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Re: E-M:/ RE: / MUCC sells out



While I am not as conversant with the details of the particular issue (GL water diversion) as many others here,
I have read extensively on corporate anti-environmentalism and observed a number of campaigns where
it played a role in the eventual outcomes.
 
I want to offer some titles and links to resources that provide information that may be useful for considering
how contributions to environmental groups from corporate interests can play a big role in a corporate campaign
to to defeat or avoid environmental protections.

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1) The "Sourcewatch" wiki hosted by the Center for Media and Democracy is an endless fountain of
information on the PR industry that advises corporations on how to defeat public opposition to their plans. 
For example, see the entry on "greenwash" here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Greenwash
(which gives this as a definition:  "Greenwashing is what corporations do when they try to make themselves look more environmentally friendly than they really are." [1])

Here is a short excerpt from one of the case studies discussed (logging rather than water in this instance):
In 1997, Timberlands scored its first public success. Although the WWF had no policy on or involvement in the West Coast forest issue, Towle agreed to appear on a five-minute Timberlands promotional video, titled Sustaining Our Natural Beech Forests, which was designed to sell the ecological virtues of its beech logging scheme. Towle's interview did not mention the South Island kokako or bird research or even ecology. Instead, he was quoted saying that the shift to "treating beech as a high quality, high value product is a very, very positive move." For Timberlands, having the words "World Wide Fund for Nature" on the screen introducing Towle was likely to have been at least as important as anything he said. [Emphasis added.]
2) See also the most excellent book "Toxic Sludge is Good for You" by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton,
which discusses in detail how corporations use public relations techniques--such as contributions to
'white hat' organizations--to hide or distract attention away from other parts of their agenda.

3) Another very good book is "Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism" by Sharon Beder.  This brief excerpt is from a review here (http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1998Q3/beder.html)  "Most people realize, for example, that public relations concerns are what motivate companies to engage in charitable activities, and yet they will be shocked at the level of manipulation that Beder finds at the heart of a corporate practice that is almost universally greeted with praise: charitable contributions to education."

4) A good article on the general subject of corporate greenwashing
(related to tactical philanthropy), illustrated with examples, is here
http://www.thegreenlife.org/dontbefooled.html

5) A fascinating example of how an "corporate social responsibility" flak -- for perhaps the
most environmentally disastrous corporation (McDonalds) that isn't an oil company -- continuously
recites and repeats the name of an environmental organization that the corporation has made some
gifts to -- to distract from the company's fantastically devastating and destructive practices:  http://csr.blogs.mcdonalds.com/default.asp

The point here being that, even when a corporation gives to an environmental group
with 'no strings attached,' there is STILL a huge string attached in that the corporation gets to continuously
point to its support for the environmental cause and thereby cause the casual, uniformed person -- the great
mass of people who do not wade into the fights over things like water diversion -- to conclude that the
corporation is actually supported by the recipient of the "charitable" contribution.

6) A number of recent studies have shown that physician prescribing is significantly affected by even token
gifts from pharmacy drug reps, who visit doctors' offices to promote their company's products.  The docs
take great umbrage at any suggestion that their behavior is in any way affected by gifts of nominal value,
but all studies indicate that those gifts are very effective in causing doctors to prescribe more of the target
drugs, a lot more.  Here is a link to a recent story:  http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/01/25/news/doctors.php

The point being that there is never a quid pro quo discussed--the drug reps don't condition the gift on
the doctors' prescribing anything.  Is there any reason to expect that environmental groups--which tend
to be entirely dependant on contributions to carry out their mission--are not similarly affected by gifts?
As a matter of simple human nature, it is hard to maintain a posture of adamant disagreement while
accepting gifts from someone or some group; what tends to happen is that the policy conflict is muted
and, to outsiders, seems resolved -- which can be quite valuable for the "gift" giver.

There is plenty more available on this subject.

Cyndi Roper wrote:
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Enviro-Mich message from Cyndi Roper <croper@cleanwater.org>
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The issue at hand is not MUCC's history of protecting Michigan's natural resources. Instead, it is what's happening right now in the halls of the state Capitol.

Right now, the Nestle Corporation (parent company of Ice Mountain) is suing in federal court to take away the water diversion veto power of the Great Lakes Governors. If Nestle succeeds in its lawsuit, this veto power, which is granted through the federal Water Resources Development Act, will be eliminated. Consequently, the only speedbump the people of the Great Lakes States have to prevent water from leaving the Basin will be gone.

