Environmentalist organizations exposed

Congressional Record: May 8, 2001 (House of Representatives)

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Flake).

Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Hansen) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.


Mr. Speaker, many years ago when I was a student at the University of Utah, I recall working at different jobs after class at night and weekends in order to make ends meet and pay my tuition. Money was tight. I was newly married.

I had a wife and child to support, but I still remember sending $25 to the Sierra Club in response to their advertisements because I felt strongly about protecting our air and water and preserving our forests. But I was moved to donate to that particular organization by what they had to say, and during the 1960s and 1970s, I believed that our Nation urgently needed a wake-up call to action to stop the dumping of raw sewage and industrial waste into the Nation's waterways, and to find ways to try to save endangered species like the bald eagle and the grizzly bear. I saw some of those problems firsthand, and I felt strongly about that, and contrary to what groups are saying, I still do.

I believe some advocacy groups like the Sierra Club played a constructive and valuable part in helping to focus public attention on these problems. In those days I recall the Sierra Club actually funding some restoration projects which were laudable. They were doing more than just sounding [[Page H2013]] the alarm. They were out on the ground, physically doing something constructive by themselves, cleaning up a lake or making a trail, for example, in partnership with local or State organizations. I felt good about supporting that because I had always been taught that it was not sufficient to just point out faults or problems of others; what we need to do is put our money where our mouth is and pitch in and do something ourselves.

It is ironic, given what some vocal environmentalist groups today have to say about me, that as a member of the Utah legislature and Speaker of the Utah House that I was labeled by some of my colleagues as being too green because I often sponsored or supported environmental legislation.

What is more ironic is that my personal philosophy for protecting the environment has not changed one iota.

I still believe in the principles of conservation and environmental protection, like Teddy Roosevelt, our first conservation President.

I believe man has been given the responsibility to be wise stewards of our natural resources, that we can find environmentally responsible ways to obtain the energy and raw materials that we need as a Nation and as families and as individuals to sustain life; and that as human beings we need to not apologize for having been born, and that we are part of the Earth's ecosystem.

Unfortunately, it has been the environmental movement which has changed.

As too often the case, what begins as a good idea and needed catalyst has in many respects been corrupted by money and by power. I have witnessed over the years how environmental groups have changed from actually doing constructive work into self-interest business organizations whose main goals seems to be marketing, self-perpetuating power and growth, and to achieve those ends by any means.

They become masters at slashing and burning the character and reputation of those elected officials or reporters who dare to challenge them or who dare to take different points of view on specific environmental issues.

Mr. Speaker, I have witnessed over the years how increasingly strident and nasty many of them become in our civil discourse and how increasingly radical many of their proposals have become.

Finally, what I have noticed as well is that these groups by and large are now all about big business, and that is their bottom line.

When looking at the Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, or several other environmental groups, what begins as a small, bare-bones organization with issues motivating people, soon blossoms into larger and larger organizations which must rent offices, hire workers and meet their payroll.

These are not grassroots organizations operating out of some guy's basement we are talking about.

They are slick, well-organized companies, employing rafts of accountants, marketers, and attorneys. There is none better. In order to feed that beast or make the payroll, they have to raise money.

How do they do this? They do it very well. They are masters at it. If they were public corporations listed with the stock exchange, they would be listed by analysts in the “buy'' category. They pour massive amounts of tax-exempt and tax-deductible contributions into emotion-based media and marketing. They are spending millions on direct marketing campaigns in order to generate more and more contributors and donor lists. They hire impressionable young college students, normally at a minimum wage, to go door to door to sign up new members, and hire still others to attend public hearings to applaud or to boo as directed, in a cynical, purchased attempt to influence public opinion.

What is truly shocking is the amount of money these groups are raising and spending, and they are beginning to hit the big-time contributions, millions of dollars at a time, disappointingly, from such previously venerable entities as the Pew Charitable Trust.

This is how they can pay for millions of dollars in slick brochures, calendars, videos, radio and television advertisements, all designed to shock and stimulate individuals to reach into their pocketbooks.

Like any other pitchmen hawking their wares, they use sensational pictures and distortion of facts in order to grab attention, as some unscrupulous marketers are prone to do. They take advantage of many hard-working Americans who are too busy earning a living and paying taxes and raising their families, who do not have the time to investigate the claims themselves. These groups take advantage of people's natural goodwill and desire to protect green spaces and clean water by asserting that their tax-deductible $10, $20, $50, or $100 donated to them, for example, will keep those blankety-blank, nasty Republicans or other Congresspersons from raping and pillaging the environment.

As it was for me as a young college student to be influenced by their solicitation, so it remains today with many of us. Only there is so much more media influence by those groups than in the 1960s. They have a very loud and a very strident voice. When I hear the completely overblown rhetoric they put out about many of my colleagues who are working hard, honestly motivated by wanting to do the right thing by the environment and by finding a balanced approach, it can be very disheartening. Some days it is tempting to ask why do we keep trying? Despite years of trying to reach out to these groups, to enter into a constructive dialogue to come up with legislative solutions to vexing environmental problems, all I have received is the hammer to the head. At least to this point they have not shown an interest in doing what Isaiah counseled in the Old Testament, “Come now, let us reason together.'' I am still waiting for the phrase to be uttered, “Mr. Chairman, we would like to work with you on that proposal.'' I have been here 21 years and still have not heard it. Indeed, all we get is the fire hose approach of heated and hostile rhetoric.

