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Re: let's build a unified movement, not fight each other
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Re: let's build a unified movement, not fight each other
- From: "Rebecca Leighton Katers" <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 13:07:00 +0000
- Comments: Authenticated sender is <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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- Return-receipt-to: "Rebecca Leighton Katers" <email@example.com>
The temptation to wade in is too great....
I think all the writers have made good points.
SOME regulators are good guys, SOME industries
leaders are decent, SOME environmentalists are idiots,
or even corrupt.
My experience has been that even though many
regulators at the grassroots level are decent,
hard-working people --- too many of them develop
a siege mentality towards the public. They
spend too much time trying to reassure people and
deflect criticism --- to minimize their own
troubles. They also feel they have to defend regulations
which aren't strong enough to get the job done, but then
later, when they're criticized for their inaction, they
complain that they don't have the authority to do
what the public wants. This is terribly
frustrating. When we environmentalists push for
stronger regulations, the agency staff often
publicly contradict and belittle us. It's hard
to feel kindly towards these people.
In Wisconsin, our entire Dept. of Natural
Resources DNR has been taken over by a hostile
Governor (Tommy Thompson). After major budget
cuts and a major topsy-turvey reorganization,
shuffling staff all over the state, the staff are
seriously demoralized and leaving in droves.
The DNR staff now work in "Customer Service
Centers," refer to major polluters as their
"clients," and claim it's their job to issue
permits to their clients.
Despite these outrages, not one DNR staff person
has been willing to blow the whistle. It's hard
not to be frustrated with them.
Some agency staff seem truly evil, using devious,
and negative put-downs to subdue citizens who raise
concerns. Other staff blame environmentalists for not being
more effective (as if we have bottomless
resources to come to their defense.) Even
though they are paid to defend our resources,
they claim they are only mediators between
industry and environmentalists. They've
forgotten their purpose.
Yes, there are still good people working for the
agencies --- but where are they when we need
them? I'm tired of getting tips on the side,
anonymous phone calls, letters with no return
address, and other pointers from agency staff who
want me to slay the dragons for them.
I'm an unpaid citizen volunteer and I shouldn't have to
develop ulcers doing their work for them (and
often IN SPITE of agency incompetence or
I'm also tired of people who criticize citizen
"environmentalists" for being too adversarial, too
emotional, too simplistic, or too scientifically
naive. These put downs are very handy, but
inappropriate when applied to people who have
every right to be outraged, and who shouldn't be
expected to understand the intricacies of
chemistry. And I've found that the
common-sense, simplistic approach is often
valid. When you cut away all the scientific
crap, the truth is clear enough for a child to
see and this truth is the most important policy
Too many "professional" environmentalists feel
its their job to turn citizen outrage into a
bland, lifeless, sanitized press release which is
"pragmatic" and "cooperative" with opposing
forces (who they refuse to call "polluters.")
These pseudo-environmentalists are a major threat to citizen
activist morale and effectiveness. They
marginalize legitimate grassroots efforts.
And while many business people are decent
individuals, as a block they tend to vote for
pro-corporate, anti-environmental menaces like our
Governor Tommy Thompson. They also hang
together and refuse to help citizens chastise
truly bad actors in the business community.
Most business people are big supporters of the
"SYSTEM' which is destroying our global
environment. I can't forgive them for that.
If there are good environmental business people
out there, they need to do a much better job of
speaking up and supporting citizens who fight for
environmental protection. They've got the
money, clout and connections. We need their
help. (But I've lost any faith that such help will ever
I ascribe to Peter Montague's arguments that we must
reform our corporate system and restore our
democratic processes if we hope to make any real
progress on these issues.
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 22:39:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Sam McClintock" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Multiple recipients of list <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: let's build a unified movement, not fight each other
Alan Watson wrote:
> These regulators stand on platforms with their industrial
> partners and constantly defend the status quo as being
> 'safe' and 'sustainable'. Environmentalists often have
> no option other than to discredit the regulators who put
> those arguments.
You have the option to attack the specific policy and provide sound
reasons why you are opposed to whatever regulatory is taking place.
But when you attack them as a group, you are in effect practicing
bigotry whether you like to admit it or not. I can say that all
activists are liars based on a few idiot PR moves - it is no more true
than saying all industrial plant managers have horns. I can say all
activists are violent by using a few known and documented examples -
but 99+% aren't. If the activist resorts to this type of denigration,
when only a few politicians and industry brown-nosers are involved,
then you are insulting and demoralizing a whole bunch of people who
spend a lot of time working on the side of the environment.
> Of course we can congratulate them
> on the relatively rare (in the UK) times that they take
> positive action to protect the environment - but most of
> the time they are in a deeply compromised position with
> industry and vested interests being far too influential.
I truly think you need to spend a couple of days in the life of a
regulatory engineer. See the mounds of paperwork they have to contend
with, the idiot consultants making false promises, the factories
begging to have their permit placed at the head of the queue, the plant
managers crying about a fine for an infraction that could have cost the
plant far worse in terms of worker and community health, and the
politicians who scream every time a valued business neighbor is
squeezed too hard. I don't think you really know what these people do,
nor how they do, how much crud they have to wade through, and how
futile they feel the effort is sometimes. The system encourages people
to leave early, causing a turn-over and retraining that is maddening on
those that choose to stay and doggedly try to make a difference.
And of course, they make a bloody fortune being there too. :<)
I've got a lot of friends in various state and federal agencies; they
work on everything from air quality research to outlining watershed
protection to protecting endangered species. Next time you get to the
US, I'll introduce you to a few, and you can tell them how little their
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