Citizens for a Sound Economy/Free market environmentalism?

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When it comes to the environment, Citizens for a Sound Economy (now known as "Freedom Works") takes a generally free-market, anti-regulatory approach. It says that "private property and market mechanisms make our environment cleaner and greener" and that "efforts to regulate carbon dioxide are an attempt by the global Left to gain control of the U.S. economy." [1]

Work against environmental regs opposed by sugar industry; funding by sugar industry

In 1998, CSE issued a series of broadsides against a federal plan to restore the Florida Everglades, funded with $700,000 in contributions from Florida's three biggest sugar enterprises, which stood to lose thousands of acres of cane-growing land to reclamation if the restoration plan went into effect. The sugar contributions were never disclosed publicly but were outlined in internal CSE documents obtained by the Washington Post, which also showed that CSE received more than $1 million from Philip Morris Cos. at a time when CSE was opposing cigarette taxes, as well as $1 million from phone company US West Inc. as CSE pushed deregulation that would let US West offer long-distance service.[1]

Opposition to Clean Air Act

In 1999, CSEF paid for "friend of the court" briefs that sought to declare the Clean Air Act unconstitutional.

"De-funding the left"

In February 2001, CSE's Paul Beckner spoke as part of a panel on "de-funding the left" at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. [2] Attendees were urged to seize an opportunity to cut off funding for left-leaning nonprofit organizations: "For the first time since 1952, we have a Republican Congress, House and Senate, we have a Republican President, so the agency heads will be hopefully mostly conservatives. So for the very first time we have an opportunity to go after these groups and take away their federal money. Let's do it." [3]

Opposition to environmental information in textbooks

CSE though have a stern view of what environmental information should be available on climate change to school students. Writing in the Denver Post, Diane Carman recounted the success of CSE's Texas Chapter in having a textbook banned from Texas high schools.

The textbook, 'Environmental Science: creating a sustainable future' by Colorado College professor Dan Chiras, was rejected by a 10-5 vote by the Texas Board of Education. Chiras told Carman that CSE and another conservative group, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, objected to his reference to the fact that the U.S represents 5% of the global population but produces 25% of the greenhouse gases. "They deemed it unpatriotic to cite them. They said they make the U.S. look bad," he told Carman. [4]

Texas State Director of CSE, Peggy Venable welcomed the decision to ban the book from the state's classrooms, claiming it was rejected because it "presented a radical, controversial, political agenda as 'science'."

In October 2003 Chiras launched legal action against the Texas Board of Education on the grounds that his First Amendments rights and those of Texas schooldchildren were violated.

Environmentalism is unpatriotic

Venable argued that after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States discussion of an environmental crisis caused by widespread changes to the landscape and industrialisation was unpatriotic. "We entered a new era on September 11. Our greatest challenge is to protect what our fathers, grandfathers and forefathers fought to provide our freedom. September 11 was not an attack on our military or our financial institutions but an attack on our freedom. We must defend attacks on our freedom both from outside our borders and from within," she wrote in a media release. [5]

Involvement in tort reform

CSE dabbles in other issues too. In early May 2004, CSE's then President Paul Beckner teamed up with Grover Norquist and Citizens Against Government Waste to launch an online petition,, calling for legislative reform to curtail the ability of courts to award substantial payouts against companies. [http://www.cse

Articles and resources

See also


  1. Freedom Works website, captured Jan. 9, 2007.