Green Watch – November 1999

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Environmental Issues Around the World

Minnesota loggers filed a lawsuitthat contends the U.S. Forest Service is being unfairly influencedby the religion of two environmental groups opposed to logging.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, claims thephilosophies of Forest Guardians and the Superior Wilderness Action Network are religious.The Forest Service should be able to dismiss their appeals to stop timbercutting in Superior National Forest, the loggers argue.

Associated Contract Loggers is seeking $600,000 in damages in itslawsuit against the Forest Service.

• Preservationists called on the ClintonAdministration’s trade negotiators to uphold U.S. environmentalstandards by withdrawing key agenda items from the upcoming World Trade Organizationsummit, scheduled for November in Seattle.

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More than 100 groups signed a statement opposing timberharvesting and issued a report called “Our Forests at Risk: TheWorld Trade Organization’s Threat to Forest Protection.”

“Our trade negotiators are pushing a plan that wouldundermine the forest protections that U.S. citizens fought hard to obtain,”said Patti Goldman, managing attorney for Earth Justice Legal Defense fund and a principalauthor of the report.

• Parents of a man crushed to death by a felledtree during a logging protest in California have filed a lawsuitagainst Pacific Lumber, claiming the company was responsible for his death.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., claimsPacific Lumber should have known protesters were on its property and failed to takeadequate safety precautions.

David Chain was killed by a felled tree in the Headwaters Forest lastyear.

• The National Marine Fisheries Service has listedtwo salmon populations in California under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency designated spring-run chinook — or king — salmonand coastal chinook salmon as threatened. Three other salmonids already are listed asendangered.

It is unlikely that landowners with holdings near spawning streams willface new restrictions as a result of the listing, officials said.

• The president of the Society of American Foresterscalled on his colleagues to take a more open approach to environmentalism.

James Coufal told the group at its four-day conference in Portland,Ore. that foresters need to “accept truths wherever they arise.” Foresters must”get beyond the common action of thinking that knowledge and good science is a matterof reaffirming what we already believe,” he said.

Some proposals of environmentalists, such as preservingforests and eliminating the use of toxic chemicals, have broad public appeal,Coufal said.

• Labor unions and environmental activists have formeda new alliance. The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment bringstogether such environmental heavyweights as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth withsuch labor groups as the Teamsters, United Steelworkers of America, and the UnitedBrotherhood of Carpenters.

The alliance will target corporations that “aretreating the natural world as their smorgasbord and treating working people as theirwaiters at that buffet,” said Karen Pickett of Earth First.

The alliance was formed at least in part over opposition toMaxxam Inc., whose Pacific Lumber unit battledenvironmentalists over plans to harvest old-growth trees and whose Kaiser Aluminumsubsidiary locked out 3,000 union workers in plants in Washington, Ohio and Louisiana.

• Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt announced the firststatewide conservation agreement under the Endangered Species Act. The habitatconservation plan will conserve habitat of the endangered Karner blue butterfly onmore than 260,000 acres in Wisconsin. Landowners, businesses andgovernments will be permitted to continue a variety of activities.

“This is the most comprehensive statewide HabitatConservation Plan and the most inclusive agreement of its kind in thecountry,” Babbitt said at a signing ceremony.

• An environmental group filed a lawsuitagainst the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Californiatiger salamander and nine other species in seven Westernstates.

The Center for Biological Diversity, in its lawsuit filedin U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks to require the Fish and Wildlife Service tolist the creatures under the Endangered Species Act. The service has delayed action —in some cases nearly 15 years, according to the center.

• A federal judge in San Diego approved the settlementof a lawsuit that may let endangered bighorn sheep grazein rugged desert canyons without encroaching development. The U.S. Fish andWildlife Service has until next June to reconsider if habitat populated by peninsularbighorn sheep should be protected.

The agency will look at whether about 800,000 acresshould be protected. Developers would have to obtain federal permits to build in theregion.

• Greenpeace claims that hundreds of salmonruns in British Columbia are in danger ofextinction because of the provincial government’s lax regulation oflogging.

The radical group wants the government to protect remaining intactcoastal rainforest valleys and halt clear-cutting.