Bill Moyers explores the delicate balance between corporate productivity and environmental responsibility, looking at the growing number of corporate “green” ads and asking: What is image? What is reality?
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] Recently, DuPont announced that its energy unit would pioneer the use of new double-hulled oil tankers in order to safeguard the environment.
BILL MOYERS: Corporate America tells us they care about the planet.
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] Better things for better living.
BILL MOYERS: But people at the grass roots tell a different story.
1ST MAN: I think people are held hostage to the chemical companies, because so many make you a choice, either cancer or unemployment.
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] Do people need to create places so nature can spread its wings? People do.
WILFRED GREENE, Retired School Principal: But I’m the one that’s got to breathe that stuff at night. I’m the one that’s going to be laying around here going [pants} “I wonder can I get my breath?”
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] At Mobil we take care it as though it were our home.
JANICE DICKERSON: We are not going to just stretch out and allow America, Corporate America, to walk on us.
BILL MOYERS:In communities across the country, the battle lines have been drawn.
2nd MAN: We’ve got to figure a way to make the sign go off quicker or somebody’s going to die. It’s got to be quick and it’s got to be now, or somebody’s going to die!
BILL MOYERS: Tonight, “Politics, People, and Pollution.”
Welcome to Listening To America. I’m Bill Moyers. If you’ve been paying attention to the national political campaigns, you haven’t heard much about environmental issues. But there is a lot going on around those issues, whether or not the candidates take note. In fact, the most important battles over the environment may even have shifted from Washington to the grass roots, where citizens are challenging polluters directly. Well meet some of those people later in this broadcast.
First, though, we’ll take a look at how corporations have responded to the growing challenge from citizens by trying to project a politically correct image. This ad, for example, was distributed by the Chemical Manufacturing Association. Over a picture of the planet it says, “Handle With Responsible Care.” And then on the other side, “Over 170 leading companies are saying, ‘We’re responsible.”’ Corporations are also spending millions of dollars on television commercials, known in the trade as “green advertising.” Here are some of the commercials you’ve seen on television lately:
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] At Mobil, we take care of it as though it were our home. Because it is.
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] Recently, DuPont announced that its energy unit would pioneer the use of new double-hulled oil tankers in order to safeguard the environment.
1st ACTOR: [TV commercial] This is what Mother Nature left us.
2nd ACTOR: Plastic!
3rd ACTOR: Yeah, I’ll bet Mother Nature didn’t leave this.
4th ACTOR: You’re right. Plastic can be recycled.
CHORUS: Dow lets you do great things.
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] It’s not much bigger than your fingernail, yet people who work there protect the area and plant buckwheat. Do people really do that so a tenth of a gram of beauty can survive? People do.
ANNOUNCER: [TV commercial] In just three years we’ve made over 200 million pounds of hazardous waste vanish from the face of the earth, destroying it with high temperature incineration, without harm to the environment. We call that making progress.
BILL MOYERS: [on camera] One of the pioneers in corporate image-making is Herb Schmertz, formerly Vice President of Public Affairs for Mobil Oil Company. He’s the man who brought Masterpiece Theater to public television many years ago when I was just a kid. Now he has his own public relations firm.
Herb, you’ve come a long way from these quarter-page ads in single newspapers to dolphins, penguins, and sea otters in praise of petroleum. What’s going on here?
HERB SCHMERTZ, Public Relations Consultant: Well, I think that what you’re seeing is Corporate America recognizing that they have to engage in the same kind of a – emotional appeals that – that their critics have engaged in for a long period of time. Policy in the United States, in my view, is made by special interest groups getting the media’s attention, creating an – historical environmental which then leads to political action by congressmen. And I think that Corporate America is engaged in an emotional battle with – with their critics. And-
BILL MOYERS: Emotional battle?
HERB SCHMERTZ: Oh, yeah, sure. These are emotionally appealing ads.
BILL MOYERS: What are they really saying to us?
HERB SCHMERTZ: They’re really saying that, in terms of appealing to people’s emotions, that – that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re environmentally okay.
BILL MOYERS: Why do you want to appeal to emotions instead of to the head?
HERB SCHMERTZ: Well, I didn’t say I wanted to.
BILL MOYERS: No, not you. Why do – why do these
HERB SCHMERTZ: I didn’t say I like these ads.”,
BILL MOYERS: Do you?
HERB SCHMERTZ: No.
BILL MOYERS: Why?
HERB SCHMERTZ: Because I think that Corporate America should be dealing in much more hard aspects of the issues, rather than just dealing in conclusatory, emotional kind of appeals.
BILL MOYERS: Conclusatory? What do you mean by that?
HERB SCHMERTZ: Well, if you look at those ads, the Conoco ad with the seals and the – and that’s an emotional appeal, having penguins and seals clapping. That doesn’t tell you anything about what they’re doing or the consequences of what they’re doing, or alternative policies. And my view is that what Corporate America should be doing is creating a dialogue and debate on important public policy issues in- in a political sense. I don’t think these ads contribute to that.
BILL MOYERS: So are these companies in effect not saying that they’re more responsible but that they know they have a tougher emotional, political battle to fight?
HERB SCHMERTZ: Yeah. I think they’ve made a judgment. I’m not privy to the – to the decision-making anymore, but I think they’ve made a judgment that they – they have a better chance of prevailing by playing the same kind of emotionally appealing game that their critics have played for two decades. Demonstrations get a lot more attention than hard data about nuclear plants, and demand when the media covers an event in- in extensive fashion, then it gets translated into public policy because congressional people take notice of it.
BILL MOYERS: Does-
HERB SCHMERTZ: That’s how policy’s made in the United States, unfortunately.
BILL MOYERS: Someone who has opinions on these issues is Lois Gibbs. She’s Executive Director of Citizens Clearing House for Hazardous Waste, a national organization that works with community activists. You may remember Lois Gibbs as the woman who discovered toxic waste buried under her community in Love Canal, New York, in 1978.
LOIS GIBBS, Citizens Clearing House for Hazardous Waste: 1978.
BILL MOYERS: And when – when she organized a citizens’ protest, she was called “an hysterical housewife.”
LOIS GIBBS: That’s right.
BILL MOYERS: You’re no longer hysterical.
LOIS GIBBS: I’m still hysterical.
BILL MOYERS: You’re still hysterical.
LOIS GIBBS: Uh- huh. I’m just no longer a housewife.
BILL MOYERS: Well, since you got involved in 1978, have companies become more responsive? Do you think these ads are communicating a more serious approach to the environment?
