Urge your two U.S. Senators to block former Texas governor Rick Perry's confirmation as Energy Secretary, given his blatant conflict of interest regarding Waste Control Specialists (WCS) radioactive waste dump
The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has announced that its nomination hearing to consider confirmation of former Texas governor Rick Perry for Energy Secretary will begin at 10am Eastern on Thursday, January 19th. (See Beyond Nuclear's press release re: Perry's ENR confirmation hearing.)
In addition to Rick Perry wanting to eliminate the Department of Energy (if only he could recall its name!), being out of his depth on nuclear weapons issues, and until just days ago his blatant conflict re: the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), there is also his conflict re: the environmental injustice of the WCS radioactive waste dump. WCS is located in Andrews County, Texas, which -- along with its immediately adjacent neighbors across the border in New Mexico -- raises serious environmental justice concerns, given the large Latin American population, as well as low income residents (see background info. below).
ASAP, please urge your two U.S. Senators to do everything in their power to block Rick Perry's confirmation as Energy Secretary.
Call both of your U.S. Senators during normal business hours, via the U.S. Capitol switchboard, at (202) 224-3121.
Or phone them via their in-district phone numbers (thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity for the link to the phone numbers chart!)
Here is a sample script you can use, or adapt:
Hi, my name is ____ , and I'm from [City, State]. I am calling to ask you to oppose Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. He has a blatant conflict of interest regarding the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) radioactive waste dump in Texas. WCS's owner, Harold Simmons, a Dallas billionaire, was also a top campaign contributor to Rick Perry. Now WCS is seeking billions of taxpayer dollars from the Department of Energy to open a centralized interim storage site for high-level radioactive waste, all at public liability.”
You can also email or fax your U.S. Senators at any time. Look up their direct contact info. at their websites, listed here.
[Another way to oppose Rick Perry's confirmation as Energy Secretary is by signing Food & Water Watch's petition. You can also sign FOE's petition.]
If your U.S. Senator is a Member on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, all the better -- they can stop Perry's confirmation in committee, so the matter never even reaches the Senate floor!
The following states have a Member on the ENR Committee: Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Colorado; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Louisiana; Maine; Michigan; Minnesota; Montana; Nevada; New Mexico; North Dakota; Ohio; Oregon; Tennessee; Utah; Vermont; Washington; West Virginia; Wyoming. See the list of Members on the ENR Committee, and click on their link to find their specific contact info.
In addition, even if your state does not have a U.S. Senator on the ENR Committee, you can still urge folks you know in those states to contact their own U.S. Senator who is! Please forward this alert to them, and urge them to contact their U.S. Senator serving on ENR, to block Rick Perry's confirmation in committee. (Also, Sen. Schumer of NY could be contacted, as Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, to rally his caucus, to block the confirmation!)
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON RICK PERRY'S CONFLICT RE: WCS RADIOACTIVE WASTE DUMP:
As Texas governor, Rick Perry did all he could to advance the interests of the "low-level" radioactive waste dump called Waste Control Specialists (WCS), LLC in Andrews County, Texas. WCS was owned by Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, infamous as the "King of Superfund Sites" and a "most evil genius." Simmons was also a top campaign contributor to Rick Perry (as well as other Republicans and Conservatives nationwide).
At Counterpunch, Beyond Nuclear has published an exposé entitled "Radioactive Waste is Good for You, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rick Perry as Energy Secretary."
Although Harold Simmons died in late 2013, his family still owns WCS. In 2014, Perry went so far as to travel to West Texas, promoting high-level radioactive waste storage in the area, as reported by the Texas Observer. This is in fact WCS's next major expansion plan, to contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to store commercial irradiated nuclear fuel from across the U.S. as a consolidated or centralized interim storage (CIS) site. In April 2016, WCS applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its license, a proceeding that is now intensifying, despite an environmental coalition's assertion that the application violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, as Amended (see coalition letter to NRC, and press release).
WCS stands to make billions of dollars, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, just during the construction and operations phases alone. If something goes wrong (and WCS is located either adjacent to or immediately above the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest in North America, providing vital drinking and irrigation water for numerous Great Plains states from Texas to South Dakota), U.S. taxpayers would hold full, unlimited liability.
If opened, the WCS CIS facility would launch unprecedented numbers of high-level radioactive waste shipments, through most states. These high-risk "Mobile Chernobyls" would be mostly rail shipments, although even then this could involve a large number of barge shipments on waterways, including seacoasts, rivers, and the Great Lakes. Heavy haul truck shipments on roads could also be involved (as could Legal Weight Truck shipments on nationwide interstate highways, if WCS simply gets a rubber-stamped license amendment from NRC at some future date).
Centralized interim surface storage makes no sense -- the wastes would have to be moved to a deep geologic repository elsewhere someday anyway, thus multiplying transport risks. But it also faces the real risk of becoming a de facto permanent parking lot dump.
A lesson (that should have been!) learned from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, is that collusion between nuclear safety regulators, the nuclear industry, and government officials is very dangerous. The Japanese Parliament, in its first ever independent investigation published in 2012, concluded that the root cause of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was just such collusion.
Here, Rick Perry is the embodiment of just such collusion, in the form of radioactive crony capitalism, plutocratic pay-to-play campaign contributions, and revolving door power politics and get-rich-quick-at-taxpayer-expense schemes. Figuratively speaking, as governor of Texas, when the WCS owner, and a major campaign contributor to Rick Perry, said Jump!, Gov. Perry effectively said How High?! Now, as Energy Secretary, Rick Perry could well sign a contract with WCS -- still owned by Harold Simmons' family -- costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars in terms of construction and operation costs, or an unlimited amount, if something goes wrong (taxpayers would bear full liability).
Urge both your U.S. Senators to block Rick Perry's confirmation as Energy Secretary, due to such a blatant conflict of interest! Please forward this action alert far and wide!