THE EGA TAPES
Opportunity for Impact and Change
Jenny D. Russell, Island
Foundation: [tape beings in middle of sentence] ...of a number of
proposals that we were receiving, particularly around the
reauthorizations that were going on. And it seemed to us that there
were a plethora of reauthorizations, particularly in the next couple
of years. And that's why EGA helped out and produced a briefing
packet, which some of you may have. If you're an EGA member, you
have it. If you're not an EGA member it is available for $3.
Actually we have about 4 or 5 extra copies here, which I can give
you if you're interested.
It outlines seven different
reauthorizations that are currently in progress and just gives you
an outline of what's going on with it. But what we're really
anxious to do is, what goes on after the bill. What goes on in the
process before, what goes on after and what is the role the funder
Let's do a quick round of who we are
and where we're from just to make sure we know. We probably know
each other already, but it's nice to get a reminder of where we're
Judy Donald, the Beldon Fund,
in the nation's capital.
Lisa McIntosh, the McIntosh
Indistinct female voice.
LuAnn[?] Simms, from Vancouver.
Christopher Hormel, same.
Lisa Napoli, the Jackson
Foundation, in Seattle.
David Balfry, Educational
Foundation of America, in Connecticut.
Bruce Davis, Sudby? Foundation,
out of Boston.
Ruth Bonner, A Territory
Resource of Seattle.
I'm Kathleen Beamer with REI in
Seattle. We're a corporate funder that gives mostly legislative
Martha Gershen, Rockefeller
Family Fund, New York City.
Rils Latling, Opus One
Bob Wallace, Wallace Genetic
Foundation, in Washington, D.C.
Jay Harris, Changing Horizons
Joel Getzendanner, Joyce
My name's David Todd. I'm from
the Ray Trust in Houston, Texas.
Mary Lambert from the Weeden
Foundation in New York City.
Hooper Brooks, the Surdna
Foundation in New York City.
John Larson, the Booker
Foundation in Seattle and Alaska.
Ed Potts, the Norton
Foundation, Galveston, Texas.
Kathy Fletcher, with People for
Puget Sound in Seattle.
Pete Meyers, the Longjohns
Donald Ross, Rockefeller Family
I'm Ed Skloot, from the Surdna
Unidentified female voice:
We should meet our speaker.
Jenny D. Russell: Yeah,
that'd be great. We're fortunate to have Kathy Fletcher here with
us. Kathy's had a rich history in private and public service from
working in the Carter administration to a policy status at Seattle
City Light. She is now the founder and executive director of an
organization called People for Puget Sound. And prior to that she
was chair of the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority and will give
us an idea of what happened a little bit around here in some of the
public-private inter meetings that went on. And one the things we
really want to have happen in this discussion is to have it as
participatory as possible. We can learn from each other about what
your experiences have been in funding and things that you haven't
funded. If there are barriers to that in terms of education or
experience or simply what we can share from each other. I'm going
to turn it over to Kathy and she's going to sort of lay the ground
rules a little bit about how the system works and what entry points
that we as funders can play a part.
[People for Puget Sound]: Okay. I think we'll try to at least
introduce two aspects of discussion that we to have a while in this
session. One is really to talk about where legislation fits in in
the continuum of dealing with an issue in solving problems. And the
other would be to talk about some of the constraints on funding
legislative activity and 501(c)(3) issues that lurk behind dealing
with legislative topics. And the three of us have decided that
since none of us is a lawyer, we are perfectly qualified to deal
with that latter issue and any questions that might arise.
I think a lot of what we've heard in
the plenary session in this meeting and certainly a lot of what
we've experienced as environmentalists in dealing with specific
issues, suggests that we're getting pretty good at winning specific
battles but we don't seem to be winning the war or the wars. I'm
not too comfortable with military analogies, but this one seems
apt. And I think in understanding the role of legislation in
solving problems and dealing with issues I think we really need to
look seriously at where we're focusing on battles and what that has
to do with whether we're winning wars.
I guess part of what I would postulate
is that we have a long way to go and some of it has to do with our
ability to focus after legislation has passed. Usually, in figuring
out what to do about an environmental issue or problem, legislation
plays some role in the solution. And also usually 501(c)(3)
environmental organizations will at some point along the way will be
involved in lobbying activities, as long as they are able to meet
the IRS regulations on keeping that a minor portion of their
And I think with respect to funders
that we get the possibility of a gray area, anyway, in terms of your
funding 501(c)(3) organizations that are also involved in lobbying.
Also I think it is important in introducing our subject, recognizing
that defensive lobbying is often as important or more important than
affirmative lobbying, but especially now. Our experience is often
trying to stop bad legislation from passing or trying to maintain
victories in battles that we thought we had won in the past. A lot
of, even in these reauthorization issues, which sound very
affirmative, a lot of what's happening actually is very defensive in
terms of trying to solidify progress and trying to make sure that
bad things don't happen.
I guess another general observation is
that actually the lobbying, the specific lobbying activity,
influencing specific legislation, is often not the most time
consuming or resource intensive part of what we do in this continuum
of legislation from building the basic support--well, before that
even, convincing people that there's a problem, figuring out what to
do--building support, and moving toward a legislative milestone at
some point or another. And then following through with all the
things that happen later.
The actual legislative steps, is often
the shortest period of time on that whole continuum of events.
Usually, whether we're thinking about a huge issue like global
warming or a very specific issue like saving a particular piece of
the Earth, the strategies that we develop have a lot of parts, from
raising awareness about the problem in the first place, building a
constituency for the issue, of influencing individuals and
institutions of which legislators are only one set of individuals
and institutions, participating in a whole host of processes, half
of them are commission processes and studies and all the things that
surround issues. Addressing multiple levels of decision makers,
again, where the legislator at the federal or the state level may be
only one level of decision making that we need to be addressing, and
often involving several levels of government in solving problems.
And finally, sticking with the issue for a very long time. Because
accomplishing something at one point in time doesn't mean that that
is a victory or that that is a peak achievement that is going to
last very long. We haven't built a constituency and an effort and
the resources to stick with it.
I think that is particularly relevant
in thinking about legislation and where that fits in on the
importance of implementing the legislation that we get.
Now for purposes of this discussion--I
have to credit Jenny for explaining about this--we have to consider
the potato. [laughter]
We'll start without anything. Let's
think about this potato as a piece of legislation. Now to get to
this point it took a lot of care. It took some cultivation. You
put soil and water and fertilizer and somebody had to harvest it and
transport it. But this is what we have. This is, this is--We've
done all of our groundwork and we've passed a piece of legislation.
Now, to really solve the problem if we
have a piece of legislation on it, to really have the problem that
we were initially trying to address, of course, passing the
legislation has to be done to solve the problem. It's what comes
next and to realize its full potential as legislation our Mr.
Potatohead, it's going to need arms and legs and so forth. And I
think to belabor this, that we might think about this, the arms as
the regulations that have to be promulgated to make the piece of
legislation meaningful. I think we have to have some arms.
Male voice: Poor case of
Kathy Fletcher: I didn't
think of Jenny's olives. [laughter] These parts of [indistinct] are
[indistinct] potatoes. I don't know.
Female voice: Is that two arms,
Kathy Fletcher: Well, I
think we're going to need two arms because we're going to need to go
through the whole process of looking at the proposed regulations and
looking at the whole public process, informing people about the
regulations, and lobbying them and recognizing that there are going
to be places along the way before the regulations ever get
promulgated where you go through something very much like the
legislative battle excepting it will be in more technical terms and
very dull. Okay. I think the next thing probably we'll need once
you get the regulations promulgated is that the business of this
particular piece of legislation is this is a problem that needs a
program behind it. Person power in the agencies and activities in
government that make this thing real.
