BATTLE HOUSE SENATE WHITE HOUSE
THE POLLUTER'S BILL OF RIGHTS IN THE CONTRACT WITH AMERICA
Bad neighbor bills Passed Committee Veto promise
Action: Media, community outreach, and pressure on Senators to
oppose S. 605. Expect Senate action in October.
Rolls Back Env'tl Laws Passed Blocked!!!! Veto promise
Action: Urge Senators to continue opposition if S. 343
Right to Sue Passed Rejected Veto promise
House and Senate bills go to conference; not an Action priority
"UNFUNDED MANDATES" Passed Passed Signed
No action needed; final bill fairly moderate
REWRITING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
"DIRTY WATER ACT" Passed No Action Veto promise
Action: Media, community outreach, and pressure on Senators to
fight the Shuster Dirty Water Act, HR 961
"WETLANDS DESTRUCTION ACT" No bill Committee ????????
Action: Removes 60% of wetlands from protection. Urge Senators
to oppose S. 851.
"WILDLIFE & WILDLANDS EXTINCTION ACT" (guts Endangered Species Act)
Committee Committee Veto promise
Action needed: Media and community outreach on the importance
of saving our wildlife and opposing the Gorton Bill, S. 768, and
the Young-Pombo Bill, H.R. 2275.
UTAH ANTI-WILDERNESS BILL Passed Committee Committee ??
Action: Contact House members and urge them to oppose H.R. 1745,
and cosponsor the American Redrock Wilderness Act, H.R. 1500.
Senators should be urged to oppose S. 884.
POLLUTION SECRECY ACT Committee Committee ?????
Action: The so-called audit privilege bill shields companies from
fines and prosecution if violations of law are turned up in self
audits. House and Senate should be urged to reject H.R. 1047, and
BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS ATTACKS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
"LOGGING WITHOUT LAWS"
The Rescission Bill Passed Passed Signed!
ARCTIC REFUGE OIL DRILLING AND PUBLIC LANDS SALES
Budget Reconciliation Bill (Budget presumes revenue from leasing
Arctic Refuge) Committee Committee Veto promised
Arctic Wilderness Bill
H.R. 1000, S. 428 No Action No Action Support
Hansen-Thomas Public Lands Giveaway Bill
H.R. 2032, S. 1031 Committee Committee ??????
Action needed: Media, community outreach and pressure on
Senators and the President to protect the Arctic from oil drilling
and the public lands from sale to developers. Thank you calls to
President for veto promise on Arctic and Interior Appropriations
bill (see below).
GRAZING RULES BILL
Cuts public out of process of balancing grazing with competing uses
(i.e. wildlife). Makes livestock grazing primary use of public
lands. Committee Floor ??????
Action needed: Call you Senators and urge them to oppose S. 852.
1996 APPROPRIATIONS BILLS
Interior Appropriations Passed Passed Veto threat
Action needed: HR 1977 guts funding for parks, endangered
species etc. Senate bill slightly better, but still completely
unacceptable. House has rejected conference bill over mining
provision. Calls to White House thanking President for veto
threats on Arctic and Interior Appropriations needed.
EPA Appropriations Passed Floor veto threat
Action needed: House bill, H.R. 2099, blocks enforcement of
existing anti-pollution laws and cuts EPA funding by 35%. Senate
bill also blocks enforcement and cuts EPA by 23%. Calls to White
House thanking Clinton for veto threat needed.
Note: for details on the contents of these proposals, exact
schedules, and more information on action needed, please consult
the Conservation Weekly; the Sierra Club's Hotline (202) 675-2394;
or on the World Wide Web: http://www.sierraclub.org
House rejects Interior Appropriations Bill over Mining Issue
Senate passes bill to gut EPA
Senate Risk Your Life Bill Back in the Cooler
Republican Pollsters Warns GOP to Avoid Attacks on Environment
Northwesterners take Environment to the Streets
Alabama Sierrans rally with labor and churches
We have a right to a safe and healthy environment. Don't let them take it away by slashing funding and enforcement of our anti-pollution laws. Don't let the extremists in Congress and their corporate contributors destroy America's heritage of park's, forests, wilderness, and wildlife.
President Clinton has demonstrated true environmental leadership by threatening to veto the budget and various appropriations bills to protect our parks, wildlife, clean water, clean air, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Last week on the House floor, champions of fiscal andenvironmental responsibility joined hands against the anti-environmental House leadership. The fight came during the House'sconsideration of the Interior Department's funding bill. Thatlegislation, which contains many anti-environmental provisions, hasmoved through the House/Senate conference. The conference reportmust gain approval in both the House and the Senate before it canbe sent to the President. For years, Sierra Club members have known that in somecases, when we destroy the environment, we're also raiding theTreasury. Some of our resource laws bankrupt future generationsin two ways: stealing their birthright of natural resources andemptying the federal coffers. The 1872 Mining Law, signed byPresident Ulysses S. Grant, is one of those laws -- and it'sstill on the books today. That law has many anti-environmentaloutdated provisions, but one of the worst is the "patenting"provision, which now allows miners to "patent" or buy lands foras little as $2.50 an acre! After they pay this paltry fee, theyget title to the land, and the minerals beneath it!
