'Smart' environmentalism

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This article was first published as "PR's "Smart Environmentalism", PR Watch, volume 1, number 3, Third Quarter 1994. The original article was authored by John Stauber and is used here with permission. As with all SourceWatch articles, feel free to edit and revise.


A June 20 1994 conference on "Smart Environmentalism" featured a scathing attack on environmentalism by right-wing libertarian Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute. Some PR advisors advocate corporate co-optation of the greens, but Taylor calls for all-out corporate war. Ridiculing the capitol's environmental lobbyists as a bunch of ineffectual "creampuffs," Taylor called on the assembled PR practitioners to stand up and fight for their companies, not capitulate.

PR Watch attended the conference, which was organized by Ketchum PR and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Conspicuously absent at the 'Smart Environmentalism' conference were representatives from Hill & Knowlton, E. Bruce Harrison, Dorf & Stanton and Burson-Marsteller, four companies whose anti-environmental PR activities were featured in detail in our previous issue.

Staffers for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) were invited to testify at the conference regarding the benefits of alliances with industry, but they declined, citing a previous commitment to meet elsewhere with their corporate partner, McDonald's restaurants.

Waste Management Inc., now called WMX Technologies, was represented by director of government affairs, Chuck McDermott. He announced that his company has indefinitely postponed a symposium on "environmental justice" it had planned to hold last June at company headquarters in Illinois. NAACP head Benjamin Chavis and Vernice Miller of Natural Resources Defense Council had agreed to speak at the WMX symposium, but it fell apart after Greenpeace and grassroots environmental justice activists leveled charges of corporate hypocrisy against WMX.

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