The DC Statehood Green Party
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 25, 2000
Contact: Scott McLarty, (202) 518-5624
*** "Gore the Environmental Poseur": Letter from Ralph Nader to environmentalists challenges support for Gore
*** Protesters in DC from East Liverpool and Greenpeace protest the WTI toxic waste incinerator, citing Gore's betrayal
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ralph Nader challenged activists and others who care about the health of the environment to reconsider the "lesser of two evils" choice some have made to vote for Al Gore out of fear of a Bush victory. The text of Mr. Nader's detailed letter is included below, and speaks for itself.
Mr. Nader's letter discusses one of the Gore's greatest betrayals, the opening of the WTI toxic waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio, the subject of a major demonstration with peaceful civil disobedience in downtown Washington, D.C. today. A school bus full of Greenpeace activists and citizens from East Liverpool, including Terri Swearingen, a Goldman Environmental Prize Laureate who was profiled on CBS's 60 Minutes, and East Liverpool School Board member, blocked traffic in front of the new Environmental Protection Agency headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 13 1/2 Street.
The bus, which was decorated with a billowing smokestack and large black panels that read "Clinton/Gore, Our Children Are Being Poisoned, Shut Down the WTI Incinerator," occupied the street, with at least two dozen protesters chained together inside, under, and on top of the bus, for over three hours, before police removed them.
Al Gore had promised to prevent the WTI plant from opening during the 1992 campaign, but allowed it to begin incineration in early 1993, claiming his hands were tied. In fact, the Clinton-Gore Administration passed on an opportunity offered by the Bush team to raise objections to the plant's permit, and the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) had (and has) adequate authority to shut down the facility.
WTI's corporate owner, Van Roll, a Swiss holding company, was a major Democratic National Committee contributor in 1992. The incinerator, standing within a few hundred feet of residences and an elementary school, has been blamed for a huge increase in health problems, such as cancer and tumors. For more information, visit http://www.greenpeaceusa.org.
The "D.C.-to-Denver" Freedom Ride caravan that brought D.C. Statehood Green Party members and other Greens and progressive activists to the national Green Party convention in June stopped and spent the night of June 19 in East Liverpool. Ms. Swearingen hosted the visit and took riders on a tour of the WTI site.
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Letter from Ralph Nader to Environmentalists
October 20, 2000
Dear concerned environmental voters:
In the 2000 Presidential election, the environmental movement faces a special challenge to its integrity and its future impact on American politics. This challenge does not primarily emerge from George Bush. His archaic vision of environmental rape and pillage, of denial and delusion, is pathetically out of touch with the vision of most Americans. When Bush used Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski as his surrogate in a speech before the National Press Club to promote oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he underscored a blatant disregard for Alaska's special contribution to our ecosystem and fundamental American priorities. Bush's "old school" allegiance to plunder and extermination as humanity's appropriate relationship to our world speaks a language effectively discounted by the great tradition of naturalists from John Muir to David Brower. Bush's blatant anti-environmentalism will lose corporate favor as it loses popular support. It is a language of politics fading rapidly, and without a future.
A political language more sophisticated in its seductive impact on pragmatic environmentalists and environmental policy has replaced the threat to our planet articulated by Bush and his ilk. A carefully crafted alliance of multinational corporations is now fully conversant in the language of environmentalism. Politicians cognizant of this alliance are not overtly dismissive of constituencies concerned with dangers to the planet. To the contrary, these politicians wrap themselves in the mantle of environmental concern. They seize on serious threats to global survival as valuable political currency. Soon they will replace overt apologists for global exploitation on the political landscape. These new environmental poseurs are the natural product of two forces in modern politics. The first are organized voters with a developed conservation agenda, prepared to support or oppose candidates with their votes and vocal endorsements. The second is multinational corporations who view environmental issues as yet another barrier to profit making that can be deflected or compromised with the appropriate political proxies. For these corporations, environmental agenda must be manipulated to corporate advantage. Big corporations are prepared to offer vast sums of money for seduction of environmentalists and systematic compromise of their ideals.