Mining companies and their buddies in the Congress have beencastigated for years, and they've finally responded with a newproposal. Instead of asking a mere $2.50 an acre, they'veproposed the following sham provision: they'll ask miners to payfair market value for the land. Sound reasonable? It's not. Forone thing, these are public lands, and they should remain inpublic hands. Also, the sham proposal would demand fair marketvalue for only the surface of the land -- the minerals wouldstill be free! In the remote areas where mining is going on, theprice paid for the surface estate would be tiny indeed. Sierra Club's efforts to reform this entire law have failedduring more friendly Congresses. Last week, the sham "fair marketvalue," provision, part of the conference report, triggered theoutrage of a bipartisan group of House members who offered amotion to send the mining segment of the bill back to theconference committee.
The motion to reject the mining segment of this conferencereport succeeded, by a 279-147 vote.
The mining issue was only one example of a deeply flawedbill, and even if the conference committee fixes this issue, thebill still deserves a veto over other egregious provisionsincluding: destruction of the Tongass National Forest, amoratorium on listing any endangered species, stripping ParkService of funds to manage the Mojave National Preserve, and deepfunding cuts for ecosystem management.
The Senate has followed the lead of the House and passed an EPAAppropriations bill that makes deep cuts in the agency's fundingand ties EPA's hands, making it unable to enforce many criticalpublic health and safety laws. Final passage of the appropriationsbill -- which also provides money for Housing and UrbanDevelopment, Veterans Affairs and other Independent Agencies --came last week on a 55 to 45 vote. This bill, if it ever becamelaw, would slash funding for crucial environmental and publichealth programs by twenty-three percent. (By comparison the Housepassed bill cuts EPA funding by 33%.) The bill also containsprovisions that would undermine the ability of the EPA to enforceand implement many pollution and health laws that currently protectus.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) offered an amendment that allowed theAdministrator of EPA to continue to enforce a law even thoughenforcement authority was suspended if the public health and safetywas at risk. The Baucus Amendment was defeated on a 39-61 vote.
Carol Browner, Administrator of EPA, said after the Senate votethat this budget, if signed into law "means sewage and toxic wastein our waterways, and contamination in our drinking water. It meanstoxic waste clean-ups will be stalled in their tracks. It meansprotecting special interests at the expense of the health of theAmerican people."
The bill now goes to a conference committee. President Clinton hasalready said he will veto the bill when it reaches his desk if itcontinues to contain such deep cuts for EPA and such severerestrictions on EPA enforcement activities. Democratic Senateleaders, including Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) have urgedteh President to follow through on his veto threat and has pledgedto help sustain his veto in the Senate.
Take action: Calls to the White House thanking Clinton forhis veto threat on the EPA appropraitions bill, H.R. 2099, are needed. The White House comment line is (202) 456-1111.
Last week, we reported that several Senators were rumored tobe floating a new "compromise deal" on risk assessment, the socalled "regulatory reform" bill (S.343). Senator Robb (D-VA) waspurported to be leading the effort. Calls from concernedconstituents into Robb's and the other listed Senators yielded achorus of denials. All offices said there is no new deal onrisk. It is still moribund if not fully dead. Thanks to all whocalled -- keeping the pressure on wavering senators will preventthis bill from taking on a new life. ONE YEAR LATER, GOP WARNED TO BACK OFF ENVIRONMENTAL ATTACKS
September 27th was the one year anniversary of release ofSpeaker Gingrich's "ambitious political manifesto, the ContractWith America." In a somewhat muted celebration of the event, theSpeaker conceded that the Contract was caught up in legislative"gridlock" because of the failure to sell the idea to the U.S.Senate. In addition, many first term Republican House membersfear that their early support for the Contract may have negativeconsequences for them at the polls when voters assess theirperformance. According to a September 28th Washington Times article, "House GOPfreshmen, the vanguard of conservative reform efforts,expressed major disappointment with the Contract's fate andworried about its impact on their re-election and next year'spresidential contest."
Margaret Kriz writes in the National Journal that Republican andDemocratic analysts agree that if the public perceives Republicansto be responsible for "rolling back food safety and pollutioncontrol laws and cozying up to big business, the environment willemerge as a potent political issue."
GOP pollster Ed Goeas says, "My advice to Republicans is to makesure this doesn't become an issue...." GOP pollster Linda Divallsays "if there is a sense" that basic environmental laws are beingrepealed too quickly then people "begin to feel that Republicansare pushing too far."
Speaker Newt Gingrich is also expressing concern, saying he feelshis party is fundamentally mispositioned on the environment.
On Sept. 23rd, 350-400 folks hit the streets and hand-delivered 50,000 "doorhangers" to seven cities in the Pacific Northwest:Portland, Bend, Corvallis, and Salem in Oregon, and Spokane,Pullman, and Walla Walla in Washington. The basic message of thedoorhanger was, "Ugly political deals that benefit timber, mining,and cattle corporations are leaving our National Forests, water quality, fish and wildlife trashed." In Oregon, Sen.Hatfield was the target; in Washington, Sen. Murray.
