O.T. House Hearing on Funding Sources of Environmental Groups

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NEWS Committee on Resources U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Chairman U.S. House of Representatives - Website address: http://www.house.gov/resources Contact: Steve Hansen (Communications Director) (202) 225-7749 or Arturo Silva (202) 225-4063

To: National Desk/Environmental Reporter February 11, 2000

Private Financial Influence On U.S. Environmental Policy To Be Focus Of Congressional Oversight Hearing

Washington, D.C. - The growing relationship between large foundations, national environmental organizations and the federal government in the development and implementation of U.S. environmental policy will be the focus of a Congressional oversight hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday, February 15th, in 1334 Longworth HOB.

A live audio broadcast of the hearing will be available on the Committee website at http://www.house.gov/resources/audio.htm.

Tuesday's Witness List

- Ron Arnold, Executive Vice President, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Bellevue, WA - Diana White Horse Capp, Chairman, Upper Columbia Resource Council, Curlew, WA - Jeff A. Lyall, Disabled Outdoorsman, Catawba, VA - Antonio DeVargas, Officer, Rio Arriba County Land Planning Dept., La Madera, NM

U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-ID), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, said the purpose of this hearing is to analyze the relationship among large foundations, environmental groups, and the federal government in the development and implementation of environmental policy - primarily using the Administration's Forest Service Roadless Initiative as a case study. The impacts of these policies on local communities will also be explored.

"Environmental groups are relying more and more on wealthy non-profit foundations to fund their operations," Chenoweth-Hage said. "According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, foundations invest at least $400 million a year in environmental advocacy and research. The largest environmental grant-maker, the $4.9 billion Pew Charitable Trusts, gives more than $35 million annually to environmental groups.

"Advocacy for national forests policy initiatives appears to be largely financed by charitable foundations through tax-free grants. For example, the Clinton-Gore Administration's 'Roadless Initiative' may withdraw up to 60 million acres of National Forest lands from multiple use. This initiative appears to have been organized and funded by charitable foundations, primarily the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts.

"Since September 1998, Pew has given the National Audubon Society more than $3.5 million in tax-free grants to organize the Heritage Forests Campaign, a coalition of about a dozen environmental groups. The sole objective of the Campaign appears to be the creation of widespread public support for the Clinton-Gore administration's initiative to restrict access on 60 million acres of national forest lands.

"The Heritage Forests Campaign illustrates several potential problems with foundation-financed environmental political advocacy, namely the lack of fair, broad based representation and the absence of accountability.

"Policies like the Roadless Initiative that are implemented through backroom deals with unelected bureaucrats are trampling on property rights, shutting down industries, reducing recreational opportunities and causing economic distress in rural areas. Several of today's witnesses will talk about how current federal land management policies are hurting them, their neighbors and their communities," Chenoweth-Hage said.

For more information, please check the House Committee on Resources Home Page at http://www.house.gov/resources/

-- marsh (siskfarm@snowcrest.net), February 14, 2000


If Helen Chenowith is chairman of this committee, then I have every hope that something will actually get accomplished. She has been on the cutting edge of the corruption, greed and self-serving motives of the people who are pushing the *green agenda* which is the antithesis of ecologically sound plans for good stewardship of our resources...

The wealthy non-profit foundations referenced in the above article are also referred to as NGO's or non-governmental organizations which are part of the future envisioned re-structuring of nations for global governance.

One journalist's perspective

To not believe these NGO's have an agenda is just plain ignorance or stupidity.

-- OR (orwelliator@biosys.net), February 14, 2000.

Horrors! Charitable foundations giving money to non-profit organizations! Environmentalists trying to garner widespread public support for their policy goals! Cats and dogs living together!

Hey, wait...the "problem" with political advocacy to gain "widespread political support" is that it "[lacks] broad-based representation"? Doesn't this sound a bit topsy-turvy? I mean, if they succeed in gaining widespread support for a policy, doesn't that policy then represent a broad base of voters?

Sorry. Can't get excited.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), February 14, 2000.

Nope - The liberal's idea of broad-based support is who "gets the press" ... a few hundred, a few dozen are enough to "imply" broad-based support; but to the national news media, anybody opposing such special interests are "evil" hate-mongering profit-motivated and inherently destructive.