LOIS GIBBS: Companies have not become more responsive, and I think that it was just said, that these ads are emotional. They are there to convince the public that in fact they are doing something to protect the environment, that they really do care about the environment. In reality all they’re doing is appealing those warm and fuzzy feeling for folks. They’re really not doing anything at the street level. They’re spending millions and millions of dollars of ads on bunnies and birds and, you know, to convince the world that in fact they are changing their ways, when in reality nothing has changed, or very little has changed.
BILL MOYERS: Herb Schmertz says that they are emotional ads directed at the emotions of – of – of the viewer. Are they having an effect out there? Do – do you think people where you work at the grass roots level are being influenced by these ads?
LOIS GIBBS: Actually, I don’t, because they can read in the paper that the ozone layer is getting larger, that the hole is – the hole there is getting larger. Global warming is happening. That there isn’t going to be any safe water to drink. They read about the autism of the families up in Massachusetts, the birth defects of the families in San Jose, the Love Canal, the Cancer Alley in Louisiana. People are not stupid. And I think that what industry is saying is, ”Well, we’ll try and fool the public. We’ll make these wonderful, pretty ads, and then we’ll go along our way.” And it-
BILL MOYERS: Do you agree with that?
HERB SCHMERTZ: No. It is clear that Lois is still hysterical about a lot of these issues.
LOIS GIBBS: With good reason.
HERB SCHMERTZ: The real issue is the debate ought to be on priorities. And the debate ought to be non-emotional. Emotion should be removed from it. Unfortunately, Corporate America is not making the arguments with regard to the consequences of a lot of these things, in terms of – of jobs, in terms of economic growth. I mean, when I look at pollution, I include pollution – burned out buildings in Harlem. I – when I see pollution, I see schools that are inadequate. I see cuts in the Board of Education budgets. I see libraries closing. That’s pollution also. Now, you won’t solve that kind of pollution without economic growth. And if you inhibit- if you inhibit economic growth-
LOIS GIBBS: So therefore we should go ahead and poison people for the purpose of economic growth so that we won’t have burnt-out schools?
HERB SCHMERTZ: Well, no, no, I – no. No, I’m saying – no.
BILL MOYERS: What are you saying?
HERB SCHMERTZ: I’m saying that – that we have to get our priorities in better order than they are. There isn’t enough money in the world to solve every social problem that we have. So you have to make some priorities based on real needs. I think that the priorities are now distorted because of the emotional appeals that are being put forth by special interest groups in the area of pollution.
LOIS GIBBS: Including yourself. You just said that that’s what those ads were, an emotional appeal.
HERB SCHMERTZ: Well, I – I don’t – I don’t agree with those ads. I’ve said I don’t agree with them. I –
LOIS GIBBS: But in [crosstalk]
HERB SCHMERTZ: The ads that I would be running could be ads addressed to the debate and in – in the marketplace of ideas, so that we can get rational judgments based on hard data and priorities.
BILL MOYERS: What would be your priority? What would be the first priority you would like to see addressed if – if we were talking about what you think is – is crucial?
HERB SCHMERTZ: I – I – my view is that nothing happens without economic growth. You can’t-
BILL MOYERS: Jobs.
HERB SCHMERTZ: Jobs and – and – and expanding our gross national product and bringing the third of the nation that’s still ill-housed, ill-clothed, and ill-fed into the mainstream of America.
BILL MOYERS: But is what Lois Gibbs and her people are doing preventing the creation of jobs?
HERB SCHMERTZ: I think – I think that certain aspects of the environmental legislation are counterproductive in terms of economic growth. Profits don’t come from the tooth fairy. They come from the sale of goods and services. And if you want corporate profits to be used in a particular way, it’s the consumer who’s going to have to bear the burden. And in my view, the consumer ought to be informed of the costs so that they can make a rational judgment. Just as you have environmental impact statements, I think. There should be economic impact statements developed-
LOIS GIBBS: I don’t disagree with that. I think. consumers would be willing to pay an extra nickel for a product so that when it was produced the waste that was generated was either reduced or not generated at all.
HERB SCHMERTZ: Well, that’s – that’s – okay. Would you would-
LOIS GIBBS: What you’re saying and I’ve heard corporations say in reference to the foam issue, “Consumers need styrofoam. It’s critically important.” 1 don’t know a consumer in this country who has called up a fast-food chain and said, “I am not going to buy your burger if 1 don’t have foam.” But DuPont will make the argument that it’s critical. When consumers were given a choice, they said, ”We don’t want this product.” But when industry heard that they did not want this product, they did a whole lot of campaigns and public advertising, just like the ones we’ve seen earlier, in order to convince the consumer that they must have this product, that they cannot live in the United States of America without foam.
HERB SCHMERTZ: And that’s the problem, because Corporate America is not going into the marketplace and making an effective argument based on priorities. You know how when you buy a gallon of gasoline it has allocated how much the tax is and how much, you know, the state tax and local?
LOIS GIBBS: Mm- hmm.
HERB SCHMERTZ: What we ought to do is every time a product is sold, it ought to have an allocated part, how much it’s costing for environmental protection, so that the consumer knows what he’s paid. Maybe-
LOIS GIBBS: I agree.
HERB SCHMERTZ: Maybe – and maybe they won’t like it.
BILL MOYERS: You – you – you’ve got to – it’s – you’ve got
LOIS GIBBS: And we should add to that the list or chemicals that are being dumped into the environment.
HERB SCHMERTZ: With – without-
LOIS GIBBS: So if a consumer pays this and these are the people the chemicals that are-
BILL MOYERS: That’s – that’s –
HERB SCHMERTZ: That’s the debate. And – and in my view is
LOIS GIBBS: It’s not a debate. I think. we agree on that.
HERB SCHMERTZ: Well, it’s – the debate is – is to develop priorities based on what the public is willing to pay for and what – what makes the most sense in terms of the limited amount of capital.
BILL MOYERS: And that takes us down to the grass-roots level. You mentioned Cancer Alley a moment ago. Cancer Alley in Louisiana is one of those – some people call it Cancer Alley, some people call it Chemical Alley. It’s one of those places where a lot of corporations have come to nest and where grass-roots activists are beginning to speak to the reality that lies behind the images we saw in those commercials. Let’s look at this report from Louisiana.
PAT BRYANT, Activist: Smokestacks, companies, poisons, surrounded by communities and marshlands along a beautiful river.
