Loose Lips


The U.S. Congress is working to undo the 1980 Superfund Act, the legislation that made polluters responsible for their waste. Under the Republican proposal, thousands of corporations that helped create the nearly 1,200 super-polluted "Superfund" sites will no longer be responsible for cleaning them up.

"Retroactive liability is not fair," whined Senate sponsor Bob Smith (R-NH). The House version would absolve companies of responsibility for cleaning up any mess made before 1887. This would leave 95 percent of the Superfund sites, including all 22 in South Carolina, your responsibility. That's right, taxpayers! Those poor petrochemical companies who made billions off those chemicals that ended up in your backyard may have bought enough influence to get off the hook.

Most of the $1.5 billion the EPA will spend on Superfund site cleanup this year came from a special tax on chemical and petroleum companies. It's a safe bet that these companies made more campaign contributions than you did.

If Congress manages to roll back corporate responsibility, it's also a safe bet they won't raise taxes to take up the slack. That leaves nobody responsible for the poisons seeping toward your faucet.


Cape Romaine Wildlife Refuge, between McClellanville and Georgetown, is the largest wilderness area on the East Coast. It has been set aside as a state and national treasure where humans must tread lightly; unless you own a giant steel mill and the governor runs interference for you, of course, in which case you must be Nucor Steel and the guy greasing the rails must be Gov. David Beasley.

DHEC granted Nucor's air pollution permit on Aug. 16 in record time. The permit allows the company to release twice as much toxic dust and ash as is permitted at Nucor's plants in Arkansas and Indiana. This amounts to 900 pounds a day, much of which will make its way into the wildlife refuge.

While Beasley is following a long tradition of recruiting industry with tax breaks and, in Nucor's case, cheap electricity, some believe that the quality of the air and water of this state should not be traded off as corporate incentives. (By being allowed to dump an extra 20 tons of toxic dust a year into the environment Nucor saved about $1.4 million.


POINT's feature last month on the Mountain Bridge Wilderness in the Upstate lauded Tom Wyche as an eco-sensitive lawyer. Since the article ran, we have received calls pointing out that while Wyche deserves accolades for his work in getting thousand of acres of land placed in the protective custody of private and state trusts, he has not applied his philosophy to his own holdings.

Wyche is a principle partner in the Cedar Rock Limited Partnership, which is developing several hundred acres of prime mountain real estate. The development is the last piece of private property in the area because Wyche convinced other owners to place their property in trust.

Wyche further riled conservationists when he pushed the state Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism to build a footbridge at the head of Raven Cliff Falls, South Carolina's highest waterfall.

The footbridge is being built in an area that is a strenuous three-hour hike from where most tourists park to gawk at the scenery. The Foothills Trail Association, Sierra Club and Trout Unlimited all oppose the bridge. They complain that it's a bad idea to put an artificial structure in the heart of the most scenic wilderness in the mountains. There is also concern that the footings will not hold up to the torrent that Matthew's Creek becomes several times a year.

Wyche got his way with PRT when he agreed to pay for building the bridge and to pay for its removal if it falls apart or is deemed an eyesore by PRT. Why he is so intent on building this bridge in the middle of nowhere remains a mystery.


If you used to tune to S.C. Educational Radio Network for your Friday night entertainment, you may be wondering whether SC-ETV President for Life Henry Cauthen has decided that classical music and Alfred Turner's brand of jazz is all that won't offend the conservative budget cutters threatening to close the whole operation.

World Cafe is gone from the Friday night line-up because it went from being a free program to costing $3,300 a year for the series. SC-ERN couldn't negotiate a reduced price for airing only one segment, so no more World Cafe. Afropop, a free show, has been moved to a 10 p.m. time slot on Sunday when fundamentalists are safely tucked into bed.

The Programming Committee Tom Fowler and Alfred Turner from radio and Jesse Bowers from SC-ETV "is launching an effort to better serve ERN's classical music listeners," according to the Official Voice of Henry. The voice emanates from the body of Kathy Gardner Jones but seems to be everywhere. Call and ask for Tom and you get Kathy. Ask for Henry and you get Kathy. Try calling for the night janitor and I'll bet you get Kathy.

