David R. Brower - February, 2000:

 

WHY I AM ENDORSING BILL BRADLEY FOR PRESIDENT

The year was 1992, the world had just convened the Earth Summit in Rio, and we had just elected the man who wrote Earth In the Balance, Al Gore, to be our Vice-President. This old environmentalist was very excited, but it's been downhill for the Earth and for Al Gore's credentials as an environmentalist ever since.

When Gore helped push through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with only unenforceable side agreements to protect the environment from unregulated trade, I began to think our Vice President had been keeping bad company and was having his environmental good sense held in check by the Congress and the Clinton Administration. So I created the bumper-sticker: "Free Al Gore!" (to which someone later added the subtitle, "Earth IS in the Balance").

Then Gore was complicit in the passage of the Timber Salvage Rider, which allowed lumber companies to log any tree on our public lands that was "subject to death or disease" (yes, that's all of them) with no regulations and no hope of public review, I knew the problem had gotten worse. Next, Earth Island Institute, where I serve as Chairman, found itself fighting the Clinton/Gore Administration to protect dolphins and the Marine Mammal Protection Act from being gutted at the behest of Mexican tuna millionaires. The Administration has now weakened the Dolphin-Safe label to allow dolphins to be killed in the process of catching the new "dolphin-safe" tuna. Al Gore vs. Dolphins? I proposed more drastic measures in a new bumper-sticker: "Restore Al Gore." I could not even bring myself to endorse the Clinton-Gore the second time around and endorsed Ralph Nader instead. Echoing my disappointment, others pleaded: "Al, Read Your Book."

   


Now our supposed-hero Gore continues to pay lip service to the need to ban offshore oil drilling off California's majestic coast, just as he and Bill Clinton have done since they first took office. Meanwhile, the permitting process rolled forward and Bruce Babbitt has now granted permits to drill to several oil companies. After 7 years of environmental lip-service, I am about ready to release my latest Gore bumper-sticker: "Bill Bradley for President."

Friends of the Earth, which I am proud to say I founded in 1969, came this conclusion earlier than I by endorsing Bradley last year based on his superior League of Conservation Voters (which I created as part of Friends of the Earth in 1969) score (19 or 20 points higher than Gore depending on how you score it) and their frustration with Gore's broken promises on everything from the ozone layer to forests. They also cited Bradley's leadership and tireless work on a number of key environmental bills in the Senate. I particularly appreciated his carrying the Grand Canyon Protection Act through the Senate in 1996 to begin to address the horrendous damage Glen Canyon Dam is inflicting on the Grand Canyon's ecosystems downstream.

I myself had been a fan of Bradley since the early 1970's when he took author John McPhee and I to dinner. McPhee had written a biographical book on each of us (Encounters with the Archdruid on me, and A Sense of Where You Are on Bradley). But Bradley's generosity did not end with dinner. He proceeded to take us out to a Knicks game, and won it.

But my endorsement doesn't come that cheaply, and Senator Bradley and I don't agree on every issue. We have some things to discuss further, especially on trade, but I have come to believe that Bill Bradley has what it takes to create real solutions to our pressing environmental problems, not half-measures or election-year gestures. I have no doubt that Al Gore knows a great deal about our environmental problems, but after 7 years of disappointment, I am ready to say that knowing isn't enough, we need action, we need bold solutions. I believe that Bill Bradley has the ability, the knowledge, and the political courage to create those solutions. 

             David R. Brower