North America

Earth Island Journal, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

North America


Stamping out Roads

US -- More than 500,000 citizens responded to the Clinton Administration's proposal to ban roads in 43 million acres of national forests. The deluge of Letters was the Largest response in history, surpassing even the flood of Letters opposing the Agriculture Department's plan to define irradiated foods and sewage-fertilized crops as "organic."

The road-ban plan, which is opposed by the American Forest 8, Paper Association, also has been criticized by the US Public Interest Research Group, which claims that it "contains Loopholes big enough to drive a Logging truck through." The plan fails to protect Alaska's Tongass National Forest, and more than 300 scientists have written the White House to warn that "excluding the Tongass would severely compromise the scientific Legitimacy of any national policy on the protection of roadless areas." If the road ban becomes law, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) has vowed to deny any funding to implement it.

Anarchist Golfers Say Divot Up!

US -- On July 2, activists calling themselves the Anarchist Golfing Association attacked the Pure Seed Testing (PST) research facilities in Canby, Oregon in a direct action against genetically altered crops (GACs). The raiders destroyed hundreds of experimental grass pots and flats, as well as research plots of non-native, invasive grasses. They Left behind golf-balls painted with the anarchist symbol (an encircled Letter "A") and a message that read, "Last night, the AGA held its first ever Nocturnal Golfing Tournament. In just under 16 strokes, the AGA notched up a few birdies and a hole-in-one as we tore up Large areas of PST's profit-driven experiments with biodiversity.'

Nuclear Whistleblower Framed

US -- When TRW Corporation Senior Engineer Nira Schwartz warned government investigators that her company had falsified work on the proposed $60 billion National Missile Defense project, TRW fired her.

Instead of investigating the charges, the Pentagon retroactively classified as "secret" a critical Letter Schwartz wrote explaining the problem -- and then charged her with Leaking "classified" information. Professor Theodore A. Postal, an arms expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called the Pentagon's action "a transparent case of intimidation."

"The nation needs an independent evaluation of the project," Schwartz told the New York Times. "Otherwise, we're being taken for a ride." The Times noted that if Schwartz is found guilty of Leaking secret information (her own, previously unclassified Letter), she could Lose "her ability to review classified documents needed to prove her allegations."

Powerplants, Mines Worst Polluters

US -- Until President Clinton issued an Executive Order in 1997, the mining and electric power industries were exempt from reporting emissions on the US Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). The results for 1998, which were released in May 2000, reveal that pollution from gold, copper and other hard-rock mining, along with emissions from electric utilities, account for nearly two-thirds of the 7.3 billion pounds of toxic chemicals released into the air, water and soil by US industry. Texas, which spilled 260 million pounds of toxics into the environment, is no Longer the dirtiest state on the TRI. The top polluters are now four western mining states -- Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Alaska.

Dirty Money

US -- The Environmental Working Group's Dirty Money website [www.ewg.org/dirtymoney] is the Internet's first searchable online database of campaign contributions by anti-environmental political action committees (PACs). Dirty Money provides instant access to Federal Election Commission records and the ability to search them by candidate name, by PAC, or by issues -- e.g., water, air, chemicals, global warming, or public Land use. Dirty Money identities 454 polluter-backed PACs and the corporations behind them. …

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