When the new system went into effect, WCS was the only company that applied for a state license to handle the waste. A panel of state engineers and geologists determined in 2007 that groundwater contamination at WCS' proposed disposal site in West Texas was "highly likely." WCS countered that such contamination wasn't possible. "The state of Texas required over 600 test wells at a variety of depths to address questions about any possibility of subsurface water before issuing the license," WCS spokesman Chuck McDonald said. "Those questions were answered emphatically."
Despite the reviewers' concerns, the three Perry-appointed members on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality signed off on the license. Three staffers at the agency resigned in protest over the decision. "We knew from the beginning that this permit was intended to be issued," Glenn Lewis, a member of the review panel, said in a 2011 interview with NPR.
Many opponents of the plan cried foul, pointing to the relationship between Perry and Harold Simmons, the company's owner at the time. Simmons, who has since died, was one of Perry's biggest contributors throughout his career, giving his campaigns more than $1.3 million. When the Texas governor ran for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Simmons was one of his largest donors. (Simmons also helped fund the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry in 2004.) Critics of Texas' deal with WCS, such as the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, have suggested that Simmons' relationship with Perry may have helped WCS get the permits.
"Lo and behold, the company that lobbied to get the legislation passed and gave lots of political contributions was the only applicant, so it was a real corporate sweetheart deal," Cyrus Reed of the Texas Sierra Club said.
Here are some related articles I've written about this
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