Texas Attorney General Greg Just “Drive Around” Abbott may have ceded some serious ground to State Senator Wendy Davis in the race for Governor, as the Fort Worth Democrat is hitting back against his seedy decision to keep dangerous chemical stockpiles secret from citizens. Here’s the scoop from Bill Hanna of the Fort Worth Star Telegram…
FORT WORTH — Kicking off a weeklong trip around Texas on Tuesday, state Sen. Wendy Davis continued to attack her GOP opponent in the governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott, for blocking release of information about where hazardous chemicals are stored.
Davis, D-Fort Worth, is criticizing an attorney general’s opinion that says the Texas Department of State Health Services doesn’t have to release information about reports that show where dangerous chemicals are stored statewide.
The public’s right to know where hazardous chemicals are stored has become an issue since the April 17, 2013, explosion that killed 15 people at the fertlizer plant in West.
“Greg Abbott is obviously doing everything he can to try to undo a mess he has made,” Davis said. “But let’s make no mistake about it: What Greg Abbott has ruled is that families do not deserve to know where these dangerous chemicals are stored.”
In a statement released before Davis’ appearance, the Abbott campaign said he was simply applying the law.
“Greg Abbott did not change any law or policy, he applied the Texas Homeland Security Act, which prevents state agencies from releasing information that could be used by terrorists to build bombs or to target certain facilities,” the Abbott campaign said.
Before the ruling, the state health agency released the information regularly. Davis noted that other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, make the information available.
If she is elected governor, Davis said, she would make the disclosure of dangerous chemicals an emergency legislative item that must be addressed in the first 60 days of the 2015 session.
“The community has a right to know about where these dangerous chemicals are stored,” Davis said. “And for decades, even after the passage of that particular law, Greg Abbott continued to stand for transparency but he has reversed course on that. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the connection between his course reversal.”
Davis was referring to donations of more than $75,000 to Abbot’s campaign from interests connected to Koch Industries.
The Koch brothers, Charles and David, have developed fundraising networks that back Republican candidates and are expected to spend millions to help Republicans reclaim control of the U.S. Senate. Koch Industries has a fertilizer division, Koch Fertilizer LLC.
“Mr. Abbott is not working for you,” Davis said.
Abbott has been under intense criticism as of late, both for the decision, and some unfortunate comments he made when questioned by the media about why Texas don’t deserve to know what dangers are in their neighborhood. Here’s that piece of the puzzle from the Texas Tribune…
Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, under fire for blocking public access to state records documenting the location of dangerous chemicals, said Texans still have a right to find out where the substances are stored — as long as they know which companies to ask.
“You know where they are if you drive around,” Abbott told reporters Tuesday. “You can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not. You can ask them if they do, and they can tell you, well, we do have chemicals or we don’t have chemicals, and if they do, they tell which ones they have.”
No one knows for sure why Greg Just “Drive Around” Abbott suddenly became so obsessed with the Texas Homeland Security Act that he had to issue a ridiculously narrow ruling and keep millions of Texans in the dark. But as Rachel Maddow implied last night on her program, the timing of this decision seems all too convenient to a recent meeting between Abbott and Chase Koch, heir apparent to Koch Industries.
Davis is spot on to attack Abbott for such an atrocious ruling. With chemical and materials industries being such a huge part of the Texas economy, there’s no telling how many millions of people are potentially at risk of an explosion like the one in the town of West. Reading directly from Greg Just “Drive Around” Abbott’s website, you’d think he shares the belief that all Texans deserve transparency in their government…
An open government is the bedrock of a free society. For decades, Texas has had some of the strongest open government laws in the nation – laws ensure that Texans can know what their government is doing and how their government makes the decisions that affect their lives.
If Abbott in fact believes it, then he better start practicing what he preaches. Otherwise, that talking point is going to explode all over his hypocritical face.
But when it does, I’ll be happy to drive around with him and search for answers.
(photo credit: Burnt Orange Report)