The practice of "green-scamming' - stealing an environmental group's name to further an opposing cause - may be acquiring a whole new meaning on the Internet.


Members of the Pulp and Paper Workers Resource Council at the Potlatch Inc. mill in Lewiston, Idaho, got so mad at the Idaho Conservation League for opposing timber sales that they created a Web site called "Idaho Conservation." Launched in late February, the site attacked league staffer John McCarthy for misleading Congress and the public with "selective" photography of old-growth ponderosa pine trees in the Boise National Forest. The union says the photographs make the forest look worse than it really is.


ICL members say the union treads on thin legal ice by using most of the group's name on the Web site but failing to disclose the union's identity. "Own your own shit," McCarthy advised the union. "How can the stinking Potlatch pulp workers have any credibility with their own stink if they don't even put their own name on the site?"


"There's never been any attempt to hide ownership of the site," responds Jerry Klemm, Rocky Mountain regional director of the Pulp and Paper Workers Resource Council. "We're not out to defame or smear anybody. We're trying to show people there's another side to conservation issues." Similar union-run sites are being planned for the states of Montana, Oregon, Washington and California, union officials say.


"It looks to me that they (the union) are deliberately trying to confuse the public," says Land and Water Fund attorney Laird Lucas, who won an Idaho green-scamming case two years ago. McCarthy says his group is considering its legal options.


The Idaho Conservation League's real Web site is www.wildidaho.org. The union's version is at www.idahoconservation.org. - Stephen Stuebner