s/r home  | issues  | authors  | 17 contents

Synthesis/Regeneration 17   (Fall 1998)

Announcement Speech

A Green Candidate for Governor of Texas

by Susan Lee Solar, Austin Greens

I am running to assure there is a clear alternative to corporate politics as usual. I want the public to know the role Governor Bush and his appointed commissioners have played in promoting projects that are rapidly turning West Texas into Waste Texas and our interstates into radioactive routes for nuclear power and nuclear weapons waste, while assuring us they are protecting our safety. It's not only designated nuclear waste threatening our health and environment, but sewer sludge from out of state which besides carrying organic pathogens and heavy metals, may also contain levels of radioactivity significant enough to damage immune systems and cause cancer.

George Bush's appointed Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commissioners last year approved the expansion by three times of the world's largest sewage sludge dump in Sierra Blanca, Texas for the next six years without a single inquiry into the effects of that dump on the health of area residents. Those residents have little hope in resisting and I understand why. I saw them signing petitions, attending community meetings and speaking out at public hearings regarding the proposed nuclear waste dump and having their voice ignored for the past six years.

Sierra Blanca is becoming a metaphor for toxic environmental racism. We must stop the nuclear waste dump there.

The initial registration was granted in 23 days with no public hearing in June 1992. Neighbors immediately began reporting terrible odors, unusual flus and gastro-intestinal problems as well as an increase in respiratory problems and even skin funguses, which I saw on the bodies of two grandmothers from the area. I have heard complaints from as far as Terlingua and of doctors in van Horn and Alpine who believe increases in certain diseases are due to the sludge.

Sierra Blanca is becoming a metaphor for toxic environmental racism. We must stop the nuclear waste dump there. We must also end the sludge spraying not only at the original site but at all other sites where similar projects are being considered, such as 20 miles east down I-10 near Allamore, where my friends the Mendez family live, with a new grandbaby and two elementary school children. On June 30 the original contract between Merco Joint Ventures and New York City to dispose of over 200 tons daily of New York sludge expired. On July 1 the amount doubles to 400 tons daily just north of the town, and it is possible a second site will open 20 miles east of Sierra Blanca to spray more, under a contract with EPIC of New Jersey.

The latest affront to the community began recently with the mining of beryllium, a known carcinogen, at the little Sierra Blanca mountain, also permitted under the incumbent's watch.

The incumbent said "It's a federal matter, out of my hands," when a judge ruled in November that nuclear weapons waste produced in Ohio must be sent by the Department of Energy to a new private national nuclear waste dump in Andrews County, Texas, where neither the state nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have any oversight. This facility is owned by two men who gave the governor $170,000 that we know of in the last two years. This is a perfect example of corporate politics at its rankest. The Green position is that elections should be publicly funded, or at least, have mandatory donor limits, such as those initiated by Austin Greens last fall in a successful campaign finance reform.

So Gov. Bush would place two deadly national dumps just a few hours apart, one on the New Mexico border, the other near Mexico, in far west Texas. The radioactive cargo would be traveling across Texas through our major cities and over our waterways, through our farm land, on the way to our aquifers. The Democratic candidate would just support one of the deadly dumps with its hot cargo on Texas highways. The Green position is that we must manage in monitored, retrievable storage the waste produced by any of these toxic processes and not subject workers, drivers, and residents along the routes to needless exposure.

Around the world locally-based Greens have been the groups which provide vision and hope to a citizenry grown cynical through watching money dictate public policy.

This pollution spreading to our Texas communities is not only nuclear and sludge but also the moral pollution centered here in Austin, fueled by global corporations based in Dallas, Houston and far beyond our borders. Around the world locally-based Greens have been the groups which provide vision and hope to a citizenry grown cynical through watching money dictate public policy. I am a mother and perhaps someday a grandmother. My campaign is to help bring that hope and vision of a future for our children and grandchildren to Texas.

