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Sierra Magazine
Last Words: A Question of Moment

Who would you nominate as Eco-Thug of the Year, and Why?

The oil companies who, in order to continue feeding a century-old technology, undermine all environmental efforts and technological advances that threaten their greed.

Chris Jarecki, Marina del Rey, California

Kudos to Virginia Governor George Allen for his oh-so-subtle ways of deep-sixing the Federal Tier III program on our Virginia rivers. The program, which was designed to end further degradation to treasured rivers throughout our nation, was studied for two years. Just before the public hearing, it was sent back to the drawing board for more study. It has not been seen or heard from since!

Thomas Y. Savage, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Steven Spielberg. Are you shocked? So was I when this "socially conscious" media titan decided to become co-owner of the largest development in the history of Los Angeles in the Ballona Wetlands ecosystem. With more than 91 percent of California's historical wetlands gone, only an eco-thug would decide that this was the sole place in all of the L.A. region that the Dreamworks SKG studio could be built. The tag really applies when you find out how the Hollywood community, usually a strong supporter of environmental causes, has been hushed.

Marcia Hanscom, Malibu, California

Me. I love the wilderness, and yet I have written only one letter on its behalf to my senators and representatives this year. Before pointing the finger at large-scale culprits, I need to wag it at myself. Sure, I'm very busy with my career and hobbies. But so are the special-interest lobbyists, new-home, strip-mall, and theme-park developers, highway planners, clearcutters, and mega-consumers. I walk the trails of our beautiful lands; now I need to walk the talk.

John F. Pleimann, St. Louis, Missouri

I believe the average American's voracious appetite for natural resources makes him or her the single greatest threat to environmental protection and conservation. Our unwillingness to face the long-term negative consequences of our day-to-day behavior does more damage than the most polluting corporation or the least enlightened elected official.

David T. Cush, Auburn, Alabama

Who is the eco-thug of the year? Newt Gingrich.

Why? Two words: Freshman Class.

Kevin A. Fletcher, Albany, New York

The person who has done so much to earn the dubious honor would probably appreciate it the mostůMr. Rush Limbaugh. "Ditto Heads" in all walks of life, including many freshmen in Congress, applaud such statements as "There is no way we can harm this planet" and "The only good tree is a dead tree." Mr. Limbaugh's recording of the chainsaw ode to joy is the anthem of those, who, like him, would sacrifice our great and noble natural heritage to profit and "progress." And to add insult to the injury of our home, this gentleman labels those of us who deeply care "environmental wackos."

Jerry W. Burns, Dallas, Texas

It's reprehensible that the Sierra Club revels in name-calling against those who disagree with its policies. You have reached the same low level as those who spew out nonsense about "long-haired, maggot- infested, environmental wackos."

Robert Keller, Bellingham, Washington

I nominate my friend's neighbor, Fred. Fred fertilized the bejesus out of his lawn but couldn't understand why he was always mowing. Rain flushed the fertilizer into his trout pond and he couldn't figure out why the trout went belly-up. Fred dumped a load of copper sulfate in his pond to "wipe the slate clean," and was flabbergasted when his downstream neighbors objected. Fred's not enjoying his retirement, but he doesn't understand why.

Mike Kernahan, Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Eco-Thug of the Year? That's easy. The Pope by a landslide. Few of us have the opportunity to help humankind and the environment that he does. His avoidance of the topic of overpopulation is criminal.

Wendel Johnson, Marinette, Wisconsin

The whole Alaska congressional delegation. They have turned their backs on the Alaskans who love the wilderness in favor of those who went up there for oil and lumber money.

Kay Delanoy, Keene, New Hampshire

I nominate Robert A. Kuras, president of the Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor, Michigan, who's using his political connections to effect a swap of his river property for a big piece of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This developer would like to build condos and a championship golf course on this magnificent piece of wooded uplands contiguous to his resort. In spite of documented "prudent and feasible alternatives" he persists in pursuing a national-park parcel.

Sally MacFarlane-Neal, Glen Arbor, Michigan

A local "Christian" radio station, KBRT, is my nominee because they scoff at recycling as "left-wing idiocy," firmly believe that private-property "rights" take precedence over all else, and consider leases of federal lands to be private-property titles. They seem to care little about "using up" the world's resources because it is "God's plan."

Carole Shanahan, Vista, California

Bill Clinton. Without the challenge of a viable alternative candidate, he is making "minor" concessions that are the ecological equivalent of the "death of a thousand cuts."

Stanley Hagwood, Oakland, California


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