Betreff: [change-links] Earthjustice e-Brief: Special Post-Election Edition
Von: ItalysBadBoy
Datum: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 23:34:57 -0800 (PST)
An: AboutGreenplanet


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IN THIS ISSUE:

A Note from Executive Director Buck Parker

The Dust Has Settled: A Note from Vice President for Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden

Pledge to Protect the Endangered Species Act!

The Bush Administration Rollbacks Review

Progress Report: Earthjustice and the Bush Administration

When The Going Gets Tough

 
A New Moral Cause: A Note from Senior Editor Tom Turner

 
Mail Bag

A Closer Look:
EARTHJUSTICE REPORTS

Want to get the whole story behind the cases we're taking to court on behalf of our environment? Check out the PDFs of the reports featured below and e-mail Eve Lotter to request hard copies: elotter@earthjustice.org. (Please write "Report Request" in the subject line, include your mailing address, and specify which reports you'd like copies of.)

Citizen's Guide to the Endangered Species Act

The Northwest Forest Plan: Ancient Forests At Risk Again

Refuges in Peril: Fish, Wildlife, and the Klamath Water Crisis

Reckless Abandon: How the Bush Administration is Exposing America's Waters to Harm

Defending the Gains: June 2004 Report (PDF only)
 


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Executive Director Buck Parker
 

A Note from Executive Director Buck Parker

Dear IBB,

Earthjustice is fully prepared to face the challenges posed by four more years of the most anti-environmental presidential administration in American history. Like many of our supporters, our initial reaction to the election was disappointment, but we will not be discouraged or deterred. For more than 30 years, Earthjustice has been representing the environmental community in the courts and we will spend the next four years playing a leading role in defending environmental laws--such as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act--and preventing the irretrievable loss of wild places and imperiled species.

In this special post-election edition of e-Brief, our monthly electronic newsletter, Marty Hayden, our Vice President for Policy and Legislation, and Tom Turner, our Senior Editor, offer insightful commentary on what the election means for Earthjustice and the environmental community as a whole.

From his vantage point on Capitol Hill, Marty outlines the election results in his piece “The Dust Has Settled," and explains the challenges we can expect to face in the coming years from a Congress more prone than ever to give industry whatever it wants. While Marty cannot be accused of sugarcoating the situation, even in the face of these bleak facts I am confident in the environmental community's ability to hold the line.

I also hope you'll read Tom's column “A New Moral Cause" for a perspective on what the environmental community must do if it is going to raise the profile of environmental issues in the national consciousness. This is surely a key part of the battle.

On behalf of all of us here at Earthjustice, thank you for your interest and support. Together we must fight for the environment like never before. We are honored by your partnership and we need you with us, now more than ever.

Sincerely,

Vawter “Buck” Parker
Executive Director




VP for Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden
 

The Dust Has Settled: A Note from Vice President for Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden

The results of the 2004 election are in with the exception of two Louisiana House races. George W. Bush has won a second term as President. In the Senate, Republicans picked up six former Democratic seats and lost two, giving a net pickup of four and a 55(R)-44(D)-1(I) margin next year. In the House of Representatives, Republicans had a net gain of four seats in their majority (increasing from 227 to 231). Coincidentally, this is same number of Democratic incumbents that lost their seats in the general election as a result of the controversial redistricting in Texas. Two House seats in Louisiana remain undecided, as they will be determined in a run-off election in December. What all this means for the environment is that the challenges it faces in the coming four years are greater than ever.

Administratively, we will assuredly see more of what we have seen for the past four years. The most anti-environmental White House in history will continue its single-minded pursuit of the radical right’s agenda to cater to polluters and developers at the expense of clean water, clean air, and wildlife. In the coming months we will likely see the administration finalize its proposals to gut protections for roadless forests and try to eliminate wildlife conservation standards for our national forests first put in place by Ronald Reagan! In October, the administration tried to pretend those wildlife measures no longer applied to logging projects in advance of making a final decision on its new rules. Earthjustice immediately challenged this creative “interpretation” in court. The White House will also step up its efforts to pay back its oil industry supporters by leasing even more of our sensitive public lands for drilling. In addition, it will want to deliver on the tens of billions of dollars in new handouts and changes in law to benefit various energy industries that it could not achieve for the past four years. In the aftermath of the election, the White House also called on Congress to pass the President’s so-called “Clear Skies” legislation, which will result in more pollution than implementation of the existing Clean Air Act.

