2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2000 14:32:52 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] A lively MEForum
In the wake of the recent discussion about the Military Environmental
Forum - AKA "Lenny's Listserver" -  I thought I might comment on how we
at CPEO see it working. The listserver, like the technology that makes
it possible, is continually evolving, so we welcome criticisms and
suggestions for improving our service.

Several years ago, when we - "CAREER/PRO" at the time - created the
newsgroup, we saw it as both a real-time newsletter and as a tool to
help community activists stay in contact with each other. Soon, however,
we recognized that members of other stakeholder groups were joining the
list. Field personnel from the military told me that they were receiving
official information more rapidly from us than through official
channels. High level regulators and Pentagon environmental managers were
reading messages from frustrated activists; in fact, at times they
responded privately, attempting to resolve the reported problems. (These
success stories are not generally visible to most of our readers.) 

We decided, at that time, that the list would be most useful if it
remained wide open. In developing our posting rules, we sought to retain
and expand our readership. We endeavored to make our own messages as
accurate as possible. After the infamous ads from Russian mail-order
brides went out to our list, we began filtering out material beyond our
scope. We also decided not to re-post copyrighted material available
elsewhere on the Internet. Instead we post introductory material with
the original URLs (web links).

However, at the risk of alienating some of the participants, we have
encouraged debate. We ask that criticism avoid personal attacks or
inflammatory language, but we expect people who are upset to relate that
in their submissions. We don't fact-check every contention made by
people who submit messages. Often, there really are many sides to a

It's important for readers - particularly those from government agencies
and their contractors - to be aware of the level of concern and distrust
manifest in many communities, even if they don't agree with the writers'
facts and conclusions. It's also essential to realize that many members
of the public find it difficult to compartmentalize the health,
ecological, economic, cultural, political, and national security aspects
of environmental issues. For example, many of us would be willing to
take greater environmental risks to fend off attacks on the U.S. than to
support questionable military intervention. Similarly, many of us are
more willing to tolerate pollution that puts bread on our tables that
contamination that threatens our livelihood.

The stakeholders who must deal with (or choose to work to prevent)
pollution from federal facilities vary by background, geography,
attitudes, and expertise. One should expect significant disagreements
among them. We choose to air those disagreements because at some point,
whether through agreement or one side "winning," the various parties are
likely to resolve their disputes. At that point, they need to work
together. We feel the listserver fulfills a valuable service by making
it possible for participants to hear what the "other guys" think,
believe, and feel.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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