Radio ads ran in Portland, Spokane, and Bend the week before thedoorhanger event and continue through this week. The basic effortwas funded by the Columbia River Bioregion Campaign, withsignificant added media money from the Save Our Wild Salmoncoalition.
The organizing in Oregon was handled by Oregon Natural ResourcesCouncil; in Spokane we had a Washington Wilderness Coalition personand a Western Ancient Forest Campaign person working out of the Inland Empire Public Lands Council. In Pullman, theSierra Club's own Jim Baker worked along with a staffer from theIdaho Conservation League. Our Northwest Regional Field Office provided overall strategy and direction; Julia Reitan produced allthe printed materials and developed the basic press talking points. Obviously, many other people from long-time activists to new-comersparticipated in phone banks, mailing parties, rally logistics, and doorhanging in order to pull this off. Therewere Sierra Club members and forest activists involved in theeffort in both Washington and in Oregon.
Here's a brief review of what happened city by city:
- SPOKANE About 125 people rallied on Saturday morning and then deliveredapproximately 16,000 doorhangers throughout Spokane. Two TVstations covered the event; it was the lead story on one of them.There were two articles in the Spokesman Review (one before, oneafter by an AP reporter). At the rally folks had worked up a street theater/visual using cut-out tombstones for various timbersales, which worked well on the TV coverage.
BEND (eastern Oregon) In Bend about 30 people gathered to deliver approximately 3,000dooorhangers. The effort was covered by the local TV news, severalradio stations, and in the daily paper. Activists reported that thereception/reaction from people they spoke with was generally positive; a number of people expressedgrowing concern that politicians were going too far with attacks onthe environment. This is especially important and encouraging news;Bend is a prime example of a medium-sized, growing, changingwestern town. Hats off to the activists who took our message to the streets of Bend and demonstrated that there is areceptive audience, and media interest in traditionallyconservative eastern Oregon.
PORTLAND About 130 folks rallied in a downtown park in Portland and thendelivered approximately 20,000 doorhangers in Portland andsurrounding 'swing' suburbs. There was coverage of the event on oneof the Portland TV station.
PULLMAN , WALLA WALLA, SALEM, CORVALLIS There were not major rallies planned in these towns; we just wantedto get out some doorhangers there so that we could credibly say oureffort extended beyond Portland and Spokane. Groups of 15-20activists delivered about 1,500-2,000 doorhangers in each of these locations.
Alabama Sierrans in Birmingham joined approximately 200 activists representing labor unions (facilitated by the American Federationof Government Employees), environmental organizations led by SierraClub, the Southern Organizing Committee, the Southern ChristianLeadership Conference, Greater Birmingham Ministries and otherconcerned citizens in a march from the local Congressional OfficeBuilding to a local park for a rally to protest the corporatewelfare and the Congressional budget cuts gutting the safety netfor the poor, workers, children, and the environmental health ofthe American people.
Sierra Club Board Member Rebecca Falkenberry did a fine job inspeaking on behalf of the Club and the environmental community. The group was most energized, waving signs that read, "When thepeople lead, the stooges will follow!", "Contract With AmericaProtects Corporations' Welfare rather than Peoples Welfare!","Corporations + Contract On America = Environmental Injustice", and"Stop Corporate Welfare!"
Many thanks to the hundreds of Sierra Club members and the SierraStudent Coalition for making the Save Our Summer campaign a greatsuccess. Through marches, rallies, leafleting, doorhangers, pinatadays, fair booths, and river flotillas we stormed the beaches andthe business places and brought the Stop the War on the Environmentmessage to the American people, the media and America'spoliticians. Grassroots power is alive and well.
The Sierra Club's Local Carrying Capacity Campaign will continueits series of community development workshops by hosting the"Casper Community Economic Renewal Summit" October 7 in Wyoming. The conference will feature presentations by local organizationsand agencies actively working to improve the region's economy. Representatives from the Sierra Club and the Izaak Walton League ofAmerica will discuss their organizations' sustainable communitydevelopment initiatives. Michael Kinsley, Economic RenewalProgram Director of the Rocky Mountain Institute will be thekeynote speaker.
The Casper workshop will benefit from broad communityparticipation, including but not limited to representatives ofconservation and civic organizations, economic developmentinterests, local businesses and the local and regional government. The goal of the summit process is to build an empowered community,willing and able to take an aggressive and proactive role inenvironmentally-conscious governmental planning at the local,regional, and state level.
The Club's LCC Campaign encourages Groups and Chapters toparticipate in activities to build sustainable communities. TheLCC approach to development helps communities judge futuredevelopment decisions based upon the ability of the local resourcesto support the population. Carrying Capacity is defined as theability of a natural or man-made system to absorb population growthor physical development without significant degradation orbreakdown.
Similar workshops are scheduled for Nov. 18 in Seattle, WA and Dec.4 in Raleigh, NC. For more information, contact Stephen Mills at(202) 675-6691 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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