An Eco-Warrior on The Ropes
Al Gore claims that under George W. Bush, Texas has become one of the most polluted states in the Union. As an author and supposed environmental activist, Gore has crafted an image for himself as a sort of green crusader, fighting pollution at every turn and. The truth? As it turns out, Mr. Gore isn't quite the noble knight he makes himself out to be:
While the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has shown Texas to be leading the nation in reducing Toxic Releases (Toxic Release Inventory, Environmental Protection Agency, 1995-1998), Al Gore continues to allow pollution ridden mining companies to extract zinc from his own property. Gore himself admitted the illegal practices of the companies to which he has leased his land in a 1990 lawsuit (Paragraph 15 of the complaint filed June 25, 1990 in the Chancery Court of Smith County, Tennessee by Albert Gore, Sr., Pauline Gore, Albert Gore, Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Gore, Plaintiffs, vs. Union Zinc, Inc., Defendant.), but continues to allow the mining to occur, even despite citations for four serious violations since December, 1997 by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
*Violation: On May 16, 2000, Pasminco, Ltd. (one of the mining companies which leases land from Gore) was cited for a violation of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 because the zinc level of the water at the point of discharge exceeded the allowable level. (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Notice of Violation, May 16, 2000)
*Violation: On January 10, 2000, Pasminco, Ltd. was cited for a violation of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 because the "pumpage line" failed at a pipe and valve connection therefore allowing for an unacceptable amount of wastewater to escape. (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Notice of Violation, January 10, 2000)
*Violation: On February 9, 1999, Savage Zinc, Inc. was cited for a violation of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 due to depositing of gravel into an unnamed tributary of the Caney Fork River. (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Notice of Violation, February 9, 1999)
*Violation: On December 15, 1997, Savage Zinc, Inc. was cited for a violation of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 due to exceedance of permitted effluent limitations for total suspended solids, such as zinc, cadmium, copper, lead, and mercury. (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Notice of Violation, December 15, 1997).
Additionally, In 1996, the mine which operates on Gore's Tennessee property failed two "Chronic Toxicity Evaluations." In 1996, the mine twice failed biomonitoring tests designed to protect water quality in the Caney Fork for fish and wildlife. Mine discharge "failed two acute tests for toxicity to Ceriodaphnia dubia," a species of water flea, according to a mine permit analysis by Tennessee environmental authorities." (Micah Morrison, "Al Gore, Environmentalist and Zinc Miner," The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2000).
The practical ramifications of these violations is a negative, possibly dangerous effect of the zinc mines on the local water supply, as the portion of the Carney Fork that Gore's land pollutes is classified for the following uses: domestic water supply, industrial water supply, fish and aquatic life, recreation, irrigation, and livestock watering and wildlife." (Savage Zinc, Inc., Elmwood mine, NPDES Permit No. TN0004227, January 7, 1998)
While Gore loudly (and falsely) decries Governor Bush's record in Texas, he quietly ignores the environmental crisis going on his own land, in the very state he claims to have represented all those years in the senate. While the silence? Could it be the claims of "hypocrisy" sure to follow as the public finds out about Gore's "dirty little secret?" or might it have more to do with the substantial wealth Gore has gleaned from the operation in the form of mining royalties over the years, totaling at the very least half a million dollars? (Micah Morrison, "Al Gore, Environmentalist and Zinc Miner," The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2000).
To paraphrase the RNC, it seems as though even on his pet issues, Gore, like the Clinton he so admires, says one thing and does another