BILL MOYERS: For two days last March 1 traveled an 87-mile stretch in Louisiana along the Great Mississippi River Road between Baton Rouge and New Orleans with Pat Bryant.
PAT BRYANT: Children sick, some losing their vision, all kinds of diseases, crooked politicians, and loving people.
BILL MOYERS: This used to be called plantation country, but the arrival of more than 125 chemical corporations in recent decades has drastically altered the landscape. Each year they release about 450 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment here.
PAT BRYANT: We began to call it Cancer Alley about five years ago because the cancer rate is so high here.
BILL MOYERS: Louisiana has the highest lung cancer rate in the country.
PAT BRYANT: You know, this is past a – a national disaster.
BILL MOYERS: Bryant is a community organizer. He’s been helping rural citizens who want the chemical industry to operate more responsibly. What happens to people down here who speak out against these big companies?
PAT BRYANT: You could lose your business, if you’re in business.
You could get blackballed, if you’re a worker. The petrochemical companies own the state. At least, our politicians have given them the state. We’ve been so dirt-poor in the South, in the deep South, we need jobs so badly, and we need development so badly that any industry that comes we will accept.
BILL MOYERS: Our first stop, Honville. But Cutt’s place.
PAT BRYANT: Center of the community.
BILL MOYERS: Bryant meets with local activists twice a month at But Cutt’s restaurant.
ALFRED JOSEPHS (BUT CUTT), Restaurant Owner: How you doing? ,
PAT BRYANT: You But Cutt?
BUT CUTT: But Cutt.
PAT BRYANT: These people have educated me. They have taught me how severe it is.
BUT CUTT: You go through some of these areas at night, man, those – the – the – the plants it’s – look like the machines are running 100 miles an hour. You know? And then the stuff that’s coming out, we don’t know what it is. All we know is something’s coming out.
1ST MAN: I think people are held hostage to the chemical companies because it’s a matter of make your choice, either cancer or unemployment.
BILL MOYERS: So you’ve got very high rates of cancer down here, it’s an unhealthy place to live.
1ST MAN: They will say that it has nothing to do with the millions of pounds of chemicals that they’ve placed into the environment. They will tell you that it’s our lifestyle that is responsible for the high incidence.
BILL MOYERS: [crosstalk] food, oh, look at that, hot sausages over there, hamburger, shrimp, fishh, roast beef, chicken plates, it’s a –
1st MAN: They’re saying – they’re saying it’s a joke.
2nd MAN: It’s a joke! They say you party too much.
BILL MOYERS: In addition to lung cancer, other forms of cancer have appeared in communities along the river. Millions of dollars have been spent studying the problem, but so far no official link has been made between cancer and the chemical industry.
KAYE GAUDET, Pharmacist and Environmental Activist: The government is quick to tell us that it’s our lifestyles. Now they’ve got a new angle. It’s not only the food we eat, but it’s the way we cook it here. So I guess it’s all those Cajun seasonings.
CHRIS GAUDET, Pharmacist and Environmental Activist: Seafood, shrimp, it’s killing us.
BILL MOYERS: Kaye and Chris Gaudet have lived in St. Gabriel for 17 years. Concerns about mysterious health problems there turned them into activists.
KAYE GAUDET: Being pharmacists – both of us are pharmacists – we knew what we were seeing happening to the community, we knew the types of drugs we were selling, and we would have people coming in. to – to our pharmacy, pharmaceutical salesmen, that would tell us, “You know, you all are the sinus capital of the world. I sell more sinus medication here than I sell all over the United States, than we sell all over the United States.” And that got us thinking, “Well, you know, why are we different here?”
BILL MOYERS: What else did you – could you suspect from the drugs you were selling?
KAYE GAUDET: Well, for nine consecutive months, I – being computerized in the pharmacy, we could generate what we call drug usage reports. For nine consecutive months, the number two drug dispensed in our pharmacy was a drug used to treat cancer. And when we – there is a top-200 list of drugs dispensed nationwide that we had to learn as students. You know, that’s one of the things. So we – annually that report is generated for – for the country. And the number one drug in our pharmacy was the number one drug of the top-200 across the nation. The number two drug in our pharmacy was not even being reported in the top-200 drugs used nationwide. So we knew there’s something wrong here.
CHRIS GAUDET: We’ve got a problem.
DAN BOURN, President, Louisiana Chemical Association: I grew up in Thibodaux, Louisiana. I drank Bayou La Fourche water for 22 years before I moved to Baton Rouge, and if I thought it was a health threat I’d be out of here in a New York second.
BILL MOYERS: Dan Bourn is president of the Louisiana Chemical Association.
DAN BOURN: I think there are some health problems in this state that could possibly be attributed to the chemical industry. But I also know this state has a – it has health problems that are – are – are due to poverty, are due to poor education, are due in many cases to either slow access or delayed and- and- and too late an access to our health system. So no, I think. the chemical industry overall has been a positive for this state.
CHRIS GAUDET: Whose fault? Whose fault? If it’s not your fault, whose fault is it, Jack?
BILL MOYERS: We were in St. Gabriel one week after a nearby company accidentally released ten tons of chlorine into the air. The alarm wasn’t sounded. Local citizens were not notified immediately, and they were not evacuated.
CHRIS GAUDET: We need you to be responsible, to get together with the chemical industry.
COMPANY OFFICIAL: Hey-
CHRIS GAUDET: Don’t wait till an accident happens. The people I’ve talked to, when I asked them, “What do you do in a chemical emergency?” They just shrugged their shoulders.
COMPANY OFFICIAL: But you can’t [crosstalk]
CHRIS GAUDET: “I don’t know.” We want to get them here face to face. We want to show them that we’re not afraid of them, and we have our own recommendations on how to improve the system.
1st TOWNSPERSON: We’ve got to figure a way to make the sign go off quicker or somebody’s going to die. It’s that, plain and simple. It’s got to be quick and it’s got to be now, or somebody’s going to die!
CHRIS GAUDET: And we think that the chemical industry is responsible for the leaks, they ought to be responsible for educating the citizen.
BILL MOYERS: This is your book you’re about to publish, The Great Louisiana Tax Giveaway.
KAYE GAUDET: That’s right.
BILL MOYERS: A Decade of Corporate Welfare in Louisiana. You mean that, corporate welfare?
CHRIS GAUDET: We do mean it.
BILL MOYERS: Gaudet heads the Louisiana Citizens for Tax Justice, which sponsored the report.
