Toxic Politics of Big Green Initiative: Hayden and Fonda, 1989-90.
The origins of the President Obama’s green agenda now cutting across many federal agencies can be found in substantial part in California from 1990 to the present, e.g. Big Green Initiative and its successors.
Similarly, the sentiments of Occupy Wall Street in 2011 can also be found in the toxic politics of socialist and Communist critics of corporations and capitalism. Tom Hayden and friends led the way.
The Great Apple Scare: The Science and the Nonsense of Environmental Politics; Cancer in Children
The political scene is best set with the great apple scare of 1989.
In February and March 1989, the Natural Resources Defense Council, helped by Academy Award actress Meryl Streep,
Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits, and a credulous national media,
claimed dangers of cancer from eating apples sprayed with Alar –a hormone used
to maintain the redness and firmness of eating apples. Actress Streep in an Ed Bradley story on
CBS’s 60 Minutes claimed Alar in apples caused cancer in children.
This despite warnings to CBS of deficiencies in the Alar story six weeks before it aired.
Steve Wood, a leading promoter of low pesticide use, told CBS that banning Alar would lead to the use
of stronger chemicals. Wood also pointed out that Streep’s and “60 Minutes”s principal source, Natural
Resources Defense Council, NRDC, had used a frequently discredited twelve year
old study showing cancer in rats — fed 266,000 times the normal human
ingestion of Alar. Slightly more than the “apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
The CBS show went on to protect children from cancer no matter what the actual science showed and informed opinion said.
Both the World Health Organization and the National Academy of Sciences had claimed that Alar presented no health risk.
Two food research scientists argued that the EPA’s risk assumptions had overstated actual measures of pesticides in apples by 2,600 times.
Lots of Assumptions, Little Science
The key was the word assumption. Ronald Hart, director of the National Center
on Toxicological Research, later said, “Our risk models are based on at
least 50 assumptions, none of which have been scientifically
demonstrated.” The most-shaky assumptions involved using rodents, 1 billion times more cancer-prone than
humans, and then feeding them high caloric doses of substances. High caloric doses are carcinogenic whatever
the substance ingested. “The public thinks these animal risk estimates are based on real science, but that simply
isn’t true,” said Assistant Surgeon General Vernon Houk.
One mother called a food trade group asking whether she ought to wash her dangerous apple sauce down her kitchen sink or
take the deadly sauce to a toxic dump.
Apparently responding to mothers and not the others, the EPA banned Alar.
Although 14 scientific societies representing 100,000 microbiologists, toxicologists, and food scientists said
the risk of Alar and other chemicals was effectively zero, Uniroyal Chemical Company took Alar off the market.
Where the Political Possibilies [Are] Greater
Liberal columnist Peter Schrag said the whole
affair was a “wave of sheer unreason, … a growing lack of public
confidence in government controls and inspections … and [a] shift … into
areas where the dangers are much lower, but the political possibilities greater.”
During February 1989, speaking before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Robert Scheuplein of the
Food and Drug Administration said that while carcinogens found naturally in
foods might account for 38,0000 cancer deaths per year out of 500,000, manmade
pesticides probably accounted for 40 deaths per year — a miniscule risk irrelevant to forming the nation’s health policies.
Nonetheless, fear of the food supply was politically powerful overiding science and even common sense.
The greatest risk of eating is bacteriological — natural microbes –salmonella, camppyobacter, etc in meat
and fish. Microbes are ubiquitous — only chemicals combined with cooking could solve this genuine health
issue. Cancer from food is a very remote danger. Cancer of all kinds, except
those associated with smoking had remained the same or declined for
decades. 92 per cent of all cancers has nothing to do with what one eats. 98 per
cent of this small (8 per cent) cancer risk in foods is natural toxins, not from man-made pesticides.
Bruce Ames had shown in 1987 that natural sources of chemical carcinogens were 1,500 times
greater than man-made synthetic chemicals.
Natural plant pesticides ingested by humans are 99.9 per cent of all
chemical carcinogens. Some called NRDC “nutritional terrorists.”
Yet in March 1989, the EPA moved toward a ban on EDBC’s -widely used fungicides — even though the risk of a cancerous
dose was than one in a million and naturally occurring fungicides, such as
aflatoxins, and molds, were 1,000 times more toxic than EDBC’s. One mushroom has 167 times the carcinogenic
effects as the daily intake of EDB’s and PCB’s. The loss of EDBC’s caused apple growers to
use stronger mite killers later in the season with higher residuals on the
fruit than the EDBC’s. The estimated cost of the EDBC ban was $2
billion a year. By 1991, California would find only 10 wells
out of 2,761 tested with traces of EDB’s and be offering $190,000 for studies
of alternatives to EDB’s. The British avoided all such costs by simply believing their scientists.
Angry over its massive economic losses from the ALAR affair, Washington state apple growers sued the Natural Resources
Defense Council and CBS. NRDC’s Alan Meyerhoff, a Tom Hayden ally, said the suit was a “strategic lawsuit against
public participation,” a SLAPP.
No Significant Cancer Risk
After the Alar ban, a National Academy of Sciences report, Issues in Science and Technology, based on 6,000
studies, concluded that there was “no evidence that pesticides or natural
toxins in food contribute significantly to cancer risk in the United
States” and urged that Americans double their diet of fruits and vegetables.
The worst case — seventy years of excess ingestation of pesticides by the entire U.S. population — would predict 20,000
cases of cancer per year. This totally imaginary horror story has to be compared to 956,000 real and proven cases of
cancer deaths per year from more certain causes. Even attributing two per cent of all cancers
to pesticides requires extraordinary assumptions of guilt for pesticides and
their users with little or no hard physical evidence. To receive cancerous doses of food, one would
have to eat 20 pounds of fruits and vegetables every day according to Sanford
Miller, a biomedical scientist at the University of Texas. If the FDA’s “zero risk” were
applied to all foods, “we would have to ban all foods … ,” according to Miller.
