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Green vs. gold
“It’s false to claim there’s a law against starting new businesses in Rosia,” Ms. Sipos said. “The industrial zone is limited to four of the 16 sub-comuna that make up Rosia village. Areawise, it is also approximately 25 percent. That leaves 75 percent of the village where anyone is free to open up a new business.”
Ms. Sipos said Gabriel Resources, as a public company, is more accountable to regulators, shareholders and the public than Alburnus Maior, “which as an NGO is not regulated nor accountable to anyone.”
“It is inappropriate for Ms. Roth to convey the reality of Rosia Montana and speak for the villagers who live in complete poverty and desperately need hope for their future when she herself has grown up in a very privileged lifestyle — quite a contradiction to the poverty she has no problem leaving the local community in,” Ms. Sipos said.
The Goldman Environmental Prize threatened legal action because of footage that appears in the documentary. “They did come to us to get footage, but they came to us under false pretenses,” said Lorrae Rominger, deputy director of the Goldman Environmental Prize. “We would never grant permission to someone who was going to use it in a negative way.”
Ms. Rominger called the film “complete propaganda,” but asked attorneys to drop the issue. “I didn’t want to give their film any more credence,” she said.
“We are delighted that the Goldman Foundation has discovered the First Amendment,” Mr. Pfaltzgraff said.
Ms. Rominger said recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize are vetted by four staffers who spend six months researching candidates. She said the staffers interviewed about 20 people about Ms. Roth and were aware of the opposition to Alburnus Maior.
She said the balance between saving the landscape and saving money sometimes involves a trade-off, but “what often happens with a drilling project” is that the choice is between “jobs that put food on the table” and stopping harmful emissions. “We’re an environmental group,” she said. “You have to decide what’s more important to you.”
Patrick Moore, chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies in Vancouver, British Columbia, criticized the Goldman Environ- mental Prize.
“In many cases, it’s been given to people who perpetuate poverty in the developing world. I think people should get awards for helping to bring win-win solutions.” Mr. Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, also criticized parts of the modern environmental movement. “They romanticize poverty, as if it were some sort of a more desirable state of affairs. They help perpetuate people remaining in these conditions.”
Among those interviewed in the documentary is World Wildlife Fund representative Mark Fenn. He argues that a proposed mining project would threaten the “quaintness” of a small village in Madagascar, and says smiles are a better judge of quality of life than health care and education.
“They want people with no cars, no indoor heating, no plumbing, while they themselves live in the creature comforts,” he said. “These are people who think poor people are a cancer. Their thinking is responsible for keeping millions of people in Africa, Latin America and Asia mired in poverty and misery.”
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