On Earth Day website, House Republican Committee seeks to 'dispel environmental myths'

John Byrne
Published: Sunday April 23, 2006

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On a little-noticed inside page of the House Resources Committee website, the Republican majority staff have prepared a folio celebrating Earth Day. The focus of the site, RAW STORY has found, is aimed at dispelling the "'sky is falling' sensationalism of environmental activists [that] lead people to falsely believe that our environment is getting worse when it's actually getting better."

The site is cleanly designed and professional, conveying the "soft" aesthetic that has become a hallmark of the environmental movement. It begins in a nonpartisan fashion: "Earth Day is an opportunity for all Americans to educate themselves on the state of our environment, and to pitch-in in their local communities to make them better."

But from there it becomes clearly partisan, lauding America's environmental achievements and attacking those who would have Americans believe anything is wrong with the environment in the United States. There is no mention of global warming or climate change anywhere on the site.

A section titled "big business" -- which some might mistakenly imagine detailing the role of big business in environmental change, or even praising big business' role in helping the environment -- is instead dedicated to detailing the budgets of the largest environmental organizations and accusing them of spending money on themselves rather than on the environment. It claims:

"Unfortunately, the positive trendlines don't fill the pockets of America's environmental activist industry. Scare tactics and sensational rhetoric have enabled the top 30 organizations to generate billions in annual revenue, according to public documents. But how much of this money is spent on real, hands-on, "muddy boots" conservation work for the environment? Almost none. Instead, it is spent on lobbyists and lawyers, partisan politics, direct mail, and more and more sensational fundraising campaigns."

However, aside from the Nature Conservancy, whose annual revenue is listed as $760 million, no single environmental group comes close to the retirement package recently given ExxonMobil chairman Lee Raymond. Raymond was awarded a $400m golden parachute for his twelve years of service to the most profitable company in the world. His retirement bonus is equivalent to a third of the annual budget of all environmental groups listed by House Republicans.

ExxonMobil had a $36 billion profit last year.

The House Resources' Committee website also includes a page which breaks down "environmental myths."

The top five myths are 1) "Economic growth harms the environment," 2) "Emissions are devastating America's air quality," 3) "The evils of oil can easily be replaced with renewable energy," 4) "Humans will die of thirst, in the future we will have no more freshwater [sic]," 5) "America is losing its last pristine forest lands," 6) "40,000 species go extinct every year."

The facts?

  • "The more wealth a nation has, the better its environmental performance."
  • "Air quality has improved dramatically and is getting better all the time."
  • "Oil is the lifeblood of the American economy."
  • "We have plenty of freshwater, the issue is access to it."
  • "Forest acreage is increasing."
  • (On species extinction) "This is a 'hazarded guess' not based on fact."

The site also highlights quotes from former Greenpeace president Patrick Moore, who left the progressive environmental movement and has been accused of "joining the loggers." He is the co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, which is funded by the nuclear power industry, and has supported genetically modified crops to help address global hunger.

Speaking in Hawaii in January, according to the Honolulu Advertiser, Moore said "global warming and nuclear energy are good and the way to save forests is to use more wood."

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) has long been in the crosshairs of the environmental movement. Critics accuse Pombo of weakening the Endangered Species Act, seeking to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the outer U.S. continental shelf to oil drilling, selling off national parks, and modifying mining laws to allow public lands to be transfered to private companies. Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife have targeted his California congressional race in November.

The full taxpayer-funded site can be found here.

Correction: ExxonMobil's profit last year was $36 billion. $20 billion was their profit in the fourth quarter.