“Most of the risks are people’s choices. They are not imposed … by
corporations. … [Yet] people want to blame someone,” said Robert J.
Scheuplein, FDA’s director of toxicological sciences. Farmers often considering themselves
conservationists, “are shocked to see themselves painted as the
enemy,” said Herb Manig of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Putting “an inspector behind every
cornstalk … (may) drive up the cost of agriculture” and food, said columnist Alastair Chase.
Environmental Politics, a Leftist Agenda
“Friends of the people” were self designated. During April 1989, Norman
Lear hired yet another old Hayden hand, Andy Spahn, to head up Lear’s
Environmental Media Association to raise Hollywood consciousness of
Lear had been inspired by Jamaican Noel Brown’s concerns about global pollution and praise
for Soviet cooperation in the clean up of the world’s pollution. Apparently the dead — (fish) in Lake Baikal,
(whales) in the Pacific, and (humans) at Chernobl — told no tales about Soviet plunder of the environment. [Chinese now leading in green technolopgy]
Corporate Capitalism’s Assault on the Environment
The range of green political possibilities for the left was greatly expanded as was their list of alleged global
environmental disasters that were all attributed to American corporate capitalism —
ocean pollution, off shore drilling (tankers worse), global warming, ozone
depletion, acid rain, pesticides, deforestation, redwoods etc., etc.,.
Bill Bradley, a long time confidant of Tom
Hayden wrote in late July 1989 that Hayden, Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly, and
others saw environmental pollution as a “hot button” issue useful for
defining the public debate for the 1990 elections. Four days later, Karl Ory, a Hayden spokesman
for Campaign California said, “We’re now looking at options for a major
environmental initiative for the November 1990 ballot. The “we” was almost incestuously
Haydenista — Hayden’s lover since the Dukaksis campaign, Vicki Rideout, was
also an advisor to attorney General John Van de Kamp. Van de Kamp’s campaign consultant (until
January) was a former Cesar Chavez organizer and Willie Brown aide, Richie
Ross. Appropriately quoting Tom Hayden, the Campaign California press release said toxics was a “progressive”
cause. “We hope to announce our plans in a few weeks,” said Ory.
Pay to Play
In the meantime various draft proposals landed among members of environmentalist industries, lawyers, and politicians
around the state who might provide substantive input — including cash contributions. The Pete Wilson for governor
campaign had received a copy and was given only a few days to read it, comment
on it and endorse it. By various accounts the Wilson campaign had either “wanted very badly” to
endorse it or found that it was “not good public policy … .” Later both the Democrat and Republican
candidates for Governor, Dianne Feinstein and Pete Wilson, would independently
claim to have easily refused to contribute $100,000 each for the opportunity to
provide input on the draft initiative and to incidentally help John Van de Kamp’s gobernatorial campaign
against both of them.
Proponents denied these financial demands were ever made. The practice, sometimes claimed – always
denied, was common in financing California’s expensive multi-million dollar
statewide ballot campaigns. Private environmentalist attorneys had also reviewed the sloppily produced draft, but
local district attorneys who would have to prosecute under the proposed law were not invited to participate.
In August Hayden and state attorney general
John Van de Kamp formally announced that a “coalition” was working to
finalize the initiative. “The entire environmental community …
[would] … put before the people the most far-reaching environmental clean-up
initiative in the history of this state,” said Van de Kamp. There was no doubt, however, that Hayden was
the one “spearheading the Big Green initiative.”
Big Green Is Red
Bill Bradley had named the effort after some discussions with Hayden who “initially loved” Big
Green. Later Hayden “asked me to stop pushing the name. It sounded, he
said, like … a big dog … like ‘Big Red’ or ‘Ole Yeller’… And he had his
own name … — EPIC for Environmental Protection Initiative of California. As it happened, EPIC … was
also … Epton Sinclair’s 1934 Socialist campaign for governor.” Some opponents would privately call the
initiative Big Red or Little Red or compare it to a watermelon — green on the outside, red on the inside.
To gauge the possible negative political impact of Hayden’s leadership role in Big Green, the initiative’s coalition
took a poll in late September. Stating that it “was put together by Tom Hayden and John Van de Kamp to further
their political agendas,” only 18 per cent said that was reason enough to vote against the initiative.” Several months later, Mervyn Field’s
California poll showed that Hayden’s favorable to unfavorable ratings by voters
was bad compared to other California politicians, 39 per cent to 38 per cent, but not as low as some thought.
The coalition was working on many fronts and venues. On September 28, Lear’s
Environmental Media Association, EMA, directed by Hayden hand Andy Spahn,
hosted a reception of ten leading environmental organizations. Also in the fall, a statewide group of local
elected officials of the “think globally, act locally” variety, Local
Government Commission, met in Monterey — its theme being a renewal of the environmental ethos.
On October 11th, Hayden and Van de Kamp announced the details of the coalition’s plan, an Environmental Protection
Act. EPA aimed to “end a decade of environmental neglect …,” said Hayden.
Van de Kamp said it was a “bill of rights” that “… puts the right to clean beaches and oceans ahead of the right to drill for oil and
dump waste … .” Its “Findings and Declarations” stated, “neither the state nor
federal government has adequately protected the People of the State of
California from hazardous pesticides … placing adults and especially children in serious jeopardy.”
“On Land, Air, and Sea.”
