Bush and Big Oil
Ken Lay is head of the nation's largest supplier of electricity an natural gas to utilities- Enron. A long time top contributor to Bush and his campaign ($362,050) he is often solicited for advice on policy matters,including recommendations for appointments to state boards while Bush was Governor. Like Bush, Lay favors deregulation, and Bush has vowed to loosen federal regulations, which would allow the Houston energy conglomerate to sell directly to residential customers.
If Enron's business tactics in California are an indication of free market competition, it does not look good for consumers. Enron responded to the emergency by threatening it might withhold power unless the state approved large rate increases. The energy industry threw it's weight behind Bush completely, and he is not expected to disappoint them.
Another major contributor who stands to benefit from the Bush administration is Koch Industries, who gave $484,500 to the Bush campaign. The Kansas energy company has a history of pollution violations, and was fined $30 million by the Clinton administration for oil spills from leaking pipelines. The National Transportation Safety Board faulted Koch for a pipeline leak and explosion that killed two Texas teenagers. The NTSB said that company records indicate that Koch knew the line was corroded in some part, but that Koch did not take corrective measures. The vapors ignited as the two teenagers drove through them in an attempt to warn others that the pipeline was leaking, according to news reports. "Because no overall requirement exists for operators to evaluate pipeline coating condition, problems similar to those that occurred on Koch's pipeline could occur in other pipelines," said a NTSB spokesman. The NTSB has also published a summary of its findings. NTSB has told Koch to inspect its other pipelines and take corrective action if necessary, but the NTSB can not impose any fines on Koch in conjunction with its report. They have been indicted on 97 counts of violating federal clean air and hazardous waste laws last year alone. Bush's pledge to ease environmental protections, and more drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is good news to Koch Industries.
More donors stand to profit from more oil and gas drilling are; Richard Kinder--CEO Kinder Morgan,(former President of Enron)gave $285,500, Christine Toretti-Chief Exec. SW Jack Drilling gave $239,850, and Forrest Hoglund heads the pipeline firm--Arctic Resources gave $137,328.
Bush is well known in Texas for his support of the oil industry. He has personally intervened to protect major air polluters. According to NAFTA, Texas pollutes more that any other state or Canadian province. A record that includes both air and water pollution. Five cities in Texas have been put on the EPA list of "nonattainment zones" (which means air alerts have to be issued on a regular basis), and four other cities are now eligible to be on the list. In 1998 and 1999, Houston had the highest ozone levels of any city in the country. And according to a study by the city of Houston itself showed that air pollution causes at least 430 deaths per year. While Texas is not the only state with pollution problems, it is worth noting that between 1993 and 1998, 56 of the 96 of the nonattainment areas around the country got off the list, none in Texas were removed.
The degree of water pollution in Texas can not be determined, because after Bush was elected governor the state stopped monitoring water quality, and the pesticide - monitoring program has also been abandoned. The EPA has recorded however, that 59 million pounds of pesticides were used in 1998 in Texas. In 1995 shortly after Bush became governor, he called for the resignation of all three appointees by the previous governor, to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission. His replacements were, John Baker from the Texas Farm Bureau, a larger insurance company whose portfolio consists mostly of agricultural chemical stocks, and has opposed any efforts to regulate pesticides. Also appointed was Ralph Marquez, a lobbyist for the Texas Chemical Council, and formerly worked for Monsanto Chemical Company and Barry McBee. Bush's appointees lobbying in Washington to oppose new federal clean air standards, and in Texas they overturned regulations that required farmers to post warning signs in fields that were just sprayed with pesticides known to have caused illness and death in field workers.