Vice President Albert Gore is preeminent among the politicians who have seized on this new corporate prerequisite for investment as an avenue for career advancement. He has best defined the role of politicians deemed attractive by corporations that appreciate the dangers and opportunities of environmentalism in politics. Corporations now reward politicians who can deliver environmental votes and opinion without seriously deterring their goals with burdensome environmental constraints. Albert Gore is the politician who has best understood that his ability to attract and deliver the environmental constituency would make him attractive to corporate backers. Earth in the Balance, Gore's script for his re-emergence as a national politician was an advertisement for his calculated strategy and availability as an environmental poseur, prepared to attract, barter and mollify environmental support for corporate cash. As a broker of environmental voters on corporate terms, Gore is the prototype for the bankable, Green corporate politician. He has literally written the book.
We can document Gore's commitment to his role as broker of environmental voters for corporate cash. Gore's agenda explains his apparent broken promises as, more than betrayal, proof of his calculated role as corporate double agent within the ranks of conservationists. Some examples:
· Despite his vaunted last minute trip to save the Kyoto treaty, Gore's compromise committed the US to very small reductions in greenhouse gases, and has worked since to include nuclear power among the renewable energy source eligible for Clean Fuel credits under the treaty. These would allow the US to claim reductions supposedly made for the global good, while actually benefiting only the huge corporations that build nuclear power plants. It may sabotage the treaty in the eyes of Europe and small island nations (who will disappear if global warming isn't stopped), but Al Gore only seems to care about how global climate change affects big corporate contributors.
· Meanwhile, when the presidential debate touched on oil exploration, Gore "bravely" defends the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that focus groups have shown him he cannot give up. Under cover of that stand, though, he has opened up the Arctic National Petroleum Reserve, 2000 miles of southeastern Alaska coastline, and parts of the California coastline, not to mention selling off the Elk Hills Petroleum reserve to Occidental Oil, his family's patron company, in the largest privatization in American government history. Now Gore seems poised to break another promise and allow drilling along the Florida coastline, which he has promised never to do. As long as it's not ANWR, it's likely at risk under a Gore administration.
· The Clinton-Gore Administration did not even propose any across the board fuel CAFE standard increases during its 8-year administration. Thanks to that freeze and the effect of the exemptions given to SUVs, average fuel efficiency is now down to 24.5 mpg, the lowest level seen since 1980. Clinton-Gore in their 1992 campaign, promised that in 2000 A.D., the average would reach 40 mpg.
· Gore's support for truly clean alternative fuels has never matched his promises. Instead of fighting for expanded solar energy and conservation budgets, he and Clinton have wasted over one billion dollars in a giveaway to GM, Ford and Chrysler for a clean energy project that never produced even a single prototype. Taxpayer subsidies to fossil fuel and atomic power companies continue unabated. He cannot even make solar energy a major forward vision of his campaign.
Finally on the energy issue, Gore agreed with George W. Bush to extend and further fund the "Clean Coal" subsidy, which wastes millions of dollars finding ways to clean up the burning of domestic coal, such as "sequestering" the resultant CO2 in sea beds or oil wells. Meanwhile it totally ignores all the environmental harm that comes from mining - including mountaintop removal in West Virginia and in his home state of Tennessee - and its resultant waste disposal. With all these fossils getting their way, it seems the Kyoto treaty is doomed.
· For other resource extraction issues, the public good has been sold to highest bidders under the guise of conservation. The Administration set aside lands, not in National Parks, but rather in National Monuments that often can allow grazing, helicopter logging, and even hard rock mining. Logging has continued under this "earth-friendly" administration: Clinton-Gore signed the "salvage rider" that suspended the Endangered Species Act despite claiming they opposed it. Logging subsidies in the Tongass (Alaska) and White River (Colorado) have gone to corporate friends, and one in six old-growth trees that existed when they took office has been cut and sold for below cost. "Roadless areas" still have roads built with federal money, sometimes showing up in budgets as "stream enhancements." The hands-off attitude toward corporate crooks reached its pinnacle in the backroom deal to protect Headwaters old-growth forest, which will lose 53,000 of its 60,000 acres, yet forces taxpayers to give $1.2 billion in cash and logging rights to Charles Hurwitz's company, the S&L escapee which still owes Americans millions of dollars.