CHRIS GAUDET: And industry gets very upset when we say it, because they say they deserve it. Well, they don’t deserve it. The people in the communities deserve that money, not them.
BILL MOYERS: According to the report, Louisiana gave corporations tax breaks worth $2.0 billion in the 1980’s. Most of the money went to Fortune 500 companies: $96 million went to Shell Oil, $93 million to Exxon, $76 million to Texaco, $61 million to Dow, $56 million to Mobil, $46 million to DuPont, $38 million to Occidental Petroleum, and $30 million went to Union Carbide.
CHRIS GAUDET: And a lot of the money that’s going to industrial tax exemptions could be going to our roads, our schools, our local governments, fire protection, hazardous materials handling, the kind of things that we’re talking about at the meeting tonight. Emergency response. All those things, we could get the money from these tax exemptions. But unfortunately it’s going to the chemical industry who, instead of being responsible, putting it back into the community, are putting it in their big, fat wallets and going out of state with it.
BILL MOYERS: Until 1990, the Gaudets ran the only pharmacy in St. Gabriel. But when they stood up to the industry, they lost their customers.
CHRIS GAUDET: You know, we’re in a profession to try and help people. And part of our profession told us, if something’s wrong with the community, we need to get involved and try to fix it. But because of our involvement in trying to fix it, we had to eventually close down the business.
KAYE GAUDET: Employees of industry had come to us and told us that they had to make a choice, their job or patronizing our pharmacy.
CHRIS GAUDET: And it’d really choke you up when you have friends who know longer speak to you, when you have people that you’ve gotten up in the middle of the night and filled their prescription for don’t- won’t come and see you anymore. And they and they feel afraid to talk to you. I – these bastards are tough to fight against. They really are.
DAN BOURN: God didn’t give us the white beaches that he gave Florida. He didn’t give us the three Miss Americas that he gave Mississippi. He gave us dead dinosaurs. He gave us fossil fuels. And from that fossil-fuel base has come oil refineries and has come the – the chemical industry that’s followed the barrel of oil and the MCF of gas. Even with those huge tax exemptions, which we don’t argue with, even with those there is still a huge economic spin-off from this industry in this state.
BILL MOYERS: In the way of-
MAN: Well, in the way of jobs, for example. Just in the chemical industry alone, there are 35,000 full-time jobs. Is that a license to pollute? No. It isn’t. And we’re learning that more and more now as we listen to our neighbors more and more.
BILL MOYERS: With few exceptions, companies have settled in poor districts where residents rarely have had enough political or economic clout to protect and preserve their communities.
PAT BRYANT: They always talk about living something back to the community. In this instance they – they took every part of this community they could take except the graveyard.
BILL MOYERS: Slowly, industry has bought up land and pushed people out.
PAT BRYANT: You have scores of communities that – that have ceased to exist all over the southland and [crosstalk]
BILL MOYERS: But local people are beginning to force corporations to pay a price for the devastation of their communities.
AIDA MAE GAINES, Activist: Anybody want to come here, come in. <
BILL MOYERS: Okay. Aida Mae Gaines, mother of eight, grandmother to 20, and full-time elementary school janitor, is one of those standing up to big industry.
[on camera] I haven’t had grits like that in years.
AIDA MAE GAINES: Really?
BILL MOYERS: Over a southern breakfast she and friend Janice Dickerson told me about their battle.
JANICE DICKERSON: You know, we were fighters. We came from people who will fight.
AIDA MAE GAINES: Mm- hmm.
JANICE DICKERSON: I mean- I mean, this is the whole thing with Ms. Gaines. Ms. Gaines is a fighter. We are not going to just stretch and allow America – Corporate America – to walk on us.
BILL MOYERS: In 1960, Mrs. Gaines and her family moved to a small town called Sunrise, where her children played in open fields and breathed fresh air. Ten years later, Placid Oil Company built a refinery right next door and began manufacturing gasoline, diesel, and military jet fuel.
[on camera] What did you notice? Could you smell?
AIDA MAE GAINES: Yes. Smell, eyes burned, cough. This child here, I’ve always had a problem with him with sinus. My oldest grandson, oh my God. He was a mess with it. There were certain times he had to put a towel over the nose with the water to, you know, keep this other scent from getting in. There was a smog sometimes so thick over there your eyes just burned.
BILL MOYERS: Recently, Mrs. Gaines and some of her neighbors joined forces. They gave Placid Oil a choice: stop polluting or pay for Sunrise residents to move to safer neighborhoods.
AIDA MAE GAINES: Every morning I got up, seven o’clock, got my little grandkids off to school. I walked out in front of Placid.
BILL MOYERS: In front of the plant?
AIDA MAE GAINES: In front of the plant. We had ice threw on us.
BILL MOYERS: Ice?
AIDA MAE GAINES: Yeah. From the passing vehicle, yelling, you know, “Go, nigger, go.” Yeah. And I tell them, “This nigger’s going to stay here until she get what she want.”
BILL MOYERS: In June 1991 the protesters finally filed a lawsuit. Two months ago, Mrs. Gaines and her family moved into this house, about ten miles from Sunrise.
JANICE DICKERSON: Well, we consider it a victory.
AIDA MAE GAINES: Yes.
JANICE DICKERSON: Folk may not look at it that way, even though we lost our community. Poor folk forced Placid Oil Company to act on a lawsuit.
AIDA MAE GAINES: Mm-hmm. And I’ll do it today. All over again. I don’t want to stand and say, like, “Oh, I got mine. That’s it.” Oh, no. I want to go on and help somebody else. Keep talking, keep walking, and let them know that we are going to come together, and we are going to do it. And folks are going to listen.
BILL MOYERS: What these people I’ve been talking to in Honville and Sunrise and places like that is say, ”These big chemical companies have the law on their side because they own the politicians.” Look at the PAC contributions, look at the members of legislatures and senators that the- that the- that they can get to, these big contributions, the wealth of the industry gets access to the lawmakers that we don’t, in the communities, have. They say it’s not fair.
DAN BOURN: I think that’s changing, Bill. I think the more public attention that is focused on this, the more sensitive the politicians have become. And the politicians are not going to turn the public off on an issue as critical as the environment. It’s too big a deal for too many people.
BILL MOYERS: So you’re saying that these people who are organizing and protesting are in fact having an effect.
DAN BOURN: Absolutely!
BILL MOYERS: On you and the politicians.
DAN BOURN: That’s – absolutely. Positively.
WILFRED GREENE: We got valuable land here. It was given to the oil people, sold to them when they thought it had no value. Now it’s valuable because of this river back there. This is the important thing, right here. That river back there.
