What Happens When A Reporter Follows Greg Abbott's #JustDriveAround Chemical Disclosure Plan?

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Contrary to what Attorney General Greg Abbott will tell you, Texans can't just drive around and ask private facilities what chemicals they have stored on site.

Last year, Greg Abbott received massive campaign contributions from the chemical industry shortly after the West, Texas explosion. The Koch Brothers and their associates have given Abbott $75,000, including $25,000 from their fertilizer division. Abbott has also taken $50,000 from Chevron, Dow Chemical, Lyondell and DuPont PACs and more from chemical company executives.

In May of this year, Greg Abbott issued a ruling blocking the release of chemical storage lists to the public. When asked about the ruling, Abbott said that Texans could “just drive around” and ask chemical storage facilities what they have on site.

Now, it turns out Abbott didn't even know he ruled to block public information until afterwards, telling the AP, “This is not a law or conclusion that I created.”

Texans can't drive around and ask chemical plants what they have on site, just as terrorists can't. In fact, when a reporter tried to do exactly what Abbott suggested, he was turned away. One site even threatened to call Homeland Security!

Watch the video below the jump of a WFAA reporter asking chemical plants to disclose what they have on site.The so-called “Tier II reports” that list on-site chemicals are mandated by federal law and should be available to the public. Abbott blocked disclosure of such a list after a recent fire in a fertilizer storage facility in Athens, Texas. Abbott cited a state law prohibiting the release of chemical inventories for Homeland Security reasons.

From the video:

“You, as a community member of this state, can go to any chemical facility in the entire state of Texas and say, 'Identify for me all chemical you have on your facility,'” [Abbott] said. “And you are entitled to get that information.”

And while state officials can't release Tier II lists, Abbott says the public can still go knock on chemical company doors and ask.

“Every single facility along the way, whether they are storing any kind of chemical whatsoever,” he said.

Turns out that doesn't work. Watch as three companies reject the reporter's request. One even threatens to call Homeland Security!

“The AG says the public should just ask each business… is it that easy?”

Someone tell Greg Abbott: the answer is no.  


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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