Two of the federal appeals court judges who struck down important new air
quality standards have attended all-expenses-paid junkets that featured
seminars on anti-environmental legal strategy in between fly-fishing jaunts
at one of Montana's premier resorts.
Appeals Judges in Polluters' Pockets
The D.C.-based appeals court panel May 14 ruled 2 to 1 that the Environmental
Protection Agency had arbitrarily set new air pollution standards -- rules
put forth by the Clinton administration to reduce lung-damaging soot and
ozone, an essential component of smog. But John Passacantando, executive
director of Ozone Action, a nonpartisan public interest group that promotes
stronger federal and international clean air, reports that the two judges
who ruled to submarine the standards, Stephen Williams and Douglas Ginsburg,
both Ronald Reagan appointees, are regular attendees of junkets by FREE,
the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment. Indeed, Ginsburg
sits on FREE's board of directors.
Internal Revenue Service records show that funding for FREE comes in part
from foundations with a significant interest in environmental law issues,
including the foundations of Amoco, Koch Industries, GE and Shell Oil, according
to Douglas Kendall of the Community Rights Counsel, a nonprofit organization
that works, in part, to disclose the efforts of groups like FREE.
Meanwhile, the dissenting judge, David Tatel, a Clinton appointee, didn't
see the EPA's approach as arbitrary at all, stating that the EPA had "adhered
to a disciplined decision-making process,'' including extensive peer review
of its analysis and four years of scientific and medical studies. In fact,
the agency gave the states up to 15 years to meet these standards.
"Tatel must have been surprised by the strange ruling of his colleagues,"
Passacantando wrote in a column distributed by Knight-Ridder. "But
it is nothing that a little fly-fishing trip won't fix."
HEALTH CARE MOVEMENT. The Gray Panthers are starting a drive to get
Congress to promote affordable, accessible and accountable health care for
every American. They want interested Americans to put a face on the health
care crisis in America by calling your members of Congress (202-224-3121)
and the president (202-456-1111) every Tuesday from now through September
and telling them, "We want the same kind of health care you get."
Then tell them:
* Your trouble with affording health care for you or your family.
* Your trouble getting through the gatekeeper or seeing a specialist or
getting insurer to pay for your health care.
* Your trouble changing jobs or moving or getting married or getting divorce
without loosing your health care.
The Panthers will have a Universal Health Care rally at their 12th Biennial
Convention Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C. They invite people who have had problems
getting affordable, accessible and accountable health care to send their
stories to be included in the Wall of Shame. Send stories of less than 100
words, in large print with name, city, state/district and photograph, if
Gray Panthers, Universal Health Care--Wall of Shame
733-15th Street, NW Suite 437
Washington, DC 20005
CUMULATIVE VOTING PETITION. Illinois Citizens for Proportional Representation
is circulating a petition to revive cumulative voting, the method used from
1870-1980 to elect Illinois state legislators by three-member districts,
which allowed minorities to get representation. The petition would call
for a referendum on bringing back cumulative voting, which was abolished
in 1980 as part of a wrong-headed reform movement. Petitioners need to collect
250,000 signatures of registered Illinois voters by May 2000 to put cumulative
voting on the November 2000 ballot. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) has
also introduced a constitutional amendment to allow cumulative voting or
other proportional representation. In Congress, HR 1173, sponsored by Rep.
Mel Watt, D-N.C., would allow the states to use multi-member districts to
elect their congressional delegations. Contact Dan Johnson-Weinberger, Illinois
Citizens for Proportional Representation, PO Box 14314, Chicago, IL 60614;
email firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone 773-508-4890.
SOVEREIGNTY BILL. One of the more important economic movements in
the country calls for the printing of money to make interest-free loans
available to state and local governments for capital projects. Although
popular economic theory has it that such expenditures would lead to inflation,
trillions of dollars were created by the federal government and private
banks (through creating debt) at a time when inflation actually declined.
What the sovereignty movement endangers is not inflation but the profits
of the bond market .... Now Rep. Ray Lahood, R-Ill., has introduced a bill
providing for such a loan fund -- which could reduce the cost of capital
projects by one-third and boost the economy in a useful way. For more information
on the Sovereignty proposal or HR 1452, the "State and Local Government
Economic Empowerment Act," write Sovereignty, PO Box 782, Freeport,
IL 61032; email email@example.com; or see the web site: (www.epicweb-pages.com/sovereignty).