BILL MOYERS: The town of Wallace, population 400, sits right in the middle of the last 28 miles of rural countryside in Chemical Alley.
WILFRED GREENE: We have some of the evidence that in 1846 it was here.
BILL MOYERS: No kidding? Wilfred Greene, a retired school principal from Wallace, would like to keep it that way.
So the Formosa plant would be right over there where that tower is.
WILFRED GREENE: Right where that tower is. Right.
BILL MOYERS: Formosa Plastics, a billion-dollar chemical company, plans to build the world’s largest rayon and pulp processing plant here in Wallace.
[on camera] You’re fighting it?
WILFRED GREENE: Till I die.
BILL MOYERS: Greene and Samuel Jackson are refusing to sell their land to Formosa. [on camera] And don’t you want to sell them your land so that –
WILFRED GREENE: No, sir.
SAMUEL JACKSON: Nope. We want to live.
BILL MOYERS: You can retire in comfort.
SAMUEL JACKSON: I – I’m living in fine comfort now. I’m living in comfort now. I’m living, I’m doing what I want to do. See, money is not the thing that – that makes a man live in comfort.
WILFRED GREENE: The wrong type of plant is being built here. It’s like – Formosa is-
BILL MOYERS: Why is it a wrong kind of plant?
WILFRED GREENE: It’s a chemical plant. It’s a paper mill, it’s a pulp mill. Their main discharge is dioxin, and that’s cancer- causing.
BILL MOYERS: Formosa’s operations have left a trail of pollution from Taiwan to Texas. Two years ago the Environmental Protection Agency levied its highest fine ever, $8.3 million, against Formosa for contaminating soil and ground water in Texas. Still, the Louisiana government has worked hard to lure the Formosa plant to Wallace.
WILFRED GREENE: All these people want is they’re going to come here and build a company and just come in and destroy this community, run everybody out of the community. You know where they’re going to live? Baton Rouge. Texas. They’re going to live somewhere else. They’re not going to live here. But I’m the one that’s got to breathe that stuff at night. I’m the one that’s going to be laying around here going [pants] I wonder can I get my breath.
SAMUEL JACKSON: Sure we need a shot of economics in this area. But are we willing to pay that price? That price is too high. The price of the community. The price of the environment is too high.
BILL MOYERS: Do you think it’s either/or? Does it have to be a company coming at the expense of the environment? Isn’t there a middle ground?
SAMUEL JACKSON: There – there should be. But there’s not. And unless you put pressure’ on them you won’t force them to be accountable. No one’s trying to make them accountable. They’re all after jobs, that’s it.
WILFRED GREENE: They are saying to you, “We are going to bring in 3,000 families into this community.” That’s – that’s a – the – what they are saying. I am saying, if you are going to bring in that many people into this community, you are going to bring in a tremendous burden to the school system.” See? “You are going to bring in not only those people, you are going to bring in crimes of all kind. We are going to need police protection, we are going to need health care, we’re going to need a little bit of everything. But you don’t put anything here!”
BILL MOYERS: Doesn’t the company pay taxes?
WILFRED GREENE: No, the company don’t pay any taxes.
SAMUEL JACKSON: They’re tax- exempt!
WILFRED GREENE: But they’re looking for tax breaks now. They’re looking for what they going to pay tax.
SAMUEL JACKSON: They – they’re tax-exempt. And for ten years, and then when they – after the ten years is up, they expand or remodel, which give them another ten-year tax break.
WILFRED GREENE: So can we get better off by you taking from us what we already don’t have? Or do we need somebody to come into this community that’s going to bring something in this community that’s going to help the few in this community to survive? Look at these little bitty kids here. Who’s looking out for them? Who’s looking out for them? If those of us who have to live with them don’t look out for them, they are going to go through the same identical thing that my father, great-grandparent, all of them went through. And we are doing what we says, what – we are not going to live today and let that go and ever happen. We want to take our own destiny in our own hands.
PAT BRYANT: We’re building a movement that will change the face of this country, a movement that hopefully will join with labor and join with religious organizations, join with students. This movement is about saving not just people of color, but all of us.
BILL MOYERS: [on cameral What’s happening in Louisiana is happening at the grass roots around the country, and we have some people here to talk about the issues raised when citizens fight pollution. But first, a politician who has dealt with the chemical industry from the corridors of power. Buddy Roemer was governor of Louisiana from 1988 until January of this year. He joins us now from WGBH in Boston. Governor Roemer, you heard Pat Bryant say that the petrochemical companies own the state of Louisiana. Is that true?
BUDDY ROEMER, Governor of Louisiana: No. But there’s an element of truth in it, Bill. For years Louisiana had no laws that regulated the giving of money to politicians. And some companies, not all companies, but some companies gave untold millions to legislators and governors and other elected officials. That is true. Four years ago, when I ran for governor, I said I would accept no such unlimited money. We set some limits voluntarily. We won. It’s now the law in the state, so for the first time the public knows what companies give what money to what politicians, and it is limited. But the issue is money, Bill. The man is right there. It’s about tax breaks, and that’s the public’s money. And I think the public ought to be involved in it. I believed that four years ago, I believe that more today.
BILL MOYERS: What about those tax breaks? One report says that the major polluters get 80 percent of the tax breaks given by the State of Louisiana.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: I don’t know what that exact number is, but that would not surprise me, because the major companies are the major polluters, and they get the tax breaks. Louisiana competes with Texas and Mississippi and Arkansas and New York and Massachusetts and California in tax breaks.
BILL MOYERS: And the companies play the governors of those states off against each other, don’t they?
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: Yes, they do.
BILL MOYERS: If you don’t give us a tax break in Louisiana, we’ll go to Texas. If you don’t give it to us in Texas, we’ll come to New York.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: I plead guilty. I fought hard for jobs, as does every governor. I plead guilty. What we did in our state, though, different from California and New York, Texas, and Mississippi, is that we had a – we developed an economic scorecard, an environmental scorecard, that every company that came to us for a tax break had to go through this scorecard. And we gave them a break only after reviewing their environmental record, the jobs they created, and what they were going to do with the money. Now, we did this – it was the last year I was in office, and I think it helped beat me when I ran for election. I’m like – you know, one of your guys talked about the price that consumers pay? I’m talking about the price that I paid. When I ran for re-election this last time, a major company in our state spent untold hundreds of thousands of dollars to run its own independent ads against me. Why? Because of the environmental scorecard.
