Relief Report #62: February 18, 1998

Greens’ Puppet Masters To Meet: Environmental Grantmakers Association Plans Closed Door SessionThe Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), a consortium of corporate, foundation and individual donors to the environmental movement, plan a two-day powwow in Denver, Colorado later this week. The meeting, “State of the Environment: State Level Environmental Activism in the Era of Devolution,” will be held February 19-20 at the Executive Tower Hotel. The EGA describes itself as a “voluntary association of foundations and giving programs concerned with the protection of the natural environment,” that seeks, among other things, “to provide the means by which members can improve their effectiveness as grantmakers… [and] to communicate grantmaker interests and activities to grantseekers and other interested parties.” What this really means is that the EGA acts as the puppet master of the environmental movement, using its power of the purse to influence the agenda and programs of the movement. As Mother Jones has noted: “By deciding which organizations get money, the grant makers help set the agenda of the environmental movement and influence the programs and strategies that activists carry out.” Not all environmental groups are happy with this arrangement, particularly those at the grassroots level. “There’s definitely a feeling on the part of the not-for-profit organizations that… they resent funders, not just picking the issues, but also being directed in the sense of the kind of campaign, the strategy, the style and so on,” said Chuck Clusen of the American Conservation Association. Topics to be addressed at this week’s EGA meeting include: “Environmentalists at the State Level: The Playing Field for the 1990s and Beyond,” “What Can Funders Do to Help Organizations Respond to the Challenges at the State Level?” and “Clean Water: The role of state and local groups in shaping and enforcing federal policy.” On hand to entertain the EGA will be marionettes Dan Barry of the Environmental Working Group, Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Kathy Nemsick, of the Clean Water Network, Jim Martin of the Environmental Defense Fund, and Rick Johnson of the Idaho Conservation League, among others. Those interested in trying to obtain an invitation to the meeting for themselves should contact the Rockefeller Family Fund at 212/373-4252.


Support for Kempthorne ESA Bill Weaker Than Claimed: Bill Backers Speak for Organizations Without Their PermissionDid you fall a few groups short of the number needed to make your newspaper advertisement look really impressive? No problem, just make a few up. That at least appears to be the view of the Endangered Species Coordinating Council, a timber industry- backed coalition group that supports Senator Dirk Kempthorne’s Endangered Species Act bill.

On February 2, the Coordinating Council ran a full-page ad in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call listing over 200 organizations and companies as backers of Idaho Senator Dirk Kempthorne’s Endangered Species Recovery Act (S. 1180). The only problem is that a number of the organizations listed do not support the bill. One such group is the San Joaquin County Citizen Land Alliance. The lesson here is that the timber industry’s supporter lists should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism.

While support for the Kempthorne bill is apparently dwindling, opposition to the bill is picking up. Opposing the bill are: California and New Mexico Cattlemen, and the California, Florida, Washington, Wyoming, and New Mexico farm bureaus.

Just how bad is the Kempthorne bill? “It’s so bad even [Secretary of Interior] Bruce Babbitt likes it… Instead of requiring the Secretary to compensate landowners when the ESA restricts the use of their property, S. 1180 requires landowners to compensate the Secretary for the right to use their own land,” writes the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ike Sugg in a just-released commentary. “Yet Senator Kempthorne’s office has the audacity to claim that his bill is actually a ‘property rights bill of rights.’ This is Orwellian doublespeak akin to claiming the IRS code is actually a ‘taxpayers’ bill of rights.'”

For a copy of Sugg’s commentary, contact the Competitive Enterprise Institute at 202/331-1010.


We Knew the Kyoto Conference Was Full of Hot Air… 2,559 Tons of ItThe Relief Report’s thanks to People for the USA’s January 1998 issue for this tidbit: During last December’s global warming summit in Kyoto, Japan, conference delegates produced some 2,559 tons of carbon dioxide, according to A Seed Japan, a Japanese environmental group. A Seed Japan further noted that this represents about half the yearly emissions of Kiribati, a small Pacific Island. We told you the delegates were full of hot air.

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