In a letter to Ralph Nader, Sierra Club Executive Director, Carl Pope, strongly criticises his colleague of 30 years, accusing him of taking cheap shots at Democrat Party presidential candidate, Al Gore, and ignoring the facts. Though the Republican candidate may not be perfect, says Pope, he as been part of an administration that produced reforms such as the roadless area protection policy, and has stood up to the oil industry on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“My hope is that by electing the best environmental President in American history, Al Gore, we can move forward,” said Pope. “My fear is that you, blinded by your anger at flaws of the Clinton-Gore Administration, may be instrumental in electing the worst.”

However, Pope lists a catalogue of environmental catastrophes which could befall the United States and other parts of the world should Republican candidate, George W Bush, become the next president , a likely outcome of the splitting of the green vote between Gore and Nader. Risks from a future President Bush, says Pope, include the health of asthmatic children through his voluntary approach to cleaning up air pollution; water pollution through degraded water standards to meet the needs of paper mills and refineries as has occurred in Texas; lower standards and lower polluter liability to toxic waste clean-up; and the degradation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge through exploitation by oil companies.

Nader has also broken his promise to his followers not to campaign as a spoiler and to avoid marginal states, points out Pope.

“Irresponsible as I find your strategy, I accept that you genuinely believe in it,” said Pope in his letter to Nader. “Please accept that I, and the overwhelming majority of the environmental movement in this country, genuinely believe that your strategy is flawed, dangerous and reckless. Until you can answer how you will protect the people and places who will be put in harm’s way, or destroyed, by a Bush presidency, you have no right to slander those who disagree with you as ‘servile’.”

In a separate communication, the Sierra Club has actually thrown the weight of its support behind Gore. “The Sierra Club endorses Vice President Gore because he is committed to cutting air and water pollution and protecting our nation’s treasured forests and wildlands,” said Dr Robert Cox, Sirerra Club’s volunteer President. “As Vice President, Al Gore helped strengthen clean air health standards, sped clean up of Superfund toxic waste sites, reduced automobile tailpipe pollution, and protected America’s spectacular landscapes. This is the kind of leadership the American people are seeking in our next President.”

“When the Sierra Club asked our local chapters and thousands of volunteer leaders whether to endorse a Presidential candidate, the response was overwhelming: They want Al Gore in the White House, protecting America’s environment,” Cox continued. “Our members believe that a vote for Gore is the best way to protect our families from pollution and safeguard our nation’s landscapes for future generations to enjoy.”

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