BILL MOYERS: I thought you said that you had cleaned – that you – you and Louisiana had cleaned up the money tap, that you-
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: We did. What we – what we failed to recognize, Bill, and you might be akin to this, is how intelligent some of these corporations are at reading the fine print in the law. There was no prohibition in the law for an independent company to spend inde-pendent money to say whatever they wanted to say on television. And the last ten weeks of that race was characterized by two, three, or $400,000 spent on independent money attacking me. On what? The environment. That I was too tough, that I was too hard. And the companies can beat up on me all day, I think we’re right and they’re wrong.
BILL MOYERS: What about what these people in the grass-roots level down at Honville and Wallace are up – what are they up against when they take on the industry?
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: Well, I – I’m uncomfortable tonight talking about industry, because companies are different. They’re like people. Many companies in our state are very responsible, good citizens, and I love working with them. There are a few who are interested only in the bottom line. And what the citizens have to battle is how do we reach the bottom line?
BILL MOYERS: So often the issue has cast jobs versus the environment. Yet this same study shows that those major corporations that got 80 percent – the major polluters that got 80 percent of the tax breaks-
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: Don’t create any jobs.
BILL MOYERS: – created only 20 percent of the jobs. In fact, one company, Tenneco, got something like $53 million to create just 61 jobs at their refinery.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: But we took the companies at their own word. They say, “We create jobs.” We say, “All right, we’ll give you 50 percent of the tax breaks if you can show us the jobs you’ve created.” They screamed bloody murder. It’s about money, it’s not about jobs to the companies. To the citizens it’s about jobs and lifestyle and being able to breathe the air.
BILL MOYERS: Gov. Roemer, stand by with us up in Boston. We asked the Chemical Manufacturing Association, which represents the major chemical corporations in the country, to send a- a representative to join this discussion, and they declined. But William Mulligan has joined us. He is Manager of Environmental Affairs for the Chevron Corporation, one of the largest refiners and marketers of petroleum products in the United States, and he’s one of the bravest men I have met.
WILLIAM MULUGAN, Manager of Environmental Affair, Chevron Corporation: Thank you.
BILL MOYERS: Bill Mulligan, how do you see this whole issue between jobs, tax breaks; environment, ads, images and reality as – from where you sit and work?
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: I don’t even know where to begin to answer that question.
BILL MOYERS: Right.
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: Because it’s so complex. I’d like – I’d like to kind of just pick up on what Gov. Roemer said, because I think it’s an important point. Every corporation that operates in Louisiana, or anywhere else in this country, for that matter, they’re not all alike. And I think that’s just the reality of what we’re dealing with, as – as far as industry. I can only speak for my company, Chevron Corporation, and what we’re trying to accomplish. We like to believe that the issue is not either jobs or the environment. That you can somehow synthesize both of those things into where jobs and the environment will – will really matter. One of the most important trends that’s finally beginning to emerge is the fact that industry is beginning to sort of open itself up to the communities through an awful lot of community awareness groups, and to begin to – this – this process of helping them understand what it is that we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and at the same time understand what their concerns are and understand what’s driving their emotions.
BILL MOYERS: What about that, Lois Gibbs?
LOIS GIBBS: Well, I disagree. I mean, I – I think that there are committees put together, but they’re committees to really try and co-opt the community as part of the decision-
BILL MOYERS: Talk to Bill.
LOIS GIBBS: – as the decision- making process, and it’s not true – it’s not true communication, it’s not true equality. So the community comes in and sits with Chevron and says, in your Richmond site, for example, in California, that we want to have a say on the alarm system. We want to have a say on the emissions. We want to have a say. And you say, “Okay. Give us your comments.” People give their comments, and then everybody goes away, and they don’t have any decision-making power. And Chevron and other companies don’t give them that power, don’t give them what they want. And it becomes a – a theoretical debate. We want and you say, “Thank you very much for your comment, and we will do as we please.”
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: I think the use of the term “co-opt” is a little bit of a harsh term, because we don’t go into those kinds of things with that in mind. That is not our objective or intention by any stretch of the imagination. The thing that’s beginning to happen in Corporate American today is dialogue. We fully appreciate, you know, the value of that kind of dialogue, and I’ll be the first to admit much of that dialogue did not exist in the past. But I think we’re beginning to see the wisdom of that thing.
HERB SCHMERTZ: Let me take – come back to something
Lois said. The idea of turning decision-making over to outside groups is – is – is absurd. You’d have four – 44 different local groups saying what they want to say, and what are you going to do? You’re going to hold a referendum on it?
LOIS GIBBS: I’m not suggesting-
HERB SCHMERTZ: Somebody has to make – somebody has to make the final decision. I think listening to what people have to say-
LOIS GIBBS: I’m not suggesting that we do-
HERB SCHMERTZ: – taking it into consideration in a responsive way is fine.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: I say
HERB SCHMERTZ: Turning decision-making over, which is what you’ve proposed is absurd.
LOIS GIBBS: We’re just-
BILL MOYERS: Gov. Roemer.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: Okay, let – let me – let me just say that – that I don’t hear Lois saying that she wants to run the company. I don’t hear the citizens saying that they want to run Mobil or Chevron or – or any company in America. I hear the citizens saying, “We want to
know what the truth is. What are you putting in the air? What are you putting in the water? Could you do a better job? Do you have alarm systems for us? What public money are you using?” I think the public has the right to know that.
HERB SCHMERTZ: If Lois is saying that, I have no problem.
BILL MOYERS: Joel Hirschorn worked in the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment during the Reagan and Bush administrations, and today he advises corporations on how to implement clean technologies and pollution prevention without, he says, compromising competitiveness. Joel Hershon, are these companies changing as fast as Lois Gibbs would like for them to, and as our friends from the corporate world say they are?
JOEL HlRSCHORN, Environmental Technology Consultant: No, they’re not changing fast enough. For the last 20 years, essentially instead of having a win- win kind of strategy, we have a lose-lose strategy. Industry is losing. They’re spending enormous sums of money, but they’re spending it in the wrong ways, essentially, because government regulation is forcing them to deal with waste and pollution after they create the waste and pollution.
BILL MOYERS: Tell them. I don’t work in industry.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: And American industry is creating more waste and pollution than our – our competitors in the global marketplace. Lois is also losing. The American citizens are also losing, because they are being exposed to more and more toxic chemicals and waste and feel more and more threatened. What I’m saying is we have to go to a win-win strategy, where both industry wins and the citizens win.
