Congressional Record: May 8, 2001 (House)]
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. HANSEN. 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
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 grassroot 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
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
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 lambast 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
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 fund- raising
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?
The salary of the World Wildlife Fund president, Kathryn Fuller, was
$241,000. The salary of the National Audubon Society president, John
Flicker, was $240,000. The salary of the Natural Resources Defense
Council director, John Adams, was $239,000. The salary of the Wilderness
Society president was $204,000. The salary of the Defenders of Wildlife
president and CEO was $201,000. Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund
president, Buck Parker, was $157,000. And 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.
Mr. SIMPSON. 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 that 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
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.
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
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
Fact: There never was a pup named Hope. Says John Valerie, Chief of
Research at Yellowstone National Park, "We do not name wolves. We
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
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
Mr. HANSEN. 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 grassroot 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
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
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
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
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.
chairman of the Western Caucus and an extremely important member of the
Committee on Resources.
Mr. RADANOVICH. 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
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
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
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
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-
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
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.
Mr. HANSEN. 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
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
Does the gentleman want to comment on that?
Mr. RADANOVICH. 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 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. HANSEN. 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
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. SIMPSON. 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 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 2 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
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. HANSEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for joining me this