I still believe that a majority of Americans when presented with all the facts will support the right environmental policies. They will recognize the need to achieve balance between obtaining resources and preservation.

The key becomes getting all the facts out on the table.

At the present time those of us who are often cast by these groups as being on the wrong side of their issues are outgunned in terms of money and media access.

With their vast sums of tax-exempt money pouring in, they buy huge media influence, which they do not call lobbying, but rather public education.

This is an abuse of our tax laws and lobbying disclosure statutes. These groups have also shown a propensity to try to intimidate Members of Congress mainly from urban, eastern districts into supporting radical proposals affecting many large western States like Utah, Idaho and Colorado.

These groups advocate locking up huge areas into formal wilderness designations even though most people do not understand what those designations mean, or draining Lake Powell.

After all, most of the Members from eastern States have not even been to those areas in the West that the legislation would affect, so maybe it is just a throwaway vote for them.

However, if they do not sign as a cosponsor to their radical legislation such as H.R. 1613, locking up nearly 10 million acres of Utah lands, these groups will openly attack them in their States and districts by vocally and visibly labeling them an enemy to the environment.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In my opinion, it is shameful that tactics such as these are sometimes employed by these organizations. Those tactics ought not to be rewarded by Members, and I urge Members who feel they are threatened politically to show these men and women to the door.

Raising all this money would be okay if the money was being used mostly to go toward preservation and conservation projects. I would applaud it.

However, what we are seeing is the abuse of the IRS guidelines by many of these groups who disguise their extensive lobbying activity and very often very partisan lobbying activities under the guise of public education. If the true costs of lobbying were to be ascertained, I believe that some of these groups would be in jeopardy of [[Page H2014]] losing their 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable status, as well they should if they are violating the law.

That is something, Mr. Speaker, that Congress ought not to be shy about looking into.

While some on the Hill and elsewhere seem fixated on campaign finance reform aimed at cleaning up perceived corruption of the American political process by money, I wonder who is actually watching these self-appointed and self-ordained watchdogs and special interest groups who are shoveling in money by the truckload. Where is their accountability? Where are the news cameras following them as they drive to the bank to make these big deposits?

While liberals and extreme environmentalists lambaste their contrived bogeyman big oil and those nasty extractive industries, I can tell you that big oil such as it exists cannot hold a candlestick to the money and influence these environmental groups assert these days in this city of Washington, DC. How long will they get away with these distortions and character assassinations unchallenged and unchecked?

Is their abuse of our Nation's tax laws and lobbying disclosure requirements not worthy of examination? This abuse is the untold story that too many people are afraid to explore, and it is something that Congress ought to look into. This is the purpose for me and my colleagues coming to the floor tonight to raise awareness of how many of these groups are exploiting the public -- for their own selfish reasons.

I have often wondered where the national press has been on looking critically upon these groups. Are they too cowered by political correctness or afraid of offending their liberal constituencies, or are they card-carrying members of these groups themselves?

How long will the press releases and bald-faced assertions issued hourly by these groups remain unchallenged by the media?

While Members of Congress are scrutinized up one side and down the other for every word we utter and every vote we take, these groups are somehow coated with Teflon. It must always be accepted by the media as unrebuttable truth. Must they always be given the last word?

At least one reporter has recently had the nerve and the courage and professionalism to explore and investigate these groups, their fundraising and their tactics.

I commend the members to a five-part series of articles which appeared recently in the Sacramento Bee newspaper by Mr. Tom Knudson, and all these are posted on the Committee on Resources Web site.

Mr. Knudson has come under fire in the last few days by the very groups he scrutinized by having published his series, which unfortunately is to be expected these days. I am afraid that the truth must hit a little close to home. Therefore, the natural self-preservation response has been to simply attack the reporter personally and professionally.

Having been a chairman for a long time of a subcommittee and chairman of another committee, I am always amazed how when you cannot beat them with issues and fact, you always go to personal assassination.

I found Mr. Knudsen's series to be balanced and confirms many of the concerns that I have had myself for some time. I wish that more reporters would follow his lead and look to what he has uncovered. Now, I would like to point out on this chart that I have here, executive salaries.

According to the information compiled by Mr. Knudson, a good share of the money raised by these groups goes to pay salaries for their top officials. They are easily within the top 1 percent of all wage earners in the country. For example, this chart shows that the executive directors of the Nation's top environmental organizations are paid very well.

