WASHINGTON — Falling donations are pushing Greenpeace to close all 10 of its U.S. regional offices and lay off 200 of its 300 U.S. employees by the end of October, the environmental group said.
Greenpeace's toxins campaign, which includes its well-publicized dioxin and ``PVC — The Poison Plastic'' effort, is likely to drop from about 10 full-time staffers to five or six, said toxins campaigner Rick Hind.
The toxins effort will remain a priority, but the timing and details of its restructuring have to be worked out, he said.
Most of those laid off are door-to-door canvassers, but the number of professional campaigners — who lobby Congress or plan activities — will be cut from 44 to 34 and some administrative staff will be let go, said spokesman Mark Floegel.
``We are restructuring Greenpeace to allow us to have maximum effect on global warming and forests,'' spokesman Bill Keller said in a statement.
The group will continue its work on toxin threats and global fisheries, the statement said. Hind said toxins will not be as high a priority as global warming and forests.
Greenpeace has seen its U.S. budget fall from $29.5 million last year to $20.1 million this year, Floegel said. Most of its funding comes in small donations, which have been dropping, he said.
Robert Burnett, executive director of the Vinyl Institute in Morristown, N.J., said the cutbacks indicate Greenpeace's toxins campaign has not been a revenue raiser. He said the public believes PVC and other environmental issues are being well-managed.
Floegel echoed that, saying the environmental movement generally has had problems raising funds because the public believes progress is being made on environmental issues.
The cuts will let the group take money spent on offices and overhead and ``develop a more flexible and mobile approach to campaigning,'' the statement said.
``We certainly fear that it could be much more difficult but we hope that it won't,'' Hind said. ``It's a big change in terms of the profile, essentially.''
The door-to-door canvassers being laid off spread the group's message and also solicited funds, but they were not efficient fund-raisers, Floegel said.
``We talk to people and keep them informed as we raise funds. We have other means of raising funds,'' he said. ``We mourn the loss of this face-to-face contact.''
Greenpeace USA Executive Director Barbara Dudley resigned July 15, in a move unrelated to the restructuring, said a Greenpeace spokeswoman.
She said Dudley was ``burned out on day-to-day management'' but does not have another position lined up.
The regional offices that will be closed between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31 are in Amherst, Mass.; Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta; Boston; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Minneapolis; San Francisco; Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Seattle.
Greenpeace USA is one of 32 Greenpeace offices worldwide.