8. CORPORATE AMERICA'S ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGN
It would seem that in these times of heightened environmental
consciousness, companies with questionable environmental track records would be
concerned with EPA regulations. But it appears the corporate sector is paying
less attention to non-threatening government regulators and instead adopting an
array of tactics and attack strategies aimed at environmental and citizen groups.
of the more recent anti-environmental innovations include multimillion dollar
SLAPP suits, the harassment and surveillance (including electronic) of activists,
the infiltration of environmental groups by "agent provocateurs," and
the creation of dummy ecology groups to ferret out whistleblowers. Another disturbing
trend is the proliferation of groups such as "The Oregon Committee for Recycling,"
an industry front group whose purpose was to lobby against a recycling initiative
on the state ballot. Or "Californians for Food Safety," which was created
by the Western Agricultural Chemical Association, producers of pesticides, who
successfully opposed the state's Big Green proposition in 1990.
the greatest coup was pulled off by Arkansas' Vertac Inc., a superfund polluter,
whose "Jacksonville People With Pride Cleanup Coalition" successfully
applied for an EPA grant -- until they were exposed by suspicious Jacksonville
This new corporate mind-set may be best exemplified,
however, by a copy of a "Crisis Management Plan" commissioned by the
Clorox Corporation which was recently leaked to Greenpeace. The plan was prepared
by Ketchum Communications, one of the nation's largest advertising and public
relations firms. While Greenpeace has an international program aimed at abolishing
the use of chlorine in the pulp and paper industry, they have not called for a
ban on domestic use of bleach. However, the Ketchum plan was apparently prompted
by fears that Greenpeace would eventually target household use of chlorine bleach
and call for its elimination.
Part of the Ketchum strategy to counteract
the chlorine industry's poor reputation was to outline "worst case scenarios."
Among its many strategies, Ketchum suggests ways to discredit the findings of
studies linking chlorine use to cancer, should the findings ever become public.
The firm also recommends that Clorox "cast doubts on the methodology and
findings," of potentially damaging scientific reports which haven't even
been written yet.
Ketchum also recommends labeling Greenpeace as violent
self-serving "eco-terrorists;" attempting to sue newspaper columnists
who advocate the use of non-toxic bleaches and cleaners for the home; "immunizing"
government officials; dispatching "independent" scientists on media
tours; and recruiting "scientific ambassadors" to tout the Clorox cause
and call for further study.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHERS: ROBYN O'CONNOR AND
SOURCE: E MAGAZINE, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881
DATE: Nov/Dec 1991
TITLE: "Stop the Greens"
AUTHOR: Eve Pell
SOURCE: GREENPEACE NEWS, 1436 U St., NW, Washington, DC 20009,
TITLE: "Clorox Company's Public Relations 'Crisis Management Plan"'
COMMENTS: Investigative journalist Eve Pell noted that while
business efforts to comply with environmental regulations and to market
"green" products have received a lot of coverage, "no
one in the major mass media, to our knowledge, has reported that, nationwide,
American corporations are retaliating against the environmental movement
with a wide assortment of dirty tricks. Not only was there inadequate
coverage in the mainstream press, there was no coverage of this topic
coverage of this issue would let consumers and voters know that some of the businesses
that purport to protect ancient forests and furry animals are engaged in efforts
to mislead the public and undermine the work of environmental activists, Pell
added. 'They would understand why corporate environmental image-building campaigns
-- like Chevron's 'People Do' series about the oil company's alleged construction
of dens for kit foxes -- are all too often deceptive and fraudulent. As informed
citizens, they would more accurately evaluate issues that come before them, which
could include whether to buy or to boycott certain products, to vote for or against
legislative proposals and candidates, or to support environmental organizations."
most important," Pell noted, "the public would be less easily taken
in by industry efforts to mislead. They might view with more skepticism such groups
as the deceptively named Oregon Committee for Recycling, an industry front group
that actually opposed a recycling initiative in that state." Pell suggests
that the corporations and industries that buy the good opinion of the American
public with image-building advertising are the ones that benefit most from the
limited coverage given this issue. "If lawmakers, regulators and consumers
do not know that certain companies are out to undermine the work of environmental
groups, those companies may appear to be good corporate citizens and therefore
less likely to be questioned or criticized."
Pell concludes that the
national news media have not dealt adequately with the extent and depth of the
corporate anti-environmental campaign.