In many ways the changes in the Senate are the biggest of the election. The retirement of five southern Democrats set the stage for the shift. Democrats John Edwards (NC), Fritz Hollings (SC), Bob Graham (FL), Zell Miller (GA), and John Breaux (LA) were replaced by decidedly conservative Republicans Richard Burr (NC), Jim DeMint (SC), Mel Martinez (FL), Johnny Isakson (GA), and David Vitter (LA). Zell Miller and John Breaux rarely voted pro-environment. The other Democratic loss was Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D) defeat by former Representative John Thune (R). Democrats Ken Salazar (CO) and Barack Obama (IL) replaced two Republican retirees, Ben Nighthorse Campbell (CO) and Peter Fitzgerald (IL). Peter Fitzgerald voted with the environment about half of the time and Ben Campbell rarely did so. The net effect in the Senate is probably the loss of three pro-environmental votes on many issues, which is significant.


While the agenda for the 109th Congress is far from set, there are several major environmental issues that will likely see action. The day after the election we saw several Republican leaders raising the call to resuscitate the President’s failed energy legislation. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) has been setting the stage over the course of the past year to pass legislation to take the Endangered Species Act and the protections it provides for imperiled wildlife apart “piece-by-piece.” Shortly before adjourning for the elections, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) circulated his draft bill to weaken habitat protections for endangered species. With his ascension to chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this year, long-time clean air opponent Richard Burton (R-TX) has said he intends to rewrite the Clean Air Act in the coming Congress. A fellow oil-patch compatriot, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), will again be chairing the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over clean air. It is noteworthy that Senator Inhofe is the first anti-environmentalist of either party to chair that committee in its entire history.

A major priority for both the White House and the Senate in the coming year touches far more than the environment--judicial nominations. In his first term we saw President Bush nominate a number of ideologues of the radical right for judgeships on the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Filibusters in the Senate blocked the worst of these nominees. In the coming four years there will likely be two or more vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court that could determine the direction of our nation’s highest court for many years. The first retirement is expected to be Chief Justice Rehnquist, who is currently very ill.

So our challenges are as large and difficult as we have ever faced. However, any Senator can still force extreme measures to face the higher bar of 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, there are moderate Republicans in both the House and the Senate who care deeply about our environment. While Americans may seldom vote the environment as a top issue in an election, most view themselves as pro-environment, and with your help, their voices will be heard in the upcoming battles on Capitol Hill.

-Marty Hayden
Vice President, Policy and Legislation
 


Pledge to Protect the Endangered Species Act!
This is your first chance since November 2 to speak up and declare that the election did not provide a mandate to take the Endangered Species Act and the protections it ensures for imperiled wildlife apart "piece-by-piece." The Endangered Species Act is our nation's most important safety net for wildlife, plants, and fish that are on the brink of extinction. We hope to collect thousands of signatures over the coming months, sending a message to our elected officials that their constituents support strong protections for our nation's endangered fish, plants and wildlife, and the special places they call home. If you already have signed the pledge, thank you for speaking out! If not, click here to stand up for imperiled species today!

The Bush Administration Rollbacks Review
Three short days after the election, EPA administrator Mike Leavitt declared that the election was a mandate for President Bush's environmental policies. It's a preposterous assertion--the environment was invisible as an issue in the campaign--but that doesn't mean that the assault won't be redoubled. For a sense of what Mr. Leavitt is claiming a mandate for, please click here. Keep yourself informed about the administration's "scorched-earth" policy.

Progress Report: Earthjustice and the Bush Administration
But don't despair--over the past four years, Earthjustice has gone to court time and again, defending the country's environmental legacy and the laws that protect it--and we'll continue to hold the line for the next four. Click here for a summary of some of the key issues where Earthjustice and its clients were able to stop, or at least expose, the Bush administration's anti-environmental agenda.


When The Going Gets Tough...
Earthjustice got going in 1971, and, thanks to our stalwart supporters, we've been going strong ever since. Four years ago, it got a lot tougher to protect our forests, wild lands, imperiled species, air, and water. Earlier this month, the going got even tougher, and we need you with us.

