No Inherent Conflict Between Protecting the Environment and Creating Jobs

RECEIVED Thu., Jan. 29, 2004

Dear Editor:
    Mayor Wynn's call for a "scientific" analysis of the many benefits of granting Temple-Inland an SOS Ordinance amendment versus the "single con" of such an amendment somehow manages to ignore the most important points ["Postmarks," Jan. 23]. Wynn praises the company's idea of capturing untreated runoff from 19 acres of homes located up the hill from T-I's offices, but forgets the secondary effects of 600-800 employees the company seeks to move to Austin from other cities. Most if not all of these employees would seek to locate themselves nearby in the Barton Springs Watershed and all of them would add automobile droppings and congestion to South MoPac and other Edwards Aquifer Watershed roadways. These secondary effects provide the foundation for the council's own Smart Growth policies that direct employers and job centers into the Desired Development Zone and away from the Water Quality Protection Zone. The company's mitigation plan did nothing to address these issues.
    Wynn's fair and balanced analysis would also "couple" the purported environmental benefits with those of "job creation" and "social equity," as if all of these interests would not best be promoted by steering Temple-Inland's expansion into preferred growth areas. Rather than "coupling" benefits, this argument really seeks to resurrect the divide-and-conquer arguments of "jobs vs. environment" and "environmentalists vs. minorities." These arguments boil down to setting aside the long-term best interests of the community in order to meet short-term corporate demands.
    My guess is that Temple-Inland – a banking, real estate development, insurance, and timber company – has the creativity and leadership to find a good home for its employees and adapt its other business ventures in Central Texas to enhance all of our community values (only recently summed up in the Envision Central Texas survey results). We need leaders and citizens who will challenge them – and other companies – to do so.
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance
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