Environmental Protection Act would enact:
- a phased ban of any use of cancer-causing pesticides in any amount;
- a tough “more sensitive” children’s standard of chemical safety for those chemicals missing the outright ban;
- a phased ban of the most common air conditioner/refrigerant chemicals (chlorofluorocarbons) in seven years anda 40 per cent reduction of carbon dioxide [auto, factory] emissions in twenty years
since both CFC’s and CO were ozone-depleting chemicals;
- “health based” limits on corporate discharges into the ocean;
- an outright ban of off shore oil drilling;
- homebuilders requirements to plant one tree for every 500 square foot lot developed [6 trees
per modest single family dwelling];
- tough federal quantitative standards for local sewage treatment discharges of toxic pollutants;
- a $200 million budget to acquire ancient redwoods and $100 million to fund nonprofit and government
planting of trees in “urban forestry” projects;
- a tax on private oil transport of $500 million to fund public oil spill responses;
- and, a first time in the nation, statewide elected post of environmental advocate costing
$750,000 a year with an annual research budget of $40 million.
It took 13,000 words to describe Big Green’s comprehensive plan for clean air, water, soil and food.
Hayden pledged an “all out fight,” which one wag compared to the Marine Corp — “on land, air,
and sea.” Others said Hayden intended to be the Corp’s Commander as California’s elected Environmental
advocate on land, air and sea. Hayden denied that this “great office” had been created for him. The environmental advocate had been variously
described called a “czar” or cop who would have broad authority (exceeding the state’s Attorney General and overriding local District
Attorneys) to conduct investigations, control $40 million in research per year,
and to intervene in pending civil and criminal cases in local courts. John Van de Kamp also hoped to get a
jump-start on his campaign for Governor by supporting the popular initiative.
Political Hot Buttons
Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters said, “Big Green seems to be … more inspired by political
strategy than any rational approach to environmental protection … . [It] touches all the right emotional buttons,
but ignores many of the underlying issues that would be more unpalatable to
voters.” Walters said California’s population growth required “housing construction, oil, and food at affordable
prices.” Someone with the Western Agricultural Chemicals Association said, “It forfeits science for emotions.”
Hayden’s friend, Bob Mulholland said, “In a political debate, science doesn’t matter much. It’s really how you feel about the issue.”
Indeed, politics driven emotion, not science, drove most discussions of ozone depletion and global warming as well as pesticides.
Who’s Who of Radical Environmentalists
In official papers filed in late November the proponents of Big Green were a Who’s Who of Haydenistas:
- Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly, a Hayden intimate on environmental and Central American issues;
- Attorney General John Van de Kamp, who had hired Dukasis aide and Hayden lover, Vicki Rideout, for his campaign for Governor of California;
- Bob Mulholland, political director of Campaign California;
- Michael Picker, long time CED member and CED fundraiser, a leading member of CED’s Cancer Project and its Valley Oak
voter registration project, an activist in Proposition 65, and a spokesman for the Hayden influenced National Toxic Campaign;
- Albert Meyerhoff, Hayden ally in anti-nuclear and Proposition 65 efforts and in the Natural Resources Defense Council; and
- Carl Pope, Hayden ally from the Sierra Club.
Later joining the campaign would be the Planning and Conservation League whose president and vice-president, Gary Patton and Michael Remy, had ties to Hayden’s CED as a member and
its attorney respectively. PCL was a coalition of groups that included Friends of the Earth, Californians Against Waste, Friends of the River, the Audubon Society, Greenpeace Pacific Southwest,
the Wilderness Society and others.
The League of Conservation Voters came on board and it was another coalition consisting of the Sierra Club, the Planning and Conservation League, Defenders
of Wildlife, Californians Against Waste, and Ralph Nader’s western arm CalPIRG. Many had previously worked with Hayden. And the California Democratic
Party also supported Big Green, not surprisingly since two of the party’s subsequent executive directors, Cathy Calfo and Bob Mulholland, would come off
Hayden’s payroll to run the day to day operations of the state party and Hayden
would donate $58,000 to the Democrat Party State Central Committee in the coming
A Tom Hayden Operation
Still, Los Angeles Times, “analyst” Rich Paddock would later write that Tom Hayden was only “one of seven” sponsors. And Picker and others would deny parts of
their associations and claim other more mainstream activities whatever the public record. Indeed Big Green had gone to the top, recruiting Michael Landon of TV’s “Highway to Heaven” as a spokesman.
The “Big Green” campaign would be managed by Bob Mulholland on Hayden’s payroll for 15 years. Bill Bradley who was a long time associate of
Hayden since the Hayden campaign for U.S. Senate and afterwards as a CED
activist/contributor/consultant (in Santa Monica, Chico, and Sacramento) wrote politically insightful columns about Big Green.
After denying the author’s detailed claims that he was a “confidant” of Hayden, Bradley finally appeared to
relent sending the author a $100 check for “rendering public relations services. The author returned the check saying Bradley couldn’t really afford the advertising rates for the many column inches
published about him in the author’s column in the Sacramento Union.
Going Global…into Hollywood
As a frequent Hayden publicist working for a newspaper staffed with Haydenistas, Bill Bradley wrote that Hayden’s
“Big Green” represented an “Eco-globalism” recognizing that “solutions to environmental problems … transcend the traditional
political boundaries of city, county, state, and nation.” He noted that “Hollywood figures are
becoming increasingly involved in the new eco-globalism, producing public service
messages, inserting ‘green’ messages in TV shows and movies, making public appearances, and raising money.”
At the grassroots level the “think globally, act locally” contingent came out. In Hollywood Andy Spahn, a former Hayden
spokesman, headed up Norman Lear’s Environmental Media Association, EMA, which
successfully led environmental reprogramming of upcoming TV series and movies. One EMA meeting co-sponsored by
Norman Lear and Fonda’s $250 million business partner, Lorimar, refused to stop
an evening meeting being conducted just as San Francisco’s Loma Pietra
Earthquake struck on October 17th. As nearly 300 people died by the Bay, an owner of a fifty car garage, Norman Lear,
held forth on the dangers of strofoam cups to the environment and worried about
automobiles and air conditioners depleting the ozone layer. Bradley wrote that the Bay area quake
“reminds us of our peril in ignoring natural systems.”