So we need to see some legs, which
will be the money to complete [indistinct], so in order to get it
moving, we'll need to put some feet on this guy.
Male voice: That's
Kathy Fletcher: That's
the appropriations. And now Mr. Potatohead is going to need a mouth
too, to explain what this is all about and to continue the awareness
process in legislation, the original identification problem in our
legislation. We need a mouth and we need a tongue.
Now we've got a mouth. I guess
another thing that's going to be needed to really make this real,
and for him to realize his full potential is--I think we need to
keep this together--but eyes and ears, which would be in many
respects the citizen public who are looking out for this whole
program and making sure what was supposed to happen is really
happening and making sure that the problem which was originally
identified is starting to be solved by legislative effort.
Don't forget these eyes and ears on
here. What about glasses? I guess glasses might be, as we get into
the initial stages, we realize that we didn't exactly see all the
aspects of the problem when we first got the legislation. So we
have to look it over more closely. And look back on it, what we
started out to do and make sure that we really solve the problem
that we set out to do.
I'm not sure what we do, but I hope
there's some teeth, because--and let's consider the teeth the
enforcement. You know, at this point we still, I would argue, in
many cases what we've done is all looking and talking and walking
around perhaps. But we haven't really begun to support the program
until we have some teeth there.
Well, I think the other thing Mr.
Potatohead needs is some friendly guardians who will keep coming
back to Chuck and make sure that none of these important body parts
has fallen off. Also occasionally to add a little piece of
ornamentation like a hat or a moustache or some other kind of do-dad
that becomes necessary as we go along. So here we go, Mr.
Well, as our demonstration has shown,
many things can go wrong. [laughter] You know, sometimes the leg
can be put into the head. Because we realize that we haven't
exactly hit the mark with our program. But I think that among the
things that can go wrong are bits of things that don't necessarily
happen as we go through the elaborate process of actually trying to
turn a piece of legislation into an actual solution to the problem
is first, a lot of us often will focus on getting the legislation
itself passed that we will in effect go home once that's been
I, we, you know, we can look at any
number of examples where that has been the case. Tremendous citizen
effort has been mobilized to get a piece of legislation passed,
there has been a great victory party and general jubilation, and we
have eventually gone home under the assumption that the people we
have put in charge to implement the program are going to in fact
solve the problem and we don't need to pay a whole lot of attention
to it after that.
We also along the way have often put a
lot of attention into building in citizen participation processes
into these pieces of legislation that we passed. But we haven't
always equipped citizens to take advantage of those opportunities
for participation. So, you know, the things may be there in
statute, but if we're not equipped enough to follow that up, you
know, then we also may not end up solving the problem.
When reauthorizations come around,
sometimes we focus on things we would like to add to the piece of
legislation without really looking at the ways in which the
implementation of the initial law has been, hasn't been achieved.
But make a couple of comments later about the Clean Water Act where
I think that's been particularly relevant.
And we can also forget that
legislation was just one of the pieces of strategy that were
employing to try to solve the problem. I think the process of
legislation, the way that that progresses and the amount of energy
and work, technical expertise that it requires to actually get to
the point of having the legislation and then the even more deadening
process of going through the promulgation of rules tends to occupy
us so greatly that we forget that to really solve the problem that
we also need to be directly influencing corporate and individual
behavior. That's all a part of the picture. We need to be very
importantly continuing--boy, he's already teetering [laughter]. The
corporations probably tried to wipe him out. [laughter] That we
need to be doing our continued awareness programs and constituency
building, not just to get the law passed, but to make sure that the
problem is really solved. Because when we go back to the
reauthorization if the constituency has in effect gone home and the
people concerned about the initial problem haven't paid attention to
that educational and [indistinct] and support building as a
continuing need, then, you knew, things, the legs, arms are going to
start to be pulled off of this guy along the way.
Male voice: And going to lose
Kathy Fletcher: And lose
his teeth. The teeth are usually the first to go. And I think we
also tend to, we certainly all need a reminder in the environmental
community that we need to be continuing to work with decision makers
at all levels as we try to solve these problems. And we need to be
working with the planning commissions at the local level. And the
mayors, the boards and the agencies and special purpose groups that
it has set up to deal with these issues. And of course the
challenge there is that to do a good job with that you can very
quickly spread yourself entirely too thin. But in fact, that's
where, that's where the implementation makes it or breaks it. When
it gets out to the multiple implementers and decision makers.
Now I'd like to stop here and see if
either Judy or Jenny or others would like to offer some examples and
then sort of work this through in terms of projects you've been
involved in and things you've funded or not funded would be good
examples or challenging things to think about.
Particularly, let's try thinking before the legislation was made,
and maybe even the beginning part. What are some examples of that
preparation up to the legislation? Any examples on that front?
Donald Ross: May I give
an example that just, I think you made in the beginning that I think
it's a mistake that many foundations are much more worried about
501(c)(3) lobbying activity and their relationship with the IRS than
they need to be.
First of all, from, the IRS has now
clarified things greater than ever before through their issuing of
not just regulations but their interpretation, how they're going to
interpret regulations. It really is quite liberating. There's been
a number of little booklets put out. The Alliance for Justice in
Washington has put out a very good one. It essentially means that
in, for 99 percent of the groups that are going to come to you who
are involved in lobbying, you don't have to worry about it any
longer. As long as you do not in effect knowingly fund lobbying,
you're pretty clear, even if the group were to take some of your
money. Do you have a copy of it? Yeah.
But I mean it's still, there are many,
many foundations that are still worried in a way that they needn't
be. Obviously there are still rules, there are still regulations,
there are still things that most can't do. But it's much easier
than it ever was before. And it's almost impossible, the IRS, if
you actually look at their enforcement on this, there's almost no
enforcement whatsoever any longer. They've completely let it go.
Because it's almost impossible to violate the rules now unless you
really knowingly set out to do it.
Hooper Brooks: Don, is
it still the 5 and the 20 percent in force?
Donald Ross: Yeah, but
they've now said to you for example, that as long as you're not
knowingly giving that money to something that would be going beyond
that, you're exonerated even if the organization were to violate the
rule. The organization may get in trouble, even though there's no
auditing of that to speak of.
The other point that I just made is
that the Rockefeller Family Fund is now a public charity. Through a
magical loophole we are no longer a private foundation. So we're
not as worried and we do fund lobbying directly. We earmark our
money for lobbying on occasion to help other funders who are nervous
about coming in if there's going to be a high level of lobbying
But many organizations, many of our
grantees, complicate our problems by the silly way they do
bookkeeping. And if you see this, it's a good service to warn them
about it, for example: They will hire John Jones to be their
Washington lobbyist, pay the person a salary of $60,000 and some
overhead. And then allocate that as lobbying. But old John is only
lobbying at the most maybe ten percent of the time. The rest of the
time he's doing research, he's taking the train to the Hill, he's on
vacation, he's on a speaking tour or whatever. So really, there's
only a small portion of that salary that should ever go to
lobbying. And when they do that, it's a good service to warn people
to reduce that. You're not spending that. That's not lobbying.
The IRS is very particular about what lobbying is. It has to be, it
has to meet certain tests. They're spelled out in the regulations.
Hooper Brooks: Also I
think there's a three year period, that--implied there--for the IRS
has to prove over a three year period.
Donald Ross: That's
right. Even if there's a violation within one year, as long as in
the other years, so if an organization is intensely involved in a
campaign, if it's only one of those three years and they're not very
involved the other times, it evens out.
