by Rafael Alvarez, Digital Associate
In case you missed it, Greg Abbott has been under a lot of heat this past week.
Last month, Attorney General Abbott ruled that government agencies no longer have to release the locations of facilities housing volatile chemicals like the fertilizer involved in last year’s devastating explosion in West. After being roundly criticized for that move, he went on to give Texans some terrible advice on how to avoid the dangerous facilities, telling them to simply “drive around” and ask companies to release the information.
Then, we learned why Abbott wants to keep those chemical locations secret: Some of his biggest campaign donors (like the conservative billionaire Koch family) own fertilizer plants in Texas.
The word is spreading — Abbott cares more about keeping his special interest allies happy than he does about the safety of everyday Texans. Here’s a roundup of just a few reactions in the news:
Abbott is effectively telling Texans, “Good luck. You’re on your own.”
Particularly troubling are Abbott’s comments last week defending a ruling his office made blocking public access to state records specifying the location of dangerous chemicals. The Texas Tribune reported that Abbott said Texans still have a right to find out where the substances are stored — as long as they know which companies to ask.
— Austin American-Statesman
The law should demand that inventories be secure, responsibly insured and not in the midst of neighborhoods. And their presence should not be a mystery to people.
— Dallas Morning News
There ought to be full disclosure about these plants, as residents have the right to know if dangerous chemicals are being stored near their homes, schools and playgrounds … The possibility of another explosion like the one in West poses at least as much of a safety threat as a potential terrorist stealing chemicals and making bombs.
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Abbott is worried terrorists will find out. Clearly, the public’s right to know outweighs the remote possibility of a terror attack.
— Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Abbott has received more than $75,000 from Koch interests [and] $50,000 in contributions came from Chevron, DuPont and Dow Chemical and other chemical companies … The spectacle of a Texas governor — or would-be Texas governor — cozying up to the chemical, oil and gas industries isn’t exactly news. But with the tragic fate of the West volunteer firefighters still fresh in the minds of many, Abbott’s reminder to Texans of their relative powerlessness wouldn’t seem to be the best campaign strategy.
This would be hilarious if it weren’t so alarming.
Greg Abbott is an insider who puts his interests ahead of the safety of hardworking Texas families. Send Abbott a message today — tell him Texans deserve to know if dangerous chemicals are stored near their neighborhoods.