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Which side are your on?

Judge Charles Richey threw a monkey wrench into NAFTA when he ordered the Administration to prepare an environmental impact statement before proceeding. His ruling, in a suit by Public citizen, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, also rebuked those corporate-indebted environmental groups that favor the treaty.

What do their representatives say? "No comment" (Nature Conservancy). "A nuanced issue, not really black and white" (N.R.D.C.). "We aren't opposed to the study. If the right side agreements are concluded, many of the court's concerns will be alleviated" (E.D.F.) "We hope that [a study] is done expeditiously so that... NAFTA stays on the rails" (National Wildlife Federation). "It is important to separate legal issues from the larger environmental picture, which is that trade and trade liberalization have potentially profound consequences for the environment, both good and bad" (World Wildlife Fund). In this crowd, only the Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife welcomed the ruling.

Why the ambiguity? After all, impact statements are a standard weapon in the arsenal of green politics. But NAFTA can't survive a rigorous environmental assessment, and having decided to accept the Clinton agenda rather than assert their own, groups that signed on to the treaty are now uncomfortably exposed. Clinton is appealing the decision, but it's time for senators to hear from constituents who support Richey's wake-up call And at tax-deduction time, donors should remember which environmental groups embraced Richey's stand.

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Title Annotation:North American Free Trade Agreement
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 26, 1993
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