Hooper Brooks: The other
factor which I think is important here when you're supporting an NGO
[Non-Governmental Organization] group that has a mass membership,
they're contacting their grass roots, their membership, is called
direct lobbying, not grass roots lobbying. It's grass roots
lobbying when you're approaching the public in general. Right?
Donald Ross: Right.
Male Voice: Yeah, but if
they have a call to action, then it's lobbying.
Hooper Brooks: No, no.
It's called direct lobbying. That comes under the 20 percent. It
doesn't come under the 5 percent.
Donald Ross: If it's
limited solely to their membership, through like a mailing to their
members. But if they put out a press release urging all citizens...
Male Voice: We're still
assuming that that group has elected. Right?
Donald Ross: Made their
lobbying election, 20 percent.
Another male voice: Some
groups haven't formally elected, which...
Hooper Brooks: Well,
they need to elect that 20 percent. It's 20 and 5. Twenty percent
on the first $500,000. All these complexities, which you'll find I
guess in this booklet.
Judy Donald: I will pass
this around so you can get the address on how to order it. And
they're three dollars and I hope it makes it all the way around the
room. [laughter] In the briefing package there's a quick sheet on
what's allowed and how you define lobbying. It does give you, if
all these terms are new to you, it's a little complex, you should
take a look at this booklet. Also, the safety factor is partnering
with either a public charity or a corporate donor like REI which can
give money, (c)(4) money, or with church money, which is perfectly
legit to be used for direct lobbying campaigns. Or the old favorite
fallback of a general support grant. Where you just think the
organizations is doing good work and you wish them the best in all
Kathy Fletcher: Well I
think, one of the, one of the things that people in the non-profit
organizations themselves are very confused about are these not only
5 and 20 percent rules, but even defining what lobbying is. And
part of the confusion relates to the fact that there are different
kinds of rules for different purposes. For example in the state of
Washington, we are required to fill out a lobbying report form to go
to our public disclosure commission which covers agency lobbying,
essentially policy lobbying as well as legislative lobbying. And
that's all called lobbying on this report that we have to fill out.
But as far as the IRS is concerned, what they're concerned about is
just the fraction of that that affects legislation, so...
Hooper Brooks: Federal
Kathy Fletcher: Federal,
and that, so there are lots of details and ways for people to get
confused about this. I would argue that for most of the issues and
problems that we're dealing with that there somewhere along the way
has to be somehow the legislative component, or else the problem
probably isn't going to be solved. And I would also argue on the
other hand that if you're just going to stay on the legislation,
you're not going to do enough, so we spend a lot of our time
actually encouraging non-profit groups to get over the same kind of
fear that a funder might have about whether it's even possible to
get into this arena. For most it is very possible and necessary.
Jay Harris: I've just
been told that on a nat--I shouldn't use the word "just," I've been
hearing this for years--that on a national basis lobbying has been
the environmentalists' weakest point, particularly when it comes to
appropriations. We just don't have the people here who know how to
handle the situation. I don't know how we can correct it. But we
as grantmakers we ought to talk to our people a little bit more on
this. And we certainly are doing lobbying.
Male voice: Technically,
appropriations work isn't lobbying. Once a bill has been passed,
you can go up and beat on as many people as hard as you want and it
doesn't count toward the IRS definition of lobbying. Although I
agree with this basic point that not very many environmental
organizations spend much, put much attention to the appropriations
Jay Harris: Don't
understand it in some cases.
Donald Ross: One comment
sort of supportive of that is about six EGA members, seven EGA
members, pooled about a million dollars to wage a lobbying effort, a
lobbying-slash-media strategic effort on the Ancient Forest
legislation this year. And the assumption going into that effort
was that there was very strong grass roots activity in the
Northwest, strong national lobbying in Washington, D.C., and that
the problem was the issue wasn't an issue in most of the rest of the
country, and the connections between the Washington lobbying and the
Western enthusiasm was not present, and that this effort would fill
that gap. I think everyone connected--all of the funders--connected
with it as well as certainly a lot of the participants, the great
lesson was that our assumptions were wrong.
The major one was that the lobbying
presence in Washington was pathetically weak. And the, what a lot
of the effort went into was shoring up what we thought was our
strong point, the Washington presence. The grass roots were out
there. But there was a real vacuum. And I think what it poses for
all funders, what this lesson, if you want to extrapolate from it,
is that I think a lot of us and certainly a lot of I think the
national groups, have been blinded by their balance sheets.
They look and you say this is a 20
million dollar group and this is a 30 million dollar group and this
is a 15 million dollar group. They really aren't. What they are,
it seems to me, is, in that 20 million are 30 separate projects
perhaps, each one of which has two or three staff on it. And
there's no ability on the part of most of those groups to mobilize
their total organizations behind any issue. So you look at a group
that has a 30 million dollar budget that puts out direct mail
talking about its commitment to the forest issue and then you look
at its real internal commitment to that forest issue and it's one
part-time lobbyist in Washington, maybe, who's doing three other
issues in addition to that forest issue. And there's nothing else
back there. And that's really what that lesson came out. It was a
very depressing lesson. Because there was real money in
There's going to be a discussion
tomorrow. There was a million dollars put into a media campaign and
a million dollars put into a strategic coordination lobbying
effort. And there's no bill at the end of the year. There was some
progress in some ways. There's no bad bills, either, which is
always better, it's easier to defend than to pass.
But it's an important lesson,
particularly with this reauthorization stuff. Because if they had
trouble with this bill, then next year when you're talking about the
endangered species, the forests, and all the other issues that you
highlight in that packet, then who's going to work on them on the
national level? There just isn't the resources or the ability.
Voice: How can the funds and
the individuals in the environmental movement effectively get to the
candidates, especially in this twilight of this election, and be
effective without getting involved in any illegal things?
Female voice: If there
are rules about lobbying, there are even more rules about
participation in electoral politics. I mean, we as a 501(c)(3)
consider that a no-no in terms of direct activities related to a
candidate or partisan election. But on the other hand, educational
activities, candidate forums, informational pieces about records of
incumbents, those things, those are territories that 501(c)(3)s can
get into if done carefully. If it can be interpreted as
electioneering, or, you know, too close to the election, it might be
interpreted that you were trying to affect the election. Even
publishing a voting chart can be somewhat risky. So it, I don't
Male voice: If you do it
not on an ongoing basis, so that you can show that over a period of
time that every year you produced the voting record, publishing it
just before an election on a quadrennial basis is not a problem.
Then the electioneering issue doesn't come up.
Male voice: But it would
seem like it would be a lot easier to get to candidates before
they're elected than have to lobby them afterwards. You could be
more forceful in that area.
Male voice: Just get the
right people elected who are environmentally aware, you know,
Male voice: You have a
tendency to get a person elected that you [indistinct].
Male voice: That's something
that you have to watch much more carefully than lobbying statements.
Male voice: I was
wondering where referenda on particular proposals comes. Does it
come under electioneering rules or does it come under lobbying
Female Voice: It
requires (c)(4) money. Once the referendum is on the...
Male voice: Once it's on
the ballot it will fall under elections. Once it's been...
Female voice: If you get
in early, before all the petitions and everything else, it can be
supported by tax deductible money.
Male voice: But as soon
as it sort of coalesces into a particular proposal, then congeals,
Donald Ross: When you
get to what you can do, it's really very close, but the example is
in the 19, Wirth ran for his first term in Colorado, a lot of soft
money, foundation money, went in to support a coalition of Colorado
environmental groups that were on the air advertising and raising
awareness of clean air issues up till about 3 weeks before the
election. They stopped on a Friday and on the Monday, Wirth's
campaign went on the air--uncoordinated [cynical laughter]--with a
campaign on clean air. So I mean there's a lot of that kind of
activity that goes on.
