Thank you, California. And you, too, Florida, Maine, Missouri, and the 32 other states that intend to send a very special gift to Texas–namely, their radioactive waste. Now there’s a gift that truly keeps on giving!

Of course, Texas asked for it. Well, actually, only two Texans. They had the clout to open a private radioactive waste dump in our state. First approved in 2003, the 1,300-acre site, which endangers fresh water aquifers that supply water to thousands of people in West Texas, was originally meant to take waste from just two states and the federal government. But now–thanks to this pair of insistent Texans–the dump is being opened to 36 more states.

Who are these dump-on-Texas enthusiasts? One is a right-wing Dallas billionaire named Harold Simmons, who is chairman of a corporation named Waste Control Specialists. WCS’s “specialty” is hustling government contracts for its own fun and profit. Indeed, Simmons’ outfit is the sole company in the whole United States to be licensed by the Texas environmental agency to import this waste into our state.

Second is Rick Perry, the Texas governor who rose from being a Texas A&M cheerleader to leading cheers for the Simmons dump. Why is Perry so peppy about radioactive waste? Because Simmons is his second largest campaign money man, having dumped $500,000 into the governor’s re-election effort last year alone.

On January 4, only two months after November’s election, the commission overseeing radioactive waste disposal voted to increase the profitability of Simmons’ dump. He can now haul in low-level radioactive waste–and profits–from 36 more states. Perry appointed all six Texans on the commission.

If you’re keeping score on this exciting game of quid pro quo, here are the numbers: $500,000 for Perry, untold millions for Simmons, and zero for the people.

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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