Texas Campaign for the Environment: News
MEDIA RELEASE: June 30, 2009
Community Leaders from Across Texas Pledge Go Public with Campaign Against Candidacy of Polluter Lobbyist John Hall to Head Regional EPA Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 30, 2009
Robin Schneider cell 512-299-1640 office 512-326-5655
Jeff Jacoby cell 817-729-2546 office 214-599-7840
Dallas TX – Environmental advocates joined together to send a message to the Obama Administrator that there is strong opposition to the candidacy of John Hall to head the Regional Office of the EPA, which oversees Texas and its four neighboring states. Hall made a series of controversial decisions while heading the state’s environmental agency (then called the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission or TNRCC). After leaving the TNRCC, Hall has earned at $3 to $6 million dollars lobbying for polluters.
“John Hall is once again trying to jump to the head of the class when he doesn’t deserve to and I am once again going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening,” said Susana Almanza, the Co-Director of People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER), and environmental justice group based in East Austin who participated in the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council in 1994 when Hall was removed as its chairman. “He’s like one of those kid’s toys that keeps popping up all the time. He’s saying again he’s an environmental justice advocate but he actually has been thwarting those of us who environmental health and justice for years. That’s why the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice is opposing John Hall for this job,” she concluded.
“John Hall is not the right man for the position,” explained Vic Buchanon, former Lancaster City Councilmember who was very involved in the fight against a massive landfill expansion when John Hall was chaired the TNRCC. “We need someone in that office who will take an objective approach to the environmental issues that come before him. Mr. Hall’s approach would be tainted by his past relationships and associations. Mr. Hall was part of a decision that allowed for the expansion of a landfill that halted key a economic development engine for South Dallas County,” Mr. Buchanon added.
"If the EPA is truly interested in cleaning up TCEQ, John Hall is absolutely the wrong person at the wrong time. He directly contributed to the culture of corruption that has made the state environmental agency a national embarrassment. It'd be like appointing Bernie Madoff to run the Dallas Federal reserve office." Jim Schermbeck, Field Organizer for Downwinders at Risk.
When John Hall’s name surfaced for this position, environmental advocates became concerned because of his record running the state environmental agency and his hefty list of polluter clients since he left. “We got wind that John Hall was going to Washington DC to meet with Texas Congressional Democrats and a number of people quickly came together to send the delegation expressing our opposition to John Hall for this vital position,” recounted Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.
“Mr. Hall heard about our letter, asked for a meeting and so a number of us who signed onto the letter met with him. However, he frequently said he could not recall key events of his tenure at the state and did not convince any of us to support him. Now we are going public and taking this to neighborhoods across Texas to get letters to hold the Obama Administration accountable for their strong stance against putting lobbyists in key positions in the federal government and we are hand delivering some of those letter today to the EPA’s South Central regional office,” said Schneider.
Also participating in the press conference were The Honorable Luis Sepulveda, a Justice of the Peace and President of the West Dallas Coalition for Environmental Justice. Mr. Sepulveda’s group was responsible for getting the RSR lead smelter in West Dallas finally cleaned-up, but did not find John Hall a friend in that effort. Martina Cartwright, a Boardmember of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services also spoke and released a list of more than two dozen community and environmental advocates from Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas, Denton, Williamson County, Austin and Beaumont who oppose John Hall’s candidacy. (See attached.)
Some of John Hall’s most high paying clients since 1997 included: Fina/Atofina/Total Petrochemicals ($525,000 to $1,125,000), Waste Management ($495,000 to $950,000), Association of Electric Utilities ($450,000 to $900,000). These companies paid John Hall in the range of $200,000 and $400,000: Texas Utilities Alon USA (petrochemicals), and Chevron Texaco. (This does not include contracts that did not require registration with the Texas Ethics Commission due to lobbying.)
# # #