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E-M:/ A message from Carl Pope



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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
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A message for Michigan Sierra Club members [and all other Sierrans]

Dear fellow Sierran:

       As the impact of our 54-46 victory sinks in, I want to celebrate your
role, your dedication, your vision, and your hard work.  Victory, it is
said, has a hundred parents.  Well, this victory, quite genuinely, had
millions of parents -- those Americans who over the past 14 years,since the
first Bush Administration launched the assault on the wildlife, the
ecosystems and the peoples of the Arctic coastal plain's last intact
ecosystem, learned about a place that few of them will ever see, and
decided that our moral character as a nation would be measured by whether
we preserved or despoiled this land.

       But of those millions of Americans, few have worked harder, longer,
or with more dedication than you and your fellow Sierra Club members.  This
has been a long struggle -- and it is not yet over.

The media and our opponents have acknowledged that this vote is a tribute
or our commitment and strength.  Senator Frank Murkowski may have though he
was being critical when he said,
"What this really boiled down to was the power and influence of America's
environmental community.  And they, frankly, didn't budge on the issue."
And Bob Novak certainly took no joy when he acknowledged,
"And, quite apart from the merits, this was a case of one lobbying group
just absolutely outdoing the other. The environmentalists creamed organized
labor, the Teamsters, the machinists, the other blue-collar unions. They
did a much better job in focusing communications to members of the Senate.
The environmentalist lobby has to go right up now as one of the most
powerful pressure groups on Capitol Hill."  But they were not alone in
noting that this was the first major Congressional defeat for the Bush
White House since September 11.

What was missing from the coverage, however, was a sense of context.  Few
noted that our 54-46 victory was BY FAR the largest number of Senators who
had ever stood up to protect the Arctic, that, indeed, in every previous
vote a majority of the Senate had voted with the oil industry.  In 1992
when the Senate first voted, only 40 Senators voted with the environmental
community -- barely enough along with abstentions to sustain the
filibuster.   During the Clinton years, a majority of the Senate
consistently was prepared to turn the entire Arctic over to the oil
industry-- only the President's veto held them at bay -- but steadily,
slowly, our strength grew.  The media failed to credit the Clinton
Administration, whose 1995 decision to shut down the Federal Government
rather than allowing the inclusion of Arctic leasing revenues in the Budget
Bill was the most important milestone for protection of the Arctic since
the defeat of the Johnston-Wallop bill by that 1992 filibuster. In 2000,
the last time the Senate voted, the tally was 51-49.

Nor was there much analysis of why the combined efforts of the Teamster
alliance with the White House, and the cynical effort to Senator Stevens to
link health care and pension payments for steelworkers to Arctic leasing
revenues, not only fell short, but in the final analysis probably hurt the
drilling forces on the final vote, tipping Senator John McCain from his
previous support for the drilling to opposition, and switching not a single
Senator onto the pro-drilling side.   What had happened in the intervening
10 months was a concerted effort, led by you, the Sierra Club, to reach out
to our friends and neighbors in the labor movement, and convey to them the
importance that environmentalists attached to protection of the Arctic.
When Ted Stevens, the Thursday before the vote, launched his despicable
campaign to blackmail Senators from steel-states, other unions weighed in
against the proposal. Strong voices were raised against it inside the
United Steelworkers, and a back-room deal that might have escaped public
attention last July withered in the sunlight of  outrage from sources as
diverse as Senators McCain and Stabenow, Episcopal bishops and the Sierra
Club.

  When Senator Murkowski tried to take advantage of deaths in the Middle
East by pretending the Arctic oil might somehow find its way to Israel,
powerful voices in prominent Jewish organizations shot him down, again the
fruit of years of work by environmentalists within the Jewish community.

Ultimately this victory was not the environmental community's -- it was
America's.  Without the concerted coalition efforts of the churches, labor
unions, retired military officers, the Gwichin people of the North slope
(three of whom will receive the Goldman Environmental Prize on Monday),
scientists, writers and artists,  business executives, photographers, and
thousands of others with no professional connection to the Arctic but a
profound sense of moral dedication and love for this place, the Senate
would never have stood up to the Administration, the oil industry, and the
Alaska delegation.  Indeed, the Senate vote on the Arctic was first
important issue, in either House of Congress, in which the voice of the
American people was heard and heeded.  Every other critical battle has been
won by the energy interests -- renewable energy, nuclear safety, fuel
efficiency, protection of drinking water -- all these have been placed at
risk in the House and Senate as vote after vote has gone with the oil, coal
and nuclear industries.

Therein lies the risk.  This victory is sweet, but far from certain.
Drilling of the Arctic could be adopted as part of the Conference report
between the House and Senate -- if the Senate approves the miserably
amputated remants of an originally decept bill introduced by Senator
Daschle.  And the danger in the glib and superficial nature of the media
coverage of the vote is that the American people may conclude that their
voice has prevailed, and the Arctic is, indeed, safe.  The American people
won a vote on Friday.  But the Sierra Club, which began this battle 14
years ago, must remember that winning a vote is not the same thing as
safeguarding a place.  We must now redouble our efforts. First to kill the
overall energy bill in the Senate; then if that fails, to influence public
opinion while the House-Senate conferees meet to ensure that neither the
Arctic nor other American communities and ecosystems are sacrificed to the
greed of the carbon and nuclear lobbies.

Celebrate yes -- but get ready at the same time.  Senators Murkowski and
Stevens, and the Bush Administration, showed in the final days of the
Senate debate that they will stop at nothing, nothing, to get their way.
We must show them that we will never, never let them prevail. Their
greatest ally would be our complacency.

They don't deserve it. I know the Sierra Club won't give it to them.

Carl Pope
Sierra Club



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Alex J. Sagady & Associates  http://my.voyager.net/~ajs/sagady.pdf

Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste/Community Environmental Protection

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com
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