Jane Fonda who had divorced Tom, was raising funds for his “Big Green” initiative.
Californian’s Scared of Chemicals
A December survey showed that 77 per cent of Californians in 15 of the states 58 counties were worried about food safety
– 48 per cent of them citing pesticides. Bob Mulholland explained it: “Baby-boomers start out with
suspicions of government because of the Vietnam War and Watergate…. In the
past few years every institution in America has proven it can’t be trusted. We’ve had scandals in
government, Wall Street and even among religious leaders.” Merlin Fagen, a spokesman for the California
Farm Bureau said, “We’re scared, and we’re in a hard spot” while
working on an alternative initiative dubbed “CAREFUL.” A gleeful Mulholland said, “We’ll just
use that as proof that much of the agriculture community agrees with us.”
Some shopping malls attempted to stop David Cameron’s signature gathering on their property, but a judge ruled, with the
assistance of Campaign California attorney J. Allen Eisen, in favor of free speech.
“We’re not dumb enough to poison ourselves”
California agriculture unveiled its “responsible, scientific” alternative to the Hayden initiative in
late December. Instead of banning pesticides, it would double testing and research. “We’re trying to take the hysteria out
of the issue … . We are consumers [too],” said Stan Lester, a Yolo county farmer. Bob Vice of the California Farm Bureau said,
“People know we’re not dumb enough to poison ourselves.” Farmers hoped that a public in an
environmentalist mood might just accept their measure because it might appear less controversial.
In response Mulholland said the agricultural initiative “divides the opposition. It spreads their money out, and it reinforces
our message that there are some problems with pesticides that can be solved.” Mulholland said, “Any industry that
tries to regulate itself is going to create suspicion in the minds of the public.” Environmentalists tried to paint the farmers’ initiative “Big Brown.”
Al Greenstein, a spokesman for ARCO, said banning offshore drilling would only increase oil imports, leak prone tankers,
and gasoline prices — later calculated at 25 to 50 cents per gallon. Governor Deukmejian suggested a loss of $2
billion to $5 billion in tidelands oil revenues to the state if offshore oil drilling were ended. After new oil
spills off Alaska and the California coast, the governor noted that banning
offshore drilling meant more tankers and more oil spills.
By mid-January 1990, following the lead of
agriculture, the timber industry also presented an alternative to “Big
Green” — a $300 million bond to plant trees and to ban clear cutting in
old growth forests. Kevin Eckerly, a timber
spokesman said that “The 90′s are the decade of the environment” and
“We’d like to have a hand in designing environmental reforms.” Mulholland responded that the timber
initiative “… helps us because it gives us a clear contrast between
industry initiatives and environmental initiatives” and that having timber
interests protect forests was “like putting prisoners in charge of the
jail.” Leroy McElroy of Forests Forever asked,
“Who do you trust? … industry or … consumer groups?”
The Hayden Initiative
By February 1990, agricultural, refrigeration, pesticide, timber, and oil interests had hired Woodward-McDowell
to conduct a campaign in direct opposition to “Big Green.” The firm opened an office whose phones were answered
indicating it opposed “the Hayden Initiative.” Would Hayden be an “albatross” or a
“millstone” borne by the initiative? The Sierra Club’s Michael Paparian said, “The opponents are
grasping for something to oppose. … [T]hey know the public wants the positive
measures that are in the initiative.”
Clark Briggs a spokesman for the California Farm Bureau agreed with the
Sierra Club’s assessment. He said that voters will “read the label … and if it sounds good, they’ll vote for
it.” Paparian said Hayden had been “a very consistent and reliable advocate for environmental
issues….” Bob Mulholland, “Tom Hayden’s right-hand political operative for more than a decade,”
said “I hope they attack Hayden. … It will make him a better environmental leader.”
Even political consultants and pollsters who
had used Hayden as a campaign issue in the past warned that running against
Hayden might raise money and recruit foot soldiers, but it wouldn’t be enough
to persuade voters to go against “a powerful issue” like “Big Green.” Indeed September polling
had already revealed only an 18 percent drop off caused by Hayden’s name. Whatever Hayden’s negatives they didn’t
stick. Was “Big Green” the teflon initiative? It seemed so.
In early March, 1990 Ralph Nader’s CALPIRG,
California Public Interest Research Group, made its independent contribution to
“Big Green,” releasing its annual report on California’s worst
polluters. All were large corporations (steel, oil, paper, chemical). No public
agency was listed despite being some of the biggest polluters. Three companies who had reduced their
pollutants refused to talk to the Naderites. Nader a self avowed “consumer
activist” as far as can be known did not object to the high costs to the
consumer of implementing Big Green.
Meanwhile Hayden made a shotgun attack upon his enemies. “We’re up against some
of the most powerful interests there are — Oil, pesticides, … developers….
They are like gorillas in a candy store. And they’re irritated,” said Hayden. Opponents of Big Green foresaw that they
might have to spend $16 million to defeat it.
Left Mobilizes Troops
Yet by early March, the “most powerful … gorillas” hadn’t stopped the Big Green machine. Out of the 600,000 signature target, some
500,000 had been collected six weeks before the deadline by a “citizen’s
army” made up of “an enormous pool of volunteers” and not a few
paid collectors both from numerous organizations such as Campaign California,
the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters. Though by March the “Big Green”
campaign had so far raised only $225,000 in reported funds and had an official
staff of only four, Mulholland would later brag that Campaign California had a $13 million endowment
(capable of producing an annual income of $1.3 million at a 10 per cent rate of return from investments).
