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Mon Jan 13, 2020, 01:46 PM

 

Paul Wellstone floor remarks on a Sanders cosponsored bill to dump waste at Sierra Blanca.

Paul Wellstone

Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, I would like to speak out this evening about an enormously important issue that has seldom, if ever, been addressed on the floor of the United States Senate. I understand my colleague needs to leave at 7, and I am going to try to figure out a way to accommodate him if at all possible. My understanding is, I will also have a chance to speak more about this in morning business.

This issue I want to address tonight has variously been called `environmental discrimination,' `environmental equity,' `environmental justice,' or `environmental racism.' These terms are used interchangeably to describe the well-documented tendency for pollution and waste dumps to be sited in poor and minority communities who lack the political power to keep them out.

Environmental justice has been at the center of the debate over H.R. 629, legislation granting congressional consent to the so-called Texas Compact. If passed unamended by this Congress, the Texas Compact would result in the dumping of low-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactors in Texas, Maine, and Vermont--and potentially from nuclear reactors all over the country--in the poor and majority-Latino town of Sierra Blanca in West Texas.

Environmental justice is an issue that demands the full attention of the Senate. If we pass this legislation unamended, we can no loner pretend to be innocent bystanders as one poor, minority community after another is victimized by political powerlessness--and, in some cases, by overt racism. We can no longer pretend that a remedy for this basic violation of civil rights is beyond our reach. That is the ultimate significance of this legislation--and of this debate.

The moral responsibility of the Senate is unavoidable and undeniable. If we approve H.R. 629 without conditions, the Compact dump will be built within a few miles of Sierra Blanca. There's really very little doubt about that. And if that happens, this poor Hispanic community could become the premier national repository for so-called `low-level' radioactive waste.

If we reject this Compact, on the other hand, the Sierra Blanca dump will not be built at all. The Texas Governor has said so publicly--more than once. It's as simple as that. The fate of Sierra Blanca rests in our hands.

Compact supporters would prefer that we consider the Compact without any reference to the actual location of the dump. But that simply cannot be done. It's true that H.R. 629 says nothing about Sierra Blanca. But we know very well where this waste will be dumped. In that respect, the Texas Compact is different from other compacts the Senate has considered.

The Texas legislature in 1991 already identified the area where the dump will be located. The Texas Waste Authority designated the site near Sierra Blanca in 1992. A draft license was issued in 1996. License proceedings are now in their final stages and should be completed by summer. Nobody doubts that the Texas authorities will soon issue that license.

There's only one reason why this dump might not get built--and that's if Congress rejects the Texas Compact. In an April 1998 interview, Texas Gov. George Bush said, `If that does not happen,' meaning congressional passage of the Compact, `then all bets are off.' In the El Paso Times of May 28, Gov. Bush said, `If there's not a Compact in place, we will not move forward.'

For these reasons, we cannot fairly consider H.R. 629 without also considering the dump site that Texas has selected. Sierra Blanca is a small town in one of poorest parts of Texas, an area with one of the highest percentages of Latino residents. The average income of people who live there is less than $8,000. Thirty-nine percent live below the poverty line. Over 66 percent are Latino, and many of them speak only Spanish.

It is a town that has already been saddled with one of the largest sewage sludge projects in the world. Every week Sierra Blanca receives 250 tons of partially treated sewage sludge from across the country. Depending on what action Congress decides to take, this small town with minimal political clout may also become the national repository for low-level radioactive waste. And I understand plans for building even more dump sites are also in the works.

Supporters of the Compact would have us believe that the designation of Sierra Blanca had nothing to do with the income or ethnic characteristics of its residents. That it had nothing to do with the high percentage of Latinos in Sierra Blanca and the surrounding Hudspeth County--at least 2.6 times higher than the State average. That the percentage of people living in poverty--at least 2.1 times higher than the State average--was completely irrelevant.

They would have us believe that Sierra Blanca was simply the unfortunate finalist in a rigorous and deliberate screening process that fairly considered potential sites from all over the State. That the outcome was based on science and objective criteria. I don't believe any of this is true.

I am not saying science played no role whatsoever in the process. It did. Indeed, based on the initial criteria coupled with the scientific findings, Sierra Blanca was disqualified as a potential dump site. It wasn't until politics entered the picture that Sierra Blanca was even considered.

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CREC-1998-06-15/html/CREC-1998-06-15-pt1-PgS6349.htm

HR 629


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Reply Paul Wellstone floor remarks on a Sanders cosponsored bill to dump waste at Sierra Blanca. (Original post)
TidalWave46 Jan 2020 OP
BlueMTexpat Jan 2020 #1
SidDithers Jan 2020 #2
Cha Jan 2020 #3
George II Jan 2020 #4
TidalWave46 Jan 2020 #6
zentrum Jan 2020 #5
TidalWave46 Jan 2020 #7
The Valley Below Jan 2020 #8
alittlelark Jan 2020 #13
ritapria Jan 2020 #9
TidalWave46 Jan 2020 #10
Thekaspervote Jan 2020 #12
LongtimeAZDem Jan 2020 #14
George II Jan 2020 #15
MineralMan Jan 2020 #16
MineralMan Jan 2020 #18
Blue_true Jan 2020 #23
MineralMan Jan 2020 #24
Blue_true Jan 2020 #28
Demsrule86 Jan 2020 #21
Cuthbert Allgood Jan 2020 #25
Wawannabe Jan 2020 #26
JustAnotherGen Jan 2020 #11
MineralMan Jan 2020 #17
MineralMan Jan 2020 #19
vsrazdem Jan 2020 #27
ehrnst Jan 2020 #20
Hortensis Jan 2020 #22

Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 01:48 PM

1. Paul Wellstone was

 

a HUGE loss to us all.
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 01:49 PM

2. Paul Wellstone was a real progressive Democrat...nt

 

Sid
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 01:53 PM

3. Thank you for that Senator Paul Wellstone.

 

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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 01:58 PM

4. Is Jane Sanders still a member of the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission?

 

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Response to George II (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:04 PM

6. No, she left right around the time of Sanders last Presidential run.

 

Don't look..... Sanders endorsed Shumlin just before Shumlin appointed Jane to the position. Ooops. Not sure why that isn't talked about. Literally. A politicians wife is appointed to a sweet resume padder just after said politician endorses the person who directly makes the decision. Why does all of this get completely overlooked when it comes to Sanders?
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:02 PM

5. From Politifact

 

The low-level nuclear waste would include "items such as scrap metal and worker’s gloves… as well as medical gloves used in radiation treatments at hospitals," according to the Bangor Daily News.
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Response to zentrum (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:05 PM

7. I bet that is "included." NT

 

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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:06 PM

8. I miss Sen. Paul Wellstone to this day

 

He called it like it was.

Sierra Blanca was environmental racism at its worst.
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Response to The Valley Below (Reply #8)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:28 PM

13. So do I.

 

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primary today, I would vote for:
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:09 PM

9. Bernie is a Right-Winger , a pro- Corporate Pollution Tool

 

Good Luck on trying to push that line … Come on Guys , can't you do better than that ? ….
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Response to ritapria (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:13 PM

10. I hope you can see what you just did.

 

Attempting to connect understood reality with a made up point of complete absurdity in order to make something you don't like appear absurd.

Then follow it up with broad brush personal attack.

"Come on Guys , can't you do better than that ? …."

Clearly it does well enough considering your response.
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Response to TidalWave46 (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:22 PM

12. Hummm I guess not!

 

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primary today, I would vote for:
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Response to TidalWave46 (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:36 PM

14. Yep +1

 

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primary today, I would vote for:
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Response to ritapria (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:43 PM

15. Right wing and pro-corporate have nothing to do with it. But he sure didn't want that waste...

 

...to be stored in his state.
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Response to George II (Reply #15)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 03:52 PM

16. Exactly. Send it to a poverty-stricken area in Texas.

 

Has he ever been to Texas?
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Response to ritapria (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 03:56 PM

18. Did Bernie Sander co-sponsor that or did he not?

 

It's a simple question. We can make up our own minds about how we feel about it.

Me? i think it was a thoughtless mistake to co-sponsor such a bill. How about you?
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Response to MineralMan (Reply #18)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 09:39 PM

23. He sponsored the bill. And he hard pushed for passage.

 

That puts the issue in an entirely different light that you laid out.
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Response to Blue_true (Reply #23)

Tue Jan 14, 2020, 10:39 AM

24. I didn't lay out anything. I just asked a question.

 

This is not my thread.
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Response to MineralMan (Reply #24)

Tue Jan 14, 2020, 06:04 PM

28. Just keeping you on your toes. nt

 

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Response to ritapria (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 07:51 PM

21. Believe me it could happen.

 

You know some could use doctored videos and take things out of context...not me of course but others.
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Response to ritapria (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 14, 2020, 10:40 AM

25. And also a dirty red communist.

 

He's complicated, you now.

for the impaired
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Response to ritapria (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 14, 2020, 10:46 AM

26. Well

 

We’ll sure as hell try! No Bernie nomination is the goal. Keep on keepin on!
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 02:22 PM

11. I forgot about this

 

I remember learning about it in 2016.

Thank you - it's something for me to consider June 2nd.
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 03:54 PM

17. This is not bashing. This is part of the record.

 

This happened.
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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 04:02 PM

19. Here is the list of Co-sponsors of the bill:

 

23 cosponsors (11R, 11D, 1I) (show)
Allen, Thomas “Tom” [D-ME1] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Archer, Bill [R-TX7] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Baldacci, John [D-ME2] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Bentsen, Ken [D-TX25] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Burr, Richard [R-NC5] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Combest, Larry [R-TX19] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
DeLay, Thomas “Tom” [R-TX22] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Edwards, Thomas “Chet” [D-TX11] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Granger, Kay [R-TX12] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Green, Gene [D-TX29] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Hall, Ralph [D-TX4] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX18] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Johnson, Eddie [D-TX30] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Johnson, Sam [R-TX3] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Norwood, Charles “Charlie” [R-GA10] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Sanders, Bernard “Bernie” [I-VT0] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Sessions, Pete [R-TX5] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Smith, Lamar [R-TX21] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Stenholm, Charles “Charlie” [D-TX17] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Thornberry, Mac [R-TX13] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Turner, James “Jim” [D-TX2] (joined Feb 6, 1997)
Tauzin, William “Billy” [R-LA3] (joined Mar 13, 1997)
Sandlin, Max [D-TX1] (joined Apr 16, 1997)
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Response to MineralMan (Reply #19)

Tue Jan 14, 2020, 10:50 AM

27. Thanks for playing fair.

 

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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 06:38 PM

20. He was a true progressive - and his years as an educator gave him the ability to learn and listen.

 

I see that in Elizabeth Warren.

Perhaps that was because they were both educators.

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Response to TidalWave46 (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2020, 08:33 PM

22. Wellstone's death was such a loss. I hoped he'd eventually

 

run for president. Of course he opposed dumping Vermont's radioactive waste on powerless people far away.
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