Since 1992 I have been a full-time activist dedicated to breaking the nuclear chain in the form of nuclear weapons, nuclear power and nuclear waste dumps. I have spent six weeks in D.C. lobbying Congress against the Compact Bill since December 1995, where repeatedly I was told by Congressional staff that either George Bush or men from his office had been there before, promoting the Compact Bill which would fund construction for the national nuclear waste dump in Sierra Blanca. I have spent years with my friends organizing others to stop that bill. I have been on the road with the traveling anti-nuclear museum which has been my work the last three years, speaking out and observing public hearings on environmental matters in this state, in Sierra Blanca, Marfa, Alpine, El Paso, Andrews, Dallas and Austin. I have seen Texas citizens cry while testifying about the damage to their health, their land, their families and all they love from corporate polluters permitted by commissions appointed by our current and recent governors.

Since I am voluntarily limiting donations to my campaign to $100, my appointments will not be bought, but originate with suggestions from grassroots organizations such as Texans United, PODER, Downwinders at Risk, Public Citizen, and other Greens. I would seek funds from state, federal and private sources to expand non-toxic projects that benefit the most needy Texans, such as pre-school child care, drug rehabilitation programs and programs that aid working parents. I am especially dedicated to programs to promote green building, renewable energy and energy conservation, as I have worked for years on those issues myself.

As I have worked across Texas on environmental and peace and justice issues the last nine years, whether it's the Trans-Pecos, where I've worked with communities against two national nuclear waste dumps and the world's largest sewage sludge project; the Panhandle where residents are faced with a plutonium processing facility; North Texas where we organized against the Gulf War and the military-industrial complex, as well as racism at work and in foreign policy; the border area with the maquiladoras and babies born without brains; or in East Texas where along with endemic air pollution and persistent threat of disaster from the South Texas and Comanche Peak nuclear reactors which my friends and I have studied and confronted intensively for years, the problems are coming thick and fastů

Week before last I spent some time in Jasper where racism has once again raised its head in a particularly brutal manner. The Repubocrat candidates for years have recommended getting tough on crime and as a result we have a large percentage of our youth in prison, almost all from the working class. What happened in Jasper was bred and trained in the Texas prison system, Texas' largest government agency.

What happened in Jasper was bred and trained in the Texas Prison System, Texas' largest government agency.

Throwing young men from difficult childhoods for crimes of property into a brutal system where violence thrives is no solution to eliminating crime in our communities. We must create systems of mediation and victim restoration where our youth learn to deal with the consequences of their actions, and we must provide adequate drug and alcohol rehab programs which work, with meaningful, healthy job creation and training through our excellent community colleges and universities, where teachers and staff need to be paid decent wages, as do our public school teachers who are charged with our children at their most impressionable.

The Greens offer solutions for environmental, political and social justice problems based on compassion and realism for the future as well as our own generations

I will ask my friend Alfredo Reza to similarly make his own appeal for your support. I wholeheartedly endorse his candidacy, as a young dedicated earth-defender and earth scientist, and as a native Texan Mexican-American.

Thanks for your attention; I welcome dialogue with you on your concerns about this candidacy.

Susan Lee Solar is an anti-nuclear activist/educator who has spent the last three years roving the southwest with a mobile "Museum to End the Nuclear Age."

She announced her intention to run for Governor of Texas during Winter and Spring, 1998 on the Texas Green listserve, and spoke at the statewide Green gathering in June, along with organic farmer Steve Sprinkel, who is running for Agricultural Commissioner. The North Texas Greens were caught up in a local race and at the time the filing fee was due, September 4, had not yet endorsed Solar or collected petitions to that effor,t though they seem likely to endorse and have contributed some funds to the campaign. The Harris County Greens, the largest and most organized Green group in the state, were divided over whether their by-laws allowed endorsement and did not contribute either funds or petitions. This left it up to the Austin Greens to carry the bulk of the work, reflecting the newness of the Greens in the sense of being a statewide organization.

Solar stuck it out despite the smoke from Mexico, the Texas heat wave which ruined her petition drive and her laptop (she survived the summer in an un-airconditioned house and even walked most of the 72 miles between El Paso and Sierra Blanca in a student organized anti-dump march in August), contention over her candidacy with other anti-nuclear folk allied with the Democratic party, and a distracting investigation and battle related to renewal of the contract to dump toxic New York City sewer sludge near Sierra Blanca, which Solar took on in mid-summer. Amazingly, on September 4, just before the witching hour, she turned in her $3,000 filing fee, raised laboriously over the last month with the help of old and new friends and a core of Greens and bioregionalists.

Synthesis/Regeneration home page | S/R 17 Contents