Something on the order of a couple of
million dollars going into voter registration. You can do very
aggressive targeted registrations. There are rules, there are regs,
but there is a lot that can be done with soft money.
Male Voice: You can't
talk to candidates. There can't be that communication. You can say
here's what we're going to do.
Female voice: You can
tell a candidate that your vote is worth it. [laughter] The funders
made the Citizens for Participation put out this very good piece on
6 or 7 different ideas of what funders can do. So I'll pass it
Male voice: Just arising
as a result of the presentation you made taking a kind of
legislation that involved regulation, and teeth and appropriations
and all that. Essentially that is one way in which
environmentalists can impact, can work toward impacting what the U.S
government does or the local government. But it isn't the only
one. You can have, it seems to me there's a range here. I'd like,
I haven't thought about it, I can't really do more than indicate
what appears to me on the softer side there'd be the role that
government can be in exhorting people to be more restraining in
their use of resources, whatever, and going up to the market-based
methods which don't require regulation per se but using the market
to help find better answers to problems, such as the carbon tax idea
would be. It doesn't require a regulation then, doesn't require
nearly the kinds of panoply of citizen activity it seems to me.
There may be some others in between in there that maybe I could,
someone could enlighten me on. What are the range of approaches to
be effective? I think there's a good deal of fatigue on the part of
the public in general on regulations. The more we can do it with
markets the better. Use the regulations when we have to because
it's the only way to do the job.
Female voice: May I give
something back, I'm sure there are more around the room. I think
that some of the key pieces of environmental legislation we've
talked about coming up for reauthorization that there is an
essential regulatory component. Sometimes the regulation might not
be what you're thinking about in terms of a regulatory strategy.
But even a carbon tax, should it pass, would probably require
whatever agency got the job to implement it to put out the ground
rules. Well, how do we implement this? And so that's a rule in the
sense we're talking about. That the legislation is really step one
in solving the problem or implementing the idea. And that if we all
go home once the bill is passed, then we, that next step, that
implementation step, which is often boring and technical and long
and drawn out and difficult. If we leave that to the, for example,
to the folks that might have to pay the carbon tax to do the
lobbying, then we're completely missing the boat as to how that's
going to be implemented. I think, I contend that, and pressing it
as Donald stated before that our capacity to do the actual lobbying,
that we are even weaker when it comes to the step, implementation
step. And we're especially weak in situations where the
implementation step occurs at the state or local level, which is a
key feature again even of many of these pieces of federal
Male voice: Usually
people are not very precise about how to go about doing anything and
set forward a goal or purpose. And all the real structure to what
is going to take place is done on the regulations. And so if we
passed the Clean Air Act with the notion of market trading of some
of the sulfur, uh, what was that, the sulfur dioxide?--
Male voice: The NOX and
Male voice: The NOX and
SOX. And that
exactly how to structure the market, the timing on some of these
things, that is all done under the regulatory framework. We're not
lobbying. We're wasting lobbying. And again, some of these
organizations are--very, very few organizations are actually
involved in that process where it can get very technical very fast.
Kathy Fletcher: I guess
I would also argue again to defend your basic point, that if we
focused only on even the governmental aspects of any of these
issues, either the regulatory implementing steps or the legislative
steps, we're also missing the boat. Our ability to raise awareness
and keep a constituency working on an issue a lot longer period of
time, and directly working with, whether it's trying to influence
corporate behavior or individual behavior, that those are all pieces
of these issues.
And at any one time we may be making
more progress in the non-legislative arena or the agency arena, or,
you know, there's different phases to any of these issues and
sometimes we have done a good job of laying that basic foundation,
though there are any number of places where things can go wrong and
The Clean Water Act may be an example
I worked quite a bit with, but one of the key features of the Clean
Water Act--I think it's important to a lot of other people than the
environmental legislation of the past 20, 25 years--is that the
critical implementing idea is that the federal law lays out minimum
requirements, but the states are to be the key implementers.
And, you know, I think following this
piece of legislation from passage through implementation, even if we
did a good job at the federal level of influencing the implementing
rules or regulations, that then there has been in most cases most
states the next step of the program being delegated to the state
level. And then really it all starts up again, in terms of, is the
state going to put the money and the wherewithal into making that
program work at the state level. And based on our experience here
in Washington State, I would say that the Clean Water Act has been
largely a failure. The fundamental idea of the Clean Water Act was
that you have to have a permit in order to discharge into a water
body and that that permit is supposed to regulate what can be
discharged. In our state, there are more dischargers without
permits than with them. The permits that exist are incredibly weak
and most of the permits that exist have expired and are just sitting
there, they're in force, but they're expired, haven't been updated
along the way.
The Clean Water Act laid out this idea
that every 5 years technology was going to be striding forward so
fast that we were going to be able to upgrade these permits and do
better and better and better so that by 1985 no more pollutants
would enter any water body in the United States. Well, in 1992,
that was a little bit optimistic. [laughter] I would argue that is
has been our failure to stick with the implementing steps along the
way. And you know, maybe it was a lousy idea, maybe it was
ill-thought-out. But I would contend it was still, we are still
acting as though that was in force, and was doing the job, and we've
actually accomplished a lot of what we set out to do.
Male voice: Even around
the Great Lakes where the states are in terms of exactly what they
decide to enforce and the levels at which they decide to enforce it,
there can be an order of magnitude, a ten-fold difference in terms
of the actual standards they set and a hundred-fold difference in
how strongly they enforce it. Between states--there are three
states--that are right around Lake Michigan, it all goes in the
water, the water sloshes around and ends up on other peoples'
shores. It's very difficult to hold the whole thing in the...
Female voice: So in the
meantime, in the rush to the reauthorization of the Clean Water Act
then we improve the flawed act in the first place--our ad valorem
tax and sunglasses. [laughter] As Kathy was saying is that we also
need to focus attention at the state level on lobbying. And groups
that are active in their own state capitals, and beefing up their
capabilities to counteract what's being done to them by the federal
government. I thought Warren was going to do this, but perhaps you
could give us a case study of the surface transportation policy
Donald Ross: That's a
very good illustration.
Female voice: How that
relates to reauthorization, but also to talk about the full
continuum. Since you did get it reauthorized, very interesting.
Male voice: More than
Female voice: What's the
Male voice: I'll make it
brief and general. The federal highway legislation was coming up
for reauthorization in this last session last year. And a number of
people recognized that there was a major opportunity in the
reauthorization to shift the focus from simply building more
highways or improving transportation system by system to looking at
performance, ultimate performance. Getting people and goods from
here to there in the most efficient, environmentally efficient way.
There began to be some discussions
about, almost 2 years ago. Very preliminary discussions between 4
or 5 NGOs--the World Resources Institute, Jessica Matthews and David
Burwell at Rails to Trails and others. And what should we do about
this? How can we influence this legislation?
[End side 1 of tape]
[SIDE 2-breaks to slightly later in
Male voice: There's also
a lot of common ground. Let's set aside what we don't agree on or
what we can't get absolute resolution on that should be in a goal
like this and work on what we all agree on.
And moving from that, what turned out
to be a very strong focus, they created a piece that really
described what ideal national transportation program would look
like. In effect it really was almost a model for the legislation.
