West calls out Cornyn for support of Administration’s Attacks on Environmental Protection In Wake of Port Neches Explosion, Fire; Demands Cornyn Take Stand on Chemical Safety Regs Passed After West Fertilizer Plant Explosion

For Immediate Release

Contact: Vince Leibowitz, vince@dawngroup.us, 972-876-6175

DALLAS—Texas State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) on Friday questioned why US Senator John Cornyn continued to support the Trump Administration’s harmful environmental policy rollbacks in the wake of the chemical plant explosion in Port Neches, which necessitated the mandatory evacuation of tens of thousands of people during the Thanksgiving holiday.

In particular, West said voters deserve to know Cornyn’s position on the recent rollback of the so-called “Chemical Disaster Rule,” put in place after the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas in April, 2013.

“The public record is littered with statements of John Cornyn’s support of the President rolling back of key environmental protection rules,” West, a Dallas-based state senator seeking the Democratic Party nomination to oppose Cornyn next fall, said.

“Texans, particularly those immediately affected by this explosion, deserve to know Cornyn’s stance on the roll-back of the Chemical Disaster Rule, which would have likely impacted the after-action investigation of the Port Neches explosion—had it not been rolled-back eight days ago,” West continued.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has noted that the rollback leaves the public without necessary protections from life-threatening industrial accidents such as the one that occurred in Port Neches before Thanksgiving.

Rolling back the Chemical Disaster Rule prevents public scrutiny of how companies respond to and work to prevent major industrial accidents, West noted.

“The rule forced companies to disclose the hazardous chemicals they use, make sure local emergency responders are aware of those chemicals, and are audited on this by outside parties,” West notes. “It also required the publication of reports that would explore the root cause of explosions and leaks. Why doesn’t John Cornyn think Texans deserve this information,” West asked.

“Could it be that Sen. Cornyn’s over $1.2 million in contributions from the oil, gas, and chemical lobby—including at least $109,000 bundled for him by one of Koch Industries’ chief lobbyists—are more important to him than explaining himself to the people of Texas,” West asked.

West also noted that Cornyn also introduced Senate Joint Resolution 28 during the first session of the 115th Congress to repeal key rules to strengthen the EPA’s rules on accidental chemical release monitoring and prevention for industrial plants.