Some of the initiative’s zealous volunteers and supporters, the “vanguard,” were calling it the “most
controversial initiative in California history” intending “to do
nothing less than save the Earth” and proclaiming themselves to be part of
an international movement likely to dominate the next decade. Mary Nichols of a Hayden coalition member
organization, NRDC, said, “I think this is going to be the direction
pursued in other parts of the county.”
Christian Science Monitor story said California was “in the
forefront of testing how far the public wants to go in … environmental
concerns … .” How far would California’s mainstream voters
be willing to go to clean up the environment?
Mainstream or Radical?
So in early April Bill Bradley wrote a piece trying to separate “Big Green” from “environmental
leftists” and “deep ecologists” and Earth Firsters. It was necessary. Earth Firsters planned a “Redwood
Summer” confronting timber-harvesting operations and that might generate
negative publicity about the environmental movement.
Earth First, California Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club and Heal the Bay Stung by Bikers.
One secret Earth Firster, Jim Eaton, executive director of the California Wilderness Coalition (an umbrella
organization whose membership includes the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, the
Wilderness Society, Friends of the River, Defenders of Wildlife etc.) donated
$100 to a sting operation alleging to be able to (illegally) insert Earth First
literature into an Exxon oil company mailer. ”Frannie” at the Sierra Club in San Francisco, and
“Corey” at Heal the Bay in Santa Monica had expressed interest in the
The Sahara Club an antiSierra Club organizatiion of motorcycle and off-road vehicle enthusiasts ran sting operation
Th sting tape recorded Eaton promising and delivering money for the scam.
Earth First’s Dave Foreman, arrested for conspiring to blow up a power transmission tower had become a secret hero of
the movement. David Brower, founder of the Earth Island Institute said, “I would love to introduce him. I would
hate to follow him. He’s a terrific performer.” Forman said about Earth
First, “It could be sort of secretly controlled by the mainstream and trotted
out at hearings to make the Sierra Club or the Wilderness Society look moderate.”
Extremists Among Moderates
So this was the context of cooperation among mainstream and extremist groups that explained why Bradley tried to
identify the initiative with the concerns of moderate voters. Bradley said, “Big Green’ is far
reaching, radical even, but it’s not destructive. It manages to avoid most of the anti-tech,
anti-capitalist junk that some of its backers desired.” Soon an official co-sponsor, Michael Picker
of the National Toxics campaign, would appear as a media contact for Greenpeace
Action, surely one of the groups that Bradley would have liked to be, at least
publicly, disassociated from Big Green. And Earth First!ers Darryl Cherney and Judi
Bari narrowly escaped death when a bomb blew up in the car outside of San Francisco.
Big Green was really just what “we
white, middle class, environmentalists” want said Bradley. It was all rather “doable.” All
“we” wanted was: solar and wind power, efficient cars, mass transit,
new settlement patterns, cleaner technologies and management policies,
recycling, regulate or ban toxic discharges, reduce agricultural use of water,
pest resistant crops, improved worker health and safety, preventive medicine,
medical care for children. Not much really very much, exceptwhen added up.
Big Green a Costly Jobs Killer
Opponents commissioned an April study that claimed Big green would increase gasoline prices 25-50 cents per gallon,
utility rates by 20 per cent, and food prices by 30-50 per cent. And 1.4 million Californians might lose their
Still a cautious Kirk West of the California Chamber of Commerce, didn’t want to appear to be “against environmental quality.”
Jack McDowell of Woodward & McDowell, the firm hired to run the campaign against the initiative, said simply that it
was “too drastic,” signaling his new political strategy to defeat Big Green. Bob Mulholland reacted saying,
“They are just crying wolf and being extreme.”
Who is Chicken Little?
Later one Big Green supporter, NRDC’s Albert
Meyerhoff, would say its critics were like Chicken Little crying that “the
sky is falling,” — a curious accusation since proponents were the ones
making planetary warnings about global warming, green house effects, and ozone
layers disappearing. The green message of impending environmental
disasters appeared to be working better than their opponent’s message of high
costs for consumers. By mid-April about 650,000 signatures had been gathered — only 375,000 valid signatures were
April 1990 contained a weeklong celebration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day with California’s Big Green being the
flagship for the movement. Columnist Warren Brookes was one of the few national journalists sounding a warning of
the ill winds ahead. He said Big Green would “cut food production by 15 per cent to 20 per cent and raise prices
30 per cent to 40 per cent on the best cancer-fighting foods we eat …” meaning fruits and vegetables. According to Agricultural Secretary Clayton
Yuetter the impact would be national since California grew half the nation’s fruits and vegetables. Brookes cited the science and concluded that
“big Green’s’ phobia over trivial environmental risks looks suspiciously like witch-hunting.”
Toxic Chemical Soup, Poison for Profits
Earth Day April 22nd turned up the heat.
Speaking in the heart of California agriculture in Fresno, John Van de Kamp said, “The people of this
community live and drink and breathe in a toxic chemical soup like few places
on Earth,” a exaggerated and hysterical remark not well received in the
farm dependant local economy. After word leaked that President Bush might
approve some off shore drilling in California, Tom Hayden took an Earth Day
stage in Santa Monica urging the crowd to “Stand up and say ‘No
Drilling. No Drilling.” He predicted “a thunderstorm of
Things looked good for Big Green. Polls showed only 17 per cent considered the economy a major concern and 40 per cent
of the voters described themselves as an “environmentalist.”
Feinstein Endorses Big Green
Within the Democratic Party primary contest for Governor things got stormy. In San
Jose Van de Kamp attacked those “growers who poison their crops for
profit,” and said that his Democrat opponent and former San Francisco
Mayor Dianne Feinstein was “ducking the issue” of Big Green. Feinstein promised to “rid the Central
Valley of that pesticide curse.” Then the next day, Feinstein endorsed the
“progressive, state-of-the art” Big Green in Tom Hayden’s hometown of
Santa Monica. She had piggybacked her campaign upon Van de Kamp’s expensive initiative at its peak of popularity at
no cost to herself. Republican and former mayor of San Diego Pete Wilson had still taken no position on the
initiative except to object to the Balkanization created by the environmental “Czar.”