Please give generously today and help our dedicated team of attorneys and policy experts keep going strong. The environment needs your commitment as never before. Please click here to help us mount the toughest possible defense of our forests, wild lands, endangered species, air, and water. Click here to give today.

Thank you for your generous support.
 




Senior Editor Tom Turner
 

 A New Moral Cause: A Note from Senior Editor Tom Turner

Perhaps the only upbeat thing one can say about the recently concluded presidential election is that environmental issues played almost no part in the outcome. The nuclear waste dump aimed at Nevada was supposed to benefit Senator Kerry, but it wasn’t enough. In Alaska, we saw both the Republican incumbent and her Democratic challenger claiming to be the best one to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. But for the most part, the environment was nowhere to be found, buried under the massive concern about terrorists and war and “morality,” however one chooses to define that slippery word. In fact, exit polls indicated that a huge number of people chose one candidate over the other based on “morals.” Our job over the next months and years is to make the irrefutable case that protecting the earth is as moral a cause as one can imagine.

But why was the environment missing from the campaign? In three 90-minute debates there was precisely one question about an environmental issue. It was directed at Senator Kerry, and he sloughed it off. President Bush, in his reply, said “I guess you could say I’ve been a good steward.” He should have been challenged on that preposterous assertion, but he wasn’t.

Similarly in 2000 when Al Gore, with a magnificent environmental record and an extraordinary book to his credit, likewise shied away from promoting his environmental programs. Senator Kerry, with the best voting record in the Senate, according to annual tallies compiled by the League of Conservation Voters, did the same. Would touting his environmental record have won election for either man? No one knows, but, given the results, it couldn’t have hurt.

Terrorism, war, and the economy are vitally important issues, but one can make a strong case that, in the long run, the environment is even more important. As the late David Brower used to say constantly, “you won’t have an economy on a dead planet.” Death isn’t imminent, but the vital signs are nearly all bleak. So what are we to do?

One thing is for certain. With the White House and both houses of Congress solidly in the president’s camp, the courts will be even more important (if that’s possible) than they have been heretofore. We recently examined the past four years to try to judge how much success we had had in fending off the worst of the administration’s initiatives, and the answer was: a considerable amount.

  • Despite the administration’s open hostility to protection of roadless areas in the national forests, these areas have been saved as roadless since 2000.

  • Although the administration has refused to extend protection to scores of species slipping toward extinction, we’ve helped secure court orders that have so far forced the administration to obey the law.

  • And on air pollution, we have led successful efforts both to impede administration attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act administratively and to force the Environmental Protection Agency to follow the law by tightening restrictions on a wide range of dangerous emissions.

That’s just a sample. With strengthened majorities in both houses, the administration is certain to renew its relentless assault on public resources, and, we fear, on the public’s fundamental right to participate in decisions involving those resources. So we will continue the watchdog role we’ve played for three decades, and to pursue new initiatives--new definitions of morality--to turn this thing around.

Because, to quote Dave Brower again, “the bottom line rests on the earth.” It is in everyone’s best interest to protect and restore the environment, but we haven’t learned yet how to explain that to enough people. We must do that, and then ensure that never again is the environment utterly ignored in a presidential election.


Tom Turner, Senior Editor
tturner@earthjustice.org
 


Mail Bag
On to your letters....

Buck Parker, our Executive Director, sent an e-mail message to Earthjustice supporters the day after the election--if you haven’t yet read it, click here. We received an unprecedented number of responses and are buoyed by the support and energy so many of you expressed. Below is a sample of the replies. Please send me your thoughts at tturner@earthjustice.org.