-- Sam Smith
LOBBYISTS LONELY IN ARIZONA. A new law that provides tax dollars to
candidates for state office in Arizona has curtailed the usual summer fund-raising
blitz, the Arizona Republic reported June 3. "Summer normally
marks the beginning of the fund-raising season at the state Capitol, when
lobbyists begin to cement relationships with lawmakers with campaign contributions
made over wine and cheese.
"But for the first time in recent memory, lobbyists are finding themselves
with no place to go and few checks to write.
"The cause, according to candidates, lobbyists and campaign finance
experts, is the state's new public finance law, which provides tax dollars
The state Supreme Court on May 3 rejected the Arizona Chamber of Commerce's
challenge against the Clean Elections Act, and a commission designed to
oversee the public campaign financing plan met for the first time June 2
to hammer out the early details of collecting and distributing the money.
THE FCC HAS EXTENDED until Aug. 2 the deadline on public comments
on its proposal to authorize low-power community radio service [See "FCC
Proposes Low-Power Radio," 3/99 PP.] The National Association
of Broadcasters, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public
Radio requested the 60-day extension while they prepare their opposition
to the measure, which they fear will interfere with their signals and, more
importantly, increase competition. To speak out for diversity and community
service in local radio, phone the FCC toll-free 1-888-225-5322; write the
Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC
20554; or see the FCC web site (www.fcc.gov). Refer to Docket MM 99-25.
WORKING POOR LOSE HEALTH CARE. Welfare reform caused an estimated
675,000 people to lose health insurance in 1997, the first year of welfare
reform implementation, according to Families USA. The number of uninsured
is expected to skyrocket in the next several years as the full impact of
welfare reform is felt. Children made up 62% of the people who lost health
insurance as a result of welfare reform. Most of these children were likely
still eligible for Medicaid and should not have lost coverage. Contact Families
USA, 1334 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20005; phone 202-628-3030; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUBLIC DISLIKES FACTORY FARMS. A nationwide poll of 1,000 registered
voters indicates that the American public views animal factories unfavorably.
Animal factories are agricultural production facilities that mass produce
thousands of hogs, chickens and cattle in warehouse-sized buildings for
their entire lives. The survey, conducted by Lake Snell Perry & Associates,
finds that top concerns of voters include: unhealthy drugs and chemicals
in our food; air, water and soil pollution from animal factory waste; the
frequency and volume of small family farmers driven out of business by animal
factories; and the abuse and inhumane treatment of animals.
The survey found that 80% of voters favor the creation of uniform, national
standards to limit air and water pollution from animal factories. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and
Congress are all proposing tougher standards for the animal factory industry.
In addition, the poll shows that sixty-six percent of voters are likely
to vote for a political candidate who will enforce regulations on pollution
from animal factories.
Nearly 70% of voters indicate their willingness to vote for a political
candidate who supports family farmers. The 10 sponsoring public interest
organizations, and their contacts, included Americans for the Environment,
Dan Barry, 202-797-6663; Clean Water Action of Minnesota, Marie Zellar,
612-623-3666; Clean Water Network, Merritt Frey, 202-289-2392; Chesapeake
Bay Foundation, Mike Hirshfield, 410-268-8816; Conservation Council of North
Carolina, John Runkle, 919-942-0600; Defenders of Wildlife, Bob Ferris,
202-682-9400; The Humane Society of the United States, Brett West, 301-548-7778;
Southern Environmental Law Center, Michelle Nowlin, 919-967-1450; Sierra
Club, Ed Hopkins, 202-675-7908; and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group,
Alison Fox, 202-546-9707.
BIG DAIRY PROTESTS AID PLAN. A group of large-scale New Mexico dairy
farmers filed a lawsuit May 28 to protest a USDA assistance package that
sets a limit of $5,000 in aid per dairy. The aid is part of a package passed
last year by Congress and is meant to help dairy farmers who saw milk prices
drop by more than one-third this spring. However, other farm organizations,
including the National Farmers Union (NFU), support the USDA method of distributing
$200 million in assistance through a one-time payment of about 19 cents
per hundred pounds of milk produced, up to the first 150 cows.
Not all large-scale dairy producers are dissatisfied with the cap put on
payments by USDA. Dairy producer members of California Farmers Union (CAFU)
milk an average of 600 cows, but the organization supports the cap. "If
there were no limits, many of our farmers would get more money, but smaller
producers would get next to nothing," said CAFU President Scott Magneson.
"On the other hand, if every dairy farmer got the same amount, regardless
of herd size, payments would be under $2,000 per producer. The USDA plan
is a good balance between small and large producers."
Producer milk prices in 1999 are approximately the same as they were 20
years ago, but input costs have risen dramatically. As a result, many producers
have silently gone out of business in the last several years.
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