Ask Germans in the 30's and 40's about the big lie repeated often enough.

Or do you think these supposed environmentalists and their "background" backers are not special interests with an agenda of their own? The government here is funding the travel, routine bills, and special fees and salaries- directly and indirectly - of the professors, lawyers, and special interest advocay groups who make their living from these issues; and who make the "living" being in front of the cameras and in front of the hearings pushing the administration in the direction it wants to go.

Would you have trusted the Vietnamn War to be run by those who profited from it? The people, the money, and the research to find out how to fight the war from the people who make money on planes, bombs, and electronics?

It was a problem then.... and is one now. That's what happened then, and is happening ow in the environmental attacks on business.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 14, 2000.

Horrors indeed!! How dare they want to gather public support for their environmental goals. Now I happen to like clean air, clean water, big trees and as little pollution as possible. Is that a crime? Will the feds be busting down my door? Should I go underground because I support Audubon, NRDC and others? I don't think so.

Few of my neighbors agree on much of anything concerning politics, entertainment, religion, etc., but we all agree on clean air, water and soil.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), February 14, 2000.

Oh--forgot something!! Be sure and don't let those awful environmental greenies interrupt big business by listening to the public who doesn't want MSG sprayed on their food by Auxigrow. Check out the post about six down from this. Want your baby, grandbaby or any kids to eat this crap, even if it does help busines?

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), February 14, 2000.

Rep. Helen Chenoweth is not one of the brighter bulbs in the Congress.

A few years ago, she uttered that she couldn't understand how salmon were going extinct when they could be bought in the local grocery store. Perhaps she doesn't understand what overfishing, sedimentation from clearcutting, giant dam(n)s and genetic pollution from hatcheries are.

But given her contributions from clearcutting and mining companies for her re-election campaigns, there's no need for her to pass an IQ test.

It is unfortunate that no one will probably bother to point out at this hearing how the groups that take the most foundation money are also the wimpiest when it comes to protecting the integrity of the biosphere that we all depend upon. See "Washington Babylon" by Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein for an interesting history on how big business helped neuter the environmental movement.

For those on this list who think that environmental protection is nonsense, all I have to say is ask our fellow citizens cleaning up their community after wintertime (!) tornados in Georgia think now about climate change. April is tornado season, not February!

Welcome to the 21st Century.

-- windandsolar (mark@windandsolar.com), February 14, 2000.

"The Heritage Forests Campaign illustrates several potential problems with foundation-financed environmental political advocacy, namely the lack of fair, broad based representation and the absence of accountability." (italics added)

I wonder if U.S. Representative Chenoweth-Hage has received any campaign $$ from PACs (political action committees) fitting the above italicized phrase. I can see merit in her thesis, but I can't help but interpret this hearing as yet another hypocritical and partisan attempt to bite the hand that feeds the folks who sit across the aisle.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), February 14, 2000.

I've been a real environmental defender since 1966....how many tons of Al have you recyled?

How many billion BTU's in which industries and industrial processes have you saved?

How many thousand miles have you ridden on a bike to work?

How much material have you saved from needless disposal?

How many miles of lakefront have you cleaned up?

How many acres of grassland or ponds have you cleaned?

How many people have you helped improve their lives?

How many auto tires and cubic feet of foam have you drug out of the bushes and mud to recovery sites?

How many million tons of coal have you kept from burning?

How many billion barrels of oil are available for the future in lubricants and plastics, as insulation and as products for our youth - rather than being burned in cars and furnaces?

How many solar panels have you installed?

How many houses are you getting off the grid, and into renewable energy?

How many weeks have you spent camping? How many miles have you hiked? How many kids have you helped get into the wilderness, into biking, and off the TV?


Or do believe that liars, lawyers, professors and politicians who have ghostwriters write their books have the answer? Do you believe the political theories and anti-democratic policies of those who want global warming to be believed ... or the actual evidence against it?

Or have noticed that the only nation doing something about global warming is the only one these politicians are attacking? they are doing nothing/saying nothing in the media about the pollution in China, in Russia, in the Urals, in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe....but want to shutdown US factories....which are NOT the primary ones polluting the water in Europe and Siberia.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 14, 2000.

