Q: You plan to talk about Crimes Against Nature, a book that takes an unfavorable view of corporations when it comes to the environment. As you know, corporations are very powerful in Texas, so why do you think it was important to come here?
A: Corporations are a good thing. They drive our economy and they bring tremendous prosperity because they encourage people to risk capital. But they shouldn't be running our government ... because they have a different set of aspirations than do the rest of us. Corporations don't want democracy and they don't want free markets, they want profits. Their only reason for being involved in government is to plunder ... to plunder the commons — the air, the water, the fish, the wild lands, the wildlife ... to plunder our treasury.
Q: Would you say that the environmental problems we have here are because corporations have plundered the environment?
A: Yes, absolutely. One of the legacies of the Bush administration is that ... they are a party that claims to like local control but has deprived localities of control. This is one of the things Mayor Bill White is finding out now. He is trying to get a hold of local sources of pollution to clean up the air which is causing cancer and mental retardation ... and he is not able to do it because the Bush administration has put the final say in the hands of the very corporations that are profiteering by poisoning ... Texas.
Q: But how do you sell that message to people here, where fighting for the environment is often going up against the very corporations that so many people in Houston profit from? How do you not make the debate anti-business?
A: Good environmental policy is always identical to good economic policy, in 100 percent of the situations ... If on the other hand, you want to do what Bush and his cronies have been urging us to do — which is to treat the planet as if it were a business of liquidation and convert our natural resources into cash as quickly as possible and have a few years of pollution-based prosperity — you can generate an instantaneous cash flow and the illusion of a prosperous economy, but our children are going to pay for our joy ride ... Environmental injury is deficit spending. It's a way of loading the costs of our generation's prosperity on the backs of our children.
Q: But how do you bring that message to a community that voted for President Bush and at times believes good environmental policy means shutting down Texas business? What do you say to that?
A: That it is not true. That is a simplistic sound bite choice that industry and its indentured servants in the political process and its phony think tanks want to present ... You can produce economic activity without poisoning people.