· On toxics, Gore's position has been to wait years for risk assessments, then never release them if they look bad. Both administration terms have passed without the Clinton-Gore EPA's dioxin reassessment being formally released, despite dioxin (the most potent carcinogen ever) being found in eggs, meat, and being dumped into the ocean. The administration signed away the Delaney Clause prohibited any cancer-causing pesticides or ingredients in food, a clause hated by the food industry.
· The dangerous WTI hazardous waste incinerator was permitted by the Gore EPA, despite his promise in 1992 that it would not be granted. This endangers that community, including its elementary school 1100 feet away at the same altitude as the smokestack. Gore claimed the Bush administration allowed the first permit there, but Bush EPA head William Reilly has said he was advised by the Gore staff during the transition to go ahead with the trash burn permit. In any case, the owners of the plant gave thousands of dollars to the Democratic campaign fund - which obviously counts more to Gore than promises to the locals. That may be why, despite Gore having held the first hearing on Love Canal, the true hero of that fight, Lois Gibbs, has spurned Gore and is supporting the Green candidacy.
· The Clinton-Gore administration also backtracked on its promise to implement chlorine-free paper," which would stop dioxin production in papermaking, when the chemical industry made the slightest squeal. Despite trumpeting the role of the US government as the biggest purchaser of paper in the country, the administration settled for "chlorine-dioxide" paper, thereby committing the government to continuing buying into the dioxin lifecycle. For two and a half years, Clinton-Gore have not responded to a coalition petition to the DEA to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp that could be used for paper that's both chlorine-free and tree-free.
· On genetic engineering, the Democratic administration allowed the release of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone with faulty science provided by Monsanto, the company that made it. That science has not passed muster in countries where the government is not on this corporate payroll, such as Canada. As other governments in Europe and Asia demanded at least minimal testing and labeling requirements, the US administration insisted that the genetically engineered foods were "substantially equivalent" to bred crops, and even tried to get them included into national Organic food standards (along with food that was irradiated or treated with sewage sludge). Any efforts to segregate these experimental foods has been met with Clinton-Gore Administration threats under GATT and WTO to treat such precautionary actions as "obstacles to free trade." In fact, any local standard is imperiled by the "free trade" bureaucracy that both major party candidates endorse, including Al Gore at his most enthusiastic.
· Wetlands destruction is no longer properly tracked, and the administration blocked the protection for functioning wetlands that are currently farmed. The Administration refused to have the Army Corps of Engineers implement section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which would protect wetlands. Again, the rhetoric is there, but when the follow-through is needed, the budgets approved, the political will expended, Gore never challenges the despoilers, developers, and polluters if there is an easier back door exit - especially one out of public view.
· The Administration refused to impose sanctions against countries that break international law by engaging in commercial whaling, such as Norway and Japan. On fishing issues, they continue to attempt to set commercial licenses (ITQs: individual transferable quotas) for how much fish can be taken by large industrial concerns, at the risk to family fishermen, despite the fragility (and in some places collapse) of entire fisheries.
· On ozone depletion, currently in its worst year with the biggest holes ever, including some over urban areas, the Administration made deals over ozone-depleting chemicals such as the pesticide Methyl Bromide, used as a pesticide by strawberry growers and others. This had the effect of stopping the phase-out of this nerve gas, to the benefit of large agri-business, to the detriment of workers, consumers, and anyone who goes outside without sunblockers.
· On the Everglades, currently a key issue in a hotly contested state, Gore has worked with the Florida government (including Jeb Bush) to cut deals for the "recovery plan" that allows for major development around this national treasure. Gore has not opposed a proposed commercial airport on the site of the former Homestead Air Force Base, despite the protests of local people working for conservation and his own EPA. There are no airports situated on the border of national parks in America; the Everglades is the last place to consider changing that fact. In general, work to restore the Everglades should be done for the public, and for future generations, not on the basis of debts called in by the sugar industry and local power brokers.
