Environmentalists' power and wealth is overestimated

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I defy Dave Fremming, Ike Cropley, or anyone else who shares their peculiar perspective, to prove that an organization dedicated to preserving the public's right to clean air, water and undeveloped lands has willfully tried to mislead the public for money or power. In contrast, it is very easy to prove that industrial polluters have done so, and continue to do so.

Mr. Fremming's example of when Greenpeace was charged with sailing in Alaskan waters without a permit, as proof of a duplicitous agenda bent on self-aggrandizement at the expense of the truth, is ludicrous. It seems foolish to equate the budgets of organizations such as Greenpeace or SEACC with Dupont, Exxon, Union Carbide or any number of industrial polluters, not to mention equating filing errors with the toxic wastelands irresponsible corporations have bequeathed future generations. Mr. Fremming conveniently ignores such environmental disasters as Love Canal, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, towns in Alabama whose streets are paved with mercury-laced industrial effluent, or towns in Montana whose water supplies have been poisoned in perpetuity by mining wastes. He seems to think that "world demand for natural resources" excuses all manner of irresponsible, criminal acts. Mr. Fremming implies that because industrializing economies ignore environmental impacts, the minimal regulations that currently define "responsible development" are sufficient to protect public health, while ensuring the greedy, ignorant disregard for the planet and one another that characterizes our American lifestyle.

What Mr. Fremming regards as "weasel phrases" are quite simply prudent statements in the face of ambiguous evidence. Standards for demonstrating the toxicity of industrial chemicals are based upon adults fully-developed endocrine systems. Why would anyone conclude such standards are safe for pregnant women and children? By misunderstanding what environmentalism means, Mr. Cropley and Mr. Fremming display profound ignorance, and even curious pride in their own self-serving prejudices. Who would trust an ignorant person to manage a complex project like building a road from Juneau to Skagway? And what is "responsible development" if not legalized destruction of public wealth for private gain? In my opinion, angry undereducated Americans like Mr. Fremming have little to fear from environmentalists whose power and wealth he absurdly overestimates. Rather, they should be worried by dishonest politicians, the ignorant greed of corporate boards of directors, and by venture capitalists who can afford to live far away from their destructive investments.

Jesse Dizard

Juneau



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