Mother Jones: A Texas-Sized Plan for Nuclear Waste – The billionaire “King of Superfund Sites” wants to open a giant radioactive dump in West Texas…what could go wrong?
… what do do with all of the resulting radioactive waste. Harold Simmons believes he’s found an answer. The Texas billionaire and corporate raider is opening a nuclear waste dump in West Texas, despite objections from environmentalists and the state’s own experts. One of the Lone Star State’s largest donors to Republican causes, Simmons expects his that privately-owned site will become the nation’s most sought after radioactive waste repository.
The reclusive, litigious 79-year-old made his personal fortune from garbage collection, drug stores, metals, and chemicals. His net worth is valued at $5.7 billion, making him the 55th richest American, according to Forbes. He’s shared his money—more than $10 million of it—with conservative politicians and causes, bankrolling attack ads against John Kerry and Barack Obama and giving Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry at least $1.2 million. He has been fined for violating campaign donation limits and outed by one of his daughters for paying her to let him make political contributions in her name. He’s been called the “King of Superfund Sites” for his work disposing of hazardous waste. Last year, D Magazine named him “Dallas’ most evil genius.”
In 1995, he bought a hazardous waste disposal company, Waste Control Specialists, and set about converting an isolated spot in Andrews County into a nuclear waste dump. After six years of lobbying the state legislature, WCS convinced it to pass a law authorizing private companies to be licensed to handle radioactive waste.
Concerned that radioactive material from the dump could contaminate groundwater, three staffers at the state environmental commission quit rather than approve its license.
After decades of pouring money into Republican causes and candidates, Simmons has enjoyed favorable treatment, to the detriment of, not only, the Texas environment, but New York and Illinois as well.
WIKI: 2012 presidential election – Simmons’s company, Contran Corporation, donated $1 million to Make Us Great Again, a super PAC supporting Rick Perry‘s 2012 presidential candidacy. That donation was the single largest received by the PAC in the fourth quarter of 2011. Contran also was the largest donor to American Crossroads, giving $2 million to the conservative super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove. Simmons also donated $100,000 directly to another Perry super PAC, the Restoring Prosperity Fund, before donating $5 million to American Crossroads in addition to Contran’s donation. He has also contributed to Restore our Future, a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney.
As of March, Simmons had given more than $18 million to conservative super PACs, the election’s largest single contributor, spread among all the major Republican candidates following the advice of Rove. Simmons said, “Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama. Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country.”
Environmental management: One of Simmons many companies, NL Industries, originally named National Lead Industries, Inc. has been involved in numerous lawsuits brought by the U.S. Department of Justice to force the company to pay funds into the Superfund to clean up contaminated sites at various sites around the country such as Granite City, Illinois, and Depew, New York.
Houston Chronicle: Texas company could bury 1st nuke waste in April – LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Trucks carrying low-level radioactive waste from 38 states will likely be rolling along Texas highways as early as April, bound for permanent burial at a dump near the New Mexico border. The arrival of the low-level radioactive waste will end a years-long effort by a Dallas-based company, whose majority owner is big-time political contributor Harold Simmons, to win permission from Texas officials to accept the waste at 1,340-acre tract of scrub brush terrain about 360 miles west of Dallas. Opponents say Waste Control Specialists has benefited from Simmons’ connections to top Republicans, including Gov. Rick Perry.
The state’s commission overseeing disposal of low-level waste in Texas is expected to approve the final rule changes needed on Friday. State lawmakers cleared the way with a new law passed in the last legislative session. State regulators still need to sign off on the burial site’s construction.
Environmental groups have for years voiced concerns about the geology of the site and about the potential for contamination of underground water sources they say are too close. A “nightmare scenario” exists, though, in transporting the waste to the site, said Karen Hadden, director of the Texas SEED Coalition.
“All of it is dangerous but we are very concerned about highway accidents,” she said. “There could be accidents in downtown Dallas or downtown Fort Worth and Houston. There is risk of radioactive contamination and exposure.”
The latest reports from the Federal Election Commission shed new light on the political largesse of two Texas businessmen who have become common names in the world of Republican fundraising.
With a $1 million check in February to the superPAC backing Rick Santorum, Dallas nuclear waste dump owner Harold Simmons and his wife, Annette, have now contributed to groups supporting all three of the top GOP candidates.
