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Bush Administration Defies Judicial Ruling

Fails to appoint environmentalist to key trade committee
December 19, 2002
Washington, DC —

As part of what appears to be a continuing effort to eliminate civil society representatives from trade policymaking, the Bush administration is refusing to abide by a court order and appoint an environmentalist to a key trade advisory committee. Under a court settlement, the administration is required to include an environmental representative on its Chemical Trade Advisory Committee. The Bush administration rejected the nominee of the environmental community, instead choosing an academic with deep industry ties.

Attorneys at Earthjustice, representing Public Citizen, the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange, sent a letter on Dec. 18 to the Department of Justice protesting the appointment of Brian Mannix. The groups urged the Bush administration to follow through on its commitment to appoint an environmentalist to the 23-member committee, which is already packed with chemical industry executives. Mannix is a fellow at the Mercatus Center, a conservative research center at George Mason University, where noted conservative Wendy Gramm, wife of former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, is director of regulatory studies.

"This appointment is another slap in the face to the environmental community from the Bush administration," said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. "International commercial agreements like NAFTA and the WTO have significant impacts on public health and the environment. When U.S. trade policy is dictated by an advisory board dominated by industry, those issues get short shrift."

The appointment of Mannix also comes on the heels of the Bush administration's Dec. 9 purge of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN). The committee, which formerly included representatives of such groups as Consumers Union and the AFL-CIO, is now comprised solely of industry representatives, including the CEOs of Sony, eBay and IBM, with not a single public health, labor or environmental advocate.

The new ACTPN appointments also appear to be rewards to major supporters of Republican candidates in the 2002 mid-term election, reported Inside U.S. Trade (Dec. 13), after analyzing Federal Election Commission reports. Among the new appointments to the committee, which holds quarterly meetings attended by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick, is Steven Rollie Rogel, CEO of Weyerhaeuser ($244,750 to GOP candidates); Wythe Willey, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association ($298,878 to GOP candidates); and Grace Nichols, CEO of Victoria's Secret (parent company Limited Inc., which gave $100,500 to GOP candidates).

"The Bush administration is shameless -- seeking credit for an open, inclusive trade debate while purging civil society representatives from trade advisory groups," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "Given what a close call the administration just had to get Congress to pass Fast Track trade authority, you'd think they would have learned."

Mannix served as research director for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and has often favored market-based solutions to environmental problems. His appointment falls short of achieving the Federal Advisory Committee Act's (FACA) requirement that appointments be "fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented."

The litigation began over the imbalance of environmental and public health representatives on key trade advisory committees. The Trade Act of 1974 directs the USTR and the Department of Commerce (DOC) to obtain advice and information from a series of trade advisory committees on the administration of U.S. trade policy, including negotiating objectives, bargaining positions, and the implementation and ongoing operation of trade agreements.

Among the trade advisory committees organized and utilized by the USTR and DOC are the Industry Sector Advisory Committees. The mission of ISAC-3 on Chemicals and Allied Products encompasses virtually all aspects of the development and implementation of U.S. trade policy relating to chemicals, including specific strategies and bargaining positions regarding regulation.

Each member of ISAC-3 is either an executive of a chemical or allied products company or a representative of a chemical or allied products trade association such as DuPont, Eli Lilly and 3M. Yet FACA requires agency heads and other federal officials creating advisory committees to ensure that the membership of the committee is balanced in terms of the points of view represented and not "inappropriately influenced by any special interest." The Trade Act expressly provides that the FACA fair balance requirement shall apply to all ISACs.

In April 2000, Public Citizen, the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange sued the Clinton administration in federal court in an effort to force some element of balance on the chemicals committee. The groups were represented by Patti Goldman of Earthjustice. Because the groups had been successful in related suits, both the Clinton and Bush administrations agreed to appoint an environmentalist rather than continue to litigate the issue.

On June 29, 2001, at the groups' urging, Greenpeace nominated its legislative director for its toxics campaign, Rick Hind, for the position. The Bush administration, in fact, received a letter of recommendation in support of Hind from Gordon Durnhil, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to chair the International Joint Commission (between the U.S. and Canada) and was the former chair of the Indiana Republican Party. On Dec. 16, 2002, 18 months after his nomination, Hind received official notice that he was not invited to participate on the committee. Mannix's appointment was announced Dec. 17, 2002. Earthjustice is planning to return to court and ask the court to enforce the settlement.

Contacts

Brian Smith, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6714
Chris Slevin, Public Citizen, (202) 454-5140

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.