Robert Cook wrote:

>> Or do you think these supposed environmentalists and their "background" backers are not special interests with an agenda of their own? <<

Any citizen who addresses the government with respect to the continuation of, or reformulation of, any policy is an "interest". Nobody goes to that much trouble if they don't have an interest in the outcome.

I have NO IDEA what constitutes a "special interest" that makes it different from any other "interest", except that putting "special" in front of it makes it sound vaguely sinister, as if it somehow conflicts with the "public interest".

But the public sloshes around. The "public interest" is a moving target. And part of the process of politics is influencing the public to perceive its interest as aligned with your own.

Can the public be fooled into accepting a policy that does more harm to more people than an alternative policy would? You bet! But if you think your ox is being gored by the environmentalists, you are just as much a "special interest" as they are. Go out and change some minds and get enough broad-based support to block them.

If you think that environmental policies have violated one of your inviolable rights, go to court. If you have evidence on your side, you have a good chance of winning.

Robert, for good or ill, this is how it is done. Big money helps in politics. That's the playing field and how it is defined. The biggest voice gets heard the farthest. Money is a megaphone. Most corporations and business interests are able to compete in that arena. Would you prefer that the government controls who can buy their way into the public conciousness? In which case, how do we go about making that fair?

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), February 14, 2000.

Sorry...but I see activities such as the local "Whale Sanctuary" as being potentially harmful to the animals that they claim to be trying to "save!" Consider that virtually all of the boat-whale collisions that happen are in the "sanctuary." Why? Because they encourage whale watching trips...which they allow to get too close to the whales. In other areas, the skippers stay further from the whales and there seem to be no collisions... My conclusion is that the whales would be safer in a Navy test range that in the so-called sanctuary.

I just don't buy some of the arguments used to lock up resources for the priveleged few... And as a former National Park Ranger, I've had to clean up after the messes that the Sierra Club left...so don't have much belief in their "stewardship" of the land, either.

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), February 15, 2000.

>> Sorry...but I see activities such as the local "Whale Sanctuary" as being potentially harmful to the animals that they claim to be trying to "save!" <<

I can believe it. But that doesn't address how it is that Rep. Chenoweth-Hage came to the conclusion that it is somehow a "problem" for Pew Trusts to give away its own money to non-profit groups. If she doesn't like how they give away their money, then she should challenge their charitable status, or try to get on their board and redirect the money.

But holding Congressional hearings? That is the kind of thing I expect a Congresscritter to think is going to make them shine in the public eye. Or, to put it another way, it's just plain stupidity.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), February 15, 2000.

For those who wish to read it, the testimony can be found at http://www.eco.freedom.org/el/20000202/

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), February 16, 2000.

Hmnnn. Now, just who is giving how much to what groups?

This from today's Federalist Briefing.

<< American business corporations give far more money to organizations seeking bigger government than to those seeking less regulation, less welfare spending and lower taxes. This was the conclusion of a recent in-depth study of corporate giving by the 250 largest publicly held companies to nearly 500 public affairs organizations. The study was conducted by the Capital Research Center (CRC), a non-profit research organization.

The key findings of Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: The Advocacy Masquerade, found that in 1996 - the most recent year for which data were available - major corporations gave $4.61 to organizations on the "big-government Left" for every $1 they gave to conservative and free market groups on the right. In 1996, 137 of the largest publicly-held corporations gave away $39 million to liberal policy groups and left-wing activist organizations while contributing just over $8 million to groups that support limited government.

"These figures are a drop in the bucket in the U.S. economy, but they make a real difference to nonprofits that formulate and promote public policy," the study said.

(From Conservative News Service)>>


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-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 16, 2000.

If I may address the use of the term "public interest":

You know, as long as we keep using terms like "the public interest" as if it were a valid principle in guiding legislation, then lobbies and pressure groups will necessarily always be with us.

I really don't think that there is such an entity as "the public", per se; it can only refer to a number of individuals, i.e., the sum of all of their separate interests. So any notion that "the public interest" supersedes private interests and individual rights can only imply that the interests and rights of some individuals (e.g., those members of the pressure groups) will be given precedence over the interests and rights of others.

And because this has become an acceptable term, it in turn naturally leads to people and pressure groups battling each other, before the government, for the privilege of being regarded as "the public".

The real "public interest" if we're stuck with the term, should instead connote freedom and the individual rights of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. And that would be a wonderful start.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), February 16, 2000.

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