The Multinational Monitor

Jan/Feb 2002 - VOLUME 23 - NUMBER 1 & 2

T H E    L A W R E N C E    S U M M E R S    M E M O R I A L   A W A R D


The January/February 2002 Lawrence Summers Memorial Award* Goes to Audubon International, an enterprise not affiliated with the environmental group, the National Audubon Society. Audubon International blesses the environmental friendliness of golf courses, despite the huge environmental damage they cause.

Developers are proposing a PGA Village for San Antonio that would feature at least three golf courses, plus a large hotel, housing and retail areas. PGA Village is seeking subsidies from local government authorities. There is considerable local opposition to the project. Supporters dismiss environmental criticisms, saying the golf courses will abide by ecologically friendly “New York Audubon Society” standards.

An PGA Village opponent, Stephen Grigory, told the San Antonio Express-News’ Carlos Guerra that “I got suspicious that the Audubon Society would sanction this because there's no way a golf course can significantly reduce the water it uses or the quantity of pesticides they need.”

On the web, Grigory found the "Audubon Society of New York," which has nothing to do with golf. Then he found “Audubon International.” “Audubon International grew out of the Audubon Society of New York State,” explains the golf-friendly group's Web site (, but “is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society or any other Audubon organization.” The site also reveals that “major financial support for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses is provided by the United States Golf Association.” Other contributors include four golf course superintendents associations, golf courses and a mower manufacturer.

Source: Carlos Guerra, “Do PGA Village's ecology-friendly credentials check out?,” San Antonio Express-News, July 19, 2001. Thanks to Greg Leroy for highlighting this story.

*In a 1991 internal memorandum, then-World Bank economist Lawrence Summers argued for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries. "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" wrote Summers, who went on to serve as Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration. "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. ... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low [sic] compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City." Summers later said the memo was meant to be ironic.