BILL MOYERS: What do you want industry to do?
JOEL HIRSCHORN: I want industry-
BILL MOYERS: Tell Bill over there to how to run his place.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: I want-
BILL MOYERS: His job.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: I want Chevron and every other major American corporation to take the environmental demands from the citizens, the victims in America, and turn those demands into a new business strategy, into new technologies, into flew environmentally responsible product. There is a global marketplace out there that’s being created by the public’s environmental demands, and American companies like Chevron are going to be the General Motors of the future if they don’t learn how to convert environmental demands into new products, safe products, into new manufacturing technologies, and using new raw materials. Instead of using petroleum to make plastics we can use crops to make substitutes for- for plastics, for example. And American corporations need to stop this sort of scam advertising –
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: Right.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: – about what they say they are doing and start to produce the data, the actual data that shows Americans what they are actually doing in terms of pollution prevention and waste reduction.
BILL MOYERS: What about that, Bill Mulligan?
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: One of the things that we’re trying to do is to communicate, not just based on nice advertisements or anything like that. We’re trying to communicate our performance. Because, just as Joel said, we are doing a lot of things in the companies. Granted, it might be driven by things like regulation, it might be driven by other kind of motives. But what we’re hearing more and more today is the fact that communities are telling us, writing to us, shareholders are writing to us, the consumers are talking to us, and we’re not dumb.
BILL MOYERS: Gov. Roemer, did you see down in Louisiana evidence that what Bill Mulligan is saying was actually happening with the company?
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: All this environmental scorecard that I talked about, that Louisiana got all the awards for last year and the year before? The first thing that the new administration did this year taking office was do away with the environmental scorecard.
BILL MOYERS: Your successor, you mean.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: And many of the companies in Louisiana cheered and roared.
BILL MOYERS: You mean your successor?
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: So the performance is mixed, Bill.
BILL MOYERS: This was your successor, the man who defeated you.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: Exactly.
BILL MOYERS: Let me come back, though, to what Joel – on another occasion you said to me that the – the solution is not more conflict between Lois Gibbs and Herb Schmertz or Bill Mulligan at Chevron. The solution is in better engineering for our products, to find a way to produce the things that we all consume without polluting the environment. Now, are companies doing that?
JOEL HIRSCHORN: They’re not doing enough. Individual companies may have some good programs, but here’s the point. Every study has shown that between 50 and 75 percent of all the industrial waste and pollution can be eliminated. We have to use what people call clean technology. The Japanese, the Dutch, the Germans, they’re smarter than us, you know. They’re using more efficient manufacturing technologies, and they’re beginning to produce more – more environmentally responsible products in the marketplace. Simply to take the demands and turn it into smart business strategy.
BILL MOYERS: Is pollution control-
LOIS GIBBS: But industry doesn’t want to do it because of the cost. I mean, it costs money to change those processes.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: No – that – that’s the point that I think a lot of American industry is still missing.
LOIS GIBBS: [crosstalk]
JOEL HIRSCHORN: We’re not talking about increasing costs.
LOIS GIBBS: Right.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: We’re talking about making American industry more efficient, producing less waste. Why is it, if you look at the numbers American industry produces more waste per unit output than competing industrialized countries?
BILL MOYERS: Is pollution prevention profitable? Bill? Herb?
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: We’d like to believe that pollution prevention is profitable. In fact, we’ve, you know, set that as one of our strategic responses, you know, as a corporation and trying to grapple with some of the rising cost of just trying to – to be in compliance. We’re in the energy business, we’re not in the waste-management business. So every pound of waste that we can avoid having to manage, we avoid that cost associated with it. So there’s a built-in financial incentive for us to engage in those kinds of practices.
LOIS GIBBS: And I think that’s where the grass-roots movement has made the change in this country, and I think that you would agree that when you had disposal places where you could dump that waste cheaply and easily, or where you could put it up the stack or whatever the case may be, you know, you did less. I mean, you polluted more and you did less sort of reduction and controlling of that waste.
HERB SCHMERTZ: It is true that more could be done to efficiently handle pollution. But a lot of the problems have come from environmentally motivated restrictions. Let me give you two examples. The Japanese incinerate virtually all their waste. Incinerators are an anathema to the environmental movement in the United States. The Japanese are moving just enormously rapidly, as have the French, to get their electricity onto nuclear power. Clean, safe, non-polluting. In the United States we have virtually destroyed the nuclear energy in this country as a result of misguided environmental concerns. So those are the kinds of debates and trade-offs that are needed. Yes, more could be done. But a lot of the technology that could be used is being blocked by environmentalists.
LOIS GIBBS: I –
BILL MOYERS: Gov. Roemer, come in up there.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: First of all, Lois is the most important person on this program. And what she represents is the most important step on the path to clean air and bright water.
BILL MOYERS: How’s that?
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: That is, we have to get people involved. I believe that if Corporate America reaches out to its customers in terms of the environmental lifestyle that the customers lead, that Corporate America will be more profitable. I don’t care what the Japanese do. If we take care of our air and water, we win.
BILL MOYERS: Lois Gibbs, what happens when citizens get involved? I mean, you haven’t fared that nicely at their hands, have you?
LOIS GIBBS: No. You’re dismissed, as I was here by the gentleman across the table, as hysterical, emotional, that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Well, you know, I know when my children are sick, and I know when there’s a cluster of disease in my neighborhood and there’s only one potential source. But-
BILL MOYERS: But didn’t one company in particular go after you?
LOIS GIBBS: Several companies have gone after us, most recently was Union Carbide. They went after us because – you know, I was actually going to raise that earlier. We were talking about dialogue and how corporations want a dialogue with citizens. Well, I don’t find that to be true. And-
BILL MOYERS: What happened?
LOIS GIBBS: Union Carbide wrote a memo to all of their vice presidents of all of their divisions about Citizens Clearing House for Hazardous Waste, which is-
BILL MOYERS: Your organization.
LOIS GIBBS: Mine – my organization – that red-baited us, called us – actually, I have a copy of it, we’re “one of the most radical coalitions operating under the environmentalist banners.” We have “ties into labors, the communist party, and all manner of folk with private and single agenda.” This is an internal memo, and he’s – he’s saying to his vice presidents, “Pay attention to what the grass-roots movement’s doing is that, if accomplished in total, would restructure you as society into something unrecognizable and probably unworkable.” Union Carbide saw us as a threat to their status quo. They didn’t look at this to say, “Gee, we need to go and sit with the folks at the Clearing House and see how we could dialogue, how we could make decisions.” Instead, they slandered us, they called us names, and they said, “Watch out.”
