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  Sierra Magazine
  September/October 2004
Table of Contents
  ELECTION 2004:
Who's Got the Power?
Collateral Damage
Dubya's Dictionary
"Wise Use" in the White House
Bush's Seven Deadly Sins
USA Tomorrow
Our Next President
Forty Wild Years
Interview: Michael Pollan
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Let's Talk
Hearth & Home
Lay of the Land
Good Going
Sierra Club Outings
Sierra Club Bulletin
Mixed Media
Sierra Archives
About Sierra
Internships at Sierra
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Between supporting a woman as tough and good as Rose Johnson ("Profile") and investigating companies such as Echo Bay Mines ("The Cost of Doing Business"), you can consider me a member for life. The May/June issue sets an example of how and why journalism can improve our world.
Pete Friedrich
New York, New York

Shame on you for publishing such a shallow article on the social, political, and environmental problems that plague Mindanao and other places like it around the world ("The Cost of Doing Business," May/June). You acknowledge that the Philippine government all but gave away the island's mineral resources to foreign interests and then label those fighting this crime as faceless "terrorists."

Friends working in the South Pacific have told me of valleys so filled with toxic mine waste that rivers changed course. Is anyone who fights the United States to stop such economic thievery and environmental devastation now automatically labeled a terrorist?

If our government gave our redwood forests to a Philippine logging company and left no recourse to challenge them, would you likewise label me a terrorist if I took up arms and tried to extort money and supplies from the foreigners so that my family could survive the onslaught?
Roger Brewer
Pacifica, California

Author Marilyn Berlin Snell replies: When the Philippine mining act passed in 1995, it was publicly, and rightly, denounced by many groups, including the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and the Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links. These organizations have long fought to protect the nation from the environmental devastation wrought by multinational mining corporations.

But none resorted to beheadings, bombings, and guerrilla attacks on civilian populations. The agenda of organizations like Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is not environmental health, but the creation of an Islamic state on Mindanao similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban.

What follow-ups have you made regarding the involvement of Echo Bay Mines with terrorist groups ("The Cost of Doing Business," May/June)?
William A. Fraenkel
Flagler Beach, Florida

Editor's reply: Marilyn Berlin Snell's story was featured on ABC's World News Tonight and Primetime. Later MSNBC and Fox aired their own segments. The story also landed on the AP and Reuters wires and in newspapers all over the world.

Just as the ABC show was about to air in April, the U.S. Justice Department admitted it had made "a simple mistake" in dropping the Echo Bay investigation--and promised to resume its work. Meanwhile, Representatives Mark Udall (D) of Colorado and Edward J. Markey (D) of Massachusetts wrote letters urging the Bush administration to look into Echo Bay's and other corporations' links to terrorists.

For readers who want to help build public support for a broad investigation, we've prepared a Web letter for you to send to decision-makers. For updates as the story unfolds, sign up for our e-mail newsletter, "Inside Sierra," at

The article by Carl Pope an
d Paul Rauber in your latest issue concerning Bush, science, and politics ("Strategic Ignorance," May/June) should be disseminated to as many humans everywhere as possible. It's not just Americans who are at risk, but everything that lives on this planet.
Steven Holland
West Yellowstone, Montana

Readers lost in Dashka Slater's sargasso of recirculating misconceptions about hydrogen ("Lay of the Land," May/June, page 16), and curious why a hydrogen transition could make sense and money, may find clarity in "Twenty Hydrogen Myths" at Of course Slater is right that efficient gasoline hybrid cars should come first--indeed they must, or hydrogen lacks a robust business case--but we should have both superefficient cars and hydrogen cars. They're mutually supportive. Once superefficient cars are on the road, hydrogen can follow surprisingly quickly.

Hydrogen's validity shouldn't be judged by who supports it. Why do the coal and nuclear industries love hydrogen? Nuclear because they've never understood economics--they haven't even noticed that their option has died of an incurable attack of market forces. Coal because it's actually good at pulling hydrogen out of steam, and just might be a cost- effective, climate-safe way to make bulk hydrogen if carbon sequestration can be perfected.

We already have at least two methods that don't use coal (reforming natural gas at the wellhead and reinjecting the CO2, or splitting water with sufficiently cheap renewable electricity), but if other acceptably benign competitors exist too, they should get to compete.
Amory Lovins
CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute
Snowmass, Colorado

The May/June issue of Sierra contained "The Virus of Hate" ("Ways & Means"), in which Carl Pope said that racism and intolerance lie beneath the effort to limit immigration and that the Sierra Club should continue its policy of neutrality on immigration. I am one of those who want strict limits on immigration, and I am sure that many are like me in opposing the present high levels of immigration for reasons having nothing to do with ethnic intolerance.
Alan E. Johnsrud
Arlington, Virginia

Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope replies: I wrote that only "a few" of the advocates of changing the Club's immigration stand were guilty of prejudice, but perhaps I didn't make that point clearly enough. There are a host of perfectly good and unbiased arguments for restricting immigration. Some are environmental; others are not. The fact that there are some prejudiced people with the same positions cannot, and should not, be used to tar those who don't share those attitudes. I apologize to those who felt that I was suggesting such a connection.

Our May/June "Profile" headline, "Delta Defender," was geographically challenged. Most of Rose Johnson's work is in Gulfport, which is along the Mississippi coast, while "the Delta" is in the northwest part of the state.

We welcome letters in response to recent articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3459; fax (415) 977-5794; e-mail

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