And Moynihan's staff in effect
Moynihan and his staff were so galvanized by this piece--I may not
be doing the story exact credit--the Surface Transportation Policy
Project, which is what the coalition was called, which since, from
almost two years ago today had gotten up and running and had gotten
a fair amount of foundation funding, they were essentially invited
to work with Moynihan's staff, invited to the Hill again and again
and again to work on the details of this what really turned out to
be a revolutionary or radical bill. A very good bill therefore
passed quite quickly in the Senate and one that was perhaps less
ideal made its way through the House. All with the Surface
Transportation Policy Project pushing, pushing pushing, right behind
and working very closely with the congressional staffers and the
What finally came out was something
that wasn't ideal but was certainly more than a half a loaf. And it
in effect directs $151 billion from the Intermodal Surface
Transportation Efficiency Act [ISTEA, pronounced "Ice-Tea"]. It
appealed to people in both parties for different reasons. There was
a certain amount of pork attached to it.
But the bottom line of the $151
billion, about half of that amount of money is available to be spent
in very flexible ways on mass transit, on land use as it relates to
transportation, on a whole variety of things. In addition the bill
is hooked to the Clean Air Act in such a way that there are
incentives for spending the money on projects that also achieve
Clean Air Act goals at the same time. The discussion of what's in
the bill is a long one and I'm not going to do that today. Tune in
tomorrow at the Transportation Workshop and you'll get the full
story on that.
But the bottom line is that now that
we have this wonderful bill, we're still not there. And I think
that's what you really need to hear. Because it's so flexible, it
could go either way. The national, the federal highway lobby group,
I forget the exact name, suddenly woke up and realize what had
happened to the, and they're now bringing to bear many more dollars
than they normally would have to try to influence everything from
the regulation and rule making process to the way that the state
commissioners, transportation commissioners spend the money, and
also influence, influencing all of the state legislative people who
influence the state transportation commissioners. There are some
states in metropolitan areas where the chance that some very
exciting things may happen. There are other places, such as New
York, where the New York metropolitan region probably has one of the
largest in place fixed rail systems and light rail systems in the
country, but things do not look good in New York. Their
transportation commissioner, there are still an awful lot of closed
door decisions that get made. The state transportation commission
is really under a lot of pressure from special interest groups.
There's a great--Donald could probably explain this better than I
could--but there's a sort of bizarre update-downstate, Long Island
versus the rest of New York State political dynamic. It almost got
to a point where the state was going to forfeit getting some of this
money just because they couldn't resolve some of these internal
political squabbles and the issue of where the money would get
spent, inner city or suburban rural.
In addition, there's been--that's just
one illustration--in addition, there's been pressure by the
administration as you know not to establish rules and regs under
this act, so that, and others, so that a lot of people in the agency
are at sea about what to do. Bottom line, there has to be a very
vigorous follow up process of implementation. And the Surface
Transportation Policy Project has stayed in business, but shifted
its focus to address some of that, but it's nowhere near enough. A
number of national groups that are focusing on it, but the real
action is going to have to be in several different regions around
And it's going to be very important to
be strategic from a funder's point of view and also on the part of
some of the leading NGOs involved about where to focus efforts to
make things happen, so that a) there's potential for rear guard
immediate action to amend the laws doesn't happen and b), in 3
years, which is sort of an interim period when the federal highway
system is supposed to be finally designated, there isn't room for
all kinds of other riders to be put in there to sort of defuse the
legislation's power. It's a very fluid situation. I don't know,
maybe Jay could add something to what I have to say, but it's not
one that we can just sit back and say, Gee, we've got this amazing
However, the accomplishment of getting
151 billion dollars, getting it spent flexibly, having a performance
oriented piece of legislation that's considered radical and
Female voice: Okay, but
how much private funding went into the effort, the effort to get the
Male speaker: I'm not
sure of the exact numbers. I know that we have put, of the $8
million or so environmental dollars put out in the last two years,
we've put about 2 into transportation. Not all of that into STPP.
Some into building the tools and technical backup that's needed,
funding to building case studies even before the legislation was
passed. I've, I...
Male voice: [Asks indistinct
Male presenter: That's
previous and including--the annual budget of STPP now is 6, I think,
it's close to a million dollars, give or take. And then there have
been a lot of other groups that have been involved, so it's sort of
hard to give you an exact figure. At least a million dollars.
Female voice: That's
quite a dynamic figure, a million leveraged into $150 billion.
Another male voice: But
it hasn't been leveraged yet.
Male presenter: A
million or two million hasn't done it yet, either.
Jay Harris: I might add
that about seven foundations have been meeting on this topic about
once a year together face to face and about every month to six weeks
on, by conference call. And I think a letter went out to people who
seemed interested in transportation to join this effort. And
Hooper's involved. And Jones Foundation, Joyce, myself, Cummings,
and there's the two others. It's uh...
Male voice: J.C. Penny.
Jay Harris: And I guess
most of us are going to be at that transportation meeting tomorrow,
Don, and I'd encourage you to come.
Donald Ross: Yeah. I'd
like to hear really described in detail what's needed, what's been
Male presenter: But
again, you remind me of a good point. It isn't just a question of
what the non-profit community does and what's needed. But in this
case we found that the foundation community has a certain amount of
collaborative work that has to be done, particularly now where
there's going to be a need for a lot of regional funding to make
this work. So there's a lot of education we have to do with
community foundations and other [indistinct] foundations of why this
is important to their goals.
Male voice: Research,
analysis, coalition building and then on the political side in terms
of the follow-up on regulations at the state level. There's just a
whole host of things foundations can do and need to be... How
coordinated they need to be is open to question, but a lot of
activity needs to take place for this to be successful.
Female voice: I think that's
really an important point. A lot of these issues, the action seems
to be increasingly at the regional, state and locals levels, and
that's where the nonprofit organizations are, I think, least
equipped in relative terms, and even with respect to knowing how to
approach all you guys, least equipped and least knowledgeable about
how to do that. That's kind of a...
Male voice: I think it will be
a pro-active effort. I think we will be going out to them more than
they will be coming to us. Wouldn't you think, Hooper?
Male voice: ...some of the
groups that are already involved reaching out to other nonprofit
groups to become involved, absolutely.
Female voice: Well, this was
cited just as an example. It covers all issues, not just
Male voice: This is very
overarching. I mean, after all, transportation and land use go
together. And then that affects water quality, air quality and a
whole lot of other things.
Female voice: That's what I was
trying to say. Your argument is...
Male voice: [breaks in] That
corridor legislation was the first major effort by nonprofits to put
environmental titles in the Farm Bill in '85. They allowed, the
momentum was built out of the nonprofit organizations more than the
foundation community, just to try to make that first effort back in
'85. We found some foundations came out and a coalition was
developed. It was fairly successful in moving some of the issues
forward. More foundations became involved for the '90
authorization. The coalition was less effective in moving certain
titles forward. But this is the real world of legislation. And
most of the best that was put in the 85 bill still hasn't been
Female voice: [indistinct] of
every single piece of legislation that's in this packet, and that's
the sorry part of the story as far as I'm concerned. It seems like
in some of our celebrated efforts to force implementation, we get
into another bind, which I want to mention, which is, although we
may have gotten in the legislation and we pursue it to the point of
litigation to force something to happen or not happen, then the next
thing we know, we're fighting a defensive battle to keep the
legislation or to amend it in a way that we still think will do the
job. And I can't tell you, and I'm sure that in all the issues that
you are involved with, you've had this experience too, but I can't
tell you how many times I've been involved in conversations where
the issue is how far to push on something that's written in the law
for fear that if we got what it said in the law that in fact, the
next thing we'd be doing is defending that provision as opposed to
really getting to where we wanted to go.
