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Senators James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., recently introduced a bill (S.876) to reauthorize the Environmental Education Act. A version of this proposal is included in the education bill (S.1), recently passed by the Senate. Although touted by supporters as simply training in the appreciation of nature and science, federal environmental education has used taxpayer funds to promote the agenda of those administering the programs. If members of Congress want to ensure that the government does not fund advocacy and miseducation, their best option is to eliminate funding these programs, which have been operating without legal authorization since 1996. A review of how the law has worked in the past may help demonstrate this reality.
¨ The National American Association for Environmental Education, EETAP’s lead partner for 1995-2000, produced an “action handbook,” which it distributes at federally funded environmental education seminars. It’s basically a how-to guide for lobbying and includes a section titled “Ten Pointers for Successful Lobbying.”
¨ In 1994, EPA funded a video that the agency admitted had violated regulations against using such funds for lobbying. When Rep. Bob Schaeffer, R-Colo., inquired about the video’s content last October, the agency said that it had asked its partner to return the federal funding and to stop distributing the video because of obvious violations. It is not clear whether the agency pulled the video before or after the Schaeffer letter.
¨ “From factory smoke stacks came clouds gray and black, and drums filled with old globby glue were piled high out back. Not far away was a creek lined with trees, the fish that had lived there were now forced to flee. … The EPA experts were soon on the scene, with shovels and drills they were ready to clean. … The EPA experts soon came up with a plan. To clean up the water, the air, and the land. … The factory reopened, with new rules in place, for preventing pollution and cleaning up waste.”