Alliance for Environmental Disaster




F

or
folks who think President George W. Bush is getting a “bad
rap” on his environmental record, a new organization has emerged
to set the record straight. Partnership for the West (PFTW) grew
out of a late-September Denver summit attended by several elected
officials, a number of corporate representatives, and members of
several long-standing anti- environmental organizations including
the American Land Rights Association, the Blue Ribbon Coalition,
and the Mountain States Legal Foundation. PFTW was formally unveiled
on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, DC in late October. 


The
organization’s credo, as spelled out on its website, is “Restoring
a Common Sense Balance to Economic Growth and Conservation in the
West. If you want a clean environment and a healthy, growing economy,
and you believe there is no reason why America can’t have both,
you belong in the Partnership for the West” (www. partnershipforthewest.org). 


The
group plans to work on “restoring a common sense balance to
economic growth and conservation in the West.” Claiming to
be a grass-roots lobby group, PTFW wants to provide “a counterbalance
to what it views as a disproportionate influence of environmental
groups like the Sierra Club,” by lobbying in Congress and “pushing
an agenda of increased access to public lands for recreation and
oil and gas development,” writes Donna Kemp Spangler of the
Utah- based

Desert Morning News



PFTW
may be new, but the organization’s key players—Executive
Director Jim Sims, Director of Public Policy Holly Propst, Associate
Director Paul Poister, and Director of Operations Pam Ortiz —are
veterans of the environmental wars and tied to a number of pro-corporate
front groups. They run the show at Policy Communications—a
well-established and well- connected public relations firm with
offices in Golden, Colorado and Washington, DC, where Sims is president,
Propst is senior vice president, Poister is a vice president, and
Ortiz is director of operations. 


Policy
Communications proudly claims that its “principals have more
than five decades of combined experience in legislative/regulatory
policy development, building and managing broad-based coalitions,
and in conducting aggressive lobbying and public relations campaigns.” 


In
addition to heading up PFTW and Policy Communcations, Sims was the
former director of communications for President George W. Bush’s
National Energy Policy Task Force—also known as Cheney’s
secret panel—and helped craft the Administration’s energy
policy. He also serves as executive director of the Western Business
Roundtable (WBR—www.western roundtable.com), an organization
that describes itself as “a non-profit business trade association
comprised of CEOs and senior executives of organizations doing business
in the Western United States.” 


Sims
also sits on the board of directors for the Center For The New American
Century (www.cnacon line.org), a non-profit think tank based in
Denver, chaired by Colorado Governor Bill Owens, which focuses on
four issues: Internet taxation (opposes), endangered species reform
(supports corporate-government partnerships), civil service reform
(opposes “antiquated civil service system”), and civil
justice/tort reform (opposes “lawsuit abuse”). 


Sims’s
cohorts aren’t chopped liver. According to Policy Communications’
website, Senior Vice President Holly Propst “has spent the
last 19 years doing public policy development on energy, environmental
and natural resource issues within the U.S. Congress, state legislatures
and in corporate environments.” Propst has extensive experience
working as a senior staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives
and prior to her current position, she was the Manager of Public
Policy for Xcel Energy. 


Vice
President Paul Poister has 15 years experience in public affairs
and corporate communications and has worked with American Medical
Response (AMR) in Aurora, Colorado and “spent more than 10
years in Washington, DC, working on Capitol Hill and later for Kasten
and Company, a government relations consulting firm.” 


Pam
Ortiz, the director of operations, “has more than a decade
of experience in the energy industry and came to our company from
Xcel Energy, where she worked in the government affairs department.” 


“Generally
speaking,” Scott Silver, the executive director of the environmental
organization Wild Wilderness (www.wildwilderness. org), wrote in
an email exchange, “these people are paid lobbyists and public
relations consultants serving the needs of every imaginable sort
of polluter, developer, resource extractor or despoiler of the environment.
They are not environmentalists by any stretch of the imagination
and they have no environmental experience except as active facilitators
of environmental destruction employing their skills in the fields
of litigation, prestidigitation and conjuring.” 


Policy
Communications’ client list reads like a who’s who of
the extraction industry, including such corporate citizens as: Tom
Brown, Inc., Bill Barrett Corp., Western Gas Resources, Forest Oil,
Prima Energy, EnCana, Xcel Energy, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., The Dow Chemical
Company, Unocal, Danaher Corporation, Calpine Corporation, ESI Energy,
Inc., Constellation Energy, Inc., Oxbow Power Com- pany, Magma Power
Company, and Premark International, Inc.”  


Current
members of PFTW include more than 100 companies, associations, coalitions,
and individuals “who collectively employ or represent hundreds
of thousands of people across America in the following sectors:
farming/ranching, coal, timber/wood products, small businesses,
utilities, hard rock mining, oil & gas, construction, manufacturing,
property rights advocates, education proponents, recreational access
advocates, county government advocates, local, state and federal
elected officials, grassroots advocates and others.” PFTW hopes
to attract 100,000 members and raise $5 million for lobbying Congress. 


The
organization’s four guiding principles are:


  1. Public lands
    in the West belong to all Americans. We believe these lands should
    be accessible for sustainable uses and environmentally sound development
    for the benefit of all Americans.

  2. The West needs
    and deserves good-paying jobs created by sustainable and environmentally
    sound development. We support public policies that encourage job-creating
    development, opportunity and prosperity for all. 

  3. Consumers in
    the West and throughout America deserve access to affordable and
    reliable supplies of the goods, materials, and services that help
    sustain our quality of life.  We support environmentally
    sound development of the West’s abundant natural resources
    in order to sustain and improve America’s quality of life. 

  4. We agree to work
    with citizens across the West in a partnership to support public
    policies that boost economic growth, create jobs, and encourage
    environmentally sound development in the West. 


In a recent commentary
in the

Denver Post

, Sims argued that “environmental
extremists” are dead- set against “common-sense…effort[s]
at better government.”  The result is that “the radical
enviro crowd” prefers to “gum up the works as much as
possible.” 



PFTW is advocating “common-sense” solutions to environmental
problems: that is, eliminating outdated and cumbersome restrictions
to enhance domestic energy development and reduce our reliance on
foreign sources, greater access to federal lands in the Rockies
for oil and natural gas producers, and developing creative public-
private partnerships. 



This multi-tiered message comes directly from the playbook of right-wing
foundations like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise
Institute and is being re-packaged by spinmeisters at Policy Communications.
They’re hoping it’s a winning formula for anti-environmentalists.







 






Bill Berkowitz
is a freelance writer coveing  conservative politics.