· Finally, any of these and other environmental interests cannot be protected by laws that are superseded by global corporate interests which can see nothing beyond the next quarterly profit statement. Dangerous PCBs are imported into this country because waste incinerators must be kept profitable. Dolphins are killed catching tuna, turtles are killed catching shrimp because the countries that allow these practices can challenge restrictions on practices at a closed-door, non-democratic WTO process that values only money. Any environmentalists worth their salt know that local communities must be allowed to make more stringent rules for their own protection, yet the workings of global business can't allow that. This is why corporate environmentalism must be stopped. The Nader candidacy offers environmental groups and voters committed to protection of our planet through the political process an opportunity to disengage from this con game as defined and played by Gore. As an achieving environmentalist for nearly four decades, I offer the environmental community an opportunity to reassert its independence as a potent and uncompromised political force. Environmentalists who stand with this candidacy can assert their own agenda and priorities without fear of contradiction. If environmentalists ally with Gore because he is positioned as distinctly different from a self-proclaimed plunderer of the old school, they must acknowledge that any and all environmental positions taken by the candidate will be subject to mutation and subjugation to his corporate agenda. They thus allow corporations to define environmental results. They tell future political leaders that the environmental community is for sale, because its constituency values "access" to the process over any demonstrable and permanent results.
Even as this letter is being written, we watch Gore turn his back on perhaps the worst political disaster to hit the conservation front this Congressional session, a range of riders to the EPA appropriations bill that would:
1. Delay safe drinking water standards by telling the EPA to get new costs data before proceeding.
2. Substitute federal taxpayer dollars for increased fees that pesticide manufacturers were supposed to pay to fund EPA's pesticide programs.
3. Prohibit the EPA from listing localities with unhealthy smog levels until June 15, 2001 or a date set by the court in current litigation.
4. Delay EPA's effort to set new arsenic standards of five parts per billion to protect millions of American s from cancer and other health risks.
5. Weaken the EPA's effort to clean up rivers, lakes and bays contaminated with toxic waste by demanding further study.
6. Block implementation of 1998 environmental justice guidelines to expedite civil rights claims against the EPA alleging discrimination in permitting.
Where is Al Gore when the chips are down? Does it take courage to make these cruel riders a major vocal difference between him and George W. Bush? Clinton-Gore opposed these riders in the House but signed off on them in the Senate, despite vocal opposition from health and conservation groups. They apparently assumed that campaign rhetoric would conceal riders that blocked the EPA from designating non-attainment areas under the new smog rule, clean ups of PCBs in river, or blocked EPA from investigating environmental racism in the permitting process, among others. Who among their allies in the environmental community would dare speak out? The same friends of the earth who condemned the Clinton-Gore regime of "anything goes with the coddled biotech industry" now proceed to endorse Gore, who will outrage them even more should he become President.
In the meantime these same environmental groups urge their members to vote for Gore either because he writes and speaks their language or because he is the lesser of two evils when compared with George Bush. In environmental terms, they fight the last war instead of confronting the new politics of their new adversaries and the new advocacy at their disposal. They have adopted the servile mentality of the lesser of two evils (see Michael Lerner, Tikkun).
My candidacy offers environmental groups and voters committed to protection of our planet through the political process an opportunity to disengage from this conservation con game as defined and played by Gore and his corporate allies. I offer the environmental community an opportunity to reassert its independence as a potent and uncompromising political force.
Independence critical to sustained environmental influence on political events is contingent on a conscious withdrawal by environmentalists from pseudo-environmentalists supported by corporate money, which have fueled both parties with tens of millions of dollars. This important opportunity will be valued increasingly as the Gore betrayals accumulate, from the Everglades to East Liverpool to the environmental racism that he so cruelly ignores. People concerned about the environment don't just need access to politicians - they need access to power. For that to happen, the power must come back from the corporations to whom it has been auctioned.
For the earth and the common good,
Letter distributed by Tom Adkins, Assistant Press
Secretary, Nader 2000
Paid for by the Nader 2000 General Committee, Inc
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*** D.C. Statehood Green Party
*** Nader 2000 Campaign: http://www.votenader.org