So, that's another sort of perverse
aspect of lack of implementation is the people who are most
interested in implementation sometimes will pull back for fear of
losing what's written on a piece of paper.
Chuck Clusen: I believe
that's just common sense. It's important in terms of building
coalitions now, that does not just include environmentalists. The
people with honest very different interests so that in the
development of the thinking that's going into the legislation that
it is more robust, there won't be as immediate a reaction to it that
might undermine it, or undermine it in ways that won't allow
environmental interests to continue on their work, that this is a
political process and a political process in which foundations can
play very important roles.
Kathy Fletcher: I want
to talk about another example that's at a more regional and state
level which I think has elements of what you're talking about and
that's where I spend most of my time which is the protection of
Puget Sound. In 1985 the state passed the Puget Sound Water Quality
Act, which was the product of the basic foundations, laying the
foundation work, laying groundwork in terms of public awareness and
media attention and problems that were very obvious and needed to be
addressed. And what that legislation did was to set in motion a
planning process to determine a whole comprehensive management
program for Puget Sound. And that planning process which my agency,
which is the Water Quality Authority, where I worked at the time,
was created at that point, pulled together a plan, which in fact was
a product of a lot of the kind of work you talk about in terms of a
lot of different interests participating and developing the plan and
so forth. But even that ran into serious implementation trouble
because I think a lot of effort that went into figuring out what to
write down on a piece of paper still didn't bring the reality to
enough of the constituent and affected parties. It wasn't until
implementation really started that some of the parties really woke
up to what was there and what it meant. And so you're continually
kind of cycling back into the initial legislative or planning
process as people at varying times figure out what really is being
talked about. And unless you're there and unless you have a
constituency that will help deal with those things as they come up,
you may end up spending a lot of time and not getting very far. In
our case, things have been badly stalled and we're kind of back to
basics. And in my new role as a, putting together a citizens
effort, the thinking that, you know, the most essential thing we
have to do is to build awareness and a constituency base is to get
out beyond the environmental community to build a broader consensus
about what is to happen so that's there's some, something to fall
back on when these specific issues have to be, have to be dealt
with. Because you never quite get out of this, whether it's
legislative or implementation cycle where you keep kind of
revisiting things over and over and over and over.
Jenny D. Russell: Well,
isn't there another lesson that the citizenry, the nonprofit
community, got a little complacent when the Water Quality Authority
was created. They thought, Oh, they'll take care of that. And
then, when the legs were shot out of the Water Quality Authority
there was no constituency.
Kathy Fletcher: Oh,
yeah. It was a classic example of people going home. Once, like
the legislation passed, you go home. That was a classic case of
doing that, thinking, Okay, we got what we wanted. We have an
agency that's supposed to do this job. Great.
Male voice: I might point out
this also happened in the Florida legislation and it could happen if
the Democrats win again. So I would, don't give up. I mean, you've
got to increase your efforts if the Democrats win this time. Not
just sit on the sidelines.
Jenny D. Russell: Is
there something about that you were involved in...
Kathy Fletcher: Oh, yeah.
This Puget Sound case is also an interesting example of how many
different places you have to be working in order to actually get on
the ground or in the water. Here in Puget Sound we have about
450-some jurisdictions and agencies that are playing key roles. And
that's just, you know, one part of one state and not even including
the Canadian aspects of the issue when I say that, and there are
important decisions being made in each one of those 455 places. And
it's obvious to me, anyway, that we're spread way too thin to really
effectively cover all that. And again, the importance of making
sure that we are focusing on the implementation, but that we are
also building the kind of base that can begin to establish a
mentality that will, that our leaders at all those different levels
will pick up on. Because, in a, just, you can't, a single
organization, or even a whole coalition, is not going to be able to
be everywhere, you know.
Chuck Clusen: That's
the thing that the critical part of this, I think, it's especially
true of the key legislation, and I know that Jay has been concerned
about this, is behavioral changes. You can do all the rest, join in
environmental litigation, and we should probably talk about that,
and if people aren't willing to change, it isn't going to work.
When I think questioning this transportation development, a case
when you're dealing with hundreds of different outfalls, and
non-point source pollution and all the rest of it, if people don't
understand and if they're not willing to make the change, it just
isn't going to work.
Jenny Russell: Let me do
this again. Chuck, as one of those of the corps, and I wouldn't
call them [indistinct], from Washington, D.C., do you have any
comments on how you see the whole continuum of what happens in
Washington, D.C. and how it flows out, and the need for constant
Chuck Clusen: I, I think that
the basic point that Kathy's making is very true. I guess I'm also
struck by the point that Don Ross made earlier about the lack of
effective lobbying by many national groups in Washington. I think
that's also true. I think where we, our view about which groups or
individuals are effective or doing the job right or well, or
whatever that's for, I think there is a basic lack of resources. To
one, cover the waterfront to the extent that Kathy's talking about,
yet, build and maintain the critical lobbying effort that Don
obviously wanted to see get into court.
And I think that during the '80s even
though there was just an enormous growth in size of many of these
national--not only, there were state and local groups--and it seems
like not for profit environmentalism has become a big business
industry. And it should be able to do so much, what has happened is
that things have become sectorized and people have become far more
In part statistics agree with what
Kathy is saying, they're still not doing well enough. But when we
get to these big [indistinct] as ancient forests or the [indistinct]
New York wildlife refuge it's extremely difficult to get the
national groups to really mobilize and put all their resources on
the front line to accomplish something. And in part of the New York
Refuge, I think we've had a stroke of luck, but a lot of us who were
working very hard to push and shove, cajole, embarrass, all kinds of
things, making these organization to do what was necessary. And it
really only came together in the last month before that vote last
fall that really the kind of grassroots constituency building really
came together and so forth.
And it's very discouraging. In some
ways, the environmental community back when I started more than 20
years ago was sort of a leaner, meaner fighting machine. And that
it really, even though it was a lot less influential, it was a lot
more flexible and really was far more strategic. But of course, we
were, it was a simpler world and we were fighting a lot fewer things
Woman in audience:
And you were 20 years younger.
Chuck Clusen: Yeah.
[laughs] I don't know what the answer to it all is, because there
is a real surge of resources despite what was evident by having 250
people who are funders at a meeting like this. I mean when I got
off the boat the other night and I was overwhelmed by the sort of
number of people and the size and all that. And I turned to
somebody and I said, Well, if the, if this is an indication of the
growth of the environmental funders, why are all these not for
profit organizations having big deficits and not doing the job?
There's an irony to all this. And so I don't know what all the
answer is, but I think that part of it is that probably we go in the
direction of some of the concerns that Don has. If I understand
where he's coming from, is that I think the community as a whole is
not very strategic.
And I think we need to start
rebuilding that. And figuring out how to not only get the most bang
for the buck, but how to make it lasting bangs. And to do several
things at once, and so on. I wasn't involved in this ISTEA thing,
but I'm very impressed with what I've heard ever since it started.
And I think, I think the people who are doing the work and those of
us who are helping fund it need to really get together and really
start doing that kind of strategy. More so. I mean some have
started, but I think we need to do more of that.
Do you detect, though, a resistance in the larger organizations to
becoming grant driven?
Donald Ross: Yeah. I
think a lot of them resist.
Chuck Clusen: A number
of us have been involved in this, Ann. Yeah. There's definitely a
feeling on the part of the not for profit organizations that in
cases of some of the campaigns like the Ancient Forests Campaign
that they resent funders, not just picking the issues, but also
being directive in the sense of the kind of campaign, the strategy,
the style, and so on. I guess, coming out of the advocacy world,
and having spent most of my career doing it, I look at it as, if
they're not going to do it on their own, thank God funders are
forcing them to start doing it. Now that's not to say that
everything funders demand is in my opinion the right thing. I think
there's got to be a give and take here.