The salary of the National Wildlife Federation top executive, Mr. Mark Van Putten, was nearly a quarter of a million dollars last year. This represents a 17 percent raise over his salary the year before. Think about that the next time you contemplate your 3 percent cost of living adjustment. If you were among those who sent in a $25 contribution to this group, do you realize it took over 10,000 of you contributing in order just to pay his salary?

a. The salary of the World Wildlife Fund president, Kathryn Fuller, was $241,000.

b. The salary of the National Audubon Society president, John Flicker, was $240,000.

c. The salary of the Natural Resources Defense Council director, John Adams, was $239,000. The salary of the Wilderness Society president was $204,000.

d. The salary of the Defenders of Wildlife president and CEO was $201,000.

e. Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund president, Buck Parker, was $157,000.

f. The Sierra Club's Carl Pope's salary was $138,000 in 1998 and listed as $199,577 in 1999, nearly a 50 percent raise.

The list goes on. Now, folks, think about it. How many of those $25 contributions does it take you as you did like I did as a young college student, send a few bucks there because you believe in what they are doing just to pay these salaries? Where are these missionary zealots who had a great idea back in the 1960s and thought we were going too far? Where are these people that were in there doing the thing because it had the burning in their heart to do it, not because it was a big business? Unfortunately, you can see new environmentalism has grown into a big growth industry. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Idaho.


I thank the chairman of the committee for yielding the time and for setting aside this hour to talk a little bit about what is happening in the environmental community. As the gentleman from Utah has suggested, I think all of us are environmentalists. In fact, as he once said … in college he gave his money and dues to the Sierra Club, I believe it was.

I gave money to the Idaho Conservation League because I believed in what they were doing and in fact in many things that they are still doing, I think they are doing a good job but like most environmental groups or groups that call themselves environmental groups, they have stepped over the edge. They have gone beyond simple environmental issues and trying to save our environment. Before I get into that for just a minute, I want to talk for a second about another environmental issue that was just talked about previously by the minority party here in their hour that they reserved and that was the energy policy which deals with the environment as much as these issues that we will be talking about here today. I was glad to hear that the Members suggested that we need a bipartisan effort in energy, a solution to the energy problem that we have in this country.

They were, it seemed, very critical of the Bush administration and some of the stances that he takes, but I will tell you that when the report comes out and in our conversations with Vice President Cheney, conservation will be a part of the report, renewable, sun and wind power will be a part of the report, new sources of energy, discovering new sources of oil and coal and natural gas will be a part of the report, nuclear energy will be a part of the report. New technologies such as fuel cells will be a part of the report.

They suggested geothermal power. Geothermal is a power that is used in some areas. But if we look at some of the things that the Democratic Party has done just recently on TV, I saw the chairman of the Democratic National Committee on TV slamming Bush for his energy policy and holding up a picture of Yellowstone National Park with an oil well over it and said, this is Bush's policy.

Then next was one of the Grand Canyon with an oil derrick over the top of it saying this is what Bush wanted, drilling in our national parks.

Nobody has suggested drilling in Yellowstone. Nobody has suggested drilling in any of our national parks.

They have said that we ought to look in our national monuments which we do drilling in now and look at the reserves we have there such as the ANWR and other places.

And then the DNC put on a commercial which suggested a young lady holding up a glass of water and saying, “Mommy, could I have more arsenic in my water?'' And then there was a child with a hamburger saying, “Could I have more salmonella in my hamburger?'' It seems to me that the DNC has taken on the same characteristic that the extreme environmental movement has taken on where raising money has become more important than the truth.

They will say anything to try to discredit this President and the policies that he sets forward. [[Page H2015]] That is exactly what the extreme environmental movement has done. They have stolen the true grass-roots environmental movement.

This series of articles that was written in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, and I would commend them to anyone who wants to look at how these groups are funded and some of the things that they are doing, I would like to go through some of the provisions of these articles and some of the things that they are doing because I think it is important for the American people to know where that $15 that they are contributing or that $25 or $100 or $10,000 that they are contributing to some of these groups is going and what they are going for.

One of the concerns is that, as I said earlier, the extreme environmental movement has taken over the grass-roots environmental movement. It is no longer about saving the environment; it is about raising money. They spend an awful lot of their funds raising money.

One of the letters written by the Defenders of Wildlife says: “Dear Friend, I need your help to stop an impending slaughter. Otherwise, Yellowstone National Park, an American wildlife treasure, could soon become a bloody killing field. And the victims will be hundreds of wolves and defenseless wolf pups.'' So begins a fund-raising letter from one of America's fastest-growing wildlife groups, Defenders of Wildlife.

Using the popular North American gray wolf as the hub of an ambitious campaign, Defenders has assembled a financial track record that would impress Wall Street. In 1999, donations jumped 28 percent to a record $17.5 million. The group's net assets, a measure of financial stability, grew to $14.5 million, another record.

And according to its 1999 annual report, Defenders spent donors' money wisely, keeping fund-raising and management costs to a lean 19 percent of expenses. But there is another side to Defenders' dramatic growth.

Pick up copies of its Federal tax returns and you will find that its five highest paid business partners are not firms that specialize in wildlife conservation. They are national direct mail and telemarketing companies.

You will also find that in calculating its fund-raising expenses, Defenders borrows a trick from the business world.

It dances with digits, finds opportunity in obfuscation.

Using an accounting loophole, it classifies millions of dollars spent on direct mail and telemarketing not as fund-raising but as public education and environmental activism. Take away that loophole and Defenders' 19 percent fund-raising and management tab leaps above 50 percent, meaning more than half of every dollar donated to save wolf pups helped nourish the organization instead.

That was high enough to earn Defenders a D rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy, an independent, nonprofit watchdog that scrutinizes nearly 400 charitable groups.

It is interesting when one looks down the list of some of the groups -- some of the environmental groups did very well.

The Nature Conservancy was an A minus;

Environmental Defense was a B;

Greenpeace was a D;

Defenders of Wildlife was a D.

That is based on the amount of money they actually give to the cause for which they are raising the funds; how much of it goes into their organization to support fund-raising. So many of the dollars that people are giving, because they read these articles in the newspaper that support protecting wolves and other types of things, people send in their $15 or so.

Much of that money -- over half of it in many cases -- does not go to saving wolves; it goes to raising more money or to the organization or, as the chairman suggested, to the salaries of some of these individuals in these organizations.

One of the other things that sort of concerns me, well it concerns me a lot, is the massive waste in this fund-raising.

The Wilderness Society mailed 6.2 million membership solicitations; an average of 16,986 pieces of mail a day. This is mail fatigue.

The letters that come with the mailers are seldom dull. They are steeped in outrage. They tell of a planet in perpetual environmental shock, a world victimized by profit-hungry corporations, and they do so not with precise scientific prose but with boastful and often inaccurate sentences that scream and shout.

Some of the examples were given in the Sacramento Bee. From the New York-based Rain Forest Alliance, “By this time tomorrow, nearly 100 species of wildlife will tumble into extinction.'' The fact is, no one knows how rapidly species are going extinct.

The Alliance figures an extreme estimate that counts tropical beetles and other insects, including ones not yet known to science, in its definition of wildlife. Another example from the Wilderness Society: We will fight to stop reckless clear-cutting on national forests in California and the Pacific Northwest that threatens to destroy the last of America's unprotected ancient forests in as little as 20 years.

Fact: The national forest logging has dropped dramatically in recent years. In California, clear-cutting on national forests dipped to 1,395 acres in 1998, down 89 percent from 1990.

From the Defenders of Wildlife again, “Will you not please adopt a furry little pup like Hope?'' Hope is a cuddly brown wolf. Hope was triumphantly born in Yellowstone.

Fact: There never was a pup named Hope. Says John Valerie, Chief of Research at Yellowstone National Park, “We do not name wolves. We number them.'' Since wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995, their numbers have increased from 14 to about 160.

The program has been so successful that Yellowstone officials now favor removing animals from the Federal endangered species list.

One of my favorites that I want to talk for just a minute about again comes from the Defenders of Wildlife, and I wish I had some blow-ups of it, but it is a poison alert. “Wolves in Danger,'' one of the sections that runs in the newspaper or letter that goes out to individuals, a fund-raising letter. Another one that says, “a special gift when you join our pack,'' and it has pictures of these cuddly wolves.

More than 160 million environmental fund-raising pitches swirled through the U.S. mail last year. Some used the power of cute animals to attract donors. The problem is that in many cases those campaigns were less than honest. And this was the pitch, and this is the one that caught my attention, in Salmon, Idaho, which is in my district.

In Salmon, Idaho, antiwolf extremists committed a horrible crime; they killed two Yellowstone wolves with lethal poison, compound 1080. “Please do not allow antiwolf extremists to kill our wild wolves. These wolf families do not deserve to die. Please, we need your help now.'' And then, of course, they solicit a contribution.

The fact is, the two wolves were not Yellowstone wolves but wolves reintroduced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into central Idaho, against the objections of the State of Idaho to reintroduction of those wolves. Some wolves were killed illegally, but the population of wolves continues to increase at a pace faster than Federal wolf recovery officials had anticipated.

The government expects to remove wolves from the Federal endangered species list in 3 to 4 years. In fact, in Idaho we have already met our commitment of 10 mating pairs. The problem is that they take Montana and Wyoming together and say we have to have 30 breeding pairs within the entire region.

Wolves are overpopulating Idaho better than anyone had anticipated, and they are using these instances, this group, Defenders of Wildlife, to raise money to try to save wolves. Unfortunately, much of the pleading that they do with the American public at best can be called dishonest. I, like the chairman, want to save the environment. We want to make sure that what we do is compatible with the species and protecting species. But we also think that human beings play a role in this environment and in our world, and that human beings ought to be considered in this whole equation.

Look at what the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Walden) is going through right now, where they have taken 170,000 acres of 200,000 acres of irrigated land that will not have water this year because a judge has ruled that the sucker fish that they are trying to protect is more important than those people.


Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. Simpson) for his very interesting comments. Mr. Speaker, let me point out, we both got into the idea of how much money these folks bring in. I have a chart here that points out some of the money that is brought in. Look at the amount of money that came in in one year to these organizations. And then the question comes up, well, what do they spend it for? When we first got into this thing, we were arguing the idea, are these the people that have the fire in their bosom to go out and take care of the public land? Well, no, as we both discussed in the last while, it is not that. It is more of an idea of raising more money and more money and more money.

And where is it spent? I would like to give a little example, if I could, about an environmental group in the State of Utah, and I would hasten to say that if that is what the public wants, fine. If the public wants this money to just go into paying lawyers, paying marketers, paying advertising, K Street-type of thing, Madison Avenue, fine. But I thought that most of us who got involved in this thing did not want that.

I thought we wanted to restore the forests and the clean water and the wildlife, and do it in a way that is environmentally sound and at the same time to take good care of the energy.

Let me just refer to this one group. They are called the Southern Utah Wilderness Society.

Nice people are there, and some of them, I think, are a little misled, but they probably think the same thing about me. This group raises more than $2 million each year in donations from hard-working people who care about protecting our environment. The money is raised under the idea of protecting Utah wilderness lands. Send this group some money and you will help wilderness in the Colorado plateau, you are told. So they send out these beautiful calendars saying, this is what you will protect. However, some of it is in national parks. Only one was in that area, but it was a pretty calendar anyway.

However, when you look at their tax reports, you find that not one dime of this money is actually spent on the environment.

Not a penny goes to plant a tree, restore a streambed, or protect an acre of ground in Utah or anywhere else; not a dollar to create a habitat to take care of an animal.

What this group does is, they lobby for the passage of a wilderness legislation. In fact, they lobby to pass virtually the same old, tired, worn-out legislation every year, but they keep raising the ante. I find it interesting that that group went with me and we have said, now, look, no one from Utah really wants this.

They said, oh, go back to the time that Congressman Owens was here; he wanted it and he introduced it. In those days, what they do not realize is Congressman Owens was then a member of the majority party, which was then the Democratic Party. The President was a Democrat. The House and the Senate were Democrat, and I was the ranking member of the committee and they never, ever asked for a hearing.

So I wonder how serious they were about it in those days. As a recent Associated Press story noted, the only impact this bill has in the last decade are the trees that were killed to provide for the paper on which the bill is printed year after year.

They are fierce lobbyists. They have a staff of 20 attorneys, lobbyists, and strategists who operate offices in four cities, including Washington, D.C. They spent only $11,000 in 1999 in grassroots efforts to reach out to the public, though they claim their primary reason for existence is to educate the public about the environment; but they spent nearly $1 million in the last 4 years to lobby to get their wilderness legislation passed.

I privately believe that the last thing in the world this group wants is to pass that bill. That is why they keep moving the goal posts. That is why the numbers keep going up. Above all, this organization is a self-perpetuating consumer of resource and energy. They deal in volumes of paper and plastic.

They issue their own credit cards, the Affinity credit card. That is what our environment needs, more credit cards. They do a rich business in the sale of videos, T-shirts, hats, books, posters. Most of these products are made from nondegradable materials like plastic, or require the cutting down of trees and the use of paper.

They send out more than 100,000 newsletters, fliers and bulletins each year. That is a lot of trees, and that does not even include their reports, press releases, and lawsuits. They are aggressive users of electricity. Four offices. All these things they talk about. Now I would like to just say something about the lawsuits.

If I could move this one chart here, look at the number of lawsuits that the environmental community has done between 1992 and 2000; 435 environmental lawsuits. Now I thought we were out here taking care of the environment. I did not know we were just in this thing of litigating. It is the most litigious society we have ever had, but let us litigate again.

This is how much they have made, $36.1 million in legal fees paid by the U.S. Government, whether they won or lost.

That is your taxpayer money, $31 million right there. If they win or lose, they get that money.

One case netted $3.5 million for the Sierra Club, and it was questionable whether it was even endangered. The average award is in excess of $70,000 and they risk nothing.

So why go out and get you to give them money to plant a tree, to pick up the garbage, to be aware of these things, to take good care of the environment, when you can get in court and make that kind of money? Let us be smart about this thing. This thing is not in there to protect the environment. That reminds me of when I was back here as a freshman in 1981.

The Secretary of Interior was Jim Watt. He was supposed to come in and see me with Senator Garn over in Indian School.

That morning I received in the mail something from a group who was going to save the Chesapeake Bay that was all ruined. It said, “Mr. Hansen, if you will send us $10, $20, $30, $40, $50, we will do our best to meet with the Interior Committee and Secretary Watt who is ruining the Chesapeake Bay.''

So that afternoon, the Secretary walked in. I said, “Jim, I want to show you this.'' He laughed, and he said, “What do you mean? I put $285 million into protecting the Chesapeake Bay.'' And he said, “That is just poppycock.''

So I sent them $10 because I was curious what was going to happen.

Six months later, I got a letter back. It said, “Mr. Hansen, due to your generous contribution, we have met with the Interior Committee of the House,'' which I sit on or was sitting on in those days also, and they never walked in. “And we have influenced the Interior Department to do their very best to take care of this terrible problem, and we have that. And if you will send us some more money, another generous contribution, we will be there to help do these other things.''

And I thought, what poppycock.

It is just like these people who prey upon the elderly regarding Social Security when half of those allegations are not true.

Well, I can just tell you, you just rest assured. Members here on the Committee on Resources, we are not going to drill in parks as the gentleman from Idaho was mentioning some people say. That is not going to happen. We are not going to hurt or rape or pillage the ground. If anything, in a moderate and reasonable way, we are standing ready to take care of the ground.

So I guess we can ask ourselves the question, do you want to pay attorneys? Do we not do enough with the attorneys’ retirement bills around here anyway? I do not know why we have to make it easy for other people to do that. Those folks seem to do pretty well. American trial attorneys do extremely well. I do not think we want to do that. I think your money should go to take care of the public grounds of America and take good care of it.

I would hope that every American is a good conservationist and a good environmentalist in the true sense of the word, and that is what I am hoping would happen.

So if you want to spend your money, put it somewhere where it does some good. Put it somewhere where we can have access to the public ground, and while we have access to the public [[Page H2017]] ground, let us each one of us take good care of it.

I took my children; we went to the very top of the Uenda mountains, King's Peak, highest peak in the Uendas. I have taught my children when we go in an area, and we find all kinds of things, we found 5 beer cans right on the top of this beautiful pristine area. Of course, we crushed them and took them out. Our theory is, is clean up ours and somebody else's, and take it out when we are backpacking. I wish we would all do that.

I am happy to yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. Radanovich), the chairman of the Western Caucus and an extremely important member of the Committee on Resources.


I want to thank the gentleman for putting together this special order regarding this topic, which I think is very important to the American people. As we are speaking here with an audience of probably over 1 million people tonight, I really want to kind of pose a question to the American people.

We were dealing with an issue that is important to you and important to me with regard to local influence over Federal Government lands and the management plans of our National Forests and our Federal lands, and it was said by some critic about local influences that those people that are closest to the resources really do not speak in the interests of the American people on public lands, which are lands for the American people, and that somehow the national organizations that send out contribution forms like which the gentleman just mentioned are somehow speaking for them.

In some ways I wanted to agree that the local perspective on some of these resources, and keep in mind the Quincy Library Group, which is a group in California of local people that work together with Federal forest lands to develop forest policies that are not only good for the forests, but also good for the local communities, and it was a better plan than by far any Washington bureaucrat could put together.

My concern was that while people might understand that a local person's influence may not represent the best interests in the American public for public lands, there is another side to that too, and that is when you have extreme sellouts like the list that you just mentioned of people that solicit, for any reason or another, money to keep their influence, it does not necessarily mean that those groups have the environment as the best interest in their minds and in their hearts, and that they pursue public policy that is good for the American people and good for America's public lands and environment, because it is not.

What it really boils down to is power and influence and keeping that. I think you have done that in an excellent way in demonstrating tonight it is not necessarily about good environmental policy for Federal lands; it is about power, keeping power, keeping power and influence. I think that the Federal policies become secondary to that.

It is proven by some of the foolish notions that have come up in these last years, like roads moratoriums and the Sierra Nevada framework, a nightmare for the people in our Sierra Forest in California, and some issues where people with good intentions and maybe fears that on the Earth we are becoming too populated and that we have to reserve and guard these public lands at all costs, but are basically operating out of fear and not good common sense when it comes to management of public lands.

So I just am grateful that the gentleman has pinpointed even the Sacramento Bee in California did a series of articles on the environmental community and how they are such a money-raising operation, whose sole interest I think these days has become to remain an influence, and secondarily was the environmental policy that they promoted, that it has really has become out of control.

I think the American public needs to take a second guess, because groups like the Sierra Club and NRDC do not corner the market on good environmental policy in this country. I think the American people need to realize that. It needs to be balanced by somebody who is there.

It is like an on-site landlord, rather than somebody who is never on- site on a piece of rental property.

The one who is on site knows what is going on, knows the detail, knows the property better than anybody else.

It is no different in our Federal lands with the Sierra Club and the NRDC and groups like that depend on people that are miles and miles away and never see the resource. So how do they know one way or the other if they are being improperly influenced by these groups or not?

They do not know. They tend to react on the pictures of Bambi on the TV or mailers that they get, and they give money.

But these people need to know those groups are not necessarily promoting the best environmental policy for public lands. That is why I wanted to come down and kind of reinforce it as to what you were saying, is that people need to really be aware of these groups, and they need to learn to second guess them and do not take for granted that what they are doing is good environmental policy. I thank the gentleman for holding this special order in order to bring up points like that, as well as many of the other points that you brought up.

Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from California. I yield to the gentleman from Idaho.

Mr. SIMPSON. I thank the chairman, and I thank the gentleman from California for his comments. I agree with him fully. The chairman made a good point that, unfortunately, this money that is spent on litigation is money that could go, it is taxpayers' money to start with, and could go to protecting the environment. When I met with Chief Dombeck a couple of years ago and talked with him about some of the problems we were having in Idaho in our natural forest, he said to me one of the problems they have in the Forest Service is making a decision, because they know that no matter what decision they make, they are going to be sued.

Last year in this article from the Sacramento Bee, during the 1990's, the government paid out $31.6 million in attorney's fees for 434 environmental cases brought against Federal agencies. The average award per case was more than $70,000.

One long-running lawsuit in Texas that involved an endangered salamander netted lawyers for the Sierra Club and other plaintiffs more than $3.5 in taxpayers' funds, as the chairman has already pointed out.

That is money that could be used for other environmental purposes and actually cleaning up the environment and taking care of the backlog in maintenance we have in our National Forests and in our National Parks. Again, it is taxpayer money.

One of the main arguments for the roadless issue was that the Forest Service did not have the money to maintain the roads that they currently had, and so if they couldn't maintain those, how could they justify building more roads, so we might as well make them roadless.

If we are spending all that money on lawsuits, then certainly we do not have the money to take care of the roads. One of the things that was interesting in this series of articles is that the effect of these things are actually damaging to the environment oftentimes.

Let me read a portion of these articles.

Wildfire today is inflicting nightmarish wounds, injuries made worse by a failure to heed scientific warnings. For example, and there are three of them here that they list.

In 1994, Wallace Covington, a Professor of Forest Ecology at Northern Arizona University and a nationally recognized fire scientist and a colleague warned that the Kendrick Mountain wilderness area in northern Arizona was so crowded with vegetation that it was ready to explode. “Delay will only perpetuate fuel build-up and increase the potential for uncontrolled and destructive wildfires,'' they wrote in a scientific analysis for the Kaibab National Forest. Some thinning was done, but not enough. Last year, a large fire swept through the region carving an apocalyptic trail of destruction. What happened is much worse ecologically than a clear cut, much worse, Covington said, and that fire is in the future. It is happening again and again. We are going to have skeletal landscapes.

The other example, listening to fire and forest scientists, Martha Ketelle pleaded in 1996 for permission to log and thin an incendiary mass of storm- [[Page H2018]] killed timber in California's Trinity Alps. “This is a true emergency of vast magnitude,'' Ketelle, then supervisor of the Six Rivers National Forest, wrote to her boss in San Francisco. “It is not a matter of if a fire will occur, but how extensive the damage will be when the fire does occur.'' Because of an environmental appeal, the project bogged down.

Then, in 1999, a fire found its way into the area. It spewed smoke for hundreds of miles, incinerated Spotted Owl habitat and triggered soil erosion and key damage in a key salmon spawning watershed. These stories are something I hear about daily as I go back to Idaho from my resource advisory group and my ag advisory groups and I talk to them. We did more damage last year in Idaho with the Nation's largest wildfires. We did more damage to the environment, to salmon habitat, to spawning habitat, than was done by any logging practices that ever have been done. And today as the snow melts and the rains come, hopefully the rains come, that erosion is going to filter down into those streams and it is going to cover the beds, and consequently you are going to have a difficult time with managing salmon habitat. So, oftentimes these efforts to address these environmental concerns, the potential for catastrophic wildfire, today the Forest Service says something like 35 million acres of our National Forests are at risk of catastrophic wildfires.

These are not just fires, but these are cataclysmic fires that burn everything, they burn so hot. They burn the micro-organisms, they sterilize the soil down to as much as 18 inches, and for years and years those forests never recover, if they ever do recover.

We still have spots in Idaho from the 1910 fire that nothing will grow on. We do more damage to the environment by not proactively managing it.

Of course, every time you try to do that, there is an environmental lawsuit from someone. Now, they say, well, maybe we can do thinning if it is not for commercial purposes, as if commercial or business or profit adds some damage to the environment that thinning just to thin does not do.

Of course, there are the Sierra Club groups that want no cut. The fact is we have to proactively manage these forces, and we can do that. It was managed by fire before. Now we have to get in and do some management so that we do not have these catastrophic fires. Unfortunately, at every step of the way, we are fought by groups who think that man should not touch the forest, that they should be left as natural as they ever were before we came.


I thank the gentleman. Mr. Speaker, let me just say a word about what the gentleman from Idaho just talked about. We were having a hearing not too long ago and, lo and behold, one of the big clubs was there, and I asked this vice president the question, why is it that you resist managing the public ground? Why is it that you resist the idea that we can go in and do some cleaning, thinning, prescribe fires and take care of it and keep a wholesome forest, like many of the private organizations have? We now have, as the gentleman from Idaho said, fuel load. What is that? It is dead trees, it is dead fall, it is brush. So now you have the potential of this summer, as last summer, is a careless smoker, a fire caused by a campfire that is left unattended, or a lightning strike, which is one of the bigger ones, and here we go again, we are going to burn the forest.

