Sierra Club attacks Ford, SUVs

Published August 1, 2002

The Sierra Club is an environmental lobbying organization best known for its anti-logging stance, which has contributed to the wildfires devastating hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and wilderness areas. Apparently, the group wants to have a similar effect on the nation’s manufacturers of cars and trucks.

In June, the Sierra Club announced a three-year advertising campaign accusing car and truck manufacturers of damaging the environment and contributing to U.S. dependence on oil from the Mideast. The campaign’s first round of radio and television ads, airing in 12 states, targeted Ford Motor Company and CEO Bill Ford Jr. by name.

The television ads showed pictures of Kuwaiti oil fields ablaze during the Persian Gulf War and implied American auto manufacturers were to blame. “Now more than ever, America needs cars that get better mileage,” said the narrator in one of the Sierra Club ads.

One of the markets targeted by the Sierra Club was Detroit. Not surprisingly, every local radio station approached by the Sierra Club refused to air the ads. “We felt it was inappropriate for the Sierra Club to single out an individual and attack an individual in the ad,” said WWJ radio station general manager Rich Homberg.

Choosing to target Ford CEO Bill Ford Jr. appears to be a classic case of the maxim, “no good deed goes unpunished.” Ford has done more to publicize environmental concerns than any other CEO in the U.S. Ford Motor Co. has been a generous donor to many environmental organizations, even those with anti-business agendas.

The Sierra Club claims it is attempting “to give American consumers the choice to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.” A letter to the Wall Street Journal, which covered the story, found it “quite amusing that the Sierra Club defines laws restricting the kinds of automobiles consumers can buy as laws that ‘give American consumers the choice to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.’ Likewise, one might define one-party elections in totalitarian regimes as ‘laws giving citizens the right to vote for the Leader.’ Book-burnings are merely ‘laws giving citizens the right to read wholesome literature.’ And free speech prohibitions are merely ‘laws giving citizens the right to hear the truth.'”

At an event held in Detroit announcing the ad campaign, Sierra Club officials chose not to comment on why their Dallas compatriots traveled to and from an ExxonMobil protest in a Ford Econoline full-sized van.