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: You know, the background of the entire environmental movement is in fact steeped in adversarialism. And I think we’ve had to learn over time that we could go to the communities, begin to dialogue with them.
LOIS GIBBS: Right.
WILLIAM MULLIGAN: Engage in the win-win that I think Joel was really talking about, and actually effect a positive outcome for both sides.
LOIS GIBBS: But let’s be clear. We saw on the news clip earlier the family who was run out of business. They used to be a pharmaceutical – I mean, they used to do drugs for a local community. They were-
BILL MOYERS: And they said to me – they said to me that the – that the people who worked for the companies came and said to them that they had been told by the companies “Either quit your job or stop buying at this pharmacy.”
HERB SCHMERTZ: Yeah, but there [crosstalk}
LOIS GIBBS: And Occidental Petroleum said residents who lived at Love Canal and worked in the plant, that those who worked in the plant should not take a public position on Love Canal. When – when you look at so many – we just had a woman from Procter & Gamble down in Florida who was brutally beaten and was told to shut up about Procter & Gamble. Linda Paxton’s house in California was burnt this week. A private investigator is investigating Cathy in – in western New York. What is that?
HERB SCHMERTZ:What – what are you going to tell the farmers the apple farmers in Washington who were put into bankruptcy by erroneous reports about alar? What are you going to tell them? That you’re sorry, you made a mistake?
LOIS GIBBS: How many years have people been saying that alar is dangerous, and want to be concerned-
HERB SCHMERTZ: And it’s been proved – and proved not to be true.
LOIS GIBBS: And farmers, and they’re not necessarily family farmers.
HERB SCHMERTZ: And- and those farmers went into bankruptcy.
LOIS GIBBS: Let’s not confuse family farmers with corporate farmers.
HERB SCHMERTZ: And those bank – those farmers went into bankruptcy. And you’re going to go out there and tell them you were wrong.
LOIS GIBBS: I’m going to go up there and tell that they – if they’re good corporations, and if they really care about selling their product, that they ought to pay attention. That people are not going to accept things that are going to harm their selves-
HERB SCHMERTZ: But- but you’re creating an hysterical situation
BILL MOYERS: Joel, how do we end acrimony?
HERB SCHMERTZ: – damage the apple industry?
JOEL HIRSCHORN: Instead of all this, you know, attacking of each other, what we really need to address is how do we make the marketplace work? How do I as a consumer and all these people here differentiate products in the marketplace? The only way consumers can buy products from the best companies, you know, the best in – in terms of environmental performance, is to be given some credible, accurate information. Information about specific products, information about the performance of corporations. Now, I mean, as an example, Mobil fooled the public, tried to fool the public about degradable plastics. That’s false and mislead – you know, a lot of false and misleading information has gone out there in the marketplace by – by companies trying to, you know, take these public demands for environmental performance and sell them some product. And a lot of this is false and misleading. Some of it is honest. We have a – between 500 and 1,000 new American companies who are selling new, green, environmentally responsible products. There is a lot of innovation going on. But there’s also a lot of confusion in the marketplace. And the only way we’re going to get rid of this confusion is through labeling, environmental claims, which are regulated by the government, terms of – of art, so to speak, that are defined by EPA, perhaps, and a lot of data and a lot of reliable information. Not pictures of dolphins and whales. But give me the data on how much less toxic chemicals you’re producing per gallon of gasoline, for example.
HERB SCHMERTZ: If you want information in the marketplace, which I support, then you have to give the full range and spectrum of information. And that includes costs, that includes jobs lost, that includes lack of economic growth, that includes lack of competitiveness.
LOIS GIBBS: And it also – also includes your tax breaks that industry is getting and other subsidies.
HERB SCHMERTZ: [crosstalk] you see, the – the best words [crosstalk] on competitiveness is the Vice President’s Competitive Council, which is trying to balance these issues.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: No. They’re- they’re as wrong-headed as you, quite frankly, because you keep seeing – you keep seeing environmental demands as costing industry money.
HERB SCHMERTZ: No.
JOEL HIRSCHORN: Rather than making them more profitable and competitive.
HERB SCHMERTZ: All I’m asking for is disclosure. I’m just asking for disclosure.
LOIS GIBBS: But I think people – that’s what people are asking for, too. In Niagara Falls-
HERB SCHMERTZ: Yeah, I’m all for it.
BILL MOYERS: Gov. Roemer, up there in the late, great state of Harvard, you’ve got the last word. Was it worth sacrificing your political career to stand up on these issues?
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: No, I – I don’t think I sacrificed my political career.
BILL MOYERS: You said the companies beat you.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: I mean, whether you hold an office – whether you – Well, I mean, you win some, you lose some. That’s not the issue with me. There are two thoughts that come to mind, listening to our program and your great guests. One is the marketplace
BILL MOYERS: You’re not out of politics yet.
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER: No, not out yet. Number one is the marketplace will dictate what we do. Number two, the man who asked the question, “What do you say to the farmers?” That’s a very good question. What do you say to the farmers? I would put those two thoughts together in one point. I’m tired of, I’m sick of, I’m weary of shouting at each other. It’s time for us to sit down. I think the best way to compete is to cooperate. If we cooperate on the air we breathe and the water we drink, America will beat the world on the environment, and we11 sell it in Europe and around the world. It’s good business.
BILL MOYERS: Well, we’re not out of energy, we’re not out of issues, but we are out of time. I want to thank you, Gov. Roemer, for joining us; Lois Gibbs, who represents not only consumers but citizens; Joel Hirschorn, adviser to corporations on technology and environmental prevention; Bill Mulligan of Chevron, thank you for coming here today and representing your company; and Herb Schmertz, who introduced Masterpiece Theater to public broadcasting. I’m Bill Moyers, thank you for joining us for Listening To America. We’ll be back next week.
ALLEN HAMMOND, World Resources Institute: We’ve taken the environment for free – for granted, and we need signals that remind us that it’s not free.
JAMES MACNEILL, Author, “Our Common Future”: How can we meet the needs and aspirations of future generations without destroying the planet?
JESSICA TUCHMAN MATTHEWS, World Resources Institute: So the question you have to ask is: “How would you behave if you really believed the future mattered?”
BILL MOYERS: Thinking about the environment and the future – Next week on Listening to America.
You can view more about the Listening To America series on this website.
This transcript was entered on April 8, 2015.