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MERCO JOINT VENTURE FILES COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, CLAIMS VIOLATION OF INTERSTATE COMMERCE LAW

 MERCO JOINT VENTURE FILES COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST STATE ATTORNEY
 GENERAL, CLAIMS VIOLATION OF INTERSTATE COMMERCE LAW
 AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Attorney General Dan Morales is violating interstate commerce laws in seeking to stop MERCO Joint Venture's beneficial use project, MERCO officials said in a counterclaim filed by the company.
 The action by MERCO Joint Venture is the latest step in an on-going battle over MERCO's bio-solid beneficial use project near Sierra Blanca, Texas.
 "By singling out MERCO, we believe this sets an ominous precedent in the effective recycling and beneficial use of bio-solids," said Ralph Macchio, a partner in MERCO Joint Venture. "Of the more than 528 existing projects in Texas, the attorney general has chosen to discriminate against MERCO."
 The MERCO Project received Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Water Commission approval earlier this year. Since that time, MERCO has been successfully applying bio-solids to seriously depleted rangeland on its 128,000 acre ranch near Sierra Blanca. The MERCO plan involves using bio-solids as fertilizer to revitalize the rangeland and restore native grasses.
 Texas Water Commissioner Peggy Garner has stated, "We are very confident that this will be a good project."
 Former Texas Water Commissioner and current Texas Irrigation Council Executive Director Ralph Roming has stated, "The action of the attorney general in filing the lawsuit against MERCO sets a bad precedent for beneficial re-use and recycling by ranchers and farmers, and seeks to impose onerous regulatory controls and restrictions on private property. The actions of Dan Morales in this case are anti-environmental and anti- property rights, and impede the Texas Water Commission's ability to turn waste problems into projects with economic and beneficial solutions."
 "I would like to see the attorney general drop the suit he is pursuing against MERCO. I can foresee a grave precedence endangering our heritage and property rights if the attorney general is successful in his efforts," said Hudspeth County Judge Billy Love. "The continuation of the suit could easily result in our farmers and ranchers being required to obtain expensive archaeological surveys before they can till or improve their land. If the Historical Commission has its way MERCO will have to spend $20 an acre for such a survey. An amount equal to more than one-half of the purchase price of their land. How many farmers or ranchers can afford such expenses every time they avail themselves with any government assistance?"
 In filing the counterclaim, MERCO reaffirmed its intent to defend beneficial re-use as an environmentally sound alternative to ocean dumping, which was banned July 1, or land filling of bio-solids.
 -0- 8/18/92
 /CONTACT: Susan Potts of Godwin & Carlton, 512-476-3133/ CO: MERCO ST: Texas IN: SU:


LR -- NY024 -- 0875 08/18/92 10:24 EDT
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Date:Aug 18, 1992
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