Not only is Nestle suing to take away that power but they are spearheading an all out arm twisting effort in Lansing to prevent the legislature from passing an amendment that would create a first line of defense against diversions of Michigan's water. This "diversion protection" amendment to the water withdrawal legislation currently moving through the legislature would help maintain public control and ownership of OUR water.

Simply put, Clean Water Action and a host of other groups do not want Nestle or any other corporation to decide when, if and how water is to leave the Great Lakes Basin. This amendment would not ban diversions. Instead, it would entrust our elected officials to decide if a private interest should be allowed to pursue projects that would divert water from the Great Lakes Basin.

We believe the legislature should make these decisions, which would provide a check on proposals to divert water from Michigan in any container whether it's a tanker truck, a ship, a pipeline or, yes, a bottle. Again, we do not believe Nestle or other corporations will represent the public. Only our elected officials can do this.

So, while MUCC has a long history of resource protection, the fact that they are missing from action in the battle to maintain public ownership and control of Michigan's most treasured natural resource -- its water -- is regrettable.

Cyndi

Cyndi Roper, Great Lakes Policy Director
Clean Water Action





Amanda Hathaway wrote:

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Enviro-Mich message from "Amanda Hathaway" <ahathaway@mucc.org>
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Selling out or operating in the real world?
For almost seven decades, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) has
been at the forefront of protecting Michigan’s treasurered natural
resources.  Throughout our history, we have joined with partners from
the private sector to educate our citizens about the importance of
conserving our natural resources. 
We have participated for over five years in the development of
meaningful legislation to protect Michigan’s waters.  Our position has
never wavered throughout this time.  Michigan United Conservation Clubs
firmly believes that no one, be they a business, a municipality, a
farmer or an individual should have the right to destroy our
water-dependent natural resources.  Instead of regulating use, MUCC is
supportive of the package of legislation currently being heard by the
Legislature which regulates withdrawals. MUCC, along with National
Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited, have steadfastly held this
position through the Senate and now the House debate.  MUCC, in 2004,
joined with Trout Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation in
advancing this argument in our amicus on Nestle vs. Michigan Citizen’s
for Water Conservation.

In regards to Nestle sponsorship of our award-winning Tracks Magazine,
we are fortunate to have a sponsor which provided no direction or made
no editorial requirement in publishing this magazine that is distributed
to 40,000 upper elementary children throughout Michigan and the country
for less than $.40 an issue. We welcome the public to review the five
publications under the Nestle sponsorship and hope they too will learn
about the animals which live in the land/water edge and the importance
of this critical habitat. 
Bottom-line, we find it appalling that any other organization or
individual which professes to share similar values would question
MUCCs’integrity and 67-year commitment to our natural resources for a
small grant to educate our elementary youth.  People of good will can
choose different paths to protect our natural resources.  However, the
use of innuendo serves to divide and diminish all of our ability to
affect meaningful change and achieve our shared goals.
Sam Washington
MUCC Executive Director


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
[mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Terry Swier
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 10:20 PM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: E-M:/ MUCC sells out

------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
Enviro-Mich message from "Terry Swier" <tswier@hotmail.com>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
-

MUCC Sells Out

Is MUCC, Michigan United Conservation Club, selling out the Great Lakes
and our water future?  It would appear so.  Anyone following the Great
Lakes, Great Michigan campaign might wonder why MUCC is practically the lone
wolf in opposing the critically important water diversion protections
supported by more than 54 other groups, including the Izaak Walton League of
America, League of Women Voters, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Michigan

Environmental Council, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, and
many, many others. I think I know the answer.  On the front page of MUCC's
Tracks Magazine November-December issue is the credit "Funded by Ice Mountain."

Inside you see that MUCC thanks Ice Mountain for the funding again.  So,

MUCC is funding this expensive, high quality, four-color magazine for
MUCC and, perhaps, more.  This is the same Ice Mountain whose parent company,

Nestlé, is suing the state to overturn the federal Water Resource Development Act protections against Great Lakes water diversions.  This
is the same Nestlé that is twisting legislative arms so it can privatize
our Great Lakes waters and ship them for profit at virtually no benefit to Michigan.  The same Nestlé that is in the courts with Michigan Citizens
for Water Conservation.  The same Nestlé that is at odds with virtually the entire environmental community and the majority of Michigan residents
who favor protections against water diversions.

Shame on MUCC!  They need to explain why they are taking Nestlé’s money
and how that is influencing the way it is representing its members on this
issue


Terry Swier



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==============================================================
ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
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