UPDATE: The Washington Post bases ICC headline on virtually unknown environmental group

Jan. 6, 2005, midnight | By Jeremy Goodman Seema Kacker | 16 years, 5 months ago

The Washington Post published a news article on Wednesday, Jan. 5 headlined "Environmentalist Group Backs Md. Connector," which focused on the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA), a group that supports the construction of the Intercounty Connector (ICC), a project opposed by nearly all other environmental organizations.

The Washington Post acknowledged that the AAEA's opinions are not in the majority in a correction posted on Saturday, Jan. 8, which read: "The headline on a Jan. 5 Metro article, 'Environmental Group Backs Md. Connector,' did not reflect that opponents of the proposed intercountry connector were equally vocal at a public hearing. Most environmental groups oppose the connector."

While most groups are against Bush's environmental initiatives, the AAEA supports his decisions and proposals. One section of the AAEA web site reads, "President Bush won. He should be allowed to implement his environmental proposals. If they do not work, then we can try alternatives. If they do work, we should support and applaud his accomplishments." The page is devoted to summarizing Bush's policies and describes him as an "Innovative Environmentalist." This page also emphasizes the economic impact of environmental regulations and endorses "allow[ing] aggressive capitalism" to drive environmental considerations. "Traditional environmental groups do not acknowledge this [economic] reality because they do not have the awesome daily responsibility of providing energy products and services," the AAEA alleges.

The same page then denounces other "extremist" environmental groups as being "condescending" to blacks. "The environmental movement is segregated, arrogant and secretly proud of their elitism," says the AAEA, going on to state that there are no black leaders in the environmental movement.

The web site also claims that black-on-black murder is the most significant environmental issue that America faces.

The AAEA is nearly unknown among other environmental groups. "I had never heard of [AAEA founder and President Norris McDonald] until he stood up at the meeting," said Sierra Club MD Chapter Chair Betsy Johnson. "Every single other elected official and environmentalist was against the ICC. It's an environmental disaster," she said.

According to Johnson, the decision of The Washington Post to feature the group is an extension of the newspaper's support for the ICC. "Why does 'The Post' feature him in a main headline? It's because The Post wants the ICC to be built. They're editorializing their news stories," Johnson claimed. The Washington Post has publicly endorsed the ICC on several occasions.

According to the article, McDonald spoke in support of the ICC at a public hearing Tuesday night. "Nobody can convince me that a little highway, smaller than the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, is a big threat and a grand polluter," said McDonald in a phone interview on Jan. 6. The ICC is expected to cost over $2 billion, so few regard the highway as "little."

When questioned about his group's structure, membership and organization, McDonald referred Silver Chips Online to the AAEA web site, which contains no specific information regarding how many people belong to the organization nor any information about environmental initiatives. Another page of the web site labeled "Scarface" contains many violent images from the Al Pacino film of the same name, denounces "black-on-black murder" as Schadenfreude (a German word meaning to gain pleasure from someone else's suffering) and contains an image of a green, spinning skull and crossbones.

According to its web site, the AAEA is "a national, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting the environment, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies, promoting the efficient use of natural resources and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement."

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Jeremy Goodman. Jeremy is two ears with a big nose attached. He speaks without being spoken to, so there must be a mouth hidden somewhere underneath the shnoz. He likes jazz and classical music, but mostly listens to experimental instrumental rock. His favorite band is King Crimson … More »

Seema Kacker. Seema is a senior in the magnet this year, and is thrilled to be a part of the Online senior staff. She also plays tennis. More »

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