May 1999 Volume 6, Number 4
Free Trade. At a Price.
Talk about special interest groups.
Seattle is hosting the November summit for the World Trade Organization, which mediates
trade disputes between nations. And the Seattle Host Organization has hit upon a clever
way to raise the necessary $9 million. It will offer corporate sponsors access to top
trade officials from more than 130 countries in exchange for fees of up to $250,000. The
Sierra Club has blasted this fundraising scheme, concerned that trade associations such as
American Forests and Paper could use this opportunity to buy access to officials. The
industry group could then clinch an agreement on global timber trade, a blow for already
weak controls on imported forest pests.
"The WTO is like a dark alley where transnational corporations quietly strangle
innocent environmental laws," said Dan Seligman, Responsible Trade campaign director.
In an ongoing campaign to expose the WTO, the Club has secured national press coverage
exposing this trickery.
Birds Beat Planes
Last April, we reported on the novel alliance between the Lone Star Chapter's Houston
Group in Texas and the National Rifle Association. They'd teamed up to protect the Katy
Prairie - a major stop for migratory birds - 1,500 acres of which were the proposed site
for an airport. On March 10, the Houston City Council voted 11-3 to designate the land as
the preferred site to be protected in exchange for land that will be lost due to the
expansion of Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The Katy Prairie site is owned by Houston's Aviation Department. As part of the deal,
the city would create wetlands, establish a wildlife refuge and ensure public access to
the area. Houston Conservation Committee Chair Marge Hanselman called the vote a major
victory. "They're not usually environmentalists, but they saw that thousands and
thousands of people - and not just tree huggers - wanted to protect the prairie. Between
us, the NRA and other groups, we must have sent 10,000 postcards to the city
But Texas Club members and NRA shooters can't put down their pens and pistols yet; the
decision to permanently protect the Katy Prairie land will not be final until the
environmental impact statement for the airport is complete.
Go on to Club Beat.
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