All good thoughts, but the environment is NOT in the minds of this newly aware public. For reasons beyond my understanding, it's off the radar. I know your area is law, but everyone who cares about the environment needs to be thinking of what we can do to make the environment part of the public dialog. Air, water, parks, wildlife etc. need to be the subject of a HUGE ongoing PR blitz. Thanks for all your great work.
-Susan, IL

Thanks, I am with you all the way. Although this is a depressing turn of events, the protection of the environment isn't a partisan issue anymore--at least it hasn't been in Minnesota. We should be able to sway the masses with the right message. I think it's possible. Best of luck, and know that you have at least half of the population commiserating with you.
-Erica, MN

We need to stress that family values means providing our children with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and keeping pollutants out of their neighborhoods. Now let's start stressing that.
-Sandra, NY

While I support environmental causes, there are more important issues facing this country. The tone of your memo is divisive and detrimental to the spirit of this great country. The American public has spoken loudly and clearly. President Bush won the election fairly and deserves the respect of every American as Commander in Chief. So put aside your sour grapes and stop your whining. Surely you must have heard the saying, 'You can catch more flies with honey'?
-Barbara, FL

Thanks for the upbeat report, I needed that. I have been a 'precinct captain' for the Tony Knowles Senate campaign here in Alaska. What a sad day Nov. 3 was for Alaska and the world. Your good thoughts and 'never give up' attitude are much appreciated.
-Jerry, AK

Thank you for the note. I agree that it's essential, more than ever, to fight the despoilers. I can't help but think, though, that it's a losing fight. The voters chose a candidate whose failings are legion. Nowhere is Bush's failing more acute than on the environment. The environment wasn't an issue during the campaign. Only once in the three debates was the subject brought up, by a questioner in the "town hall" debate. The environment wasn't listed among the voters' concerns, such as the economy, "character," terrorism, etc. The Bush victory, symbolizing U.S. citizens' environmental myopia, is hastening us to that ultimate environmental collapse.
-Phil, CA

Thank you for all that you do. I think that as environmentalists we will be galvanized as never before. I will support your organization by giving memberships to family and friends this year. We are solidly behind you and understand the severity of what you are up against these next four years. Fight on!
-Kathi, CA

The election results are certainly disheartening and depressing to say the very least. President Bush's environmental record is horrific and his re-election will undoubtedly lead to even greater misuse and destruction of our environment and natural resources. What is very troubling about the future for the environment and for America is that the majority of Americans have just demonstrated that they don't care about the environment. There is no mistaking the fact that the majority of American voters have chosen to support President Bush and his policies. Against this background one has to ask what is the point of continuing to fight what seems to be a losing battle.
-Bill, IL

I hear ya, Buck, but these creeps now have NOTHING to lose! The Bush administration will load the courts with his hand-picked cronies to uphold their assaults, and our environment, our whole way of life, is about to change. The thing that is most appalling to me is the lack of outrage. The "election"... exit polls showed Kerry surprising the incumbent and leading in crucial states. Then came the fix. Want to bet that the areas that reversed these exit polls were those who heavily utilized the touch-screen E-voting machines?
-Mike, WV

Without you, I suppose I would need to spend the next years chained to a redwood tree. Or lying in front of equipment somewhere or other. Please let us know when we need to start doing that.
-Janet, NY

I am much encouraged (amidst all the bad news) that you have articulated your game plan so well and so succinctly in your letter. I am VERY concerned for our environment considering all those capitalists in back rooms that are now rubbing their hands together in glee over anticipating another four years of having their favorite tool sitting in the White House. Thank you.
-Ken, CA

A good point is that the money that so many of us directed toward Kerry and other Democrats will now be freed up to support our fight. You are in my budget for next payday.
-Judith, TX

As a former, part-time employee of the EPA, I am aware of the conflicts affecting the environment. Consequently, I am appalled by the directions taken by the Bush Administration which will only increase the environmental damage done by some of our largest corporations. Unfortunately, the recent elections will make it even easier for these despoilers to increase the damage to the environment in the chase for greater profits. That makes your goals further out of reach. You must not flag. I am contributing what I can to your efforts.
-Alexander, VA

Thank you so much for the letter and words of encouragement. I'm heartened to know that Earthjustice and your supporters will continue to work hard to protect the environment and the critters that live there. Please keep sending out the Action Alerts. I have been reprinting the letters and getting groups to sign them. So far, we sent letters regarding the Roadless Rule, the ESA challenges, and the bizarre proposal to count hatchery salmon along with the wild ones. We have to continue to keep our elected officials accountable in upholding existing environmental laws and work toward strengthening those laws whenever possible. Thank you so much for your inspired, important work.
-Laurie, WA

To learn more about our action alerts, click here.


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