The heads of five prominent environmental groups accused the Clinton administration yesterday of abandoning environmental concerns as it prepares for the upcoming World Trade Organization meeting, to begin in Seattle in late November. The groups — including the National Wildlife Federation and Friends of the Earth — all claim to support global trade, but they allege that as a result of WTO membership, the U.S. has weakened protection for air quality and endangered species, sea turtles in particular. The leaders said that new WTO proposals, which the U.S. is preparing to support, could lead to more rampant logging in forests throughout the world. They refused to criticize any of the disruptive protests being planned by anti-trade activists for the Seattle meeting. “The forthcoming WTO summit is shaping up to be probably the most tense confrontation between the American government and its people perhaps since the ’70s,” said Carl Pope of the Sierra Club.

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