(Article changed on April 21, 2013 at 11:51)
The radio ads almost sound like a joke. "Ecsape" to Texas Gov. Rick Perry exhorts Illinois businesses (exchanging the position of the "s" and the "c" in "escape") even as Texas reels under one of the biggest industrial accidents in its history. Fourteen died and 200 were injured by a fire and explosion at West Chemical and Fertilizer Company in West, TX this week.
You'd think the ads which began this week, telling business owners to move to Texas, would be pulled because of the disaster. You'd be wrong. Leave the anti-business state of Illinois, say the ads, and relocate in Texas where taxes are low and government won't interfere with your business.
No Nanny state for Us by Martha Rosenberg
Authorities have not yet released the cause of the explosion
at West Chemical and Fertilizer Company in West, TX which annihilated entire
swaths of the small town and leveled homes. But the plant is a stellar example
of Perry's promise that your business won't be hassled by government regulation
if you move to Texas.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration records show that the last time West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was inspected was 28 years ago. The inspection, in 1985, revealed "serious" violations says the New York Times including improper storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia. For the safety violations, West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was fined"$30. Ouch
The plant did not comply with current state regulations because it is so old--built in 1962--that it was grandfathered in, says the Times . Last year, West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was fined by the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for more anhydrous ammonia violations.
In 2006, neighbors complained to authorities about strong ammonia smells but the plant was subsequently granted two air permits, reports the Times.
West Chemical and Fertilizer Company was not rated by the E.P.A. as a major risk because it had no prior accidents. OSHA excluded it from its National Emphasis Plan which covers businesses using hexavalent chromium, combustible dust, lead, hazardous machinery and more, because it did not produce explosives, reports the Times.
Gov. Perry's move-to-Texas ads are not the first time he has put his boot in his mouth. During a live presidential debate last summer, he forgot the name of a government department he nonetheless wanted to abolish. (It was the Department of Energy.)
A speech he gave in New Hampshire during the campaign was so uneven and bizarre, many accused him of being drunk. "The Republican presidential candidate seemed to titter at his own jokes, gesticulate wildly, make odd facial expressions and go off on strange tangents," reported the New York Daily News.
In the introduction to her 2012 book, As Texas Goes How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, Gail Collins says her fascination with Texas began when she heard Gov. Perry deliver an Alamo-like speech at a 2009 Tea Party rally. "We didn't like oppression then; we don't like oppression now," he roared. The problem was, says Collins, "this was a rally about the stimulus package."
Perry's laissez faire attitude toward Texas businesses is not limited to manufacturers. The governor voted against legislation that would have kept farm workers out of the fields while they were being sprayed with pesticides, writes Collins. The reason he rejected the legislation was because the owners said they could be relied upon to work out their own plans for protecting the workers from chemical sprays without government regulation. END
Martha Rosenberg will speak about her acclaimed expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health (Prometheus Books 2012) at Mid-Manhattan Public Library in June.