And Houston home builder Bob Perry (The Godfather of Texas Home-building & Politics) tripled his 2011 investment in the superPAC supporting Mitt Romney: His $3 million donation made up nearly half of Restore Our Future’s total take in February, according to FEC figures released Tuesday.
Republican political consultant Bill Miller says that over the last 30 years, Perry has used his money to build the Texas Republican Party. He’s been the single largest donor at the national level, too.
According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Institute for Money in State Politics and Texans for Public Justice, during the last decade Perry has donated $79,944,942 to various campaigns.
Paying For Influence?
Political observers in Austin, Texas, speculate this spreading of the wealth has to do with Simmons’ main business, a nuclear waste dump in West Texas.
“His motive these days is to expand as much as he can the volume of waste that comes into the dump,” says Craig McDonald, who heads Texans for Public Justice, which tracks campaign contributions in Texas.
Simmons’ dump takes low-level nuclear waste, McDonald says, but it could be the long-term storage solution for high-level nuclear waste. This material is usually stored on site at the reactor and is a security and environmental threat.
Given how politically charged the subject is, Simmons is going to need political allies at both the state and federal levels.
“We’ve also noticed the last couple of years he not only has been moving money to federal candidates, but he’s also been moving a lot of campaign money to state leaders in states that, right now, don’t have a location to place their own low-level [nuclear] waste, so he’s out there shopping,” McDonald says.
Meet a few of Rick’s Financial “Angels” September 8, 2011
When Rick Perry threw his hat in the ring, he also brought three very deep Texas Pockets with him–not to mention a ready-made coalition of several million voters, all of whom will vote for Perry just because they believe him to be a Christian.
Jim Leininger has given large sums of money to Perry Campaigns over the years. Many say that he saved Perry’s political career in 1998 with a last minute infusion of $1.1 million that fueled Perry’s victory as lieutenant governor over a tight race between Perry and Democrat John Sharp. Leininger is an MD who founded KCI about 30 years ago in San Antonio. KCI is a leading global medical technology company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of innovative, high-technology therapies and products for the wound care, tissue regeneration and therapeutic support system markets. He sold KCI in a $6.3 billion dollar deal in 1997.
Leininger is a leading proponent of school vouchers and he bankrolled the campaign to ban gay marriage. The weekend of August 27, 2011, Perry spent at Jim Leininger’s ranch near Fredericksburg for a confab of Christian conservatives which included retired judge Paul Pressler, a Southern Baptist leader, so-called Christian historian David Barton, East Texas evangelist Rick Scarborough* and others who supported Perry’s prayer rally event in Houston. The meeting at the ranch was not about fundraising. It was about motivating true believers.
Meet Rick Perry’s Christocrats who think it is more important to mix religion and politics than protect our Texas Environment:
David Barton (born 1954) is an American evangelical Christian minister, conservative activist, and author. He founded WallBuilders, a Texas-based organization with a goal of exposing the claimed US constitutional separation of church and state as a myth. Barton is the former co-chair of the Republican Party of Texas.
And Rick Scarborough is a self-proclaimed “Christocrat” who believes that it is his duty to “mix church and state God’s way” in order to stop the country’s “slide further into Communism/Socialism [and] sexual anarchy led by sodomites” and who stated, just a few months ago, that AIDS is God’s judgment for engaging in an immoral act. [Source: People for the American Way]
The Christocrats never really went away – By A. James Rudin| Religion News Service, Published: March 1 – The truth, however, is that the religious right, Christian Reconstructionism and Dominionism have never gone away. And now they’re back, “big time,” as Dick Cheney might say.
In the 2012 presidential election, the Christocrats are out in force on many fronts: trying to eliminate prenatal care and all forms of contraception; defunding breast cancer screening; opposing civil rights for same-sex couples; contesting evolution and substituting creationism in public schools; denying the reality of global climate change; and discrediting the “lame stream media.”
Even though the Constitution specifically prohibits a “religious test” for elective office, the GOP primaries are poisoned with scornful remarks about whether a candidate is “Christian” or not, or whether Obama’s theology is “phony” or unbiblical.
Much of this takes the form of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has been proud to claim the mantle of the “Jesus candidate.” But you can also see traces in the Gingrich and Romney campaigns, and from well-funded groups that aren’t attached to a particular candidate.
I draw no joy in continuing to warn about the profound dangers of the religious right and its various allies. What I wrote in 2006, sadly, remains true today: