Is it possible to embarrass these guys?

Moscow , Idaho -- April 21, 2000

(From Friends of the Clearwater and Cove/Mallard Coalition, Moscow, ID )

Intrepid Moscow activists became a thorn in Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s side today when he came to the University of Idaho to speak on natural resource issues for the Borah Symposium.

Several minutes after he took to the stage in the food court of the new Idaho Commons, strange things started happening. First, a large banner tumbled off the side of one of the many balconies overlooking the court. The banner stated, "LARRY CRAIG = TIMBER PUPPET."

Then, even more shockingly, a life-size marionette, made of a stuffed shirt, fists clenching money, and a shocking triangular head made of three cardboard-mounted photos of Larry’s likeness, came tumbling off the balcony! The marionette hung from long strings attached to a stick and the operators made the arms and head move at will by jerking the stick.

Each Larry Craig face on the puppet had been photo-engineered such that Larry’s classic grin had been flipped into a nasty snarl, and each forehead was complete with a different timber corporation logo which donates to Larry’s campaigns: Boise Cascade, Potlatch, and Bennett Lumber.

Another huge banner tumbled off yet another balcony -- this one a classy vinyl job stating "Idaho’s Roadless Backcountry: An American Legacy, a Gift for the Future."

Larry’s eyes were seen to pop as he caught glimpse of his likeness on the puppet, but he tried his best to keep his cool throughout his speech in which he blasted the environmental extremists which were ruining the West and the undemocratic nature of the roadless protection initiative.

Shortly after the banner and marionette unfurlings, the same doctored Larry photos-- this time mounted on sticks--started popping up in the audience. Approximately a dozen of the likenesses -- some foreheads containing corporate logos, some containing slogans like "Extract" and "I hate trees"-- bobbed up and down during his speech including one in the front row.

He did get an unexpected round of applause when he announced, in a voice filled with scorn, that Clinton had designated more national monuments than any other president, for a combined size of the state of Delaware. Spontaneous, prolonged applause erupted following this statement.

A question and answer period followed the speech. The same crowd of troublemakers appeared to dominate the question period, asking Larry such questions as "Please explain the democratic process of the Salvage Rider;" "Why don’t you support roadless protection when the majority of constituents support it;" "Do you support the effort to protect our remaining wild Lewis and Clark trail region through the Lewis and Clark National Monument;" and a pointed accusation that HE was the real extremist by consistently favoring extractive industries and he was misleading the public by portraying himself as a moderate resource-conserver.

The only police interest came when an officer asked a puppeteer, "Is the puppet heavy?" When the answer was no, he appeared satisfied and left. Following the speech, a suited Borah symposium official came up and thanked the protesters for making it such a lively debate!

Craig has received thousands of dollars in PAC contributions from the timber industry. He consistently receives 0% ratings from the League of Conservation Voters. His environmental record since taking office demonstrates his support for continued logging subsidies, increased road construction, decreased environmental regulation, and less protection for endangered species.


Carbon Stink

(From Daily Grist of 9-22-00)

Old-growth forests are much better at removing carbon dioxide from the air than plantations of new forests, concludes a new study published today in the journal Science.

In negotiations over an international treaty on climate change, the U.S., along with Canada and Russia, is proposing to meet as much as half of its greenhouse gas reduction requirements by using carbon sinks like forest plantations to sequester CO2 from the air, instead of putting more limits on the burning of fossil fuels and thereby preventing CO2 from being released in the first place. But the study throws to the wind the assumption that old-growth forests are in a state of decay and release as much CO2 as they capture. The study authors say that the treaty needs to establish protections for old-growth forests or else some countries could be tempted to cut down old-growth forests and then plant new trees on the deforested land, getting credit for reducing CO2 when they would actually be making the situation worse.

(source: New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin, Sept. 22, 2000)


AEP One of the Worst.

(Based on information from the Environmental News Service)

American Electric Power (AEP) sends out each month with their billing a small publication, "Consumer Circuit." In this they always include a note or a paragraph expressing how "green" they are in doing the work of good stewards of the Earth. For example, in their latest one they speak of a partnership with the Nature Conservancy and a Brazilian conservation organization for the restoration and protection of 20,000 acres of rain forest. For this, of course, they are to be commended.

However, they fail to mention that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated AEP as one of the worst of the polluting power companies. In a report put out by the National Environmental Trust, of seven utilities being sued by EPA, AEP ranks second in total pollution output. According to Tom Natan of the Trust "...electric utilities are by far the largest air polluters in America, and unregulated power plants are the worst of the worst." Coal fired power plants like AEP release toxic gases which can cause acute respiratory problems and make asthma and emphysema worse. Acid gases and metals also contribute to the formation of fine particle pollution which cause an estimated 45,000 premature deaths a year. One of the deadliest pollutants put out by coal-fired power plants is mercury, but the mercury figures are not included in the above report.

West Virginia has the dubious distinction of being the first of six states guilty of high levels of interstate pollution in the amount of emissions per electric utility power plant. Was not our governor leading the efforts of six states to hamstring EPA in forcing these plants to lower their pollution? What does this say about his commitment to the health and well being of all West Virginians?

Could it be that some of our destroyed mountains are being given back to us as toxins? Thanks a lot!


SUVs Taking a Bad Rap?

(Based on information from Summer 2000 Connecticut PIRG)

We hear a lot about the role of SUVs in creating undue pollution on our highways. But large diesel truck s and buses are a major source of pollutants even though they only account for 2% of vehicles on the highways. Diesel vehicles account for 27 % of the total vehicular smog-forming nitrogen oxide and 67% of all soot forming sulfur dioxide pollution.

Among many other health threats, thirty studies have found a link between diesel pollution and lung cancer. So in response to these deadly threats do you suppose that the manufacturers of diesel equipment and vehicles worked with EPA to lessen the threat?

Led by Caterpillar Tractor seven companies rigged their engines so that they would comply with the EPA tests and then after the tests would disable the pollution control equipment – which meant putting out three times as much pollution. It is estimated that these seven manufacturers sold as many as 1.3 million rigged engines. For this illegal violation of the Clean Air Act they were required to exceed what the law requires in emissions control for future engines, and to pay a minuscule (in terms of the profits made) $83.4 million.

SUV’s are not really getting a bad rap – it’s only that the guilt needs to be spread around more to include the heavy contributions of diesel engines to pollution.