Friday, October 08, 2004

That River Had It Coming

I mean, it was teasing us, so placid there, so pretty, so, well, wet. Anybody would want to pollute it. And polluting the air around it? Well, that's just the bonus plan, in the Andrew Dice Clay sense of the phrase.

Such is the attitude of Holcim (US), Inc, and its political prostitutues defenders:

Environmental groups agreed Tuesday to drop their four-year legal battle against a proposed cement plant in Ste. Genevieve County after the company agreed to a $3 million settlement.

The deal clears the way for construction of the nation's largest cement plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. Holcim (US) Inc.'s plant would annually produce about 4 million tons of cement and up to 5,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions.

Under the agreement, Holcim will pay $3 million for local air quality monitoring, energy efficiency and land preservation projects.

Three million. Chump change. But then,

The settlement concludes a lengthy fight that pitted environmental concerns against economic growth, with supporters in the Ste. Genevieve area facing off against activists concerned that air pollution from the plant would drift into the St. Louis area.

Politicians weighed in from Jefferson City to Washington, D.C., over the plant. Missouri Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond and Jim Talent, both Republicans who support the plant, personally lobbied top officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the matter.


Environmental groups failed to get Holcim to adopt stricter pollution-control equipment. Their cause got no help from the EPA, which decided this year to spare Ste. Genevieve County from stricter, new ozone regulations. A decision the other way could have made it harder for Holcim to get an air permit.

"Politics trumped science," said Kathy Andria of the American Bottom Conservancy. "Once EPA did that ... it just seemed very futile."

Lobbied this EPA? I doubt that Senators Bond and Talent had to lobby very hard, but then it's the thought that counts, right?

For what it's worth -- and it shows that the going rate was a bargain for the cement gang -- here are the open secret files on Kit Bond and Jim Talent, which demonstrate what Libertarians call Freedom in Action and Conservatives call The American Way, but others, perhaps too old-fashioned, might call legalised bribery quid pro quo.

American Road & Transport Builders Assn $6,000
Associated Builders & Contractors $10,000
Associated General Contractors $10,000
Bechtel Group $2,000
Fluor Corp $2,000
Granite Construction $500
Illinois Road Builders Assn $1,000
Michigan Road Builders Assn $2,000
National Utility Contractors Assn $2,000
Washington Group International $4,000
American Concrete Pavement Assn $1,000
Ash Grove Cement $1,500
Dean Operations $1,000
Holnam Inc $5,000
National Concrete Masonry Assn $1,000
National Ready Mixed Concrete Assn $4,000
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Assn $8,000
Oldcastle Materials $6,000

Jim Talent:
American Portland Cement Alliance $3,000
American Supply Assn $3,000
Ash Grove Cement $4,000
Associated Equipment Distributors $5,000
Caterpillar Inc $5,000
Dean Operations $1,500
National Concrete Masonry Assn $1,000
National Lumber & Bldg Material Dealers $1,000
National Ready Mixed Concrete Assn $2,000
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Assn $5,000
RC Cement $1,000