On April 26th, a day after Feinstein had caught a free ride in the “thunderstorm,” Hayden and Van de Kamp
conducted anticlimactic day long series of press conferences throughout
California as they turned in nearly 800,000 signatures to qualify the measure
for the November ballot. They had only needed 372,000 valid signatures.
On June 5th, Feinstein defeated Van de Kamp for the Democrat nomination for governor.
Van de Kamp had spent $1.6 million in campaign funds to qualify Big
Green and two other initiatives dealing with crime and political ethics. He graciously endorsed Feinstein and said
that qualifying the initiatives had been worth it despite his defeat at the polls.
In mid-June officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state agencies sued Montrose
Chemical Corporation for “tens of millions” to pay for dumping DDT
into the ocean 29 years previously and for discharging DDT tainted water into
the ocean 19 years previously. The guilty facility no longer existed, but DDT doses were being found in sea lions,
dolphins, bald eagles, brown pelicans. A Big Green coalition member, Joel Reynolds of NRDC said, “It’s the first
attempt to place a value on damages done to natural resources and to compel companies to pay them.”
Grassroots v. Chemical Companies
In mid-July, Michael Paparian of the Sierra Club said, “Big Green is a fight … for our children’s future as well as
our environmental future.” While the initiatives supporters were running a grassroots campaign, the opponents
were funded 93 per cent by chemical companies.
Hayden elected Sacramento city council woman Kim Mueller said, “This is a tough and comprehensive measure one that is absolutely
necessary to … tackle the problems of environmental pollution in California.” A Larouche backed
group responded that Big Green was a “a Soviet plot to destroy this country’s timber and agricultural industry” — backed by “Hollywood Paganists.”
In late July, Lloyd Connelly announced that Big Green would begin running half-hour long TV commercials late night and on
cheaper cable channels. The commercial were intended to raise funds by being used nationwide and in home
showings. They were narrated by movie stars and contained testimonials of children, seniors, fishermen, and
farmworkers expressing their fears for the environment.
Legislature Suppresses Science
Contrary information about the economic effects of Big Green’s pesticide provisions was suppressed by a veiled threat
from two of Proposition 128′s supporters, state Senator Nick Petris and
Assemblyman Robert Campbell both of whom were chairmen of legislative
subcommittees handling University of California budget requests. In August they wrote, “… we urge you
not to risk the University’s standing by publishing research involving such highly charged political issues.”
It was a time of “austerity” when “… various institutions will be asked to eliminate programs.”
Expecting a “knock down drag out battle,” former state senator and president of the California Manufacturers Association, Bill Campbell, claimed the Big Green
would “devastate the economy” and was an “out and out war on the poor, women, the young and the last hired.” Campbell cited a privately funded Spectrum
Economics study claiming the initiative would cost $ 8 billion to $12 billion in lost tax revenues, cause a 30 per cent increase in the price of food, result
in a 70 cent per gallon rise in the price of gasoline, and destroy 1 million to 5 million jobs. Campbell said the environmental czar would have “unbelievable, unchecked power.”
Big Green claimed savings in health care.
Since many of Campbell’s companies represented by his CMA were funding the opposition, the strategy to beat Big Green was not
merely to call it the “Hayden Initiative.” That only said “Hayden wants to clean up the environment,” according to Mickey Conroy
who had been trying to remove Hayden from office because of his treason during the Vietnam War and his lying about it throughout his pursuit of power in
electoral politics. The two-step strategy was to use Hayden to get voters to listen to the details about adverse economic impacts.
Big Green supporters tried to raise funds using the usual cast of Hayden characters — in Sacramento Connelly, Mueller,
Ory, Paparian, and Picker with a labor leader Pat Henning and a local Assemblyman, Phil Isenberg, thrown in for a thin cover.
Thicker cover, very green camouflage, came
from indirect and independent contributions to the environmental cause through public employee contributions to the United Way which had designated the
“non-affiliated” Environmental Federation of California as a possible check-off for tax deductible contributions.
According Nancy Snow, the federation’s executive director, it received approximating $1 million per year in 1989 and 1990 from 100 employer-employee
campaigns in California. Snow, official of a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, endorsed environmental
initiatives. Not surprising, the federation’s members included Big Green supporters like the NRDC, Sierra Club,
and others. Sacramento revealed the politics behind at least one agency seeking contributions for the federation. Two directors of the Sacramento Municipal
Utility District, Ed Smeloff and Peter Keat, had long time ties to Hayden’s CED and were part of the ruling majority of public utility’s governing board that
approved check offs for the Environmental Federation. And “Environmentalists for Smeloff” — Lloyd Connelly, Bea Cooley of the American River Coalition, Jerry Meral of
the Planning and Conservation League, Mike Paparian of the Sierra Club –backed his reelection to the SMUD board.
In mid-September, Assemblyman Jim Costa representing a farm district and chairman of the Democratic caucus in the Assembly said, Big Green “was written in a
closet by Assemblyman Tom Hayden and a group of his friends.” Perhaps thinking of Costa’s colleagues, Roger
Ramsier, president of Aerojet, accused the legislature of “pandering to radical environmental no-growth, and anti-business forces.” And without Hollywood stars, local farm
groups were raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to oppose the Hayden and his friends.
Zero Risks, Zero Food, Zero Jobs
Joe Smith, the writer of one farm commodity newsletter quipped that “Proposition 128 … promises the voter an
environment with zero risk from pesticide residues … . Zero risks, though eventually means zero chemicals, then zero crops, then zero jobs, the zero
environmentalists.” And “ethyl alcohol will be one of the items we won’t be able to allow to touch our
food. You can drink it, but you can’t spray it. We’re not sure wine sauces will be allowed.” The September
issue of Science noted that 27 of 52 naturally occurring chemicals in foods showed up as carcinogen in animal tests.
