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
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
SELLING OUT CHEAP
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
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.
BRIDGING THE WILDERNESS
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.
RED HANDED HENRY'S BUNKER
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
IT'S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL
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
WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW
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
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
NO ROOM IN THE TENT
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
BEASLEY'S "N" WORD
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
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.
NAME THAT SLEAZEBALL
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.