As to why the educational network is more closed-mouthed than any other state agency, mused Michael Graham, the political pundit with an ax to grind (SC-ERN took his free commentary off the air after he offended virtually everyone in the state legislature), "Henry is so paranoid because he is obsolete. We don't need government-sponsored broadcasting in the digital age."

Henry's response is to inundate listeners with Rosen's smarmy "Inside Jazz," which now fills two and a half hours a day, five days a week, with music designed not to offend anybody who votes on Henry's budget.

The Official Voice of Henry would not disclose Rosen's salary, and denied the growing rumor that Rosen must be Cauthen's illegitimate son.


While Gov. Beasley (who?) ponders awarding Hootie and the Blowfish the Order of the Palmetto, it's interesting to note that some of the past recipients including Stevie Wonder, the band Alabama and that fine family man, the godfather of PCP, James Brown were not held to the same standards Beasley is now applying to the band made up of USC graduates. Could it be that they had the audacity to bad-mouth the governor's favorite flag?


Republican Congressman Bob Inglis seems to believe that government governs best that lets the people know the least.

Inglis recently went on the offensive against President Bill Clinton's order requiring industries to provide the public with records of their toxic emissions. Inglis wants to limit the community right-to-know law, arguing that the law allows environmental groups to identify "conscientious companies" as polluters even though their "emissions are perfectly ordinary."

One wonders why if the companies are so conscientious and their emissions are so ordinary they wouldn't welcome the chance to share the good news with their neighbors.

Inglis, whose budget cuts are coming home to roost in his own district (Greenville, Spartanburg and Union), would prefer not have to explain his priorities to constituents. Inglis has voted for cuts that would close a national park, stop toxic waste clean-up and eliminate $15 million to improve basic education skills in his district. Accordingly, Inglis has introduced legislation to eliminate the congressional public affairs office that lets folks back home know what their representatives are up to.


The late great Republican hatchetman Lee Atwater once said the Republican Party should be a "big tent" open to different philosophies. Atwater's willingness to overlook differences in favor of political power now seems like a quaint relic of a less dogmatic time. In the past six years, nine House members and four senators have left the Democratic Party to gather under the Republican tent.

Unlike our current governor, who started voting Republican before his switch in 1991, these swingers were embraced before they established their right-wing credentials. In a sign of the times, Rep. John Tucker's (D-Anderson) attempt to change political stipes was rejected by the politically correct brethren in his home town. Led by Rep. Dan Cooper (R-Anderson) and driven by a conservative fundamentalism that demands blind obedience, local Republicans let it be known that Tucker wasn't welcome in their increasingly narrow party. Tucker's main offense is his support of a woman's right to chose abortion.

House Democratic leader Jim Hodges (D-Lancaster) says that Atwater's vision of a big Republican tent is beginning to look more like a "little umbrella."


When Wilma Neal, an African-American, went to work for David Beasley's campaign, most white liberals were incensed. "How could she sell out her people?" they cried. African-Americans were considerably more forgiving, noting, "What do you crackers think, that we're joined to the Democratic Party at birth?"

Neal manifested the growing insistence among African-Americans that they not be taken for granted when she joined a campaign that is decidedly not in the best interest of working people in general and black people in particular.

Neal resigned last month citing growing racial tensions and irreconcilable differences. "I have been ostracized and excluded from even the most routine meetings on many occasions," Neal's resignation letter said. "I have had to confront simple immaturity and callousness not befitting those who maintain a leadership role in our government."

Neal said in a recent interview, "I saw in David [Beasley] an opportunity for the state to grow by leaps and bounds in the area of race relations. For whatever reason, it didn't happen."

Welcome back, Wilma. At least now Beasley's all-white staff helps keep things in clear perspective.


This month's sleazeball is a foreign corporation that has been getting over on South Carolina for nearly 10 years. It has committed environmental crimes, falsified paperwork and is trying to sell the company before the indictments fall. It has been convicted of bribery and of falsifying documents in its native land, yet DHEC continues to let the company poison the environment with the lame argument that it needs a permit before it can be regulated. Be the first caller to correctly identify this corporate sleazeball and win a free trial subscription to POINT.

Last month's sleazeball, who spends more time in the grandstand than in court, is state Attorney General Charlie Condon.

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© Copyright by POINT, 1995

Last modified 9/12/95