These natural, not manmade, chemicals in 57 foods appeared in concentrations thousands of times greater than synthetic chemicals like
pesticides –virtually zero risk already existed.
In early October, it seemed like one private corporation, Southern California Edison, might have decide to switch
rather than fight — it appointed a co-founder of the NRDC as its Chief Executive officer — John Bryson.
South Coast Air Quality Tyrant
Then the South Coast (Southern California)
Air Quality Management District voted to impose tough emission standards against charcoal lighter, self-starting charcoal briquettes, bread bakery
emissions, deodorants. AQMD’s James Lent,”one of the most powerful people in Southern California,” had a staff
of 900 and a budget of $80 million per year funded by fines, penalties and permits levied against business. Peter
Hidalgo of the Commuter Transportation Services of Los Angeles suggested that more workers ought to walk to work — a daunting idea in the sprawling
auto-dependant megalopolis. Out in the Central Valley, 80 year old Bill Huffman, a thirty year operator of a dioxin
generating smelting plant, wasn’t worried about the effects on children saying “if it’s going to kill me, it had better hurry, or I’ll die of old
age.” Meanwhile oriental fruit flies had landed in San Diego — it had a voracious appetite for some 236 varieties of fruits, nuts and vegetables.
In the October issue of the NRDC Newsline, Al Meyerhoff said, “We believe that Big Green accurately represents … how the public translates its will
into change. The environmental community needs a big win, Meyerhoff said. “We can’t be a paper tiger. Big Green is our best shot.”
Hollywood Cancer Experts
Big Green added Hollywood macho to its support list — Sylvester Stallone. A “Big Green” ad asserted, “scientists are unable to find
uncontaminated fish in California waters. Cancer in children is up 20 per cent since 1950. … 20,000 Americans
will develop cancer and 3,000 will die because of pesticide exposure this year.” Other sources of wisdom came
from Oliver Stone, director of anti-Vietnam war films like “Platoon” and “Born on The Fourth of July,” who said Americans were
“choking to death.” Actor Jack Lemmon, a California regular for liberal political commercials, said California
swimmers were getting “mysterious diseases.” Other stars spoke of “deadly fruit.”
Exploiting Dying Children
In late October Big Green was running 30 second ads featuring 4-year-old Collette Chuda dying of cancer — a heart
rending message. After the election, Los Angeles Timesman William Kahrl wrote, “Exploiting a child’s sickness for
political purposes is bad enough. What makes the Chuda case worse is the fact that she’s suffering from a form of
kidney cancer, Wilms’ tumor, that ‘seems unrelated to environmental exposure’ according to the National Cancer Institution.” Actress Tracey Nelson, a cancer survivor,
struck similar themes. Big Green’s ads and literature proclaimed, “major funding by environmental groups.”
Public Support Collapses
As the election approached, something was happening on the way to the latest revolution against capitalism. Ads opposing “Big Green” said it
did too much. Various sources said it would might reduce crop production by 40 per cent, increase prices 50 per cent,
and cost local government $6 billion a year. The often environmentally crusading Sacramento Bee urged a
“no” vote because it was poorly conceived and might hurt agriculture. Similarly, the environmentalist City Council
of Sacramento refused to take stand and the County Board of Supervisors narrowly opposed the Proposition.
And some voters were listening. By mid-October top political consultants on
both sides with access to private polling, told the author that support for
Big Green had plummeted from an original 70 per cent to 40-50 per cent. Voters were moving away from a
“Yes” vote because the initiative was tried to do too much, was complex, and its identification with Tom Hayden.
Voter Slates for Hire
Also intentionally adding to voter confusion was a phony “Democratic Voter Check off” created by
Democrat political consultant Clint Reilly which opposed proposition 128,
despite the official endorsement of the official state Democrat Party. Opponents of Hayden had paid Reilly $75,000
to get on his slate. Reilly often worked with well-heeled clients. He lived in a San Francisco mansion political insiders called the “House that Insurance
Built” even though Reilly had lost in his efforts to protect the insurance industry from a radical insurance “reform” initiative in 1988.
Reilly had his critics. The Planning and Conservation League — which in June had taken Southern Pacific Railway money to link highway and public
transit construction to a $900 million “mountain lion” habitat purchase on a single slate — was now protesting Reilly’s deceit.
More Money Laundering
Meanwhile Tom Hayden was conducting his own “ultimate stealth campaign,” said attorney “Chip” Nielsen
in a letter to Bob Mulholland. Some $1.5 million dollars had been contributed to Big Green through a welter of interlocking
committees. Hayden controlled seven committees — all used Lloyd Connelly’s law firm (Olsen & Connelly),
Mulholland managed four, Campaign California and Connelly’s law firm provided
them office addresses. These seven committees reported contributions totaling $689,680 — but none reported their
own sources of funds. If they had reported their sources of funds, Big Green’s ads might have been required by
law to be tagged “Major Funding by Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Ted Turner, and
the entertainment industry” instead of being deceitfully labeled “major funding by environmental groups.” Environmental groups in the coalition — the
Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pesticide Watch, the National Toxics Campaign, and National Toxics Fund — contributed another
$260,000 to the measure and also failed to reveal their major contributors. Only the League of
Conservation Voters filed a report listing its sources of funds. Secret donors, laundered money? Where was the “grassroots” support
for saving the planet? Had contributors to United Way unwittingly given to Big Green through the Environmental Federation of California?
Big Green Defeated, Public Unimpressed with Hollywood
While the voters picked up little of this pre-election sleaze, 64 per cent of voters resoundingly rejected Big Green.
