News Advisory, May 27, 1998

Over 100 U.S. and International Organizations Urge NASA to Comply with U.S.
Environmental and Cultural Protection laws

Mt. Graham Coalition
P.O. Box 15451, Phoenix AZ 85060

Over 100 national, international, and regional environmental, Native
American, scientific, religious, and human rights organizations have today
sent a letter to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
It urges that agency to "withhold NASA funding from the Mount Graham,
Arizona telescopes and any other project that avoids full and proper
compliance with this nation's environmental and cultural protection laws."

Last November, President Clinton vetoed $10 million dollars in NASA funds
for this controversial observatory. The President's veto message stated
that the same research which allowed two separate telescope mirrors to
operate in unison was already being funded by NASA with the two already
operational Keck telescopes on Hawaii. Each Keck mirror is 10 meters, as
compared with Mt. Graham's two smaller 8.4 meter Large Binocular Telescope
(LBT) mirrors -- which are still many years from completion at the
University of Arizona mirror lab. In his veto message on Nov. 1, 1997,
President Clinton wrote:

"the Keck project, due to its configuration, would produce technical results
superior to those of the Arizona project. Given that NASA is already
investing in a superior capability in the Keck facility, NASA should not
fund the Arizona project."

This $10,000,000 item was not requested by NASA. Instead it was a product
of a silent senatorial giveaway slipped through without the benefit of
hearings. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the
Subcommittee that funds NASA, acted with the support of Rep. Jim Kolbe of
Tucson. Inserted into the VA-HUD bill were two cryptic sentences which
deliberately avoided any mention of Mt. Graham, the University of Arizona,
or the Large Binocular Telescope. (turn over)

NASA had not requested this project in their funding request to Congress.
Senator John McCain described this and 50 other entries in the VA-HUD Bill
as "wasteful and objectionable."

McCain said:

"These projects have not been considered in the normal process of
prioritizing among competing requirements. They have simply been earmarked
to receive funds because a Member of this body wanted to bring it home...."I
cannot understand why we cannot instead, provide funding based on need and
established criteria, rather than setting aside millions of dollars for
certain States or areas of the country..."

"Again, this is back door earmarking and it's the worst form of pork barrel
spending that I have seen in a long time....we waste millions of taxpayer
dollars on projects that serve our own narrow interests rather than those of
the Nation at large."

Ola Cassadore Davis, an Apache elder on the San Carlos reservation, has
stated that she is greatly heartened that so many organizations stand firm
in their resolve to see that American scientists obey the law, and respect
the traditional culture and ancient religious way of life of Apache people.
Mt. Graham, long known to the Apache as Dzil Nchaa Si An, is a primary
location for Apache religious practices and ceremonies, much like Mt. Sinai
is to Christians and Jews, and Mt. Arafat in Saudi Arabia is to Moslems.

On July 16, 1996 the Executive Office of the President, on behalf of
President Clinton, wrote to Congress:

"...the Administration strongly urges the repeal of two riders passed
earlier in this Congress that have ill-served the American people and their
environment. First, the "timber rider...Second, the Mt. Graham rider passed
in the FY 1996 Omnibus Appropriations Act should be repealed. Mt. Graham is
the sole remaining habitat for the Mt. Graham red squirrel, a highly
endangered species. It is also a site of importance to Native Americans.
The rider's exemption of the application of the Endangered Species Act and
other environmental laws has never been justified..."

Copies of the letter to NASA were also sent today to the White House and
senior members of Congress to inform them of the continuing strong
opposition to the project.

For Info:
Robert Witzeman, M.D., Maricopa Audubon Society, Phoenix AZ 602 840-0052;
John Fitzgerald, Mt. Graham Coalition, Wash. D.C., 301 384-6629
Ola Cassadore Davis, Apache Survival Coalition, 520 475 2543
Wendsler Nosie, Apaches for Cultural Preservation, 520 475-2492 (h), 520 475 2494


American Indian Resource Institute
Apache Survival Coalition
Association on American Indian Affairs
Council of Energy Resource Tribes
Morning Star Foundation
National Congress of American Indians
National Indian Policy Center
National Tribal Environmental Council
Native American Rights Fund
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Planet Peace, Native American Community Internet Project
Red Indian Society of the Americas
San Carlos Apache Tribe and Council


Associated Students for Environmental and Economic Development
Big Mountain Action Group (Germany)
Campagna Nord-Sud (Italy)
Greenpeace (Germany)
Institute of Ecology and Action Anthropology (INFOE, Europe)
International Working Groups for Indigenous People (Denmark)
KOLA Belgium)
KWIA (Belgium)
Naturschutzbund (Germany)
Pax Christi (Germany)
Robinwood (Germany)
Society for Threatened People (Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany)
Soconas Incomindios (Italy)
Survival International
Working Group for Indigenous People (Europe)


Animal Defense Council
Biodiversity Legal Foundation
Center for Resource Management
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth First!
Environmental Defense Fund
Friends of the Earth
Great Bear Foundation Greenpeace
Humane Society of America
Hollywood Women's Political Caucus
National Audubon Society National Bear Society
National Parks and Conservation Association
National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Society
Natural Resources Defense Council
Preserve Appalachian Wilderness
Safari Club International
Save America's Forests
Scientists for the Preservation of Mt Graham
Sierra Club
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
Student Environmental Action Coalition
Wilderness Society
Wildlife Society


Arizona Arms Association
Arizona Audubon Council: (Huachuca, Mancopa, Northern Arizona, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma)
Arizona Bear Society
Arizona Bowhunter's Association
Arizona Flycaster's Association
Arizona Game and Fish Commission
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arizona Muzzleloader's Association
Arizona Native Plants Society
Arizona Wilderness Coalition
Arizona Wilderness Society
Arizona Wildlife Federation
Arizona Wildlife Society
Cochise Conservation Council
Desert Whitetailers
Flagstaff Archers
Friends of Mt. Graham
Gila Biodiversity Project
Gray Panthers Partners
Greenpeace (Arizona)
Mt. Graham Conservation Project
Rod and Gun Clubs: (Sierra Vista, Sportsman's, Tucson and Yuma Valley)
Sierra Club, (Rincon Chapter, and Grand Canyon Chapter)
Southern Arizona Hiking Club
Southwest Center for Biodiversity
Sportsman's Voice
Student Environmental Action Coalition (University of Arizona, and Arizona State University)
The Great Bear Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
Trout Unlimited, Zane Gray Chapter