems).
Neighbors blame Dallas-area Texas Industries (TXI) incinerators for a litany of illnesses and animal deaths.
Cement itself can contain toxic heavy metals. Neighbors complain that noise and dust from batch plants (that make concrete from cement and gravel) damage their property and health.
The public can only voice its concerns at Texas Natural Resources and Conservation Commission (TNRCC) hearings on applications for new or expanded plants. By the late 1990s, permit opponents began using computer models to show how these plants affect them.
Heaven forbid that the TNRCC would allow factual distractions to influence delicate political decisions. In 1999, industry got the legislature to bar such modeling evidence from hearings. This session the industry wants to end public hearings altogether for many batch plants (Sen. Buster Brown’s SB546).
Concrete Lobby Contracts, March 2001 Lobbyist Client Max. Value Lisa K. Anderson Texas Industries $100,000 Ronald K. Golemon Texas Industries $100,000 Linda S. Sickels Trinity Industries $100,000 Justin J. Howard N. TX Cement Co. $50,000 Neal "Buddy" Jones N. TX Cement Co. $50,000 Dan Pearson N. TX Cement Co. $50,000 Tristan Castaneda, Jr. HB Zachry $25,000 Pamela M. Giblin Capitol Aggregates $25,000 Chris S. Shields HB Zachry $25,000 Victoria J. Waddy HB Zachry $25,000 Gaylord Hughey, Jr. Hanson Concrete; N. TX Cement $20,000 Maurice O. Osborn Texas Industries $10,000 D. R. Jones Texas Industries $10,000 TOTAL: $570,000
The industry, which already reports paying 13 lobbyists up to $570,000 this session, has lured powerful former state officials into its phalanx of lobbyists.
Concrete executive and then-state Rep. Mark Stiles sat on the legislature’s Budget and Criminal Justice boards when they oversaw the $1.3 billion doubling of Texas prisons in the early 1990s. Stiles’ Transit Mix Concrete (bought by Trinity Industries in 1991) sold concrete to half a dozen state prisons, quadrupling its operations in the first years of the prison binge.
Trinity made Stiles senior vice president after he retired from the House in 1998. Last year, Stiles reported that less than $10,000 of his $731,250 salary and bonus package paid for his lobbying.
Dan Pearson, whose clients include North Texas Cement, resigned as TNRCC director in 1998 to lobby with ex-legislator Neal Jones. Jones’ top client then was seeking TNRCC approval to sell $16 million of Colorado River water.
Before George W. Bush made him a TNRCC Commissioner, Ralph Marquez lobbied for TXI to kill a bill to limit incinerator fumes. Marquez (just reappointed by Governor Perry) later refused to recuse himself from voting for pollution permits for this ex-client.
Concrete PAC Spending In the 2000 Cycle PACs $ Spent Trinity Industries $334,100 TACA $171,000 Texas Industries $89,000 HB Zachry $42,200 Total $637,050
Gaylord Hughey, Jr., is a “Pioneer” who raised $100,000 for Bush’s presidential campaign. Hughey lobbied for Pioneer Concrete in 1999, when it tried to block a TNRCC hearing on whether to reopen an unpermited concrete plant.
To trump the public interest, industry PACs spent more than $600,000 to soften up politicians in the 2000 election cycle. Meanwhile, the PAC of their chief critic, the Sierra Club, spent $120. The PACs of Dallas-based Trinity Industries (which made a $166 million profit in 2000 on diversified sales, including concrete and road construction products) pour the most industry money.
The industry's other PACs are run by the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association (TACA), TXI and HB Zachry (which owns the subsidiaries Capitol Cement and Capitol Aggregates). •
Top TACA PACA Donors Top Donors Money Business Victor Lattimore $30,450 Lattimore Materials, McKinney Keith Knox $8,200 Knox Concrete, Houston Larry Parker $8,000 Alamo Cement, San Antonio Ronnie Beall $8,000 North TX Cement, Midlothian Carl Campbell $6,300 Trinity Materials, Ferris Gary Bullock $5,750 Concrete producer, Irving Eric Reinhart $5,640 Concrete producer, Dallas Donna Bossert $5,000 Equipment sales, DeSoto Frank Johnson $4,400 Concrete producer, Porter Jim Ablowich $4,185 Aggregate producer, Dallas Ronnie Finley $4,000 Aggregate producer, Dallas James Rainbolt $3,000 Tarrant Concrete, Ft. Worth Neil Ackerman $2,500 Aggregate producer, Victoria Bo Bankston $1,400 Concrete producer, San Antonio Mike Mauldin $1,100 Admixture producer, Houston Marlin Smith $1,100 TKO Equipment Co., Gr. Prairie
TOP TACA Recipients Top Recipients TACA $ Sen. Todd Staples $20,000 Sen. David Cain $12,500 Sen. Florence Shapiro $10,000 Gov. Rick Perry $10,000 Rep. Clyde Alexander $8,000 Sen. Jane Nelson $6,000 Rep. Kim Brimer $5,000 Rep. Rob Junell $5,000 A.G. John Cornyn $5,000 Sen. David Sibley $5,000 Sen. Leticia Van De Putte $3,500 Rep. Barry Telford $3,000 Rep. Robert Turner $3,000 Rep. Brian McCall $3,000 Rep. Rick Green $2,500 Rep. Robby Cook $2,500 # # #
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