Indeed, after the election it appeared voters had not been much impressed with Hollywood glitter. Joe Scott’s California Eye reported on Chuck
Rund’s Charlton Research survey showing that only 13 per cent of voters would admit relying upon Hollywood celebrities as a compelling source of
information. Eighty-six said that celebrity endorsements were unimportant. Some 39 per cent were moved by TV ads.
An amazing 70 per cent rated newspaper analyses and the pro-con arguments in their voter pamphlets as extremely or somewhat important.
Economic and environmental concerns drove about the same percentage of voters — 30-29 per cent. That had been a doubling of concern about
economic issues from 17 per cent rating among voters in June. The NRDC tried to explain the loss of Big
Green to a massive pattern of “No” votes in the November ballot. Yet the Rund survey showed that only 5 per
cent of voters voted “No” on all measures. The voters didn’t like Big Green.
Republican Pete Wilson Adopts much of Big Green
Curiously that really didn’t matter, because the newly elected Republican governor Pete Wilson appeared to adopting
many of Haydenista-like personnel and ideas. Wilson appointed environmentalist Douglas Wheeler as his secretary of
the Resource Agency, formed a Growth Management Task Force, created a new Environmental
Protection Agency, held “bioregional” conferences, had an open door
policy toward environmentalists, made deals on environmental issues in
negotiations with environmentalists, etc.
About Governor Wilson’s formation of a California EPA, in particular the movement of state authority on pesticides from Food and Agriculture to the new
EPA, Farm Bureau president Jay Schneider, “We are concerned that farm families will not understand why our governor … would … embrace the desires
of Tom Hayden.” Hayden praised the governor for his actions “in the face of extraordinary opposition from the agricultural chemical interests.”
By mid-1991, Tom Hayden, who no longer had Jane Fonda, had a new self described religion — environmentalism — in classes
on “Spirituality and the Environment” that he taught at Santa Monica City College and in interviews he granted to the media, Tom said, “We need
to see nature as having a sacred quality … that forms a barrier to greed and exploitation. It’s God’s will,” said Tom. Politics hadn’t worked — Big Green.
What was needed was an “earth centered” religion. And he seemed to find Judaism, Christianity,
Shintoism, Hinduism etc lacking or maybe he would create a new religion out of the rest. A bit ambitious perhaps, but
then the president of Santa Monica City College thought Tom had “one of the best minds on the planet.” Tom
said, we are “on the brink of a new religion that embraces nature (and) identifies with the earth.” Environmentalism as a powerful political
issue was not new to Tom and the American left. Only the religion was new.
After all, Hayden’s environmental politics had been devastated after the big loss of his “Big Green” in
1990. This after a long string of successes in ecopolitics as an assault upon the real enemy — corporate capitalism.
Maybe the real enemy had been Judeo-Christian civilization.
The red tinge of Hayden’s Big Green of 1990 had not been an accident of temporary political alignment.
The fact that Big Green did “too much” was also intentional.
With California leading the way nation would adopt much of the Big Green initiative. Barak Obama and Occupy Wall Street bludgened corporations, Wall Steet and capitalism with big green hammers and nails.
 Warren Brookes, “How the EPA Launched Nationwide ‘Alar-mania,” Sacramento Union, February 26, 1990.
 Elizabeth M. Whalen, “Cancer Scares And Our Inverted Health Priorities,” Imprimis, June 1991, Volume 20, No. 6.
 Roger Canfield, “Wilson: Little Green?” Sacramento Union, January 29, 1991, p. A-2. Otto Bos, Wilson advisor, to Canfield on January 28, 1991.
Doug Willis, Sacramento Union, January 20, 1991. See also: Joe Scott, “Feinstein upstages Van de Kamp on ‘Big Green drive,” Sacramento Union, April 25, 1990, p. A-9.
 “New Initiative Launched,” Campaign California Report, Volume 4, No. 1, (Third Quarter 1989), p. 1.
 Known Hayden affiliated persons, besides Picker, appearing on the letterhead of the National
Toxic Campaign in 1991 were; Ed Begley, Jr., Lloyd Connelly, Patricia Duff-Medavoy, Tom Epstein, Mike Farrell, Kim Mueller, Gary Patton, Andy Spahn,Marge Tabankin.
 Bill Ainsworth, “Growers Sponsor Counter-Measure,” Sacramento Union, December 22, 1989.
 Bud Lembke, “Hayden’s Name Being Used to Beat Initiative,” Sacramento Union, February 14, 1990. See also: George Thurlow, “GET REDY FOR THE BIG
GREEN,” Sacramento News & Review, March 15, 1990, pp. 20-21.
55] George Thurlow, “GET REDY FOR THE BIG GREEN,” Sacramento News & Review, March 15, 1990, pp. 20-21.
 Roger Canfield, “Over-zealous environmentalist stung,” Sacramento Union, October 16, 1990, p. A-2.
 Bill Bradley, “Big, Green And Good For You,” Sacramento News & Review, April 5 [or 12th], 1990.
 J.P. Tremblay, “Backers, opponents set to square off over Big Green,” Sacramento Union, July 18, 1990, p. C-3.
 UPI, “Big Green’ officials hope to make waves with 1/2 hour TV ad,” Sacramento
Union, July 26, 1990, p. A-3.
 Memo in possession of this writer and cited in Roger Canfield, “Red-faced greens?” Sacramento Union, November 2, 1990, p. A-2.
 These dollar contributions are reported to the Secretary of State. See: Roger Canfield, “This time the
Demos are deceived,” Sacramento Union, October 31, 1990, p.A-2. PCL had previously accepted contributions
and written initiative language that benefitted its contributors in a tobacco tax measure — generating widespread criticism from columnist Dan Walters and
others. Some said PCL’s massive office space negated its claim to be a “grassroots” organization.