A Bit of Feedback

From the Editor

If you are lucky, a bit of feedback comes in from the outside world every once in a while that tells you you’re on the right track. It might be a note of appreciation from someone for whom you did a favor, or a pat on the back from your boss, or – if you happen to edit a magazine – a gracious letter to the editor. It’s a nice feeling, as if the uncaring universe has raised an eyelid and then winked at you.

And in mid-March, I got just such a wink. I found out that a previous “From the editor” I wrote in Earth Island Journal helped prompt the Scaife-funded corporate front group the Capital Research Center (CRC) – probably best known for their incestuous ties to Big Tobacco – give Earth Island a spot in their list of the Top Ten Worst Environmental Groups:

“According to the Earth Island Journal, any attempt to balance property rights of small landowners with the blunt tool known as ESA is an attempt to undermine the intent of ESA in a climate of ‘exploitation of every last acre.’ Apparently the intent of the ESA was to legalize and regularize property theft and not critical species protection.”

That refers to my editorial from the Winter 2006 EIJ, in which I condemned Richard Pombo for promoting the lie that Habitat Conservation Plans interfere with the rights of private landowners, when in fact they are mainly a bureaucratic hassle for developers who plan to alter the habitat of endangered species only if they receive federal funding. Unsurprisingly, the CRC parrots Pombo’s lie.

That’s not the only misrepresentation they tout: They also lie about EII’s role in the suit Earth Island v. Rothenberg, in which the US Forest Service implemented ludicrous restrictions on recreational use of national forests in response to a court order demanding sensible evaluation of environmental impacts of major projects tin the woods. And the reports on our nine listed colleagues aren’t much better.

None of this is a surprise, of course. As the Source Watch project of the Center for Media and Democracy describes it:

‘In April 1995, House Majority Leader Richard Armey wrote on official letterhead to 82 companies warning them that their contributions to non-profit groups helped ‘support expansion of the welfare state.’ The companies were selected on the basis of a classification by CRC which ranked Greenpeace as ‘radical left’ and groups such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association as ‘liberal.’

“[T]he American Cancer Society was classed as ‘liberal’ because it supported taxes on cigarettes. (Philip Morris was funding CRC at the time). The American Lung Association[…] because it supported regulations on burning hazardous waste. Monsanto… because it contributed to the Nature Conservancy. The director of the Congressional Accountability Project, Gary Ruskin, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the analysis was about more than ‘defunding the left.’ ”It“s defunding the center, too.‘“

However, it would seem funding the right is just fine, as the CRC’s response to our editorial shows. They have no problem with federal funds helping destroy habitat, lining the pockets of developers with your tax dollars, and even the weakest legal obstacle is anathema. We’re proud of being on that list, and we salute our fellow listees: Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, EarthJustice, Environmental Working Group, Sierra Club, PETA, and Environmental Defense. Kudos to all.

Chris Clarke signature

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