CONSERVATION REPORT, May 91 Storm Petrel1
Judge Dwyer rules FS breaking laws. Forest Service and BLM planning is "unamerican". Earth Day Boycott.2. Conflict with National Audubon Society3.
VICTORY IN RECENT LAWSUIT
Our chapter was a party to the recent lawsuit in which Judge Dwyer ruled the Forest Service has not been following the laws or its own regulations in offering recent timber sales. Here are some excerpts from Judge Dwyer's opinion. His language is fairly typical of the recent spate of decisions in which judges are telling BLM, Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife that they have to start abiding by existing laws and regulations. Quotes are from the 28-page decision of 3/28, US District Court, Seattle. (Material in brackets [ ] has been added by the editor.)
- " The court in reviewing a challenged administrative action...presumes the agency action is valid...but [this standard] does not shield agency action from a 'thorough probing in depth review'." Page 5, lines 13–21
- "The FS...proposed to award timber sales...without adopting a Spotted owl management plan." Page 9, lines 5–7
- "...the FS is arguing, in effect, that its duties are discharged by complying with the directives of another agency [US Fish and Wildlife Service] which itself is failing to meet its statutory duty." Page 11, lines 21–24
- [the FS argument] "...assumes an administrative agency has the power to omit procedures required by law when it believes they would be necessary or inconvenient." Page 18,
- "...an agency cannot substitute its announced intention to follow a report [Thomas report] ––even a prestigious one –– for the procedures required by law." Page 19, lines 8–11
- "The agency had no basis for failing even to attempt compliance with the statutes." Page 20, lines 23–24
- "The motion...for summary judgment declaring unlawful the Forest Service's proposal to log Northern Spotted Owl habitat without complying with NFMA [National forest Management act] is granted. The agency's failure to date to comply, or begin compliance, with NFMA requirements is arbitrary and capricious, and not in accordance with law." Page 26, lines 19–-23
FOREST SERVICE/BLM PLANNING IS UNAMERICAN
The planning model Washington uses to manage the BLM and the Forest Service is a Stalinist planning system. That style requires a central committee of planners and bureaucrats to prepare 5 and 10 year plans containing rigid quotas for local factories, called units. Units and their workers are treated as interchangeable cogs whose purpose is to fulfill the yearly quota. Central planners often have little knowledge or concern about local conditions, and local managers often have little input into the setting of their quotas. Glasnost is the process of abandoning this central planning process, which eventually trashes whatever economic or ecological process it is applied to. It is ironic to see Republicans like Bob Smith and Mark Hatfield fighting so hard to maintain this discredited system.
To complement this Stalinist style planning strategy the Northwest timber spokesmen have adopted a Leninist style media strategy.
"Why should we bother to reply to Kautsky?" Lenin asked. "He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautsky is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything."
Most Audubon officers are very loyal to the Audubon Society, which has not been subject to the internal conflict that several other grassroots organizations in Oregon have had recently. Communication between our Washington staff particularly Brock, Lisa and Brian, and the grassroots has always been excellent.
But there is one problem that has developed recently that is bothering some of us and perhaps this will help bring it out so it can be addressed.
Many Audubon chapters are concerned about the arbitrary way the National changed our logo to improve our image. Most chapters thought that this was a misguided waste of resources to solve a non-problem. When people or organizations develop problems with their image they often think that people don't understand them and that they need to communicate better: the problem may be that people have begun to understand them a little too well.
Audubon's "image" problem arises from fighting for the environment against one part of corporate America using money raised from another part. In fact given the interlocking nature of large corporations we very well may be taking money in New York from the same companies we oppose in Alaska. Environmentalists are opposed to a plan by Chevron to drill for oil in a roadless area in the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana. But Chevron has been running their discredited full page color "People Do" ads in our Audubon magazine. The last Audubon issue had a piece recommending energy saving GE light bulbs. Did this have anything to do with the fact that GE has agreed to pick up the sponsorship of our specials or that it too purchases full-page color ads in our magazine? Although we hope not, one has to wonder. Most grassroots activists think that a root cause of our environmental problems is America's over–consumption of resources, and that we must cut down. Yet our magazine raises money by promoting and glorifying conspicuous consumption of imported cameras and cars, expensive cruises and other useless gadgets.