But I think the fact that some
foundations and donors are forcing these issues is good. And I
think that we have to do is really get into a dialogue about it and
work it through. Right now, I think in some of the campaigns
there's real resentment in some ways maybe things have not
improved. They may have even gotten worse. But I think in general
the fact that donors have had these concerns they're starting to act
on is good and I think we need to really sit down at the table with
especially the CEOs of some of these organizations and see if we can
go forward on it.
Because Don is right. The lobbying is
not there in Washington. It's not being delivered. And, you know,
I don't want to name names. I could name all the organizations that
in many issues, you know, just how little they have on the Hill and
how ineffectual it is in being connected to the grass roots and so
Do you think that's because the organizations have gotten
so--certainly the major organizations--have gotten quite big and
therefore bureaucratic. Yeah, because of their size, and therefore,
they're beginning to, or they're approaching environmental problems
with much more of a scatter-shot approach now because they have lots
of different interests within the organizations that want to be, you
know, sectors that want to do their thing. And I don't see the pool
of money for environmental issues growing at the same rate as I see
those organizations. And therefore, the pool of money stays the
same or gets smaller, but they're trying to tackle that many more
issues and you end up not really accomplishing a whole hell of a
Chuck Clusen: A lot of
those organizations are bureaucratic. And when you compare it to
the way, you know, a for profit organization is run they don't by
and large have the management. I mean there's not strategic
decisions being made and then implemented. What you basically have,
a lot of these organizations are a series of very bright, talented,
self-initiating people who do their own thing who resist any kind of
supervision or resist any kind of coalition building or working
cooperatively with others. I'm overstating it here, but I mean, I
think there is a real problem. A part of it comes from the
self-selection that occurs that, of the kind of people who really
care about the environment and get involved.
Woman in audience:
Anything from over here? Do you have a question that...
Audience member: Yeah.
A lot of what we seem to be saying, which I think is very
interesting and helpful, is mainly deep gripped at how it is, what
the problems are. I'm wondering if we could move toward, well, what
are--you know, given that that's how it is, given that there are a
lot of problems--could we move to a more prescriptive idea. What
kinds of strategies, what did you learn, for example, from the
experience with the sort of transportation thing we could learn from
and do differently next time? I'd be interested in those ideas.
Hooper Brooks: I think
that basically the problem is most of these are not only
bureaucracies, but they spend most of their time hitting their
members for more money and sending them newsletters instead of
getting out to the public. And I don't think you can neglect
thinking about that. I do think they do have to get prescriptive
and maybe this is...
Donald Ross: I think
that there are things that could be done. I think funders have a
major role to play. And I know there are resentments in the
community towards funders doing that. And, too bad. We're players,
But I think we touched on a lot of
problems, the internal problems within these big groups, the warring
factions within them who are all trying to get resources, and
there's too many groups and too few resources, and all that. I
think the fundamental effort that has to be made is a reorganization
of the movement, whether you're talking--I don't think it's
realistic to think that groups like Sierra Club or NRDC are going to
disappear and reform into something new. They'll stay, and they'll
still send out those newsletters. I think we have to begin to look
much more at a task force approach on major issues that is able to
pool. And the funders can drive that. And part of the reason these
groups have been resistant to work with each other is precisely
because they want the credit, they want the name, so they can get
more funding, either from us--from foundations--or from members.
And I think there isn't one of them,
even the biggest, National Wildlife, or Audubon or Sierra Club, that
has the capacity to wage full scale battles on major issues by
themselves. They don't have the media, lobbying, grass roots
organizing, Washington base, etc, litigation, all wrapped in one
And so the trick, I think, is to
figure out how we can duplicate some of the early successes like the
Alaska lands fight that you were involved in, Chuck, back in--or
this transportation one. I think it can be, where funders can play
a real role is helping, is using the money to drive, to create ad
hoc efforts in many cases that will have a litigation component
coming from one group, a lobbying component coming from another
group, a grass roots organizing component coming from yet a third
group with a structure that enables them to function well.
Part of the forest problem was there
was no overarching structure. There was no one in charge. They had
six lobbyists, but no one could say here's what you do, guys,
women. Everyone was reporting in different directions and they
couldn't, it was very hard to mobilize them. And I think that these
are institutions that are structured for fights that aren't going to
be fought any more. The 70s and 80s. They were structured in
different ways. And they have become many of them like the American
Army in Vietnam, where it took 20 behind-the-scenes soldiers to
supply, and the one person who was on the front line doing the
fighting. And that's what these organizations look like.
Get a copy--and this isn't an attack
on any group--get a copy of the Sierra Club directory. It runs to 8
pages of staff and functions and departments and half of one page is
the front line program, is the fighters. The other seven and a
half, eight pages are support services, subscription services,
membership services, donors this, trekking clubs and all the rest.
Then there's one half page that lists the directory of the people
who are actually fighting the environmental battles.
Woman in audience:
Donald, you probably know. Can you just sort of describe what the
access was? I'm like Kathy, I'd like to have a shot at that. How
does that stand?
Another voice: I'm just
sitting here sort of nodding at everything you're saying. I would
say, however, I think one of the major challenges is that the
national groups have and one of the major things that we're trying
to do from a more state or regional level, is to get this grass
roots effort beefed up to the point where it's more effective. And
I think these national groups have a hard time linking up the
national effort with the grass roots effort and as I said before, so
much of the action is at the local and state level that, you know,
that's where we really need to get good at getting things done. And
I think, you know, we're working on that, but that's just a really
key part of that. But with respect to the Sierra Club I have to
disclose that I'm on the board. [laughter]
But I think that the Sierra Club, all
the national groups have some very serious problems and challenges,
but the way the Sierra Club would like to work is that the
volunteers, of which there are many many in the Sierra Club who are
very active, are the front line troops. And so to have a staff that
is, has all kinds of support functions next to their names, isn't,
isn't bad in terms of how the Sierra Club would like to function.
At the same time I would say it is an incredible bureaucracy and
we've got to figure out how to cut through that, become more
Donald Ross: One other point I
need to make. This is a very good opportunity, the time to talk
about this kind of a structure, because every one of the groups--and
something you ought to make grantees aware of--if Clinton - Gore
win, almost certainly there will be a very sharp decline in support
for environmental activities. And every group is going to have to,
or, either face, going along expecting ten or fifteen percent annual
growth and find themselves going over the cliff around June or July
when the direct mail dries up. Or, they're going to have to take
pro-active steps to restructure early on. And that pro-active,
those self-examinations by each one of those groups is an
opportunity to broach some of these issues and propositions and
Male voice: [sotto voce] I've
got a response, but I've got to go to another meeting, [full voice]
but I think the other thing is we have to recognize is that
environmental, the term environment, really should always have, but
now is really beginning to encompass a lot more folks. The STPP
example, look at all the different people who were able to work
together. I think another lesson is who possible to press people to
reach out beyond their narrow definition of who they are, of who
should be involved. I sense an elitism in the environmental
movement, probably based on a time when it was us against them.
That is to my mind somewhat anachronistic and out of date. And so,
although it's expensive to pay for these things, consensus building
involving lots of different interests I think is again going to be
the way to add strength to getting things done. You said that.
