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Sender: owner—imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 97 12:17:06 CDT
From: scott@rednet.org (Peoples Weekly World)
Subject: U.S. drags feet on environment
Organization: Scott Marshall
Article: 15510

U.S. drags feet on environment

By Phil E. Benjamin, People’s Weekly World, 2 August 1997

Five years after Rio, the recently-ended United Nations mid-term review of the Rio 92 world environmental conference brought into sharp focus the pivotal nature of the role of the United States in the future of our planet.

If one relied on the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you’d think that the USA is doing a very good, if not admirable, job in protecting the earth’s environment.

But if you looked at the coverage on the Internet, beginning with Reuters press releases, you would see a different picture.

It is no accident that for weeks before the meeting, the International Paper Company began running TV advertisements where young children extolled the virtues of the environmental concerns of U.S. corporations.

While the ads just skirted child abuse, most of the delegations, especially those non-governmental organizations attending the unofficial conference that took place simultaneously, saw through the demagoguery emanating from U.S. businesses and from the U.S. delegation itself.

The message of the State Department to the conference was even more blatant than arguments being developed in Europe in an effort to establish a common currency by 1999:

Cut back on spending for social services such as pensions and health; cut back on occupational health and safety—and, by all means, cut back on spending to protect the environment; Cut anything and everything that stands in the road of maximum profits of the ability of the transnational—especially U.S.—corporations to pillage the world’s resources and exploit its people.

The conclusion reached by many at the post-Rio conference was that of the need for environmental groups to work together—a challenge that is not easily met.

Progressives remember how some environmental groups were used by western governments and their corporate leaders to slander the socialist countries.

Action—and the give-and-take that develops in real struggle—should be the criteria for differentiating between pro-people environmentalists and pro-corporate environmentalists.

The U.S. is trying to lead the world into the sink hole of corporate self-regulation when it comes to dealing with the environment. President Clinton calls it self auditing, but it is, rather, a warmed-over version of the environmental protection program of the discredited Contract on America.

And, to add insult to injury, 21 states have erected legislative bars to public use of these audits in legal actions against polluters.

The whole approach is insidious—to agree to small advances demanded by the people to protect the environment but to prevent strict regulation.

Even the clean air regulations that Clinton says he supports will not be enforced without a strong movement from below. The life and community you save may be that of your family!