This ambiguous message contributes to the "Do as I say and not as I do" problem which Americans seem to have developed into an art form, and which all of us are guilty of to some degree or another. Appealing to environmentalists to buy Toyotas and Subarus is inconsistent. One reason old growth Port Orford Cedar and other trees are cut and exported to Japan is the need to pay for Japanese imports. One acre cut and exported pays for one Japanese car. Yet Audubon is simultaneously fighting for the end of deforestation and running full-page color Japanese car ads in every issue. This is the source of our "image" problem not some deficiency of our logo. When thoughts, words, and deeds are consistent messages can be conveyed successfully with crayons on scrap paper. If we are not on our way to becoming influenced by Waste Management, General Electric and corporate America we certainly have created an "appearance" problem.
In Port Orford where getting dressed up to go out for dinner means taking off your boots and putting on your sneakers; we still know that when you lay down with dogs you get fleas.
Last year just before Earth Day I sent a letter to Peter Berle, Audubon's President. It covered the so called "image"" problem and some other issues that are still relevant.
I think Audubon should consider taking a more public stand against what mindlessly passes for progress. Much of our country's problems are due to over-development and excess consumption. Much of what passes for environmentalism is just eco-consumerism . Many people in this country are ready for an organization that is really interested in deep ecology. I think the agendas of the nationals are not commensurate with what is needed nor what the public is now ready to accept.
A lot of us are concerned about the way Earth day has been co-opted by the corporations that are doing the polluting and fostering the rampant materialism that is behind much of our problems. In this context it is hard to see how Audubon can find much relevant insight or real sense of purpose from consulting with a public relations company about our image. Those are the people who helped make the mess in the first place. You can turn over all the logo's and typefaces in the world and never catch a glimpse of the underlying problems.
I also hope that we are very careful about who we have underwrite our projects. We don't want to sell our hard earned credibility for a mess of potage. We don't want to provide a way for corporate polluters to launder their image. I was happy that all the advertisers canceled sponsorship for our Rage Over Trees special. We really shouldn't use Ancient Forests to sell cars and beer. As it turned out the special ran essentially without commercials. Of course I do realize that we cannot produce specials without money.
More emphasis should be placed on forums where chapter presidents and conservation chairmen can meet with their counterparts. This will enable the sharing of good ideas and encourage more interaction between and among chapters. There are ways to structure conferences where counterpart meetings are encouraged. The present conference program provides no vehicle to systematically surface concerns and issues. Ideally the regional, national and chapter staff should be carrying away action items.
Kalmiopsis Audubon Society
Our chapter observed Earth Day like most environmental activist organizations did, by ignoring it. My main concern is that gradually the focus has completely changed from who's polluting the local community, to what kinds of things can people buy to help the environment. Ecological action has been co–opted to eco–consumption. The goal of polluters for Earth Day is very simple; they do not want any individual company singled out for attention. If they can accomplish that they are willing to furnish unlimited seedlings, paper bags with green writing, and funds to print brochures on how to recycle containers of products that shouldn't have been purchased in the first place.
Here are some ideas for making every day Earth Day. They are the ones I am still working on.
- Don't buy flavored sugar water that has been trucked in from long distances; i.e. Coke and Pepsi. If we didn't buy it in the first place we wouldn't even have to worry about recycling the empties.
- Avoid tourism–stay home. Don't go wandering around out of idle curiosity and boredom. Traveling around wastes gas and bothers the people in the places you are visiting.
- Avoid conspicuous consumption such as having a house that's too big for you or too many cars.
- Don't buy things that are over–packaged. If something is over–packaged its a good indication that you don't need it.
- Avoid buying anything Japanese. Paying for imports creates enormous pressure to export our trees.
- Don't watch commercial television; it fosters consumptionism and shortens attention spans.
- Support population control programs. The earth cannot support this many people particularly if the whole world starts consuming at the rate of the U.S.
- Boycott Coors beer. It finances people that actively oppose environmentalists.
- Aim for zero garbage – cancel the pick up.
- Finally and most importantly Make sure environmental laws are enforced at the local level. National and state legislation is worthless without local monitoring and enforcement.