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Houston Breakthrough 1979-09
Page 11
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Houston Breakthrough 1979-09 - Page 11. September 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 18, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/536/show/519.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(September 1979). Houston Breakthrough 1979-09 - Page 11. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/536/show/519

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1979-09 - Page 11, September 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 18, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/536/show/519.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1979-09
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date September 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 28 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 11
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_553ak.jpg
Transcript Today he is chair of the Gulf Coast Region Mental Health and Mental Retardation Foundation. She also served as the Foundation's Treasurer for three years. Of that experience, she says, "I was responsible for the disbursement of millions of dollars every year. I developed some expertise in how to get along in Austin—what to do and how to go about doing it." turned 'belly up.' " The following spring, when the Railroad Commission held its hearing on the Coastal-LoVaca proposed settlement, the final witness was the homemaker from Brazoria. Buchorn called the plan a "now-you-see-it, now-you-don't proposition" in which the utility consumer had no rights. She went on to label it a case of "rape the ratepayers." Vm not an economist. I'm a housewife and a mother of four and a grandmother of three. Vm not paid and Vm the only person here representing the individual consumer. Neighbors and other customers of Jackson Electric in Brazoria County utilized that expertise in 1976, when they because disgruntled over pass-through fuel charges. "None of the utility payers understood the pass-through fuel charge they were paying," Buchorn recalls. "The co-op that we are on had not had a rate increase since 1973, yet our bills had doubled and quadrupled because of the fuel costs. "Everyone was ready to tar and feather the nearest person who happened to be the manager of the local co-op. I said, 'Look, let's find out some things first. Maybe they—the co-op—are just passing on to us what has been passed on to them." The non-profit Citizens for Equitable Utilities (CEU) was formed soon thereafter, with the goal of making energy and utility industries more responsive to the rights and needs of citizens. Its first battle was against LoVaca Gathering Company and its parent, Coastal States Gas Corporation. In 1973, the Texas Railroad Commission had allowed LoVaca to effectively increase rates by passing along their higher gas costs, thus voiding earlier gas price contracts still thought to be valid by its client co-ops. Several of these smaller utility companies had already filed suit against LoVaca and Coastal States, and Buchorn's group intervened in the Railroad Commission action on their behalf. After more than three months of hearings in Austin, the Railroad Commission, in December of 1977, ordered LoVaca and Coastal States to sell natural gas at the lower pre-1973 contract prices and to refund the $1.6 billion in overcharges to their customers. Coastal. States and LoVaca claimed they could not comply without going bankrupt; in March of 1978, the Railroad Commission suspended its order and decided to consider a settlement plan drawn up by Coastal States and LoVaca. "That was the most cruel hoax that has ever been perpetrated on the citizens of this state by anyone," Buchorn charged. "People have a hard time understanding how the Commission could allow these people to void their contracts. They are never, ever, going to see any bit of that money whatsoever, because the Railroad Commission just "I can't see how this could possibly be in the public interest," she testified. "I'm not paid, and I'm the only person here representing the individual consumer. The only other ones here are the attorneys for the utilities and the private companies." As the Coastal-LoVaca situation went into a "holding pattern," Buchorn traveled to and from Austin representing ratepayers from all over the state in various cases before the Public Utilities Commission. Then, on January 5, 1979, she was asked by another CEU member to look into the problems of a project in her own back yard-the South Texas Nuclear Project (STNP). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was planning a pre-hearing conference leading to a decision on whether to issue the STNP an operating license. With only one week's notice of the conference, Buchorn promised the CEU member she would be there. "From what I was able to learn [in one week], I made a statement at the prehearing conference that I would be filing a late petition to intervene in the licensing process for the STNP," recalled Buchorn. As her research into the project mulated nine points on which she based official intervention by CEU in the South Texas Nuclear Project. Her nine-point argument raised critical questions concerning structural and equipment safety during high wind velocities. She also pointed out possible dangerous consequences of radioactive pollution to the waters and animals in the area. Finally, she charged that evacuation plans in case of plant failure were inadequate to insure the safety of residents, including school children in the area. Buchorn hand-delivered her intervention document and her list of allegations to the NRC in February of this year. In May, the NRC delivered its final ruling that CEU did indeed have some viable contentions and should be allowed to intervene in the licensing process. The NRC, however, requested CEU redraft its contentions. On May 9th, the homemaker from Brazoria walked into a meeting room and sat down at the conference table facing NRC and Houston Lighting and Power staff attorneys. Buchorn's first move don't want to be maneuvered into a point where we will have no public hearing, because the people deserve it. . . They know that there are serious problems . . . They are entitled to a public hearing. "We know that there are risks to nuclear power and people need to know what these risks are so they can properly evaluate them. That's the reason I'm neither anti-nuclear nor pro-nuclear. Neither is this organization. We represent the utility ratepayers. They are the people who pay the money for the service." Last month, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the NRC stated that, "it does no disservice for the staff to find that a better record will likely be created if CEU participates in the resolution of such issues." Buchorn was pleased by that cautiously worded ruling. "There has never been a license request denied by the NRC, regardless of the problems that were found and questions asked," she said. "Because of the Three Mile Island incident, the NRC is being forced to go with the rules and regulations for the first The NRC attorneys were telling me I could trust everybody.. . "Let me tell you something, "I said. "1 wouldn't trust HL&P any farther than I can throw my Brahma bull. " was to place her tape recorder, tapes and microphone in front of her. "They were very nervous that I had a tape recorder sitting on my end of the table-out in the open," she recalled. "I took out tapes. I didn't want them to be able to say later on that I had agreed to something that I had not agreed to. I wanted to be sure that I knew who said what, when. If they could get me, in my inexperience, to agree to certain wording, then they could maneuver around (the The Railroad Commission allowed Coastal States and LoVaca to avoid their contracts. The citizens of Texas are never, ever going to see any bit of that money whatsoever, because the Railroad Commission just turned belly up! deepened, she claimed not all of the project documents were on file at the county courthouse, as required by the NRC. Buchorn, however, did find a copy of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. "There were so many things glaringly wrong in the report, that I had no problem getting my contentions against licensing together." She- felt the worst discrepancies were portions of the study dealing with violent weather. After a trip to Washington, D.C. to complete her research, Buchorn for- contentions). They were attorneys. I was not. "The NRC staff attorneys were telling me I could trust everybody. I am intervening in the licensing of the STNP, so why in hell would the people who were trying to get that license help me with my intervention? ... I said to the NRC staff, 'Let me tell you something. I wouldn't trust HL&P any farther than I can throw my Brahma bull!' " After that May 9th meeting, Buchorn revised and reworded CEU's contentions for intervention. While awaiting the NRC's verdict, Buchorn declared, "I time." The ASLB also ordered CEU be allowed to submit questions about the project to HL&P and that HL&P must answer the questions by the end of this year. Both sides will then be permitted to ask additional questions of each other. Finally a public evidentiary hearing will be held in late 1980 or early 1981. Peggy Buchorn and CEU have been successful in getting the attention not only of government, but also of the industries they have been battling. HL&P would not admit at first that there had been some possible construction errors. Recently, they mailed a lengthy memorandum to the NRC pointing out the voids in the roof of the containment building and outlining the procedure they will use to repair them. In the beginning, three years ago, Peggy Buchorn knew very little about the utility gas situation or nuclear power or filing legal briefs. In 1976, CEU was a small local group of citizens from Brazoria and Matagorda counties. Now it's a state-wide organization claiming 30,000 members. * Peggy Buchorn last month received a certificate from the Texas Department of Health signifying her successful completion of a training course in radiological monitoring. In Austin, when the Railroad Commission continues its hearings on the Coastal States-LoVaca controversy, Peggy Buchorn will be there again—this time, as an "expert witness." Jill Cropper is a freelance writer. THE BOOKSTORE 1728 Bissonnet • Houston 77005 • 713 527-8522 Fine feminist books and magazines including Heresies, Chrysalis, Woman Spirit and Women Artists News HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 11 SEPTEMBER 1979