A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 300 Eye St., NE #3, Washington, D C 20002, 202/543/1286, Fax 202/543/4779, E-mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org
Issue #55 * July 11, 1997 * David A. Ridenour, Editor
DNC Donor Allegedly Gets Special Treatment in Wetlands Dispute, Los Angeles Times Reports
The federal government has two sets of rules relating to wetlands: One for donors to the Democratic National Committee and another one for everyone else. At least that appears to be the conclusion of an April 16 story in the Los Angeles Times that escaped the attention of most of the national media. According to the Times, Sacramento developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, a major contributor of the Democratic National Committee and one-time guest in the White House Lincoln bedroom, managed to get "a series of accommodations from three federal agencies" to resolve a wetlands dispute. The dispute revolved around 800 acres of wetlands that Tsakopoulos wanted to convert to a vineyard. Despite federal warnings, Tsakopoulos went ahead and "deep-ripped" (a process in which soil is broken-up as deep as ten feet) the acreage without obtaining the necessary permit. Such action could have resulted in major fines and even criminal penalties. But Tsakopoulos has friends in high places, including John Garamendi, a top Interior Department official, who reportedly weighed-in for Tsakopoulos with federal agencies. Regulators then offered Tsakopoulos what a Fish and Wildlife Service memo termed a "highly favorable" bargain. "Tsakopoulos would set aside about 50 acres of wetlands scattered among 1,400 acres of highlands. And the Fish and Wildlife agency would waive its requirement that the developer fix or create twice the number of vernal pools destroyed," noted the Times. "The following month, Tsakopoulos donated $100,000 to the DNC (He gave an additional $65,000 the day after the November election)." But Tsakopoulos may get even more out of the deal. In President Clinton's FY 1998 budget, $1.4 million was budgeted to acquire 400 additional acres for the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Sacramento, California. And who turns out to be the largest land owner in the area? None other than Angelo Tsakopoulos.
Environmental Grantmakers Association to Meet
The Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), an umbrella of several hundred foundation and corporate funders of the environmental movement, will hold at retreat at the Alyeska resort in Girdwood, Alaska September 17-21. The EGA helps set the agenda of the environmental movement by determining which groups receive funding and which do not. The group's upcoming meeting will address such topics as bridging the jobs and environment divide, building bridges between non-profits and corporations, good grantmaking strategies, and more. For more information, contact the EGA Secretariat by fax at (212)315-0996 or by e-mail at [email protected].
The Real Reason the Country that Sunk the Rainbow Warrior Wants U.S. CO2 Emissions Limited
During the recent Earth Summit, French President Jacques Chirac criticized the United States for taking insufficient steps to reduce its CO2 emissions. Coming from the country that sunk Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior, such an expression of concern over the environment is surprising. But perhaps the environment wasn't France's primary concern: According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, 76% of France's electricity demands are supplied by nuclear power, which produces no greenhouse gases. By contrast, just 20% of U.S. electricity needs are supplied by nuclear power. This disparity is likely to grow as U.S. nuclear capacity is projected to drop by 37% by 2015 while France's is projected to increase. It seems that France stands to gain a substantial competitive advantage over not only the U.S., but Canada, Germany, Spain and Switzerland (all countries that have had strong anti-nuclear movements) by restricting CO2 emissions.
Global Warming to the Rescue?
After world leaders meet in Kyoto, Japan this December, billions of people may face a bleaker future than they do today. The principal threat comes not from the possibility that the international community will fail to adopt a plan to control global warming, but that it will actually succeed in doing so, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research in the just-released paper, "Cure to Global Warming Could be Worse Than the Disease." While much has been said about the tremendous economic losses associated with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, little has been said thus far about what we stand to lose if global warming does not occur. Environmental groups such as the Worldwatch Institute, for example, have speculated that by the year 2025, 40% of the world's population could be living in countries without sufficient water supplies, leading to crop failures, wars and mass starvation. While the scientific community is divided over many aspects of the global warming theory, the effect of global warming on precipitation is not one of them: Global warming would mean more condensation and more evaporation resulting in more or heavier rains, offering a solution to the very water shortages the Worldwatch Institute is worried about. If history is any indication, precipitation would be just one of many benefits of global warming. The National Science Foundation's Greenland Ice Sheet Project II, for example, found evidence from an ice core that agriculture thrived in the southern regions of Greenland before the onset of the Little Ice Age between 1400 and 1420. Prior to the Ice Age, temperatures were comparable to those projected by climate models for 2030-2050. For a copy of "Cure to Global Warming Could be Worse Than the Disease," contact Chad Cowan of The National Center for Public Policy Research @ 202/543-4110 or [email protected] or read it on the web at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA165.
Regulatory Victim Stories Sought
The National Center for Public Policy Research is seeking regulatory victim stories to include in the second edition of the National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims. The first edition (released last fall) included more than 100 such stories. To contribute to this effort, contact Chad Cowan or Ryan Sager @ (202) 543-4110 or [email protected].