It's not a guessing game anymore.
A recent poll shows that 69 percent of Americans oppose commercial logging on federally owned land. That's almost a 20 percent increase since May 1996, when 50 percent of Americans polled opposed the practice.
In October 1997, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) introduced H.R. 2789, the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act to halt commercial logging on national forests. The new poll, conducted by a firm that has worked for several Republican congressional leaders and two presidents, inspired a "Dear Colleague" letter by McKinney.
In her letter, McKinney said the bill would "[end] the ecologically destructive timber sales program, redirect timber subsidies into worker retraining and ecological restoration, and save taxpayers at least $300 million annually." She urged colleagues to join "the majority of Americans who wish to end the taxpayer-subsidized destruction of our national forests."
"The recent national poll demonstrates that the American public is with the Club on ending logging on federal public lands - even in the West, where respondents agreed 2 to 1," said René Voss, vice chair of the Club's Forest Reform Campaign. "This growing support reflects the great work of Sierra Club members who are helping change the debate, so we need to double our efforts and take that message to our members of Congress."
As of the beginning of September, 36 representatives had signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 2789. They are Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), David Bonior (D-Mich.), George Brown (D-Calif.), William Clay (D-Mo.), Julian Dixon (D-Calif.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Michael Forbes (R-N.Y.), Harold Ford
(D-Tenn.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Bob Franks (R-N.J.), Henry Gonzalez
(D-Texas), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Jerry Kleczka (D-Wisc.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Bill Luther (D-Minn.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Matthew Martinez (D-Calif.), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Sydney Yates (D-Ill.).
The bill is also endorsed by 220 organizations around the country, including environmental, religious, community, taxpayer, business and other groups.
TO TAKE ACTION: If your representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you note. If not, use the "One-Minute Activist" coupon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Chad Hanson, No Commercial Logging campaign chair, at (626) 792-0109; email@example.com.
The Ogoni 20 are free after more than four years in a Nigerian prison. These environmental activists were being held for supporting Ken Saro-Wiwa's campaign against the environmental devastation wrought on Ogoni tribal lands by Royal Dutch/Shell, Nigeria's largest oil producer. The release is viewed as a sign that Nigeria's new military regime is less brutal than the one that hanged activist Saro-Wiwa in 1995. The government of Nigeria has been accused of colluding with Royal Dutch/Shell, brutally silencing Saro-Wiwa and others like him who have demanded a fundamental human right - a clean environment.
Said Stephen Mills, the Club's Human Rights and the Environment campaign director, "We're optimistic about the future of Nigeria, but we want to see the corporations show the same openness to progress as the government. Shell has yet to clean up the mess it's created in the area." And the government is still repressive: "There are decrees in the books that forbid the Ogoni to gather in groups of two or more, and they are still forbidden to talk about Saro-Wiwa," he said.
In the past several years, the Club and other environmental and human rights groups have kept public awareness of the Ogoni 20 alive through boycotts, marches and rallies, proclamations, postcard campaigns and pickets.
Mills sees the release of the 20 prisoners as a positive step for the global environment: "Multinational corporations will have a tougher time sweeping environmental protections - and human rights - under the rug after they see the kind of international public attention the environment and its advocates can generate."
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