Female voice: [indistinct] came
up with the other day for community consensus building. If you
think the opportunity of Earth Week in cities across the country to
create public forums with local authorities and groups of NGOs and
communities, to look into the state of the environment, a preferred
state and the plans for action that could be accomplished to get to
the preferred state and training task forces to carry that agenda
forward, to carry on from Agenda 21's mandate to create local Agenda
21 in communities across the country could be put in force by Al
Gore and the mayors as said in Rio. And could follow some of the
programs that have already been created in different cities, like
[indistinct], Seattle, Olympia. We're working on a model cities
program in San Francisco with other cities project et cetera. So
that's one way that divergent sectors of a community can work
together to begin creating an agenda for action, looking at the
regulations that would need to be created, et cetera.
Chuck Clusen: I just want to
mention one activity I've been involved with this summer, which is
an attempt to do the kind of thing that Don is talking about. I
spent a good deal of the summer facilitating a strategic planning
exercise of ten different environmental groups, both state and
national to put together what is called the Alaska Coastal Rain
Forest Campaign. And we had a series of meetings and media
communications and long difficult conference calls and so on. But
the whole concept has been to develop a campaign and a coalition, at
least a small "c," at the outset before it started. And it was only
possible because Pew Charitable Trusts indicated an interest and
there was some implication that they might put some significant
money into it to get these people to the table. But I think it, I
think we have learned some things about uh, from the experience.
And I think there's a long ways to go but I'd be very happy to share
our experiences with any of you about it if you're interested in
Male voice: I'll take it back
on thing that was said, that it's important to help these, the
variety of groups that have different sorts of experience come
together around a particular opportunity or legislative or
otherwise. We've been in this long enough that, there's also a
trick of having that coalition devolve so that it can re-emerge in
another form on the next battle. Because the next battle usually
requires different sorts of resources be brought to bear. It's a
different, a different challenge the next time around, even if it's
the same piece of legislation.
And we, and it, it's an important
issue both at the national level and at the state and regional
level, where you build some capacity--and we've been involved in
building capacity in a lot of organizations. And then you say
oh-oh, now, that was, we built the capacity for the last battle.
Now, well, what do we do with the resource or asset that's there.
How do we help them make the transition to what the new battles need
to be. That is a, it's a real, it's a real challenge. I don't know
if we have any good answers to it.
Female voice: Donald, I wonder
if I could ask you to just review what are the active task forces
that are on reauthorizations now, within the EGA?
Donald Ross: I don't know all
of them. I mean, clearly, the, transportation is one. The forests
have a group. I think there's a bunch of them with different
funders on--I don't think EGA actually has any central--that's a,
there's now a whole urban and neighborhood funders, that
collaboration is going on. There's a bunch of them. Some of them
have legislative focuses, some don't.
Female voice: Is there a big
Donald Ross: We should pick the
Female voice: No, but--
Chuck Clusen: Well, there's
another coalition out there that's pretty much a traditional
coalition, but, in which there's been some work done as the result
of a briefing that the Consultative Group on Biodiversity had some
months ago, and that's the Endangered Species Coalition. In which
basically they came and briefed the Consultative Group and it was a
fairly said day. And I think the representatives who were doing the
briefing from the various groups realized that, and I was able to
help them to get their act together a bit. I think that what they
have done has been very good. It may not be enough, or fast
enough. But I think they really addressed a lot of problems and are
striving to really do a collaborative effort. And I know they have
talked to many foundations. And I think that's going to be very
helpful to the obviously big huge fight they're going to have here.
Donald Ross: One announcement.
The management committee, Jenny, who she's on it. The EGA has
authorized a two day briefing that's going to take place probably in
early January in Washington on, with the briefers being
congressional staff or members and also national environmental
activists on the bills that are coming up for reauthorization that
year. By that time we'll know, obviously, a lot more about the
composition of the Congress and the Administration. And it will
give, it will be a very intense two days on these different issues
and maybe help facilitate some of the kind of coalition, funding
Female voice: Did the
management committee do this?
Donald Ross: They authorized
putting that together. A two day, under the auspices of EGA, that
there would be a two day briefing, EGA conference on a follow up to
this book that Jenny and Anne Fitzgerald did on this legislative...
Female voice: For any
Donald Ross: No, it will be
for funders, and the briefers will be either legislators,
legislative staff or major players from the, on these different
bills, Endangered Species, RICRA, Marine Mammals, the whole panoply
once they come down. And you'll be getting an announcement, every,
everyone will get a mailing on that in plenty of time. It's going
to be announced in the next newsletter, which is coming out in a
couple of weeks. And then there'll be a signup period. I think
we're going to try to limit it to about 75, 50-75 funders, so there,
that should be still plenty of room for people who are interested in
Female voice: I thought I had a
handout there on the coalitions right now around the major
reauthorizations, around the Endangered Species, around the Clean
Water Act, and the Endangered Species Coalition has an update that
they sent around, on what's going on right now, what's the current
status of the bills. So I have a copy of this, that I passed out.
Also the Environmental and Energy Study that was done, a sort of
constant briefing of what's currently happening in Congress, and
it's a summary of what happened in the 102nd Congress. So I don't
know, that's around a much more obviously diverse, it's a whole
broad range of environmental issues, the factors right now.
Female voice: At the federal
Female voice: At the federal
Male voice: There's something
that's been concerning me. I was curious if any of you might know
the full breakup of your folks might be monitoring acts that have
currently been delegated to the states for implementation on that
level. Is there any--
Male voice: By region?
Female voice: It's divided by
issue, there's been Center for Policy Alternatives in Washington
D.C. which attempts to track state legislation.
Female voice: I think that, I
mean, it's such a critical part of what is happening. Just my
observation of the last session of state, of our state legislature,
which meets [indistinct], we experienced several bills, terrible
bills, that were in fact carbon copies of bills that were being
introduced in many states around the country on issues such as
pesticides, property rights and takings issues, wetlands. A number
of these things are being put out in cookie-cutter form by interest
groups. And it's, my experience was that we learn about that and we
deal with that on a very catch as catch can basis. We may of may
not know that in Arizona the same was being dealt with that we're
dealing with in Washington. And that's another thing that I think
would help strengthen our ability to work with these things is A)
even know that, which can be a politically very significant fact,
that it was a carbon copy; B) being able to share information.
Chuck Clusen: We really
talking about a moving target and you vote for a thing in Washington
and then it's on the ballot some place else and--
Male Voice: The council on the state
planning agencies may have, associations of state administrators
have it. I don't know of any that have an environmental focus
particularly, but they would at least be more aware of what seems to
be up in their legislatures.
Female voice: Yeah, you're
right. What about are there [indistinct]?
Male voice: We'll come back
towards, to the conclusion that the feeling I got about the use of
market mechanisms to have effect. [Indistinct] to the part of the
general opinion that it isn't much different from, when you get down
to the statute at the local regulations you have to monitor this,
but what a basic difference there is for what we're talking about,
something Lester Brown has written on, Herman Daley writes about, Al
Gore in his book. I think a very important thing where it in fact
suggests an entirely new ball game, and from that new ball game, a
lot of these environmental problems recede if the thinking is
correct. Potentially looking at the various things which are good,
you don't want to discourage to be taxed, down to the things that
are bad that ought to be taxed most. And there's been work done on
that. Well, obvious things that come to mind are tax incomes, and
then tax investments, tax something good, why not replace it with
taxes on the things which are bad such as wasteful consumption,
pollution and so forth. And the possibility of raising very
substantial amounts of money by that process and having it revenue
neutral phasing it in, and regressivity [indistinct]. This is
essentially in a nutshell what is being recommended. When you have
that, then do it in terms of transportation goals, or you think of
it in terms of all kinds of things that happen including what the
courts do in response to a situation where you have carbon
taxes--[tape ends in mid-sentence]
END OF TAPE
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