This person from this organization answered me and said, because it is not nature's way. Nature's way is just let it do its thing. I do not know if I bought into that.

You get down to the idea of 1905 we started the Forest Service, and if you read the charter of the Forest Service, it is to maintain and take care of the forests of America. And that means cleaning it, thinning it, fighting fires, instead of getting ourselves in what we had in the year 2000, the heaviest fire year in record.

And I dare say, and I am no prophet, but I think the fuel load is still there after these 8 years of mismanagement we have had, and we now have 2001 waiting for another one, because talk to your local forester and the people, Mr. Speaker, those who are watching this should talk to their district rangers, talk to them and ask the question have we still got that fuel load?

The answer is a resounding yes. Here we go again.

We are going to spend taxpayers' money all over the place, because we have not done what they said in 1905 we should have done, and that is manage the forest. This new administration luckily has a man of the stature of Dale Bosworth, now the chief; and I am sure we will see some management.

I have to ask the question. Does it mean to be a good environmentalist if we let the forest burn to the ground? Does that mean being a good environmentalist? If that is so, I hope there are not too many of them out there.

Does it mean the idea that we drain some of our water resources, like Lake Powell that services the whole southwest part of America, and that is the way we live because we have got water, does that mean being a good one?

Yet one of the biggest organizations around in their book, the Sierra Club, had a whole four or five pages on let a river run through it and drain Lake Powell. Does the gentleman want to comment on that? {time} 2145


Mr. Speaker, I do, and I want to comment on one specific thing, because I think I have an unusual perspective on being from California, I say to the gentleman, and that is because we are going through the California energy crisis.

Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Speaker, I have to be careful there to the gentleman. Mr. RADANOVICH. I know, and I love my State and it is the best State in the world, and do not mess with California. But what I am saying is that we have really seen the overinfluence of environmental zealotism in California and we are viewing that in our energy policy. We have had the worst problem with the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude on the development of energy generation resources in California, but it has all been backed by our top environmental groups who have really wanted not the population of California to grow, so they basically forced officials to stick their heads in the sand and pretend it was not happening until we have an energy crisis like now and an upcoming water shortage.

Unfortunately, California is going to get to the point where they turn the faucet, they get no water; they flip the switch, they get no electricity because of the environmental influence on public policy in the State of California, and it is not just in California, it is happening all over the world. This summer, we are going to have to face the fact of we either force a temporary relaxation of air quality standards or we are going to have rolling blackouts and people are going to be dead, and those are the choices that we are facing in California. People are going to face that choice all over the country because of the undue influence of the environmental community in this country right now.


Mr. Speaker, we are going to see it this summer, if I may say to the gentleman from California. This summer is going to be the biggest wakeup call that America has had for a long time. We have had 8 years of neglect on these things which is now going to catch up with us. We are asking, what does it mean to be a good environmentalist? Does it mean to deny access to the public grounds of America for Americans? I think not. Does it mean that we protect the Housefly over children?

I do not think so.

In southern Utah we have a desert tortoise and we have spent $33,000 per turtle and we cannot really say that it is endangered. Do you want to know what our per pupil unit is to pay for our kids every year down there? Mr. Speaker, $3,600.

So, I guess the turtle is more important in some people's mind. So it comes down to this: can Americans, who are great and wonderful and good-thinking people, can we come to some common sense on this, or have we become way too extreme in this issue? I think tonight we have tried to make that case that we feel we have. I yield the gentleman from Idaho.


Mr. Speaker, I think the point has been made that unfortunately, the environmental movement has become far too extreme. That does not mean that there are not good environmentalists out there.

There are many housewives and husbands across the Nation that want to take care of [[Page H2019]] our land and our country, I being one of those, and I am sure the gentleman from Utah and the gentleman from California also.

But as I was saying earlier, many of these things do not really address the environment, they hurt it more than they address it. They are trying to use environmental issues for other means, and I will tell my colleagues an example in Idaho. We have a sage grouse problem, declining sage grouse populations, and we are trying to find out why and what we can do to control it.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Fish and Game have been studying this for 20 years, and they decided that predators are a main problem with sage grouse populations. They eat the young chicks. So they proposed a study to take 2 areas, one where they do some predator control this year and the other one where they did not do any predator control and examined the 2 of them and watch the sage grouse populations. But two environmental groups have sued them to stop the study because they want to protect the sage grouse, they say, but their real goal is, their argument is to get cattle off of this land.

And if it is shown that sage grouse can be protected by removing some of the predators, the argument for removing cattle goes away. So they do not want this study done. So, is it truly their aim to try to save the sage grouse, or is it their true aim to try to get cattle off of public land, regardless of what cattle does to the sage grouse?

When I want to look at a true conservationist, an original conservationist, I look at the farmers and ranchers of this country, because it is the land that produces the crop that produces the grass that the cows eat, that is what they do for living and they take care of it; overwhelming majorities of them take care of it.

So when I want some true conservation issues, I generally talk to my farmers and ranchers.

I yield back to the gentleman.


Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for joining me this evening.