There has been a lot of publicity in the last year or so about businesses fleeing the burdensome, over-regulated business climate of California by moving to Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry has come to California and other states to try and lure businessmen to Texas, touting a business-friendly and welcoming environment with a minimum of government regulation.
There are many stories about the lure of Texas as a place to base a business. Besides a comparatively low level of government control and regulation, there is the low cost of housing and a generally strong economy. Never mind the stifling heat and humidity, the mosquitos, tornados and hurricanes, or the increased danger to Texans that can result from a lack of government oversight of business operations.
This past week the people of West, Texas (which is actually in central, not west, Texas), found out firsthand what a friendly, lightly regulated business climate means. It means a fertilizer factory that was last inspected in the 1980’s, that failed to report that it was storing massive amounts of ammonia – a component in the fertilizer it made, and which was allowed to exist by a lack of government inspection – can blow up and destroy a small town, taking many lives with it.
Perhaps all is not lost to the town of West, though much of the town is gone. NBC News quoted Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner as stating “we do have a large crater” when describing the place where the plant used to stand. It is doubtful the crater will become an on-going tourist attraction, thus pumping some tourism money into the local Texas economy. Whether that crater will be effectively utilized as some kind of draw for a California (or other state) business seeking to relocate in order to escape an atmosphere of state regulation and control remains to be seen. The crater might actually be found to be toxic if some regulatory agency dares to check it out.