providing the lunch-time address, activist lawyer and AAPG member
Victor Yannacone, of Long Island, N.Y., gave a wide-ranging
address that stressed the necessity of becoming active in the political
process and communicating views to the public and media.
A pioneer in the environmental movement, Yannacone
and his wife founded the Environmental Defense Fund in 1967 and
won several environmental victories including the first air pollution
case brought in an American court. He also was counsel for Vietnam
veterans in the Agent Orange case and coined the phrase and created
the field of Environmental Law during the DDT litigation of 1966.
"Rational science must become the basis for national
resource policy, especially our national energy policy," Yannacone
told the luncheon audience.
"There is no rational justification supported by
a fair preponderance of credible scientific evidence for a moratorium
on exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and natural
gas anywhere off the East Coast, the West Coast, or the Gulf Coast,"
he said. "Yes, even off Florida."
On other topics, Yannacone had this to say:
"It is time to lift the siege and scatter the hoards of
loud-mouthed Luddites who seek to halt the advance of human civilization
and who demonize the effort to find and make wise use of our oil
and natural gas resources."
"Millions of barrels of oil, billions of cubic feet of natural
gas, thousands of tons of coal, metals and economic minerals support
Western civilization. If all that oil and natural gas and coal
and metals and economic minerals are not readily available each
day on demand, industrial civilization as we know it will cease.
Western industrial civilization is built upon cheap oil, gas,
food and water."
"Consumers must realize that oil and natural gas are not
'free goods.' There is a price to be paid for consuming non-renewable
natural resources. Consumers must pay that part of the cost of
finding, producing and distributing the oil and natural gas they
demand, which represents the cost of maintaining air clean enough
to breathe and potable water for humans and other animals, and
the plant systems upon which all animal life depends."
"It is the lawyers without conscience and the law school
professors without principle that brought us Enron and the business
failures that followed in the wake of the mergers and acquisitions
craze of the '80s.
"It is the accountants without integrity who have destroyed
our confidence in the American free enterprise system and the
heart of industrial society — the markets.
"While the vast majority of the American people were unaware
and uninformed, those who knew the dirty little secrets kept silent
and allowed the barons of big business to hide behind the trappings
of power and conceal the fact that they are moral midgets."
"We have allowed lavish rewards to be heaped upon men and
women without honor, integrity, character or principle, who made
the elegant edifices of business — the banks, the brokerages
and the boardrooms — whitened sepulchers of biblical proportions.
"The independent oil and gas industry was not built by vulture
capitalists taking advantage of gullible investors. It was built
by men and women of vision who were willing to take great personal
risks for the benefit of society, only seeking a reward commensurate
with their risk — something for something; not something for
"The message that must travel to Washington from every corner
of America is that the economy is not just colored bits of paper
and people shouting numbers to each other in the caverns of commodity
exchanges in Chicago or the canyons of Wall Street."
On the "New Dark Ages"
"The second coming of the Dark Ages is upon us and the
causes are much the same as they were in the fourth, fifth and
sixth centuries of the last millennium.
- A lack of scientific knowledge among those with political
- A lack of scientific knowledge within the body politic.
- A failure to appreciate the lessons of history.
- Estrangement of the consumer from the origin of the products
they consume. Forgetting that milk comes from cows, not the
supermarket; forgetting that we must care for the cow, the calf
and the bull, deal with their waste as well as our own; forgetting
that the food we eat is a renewable resource only if we care
for the land from which it comes.
- Refusal to reward those who risk their all to advance civilization.
Risk demands reward. Great risk deserves great rewards. Failure
to reward investment commensurate with risk fails to promote
and encourage innovation directed toward advancing human civilization."
On National Energy Policy
"Our national energy policy is ‘Cheap energy for us
at any price to anyone else.’"
"If the phrase ‘national energy policy’ is not
to become the latest oxymoron, like ‘corporate responsibility’
or ‘legal ethics’ or ‘generally accepted accounting
principles,’ all of us who provide the support our elected
representatives need to do their job, must insist that rational
science become the basis for public policy."
On Land Use Policies and Ideology
"The most pernicious is the idea that all of the public
lands exist solely as scenic vistas and their principle use is
as the playgrounds of the rich and powerful. The other ideological
extreme is that the public lands exist for the benefit of the
soulless, stateless multinational conglomerate financial institutions,
so that a few people can make a great deal of money without providing
any real beneficial use of the public lands.
"We have to reach a balance between these two extreme positions."
"Today, policy for public land use is created by people
who are far removed from the public lands. Historically, the public
lands are held in trust in perpetuity for the full benefit use
and enjoyment of the people of the United States."
"The rhetorical gulf that exists today between the organized,
tax-exempt special interest groups calling themselves "environmental"
organizations and the real environmentalists — the farmers, ranchers
and foresters who bring us food, clothing and shelter, and the
independent and resourceful earth scientist who search for and
find the oil and natural gas that fuels our society and the economic
minerals that make industrial society possible — is nothing more
than an artificial construct.
"It was created by the 'robbers barons' of the late19th century
and their modern successors, the pampered princes of privilege,
in an effort to keep the continental U.S. west of the 89th meridian
as their colonial empire, and the natural resources of America
as their personal treasure chest."