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NRDC Conflicts of Interest
A Cursory Analysis to Prompt Further Examination by An Inquiring Press Corp.
The Declared Mission of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is, ostensibly, “to foster the fundamental right of all people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment. We seek to break down the pattern of disproportionate environmental burdens borne by people of color and others who face social or economic inequities. Ultimately, NRDC strives to help create a new way of life for humankind, one that can be sustained indefinitely without fouling or depleting the resources that support all life on Earth”.
When considering a few examples (below) of their Board Members’ financial interests, please consider what inclination the NRDC will have to work against the financial interests of their Board Members, when deciding on the organization’s position regarding pressing environmental issues. Would they, for instance, stand against their Board Members’ interests if these stand to profit greatly from a neo-liberal trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (or the Colombia FTA) or from a deal with a major coal plant operator (like TXU) or an oil company that wants to cut a road deep into the Ecuadorian Amazon (like Conoco)?
(See here for details on anti-environmental positions taken by the NRDC.)
Based on the interests of Board Members of the NRDC, the ‘environmental’ organization’s advocacy for a dangerously inadequate U.S. climate policy comes off as self-dealing and self-serving.
- The Business Interests of Some NRDC Board Members
1. Richard E. Ayres, Esq.
The Ayres Law Group
We assist clients in high stakes regulatory proceedings, both informal and formal. We counsel clients on how to use the regulatory process to their own benefit often helping design regulatory proposals to be taken to EPA or important state pollution control agencies. We help our clients to understand what environmental regulations require – and don’t require – so they can stay in compliance and still achieve their business objectives. And we help those who may have enforcement issues with the Environmental Protection Agency.
2. Henry R. Breck, Trustee and Finance Chair of N.R.D.C.
Partner, Heronetta Holdings
Former member of the CIA and investment banker at Lehman Brothers. Also Chair of the Lehman Management Company.
See here and here.
Henry R. Breck has been Chairman of Ark Asset Management Co., Inc., a money management firm with $13 billion under management, since 1989. Previously, he was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and Chairman of Lehman Management Company, the predecessor company to Ark Asset Management. Mr. Breck joined Lehman Brothers in 1968 and was made a partner in 1972. Prior to his investment banking career, Mr. Breck was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency. He also served in the United States Air Force.
The NRDC website, interestingly, changed from an earlier version which listed Breck’s association as Chair of Ark Asset Management. That’s confirmed here.
While Heronetta Holdings is quite opaque, Ark Asset Management is well known:
Ark Asset Management has three subsidiaries
Covance, Inc., formerly, Hazleton Labs, Ralcorp Holdings, Inc, and Wolverine World Wide
Wolverine World Wide has holdings in Amgen, Apache Corp, Anadarko Petroleum, Bank of America, Chevron, Citigroup, Clorox (in 2002), ConocoPhillips, Dow (2002), Duke Energy, Exxonmobil, Freeport McMoran, Gap, General Electric, Halliburton, International Paper (2002), JP Morgan, Kimberly Clarke, Marathon Oil, Merck (2002), Merrill Lynch, National Oilwell Varko Inc,, Newmont Mining, Oil States International, Pfizer, Phillips Petroleum (2002), Pioneer Drilling, Precision Drilling Corp, Reliant Energy (2002), Royal Dutch Petroleum, United Technologies.
Mr. Breck is also on the boards of Butler Capital Corporation and ASA Limited.
However, Breck is not listed as on the ASA board through their own website:
ASA Limited is a closed-end management investment company. The Company provides investors a vehicle to invest in a portfolio consisting primarily of the stocks of companies engaged in the exploration, mining or processing of gold, silver, platinum, diamonds or other precious minerals. The Company may invest in gold, silver and platinum bullion or securities. These securities seek to replicate the price movement of gold, silver or platinum bullion.
3. Ruben Kraiem, Partner, Covington and Burling
Rubén Kraiem is a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, where he co-chairs, with Stuart Eizenstat, the firm’s Carbon Markets, Climate Change and Clean Technology practice. His practice includes transactional work on behalf of investors and institutions in the carbon markets. He is involved also in legislative work on behalf of clients engaged in the climate change policy debate. Most recently, he was involved in promoting the proposed acquisition of TXU which resulted in three massive coal plants being built in Texas. Mr. Kraiem is an advisor to the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, and in this capacity he attended the Bali Conference on Climate Change (COP-13) in December, 2007. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Fordham Law School.
C&B’s practice in the Energy area:
We represent investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, local distribution companies, natural gas pipelines, energy marketers and traders, oil and gas producers, wind producers, electric cooperatives, large end-users, financiers, project developers, institutional equity investors, a coalition of electric generators, transmitters, distributors, and consumers, and project advisory firms in a wide range of regulatory, corporate, and legislative energy matters.
C&B’s practice in the Nuclear area: (note the revolving door)
The former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dr. Richard Meserve, has rejoined the firm and brings extensive experience on nuclear matters. We can provide experienced counseling and advisory services in connection with nuclear matters arising at the state and federal level.
4. Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr.; Chair Emeritus
Senior Counsel, Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Some of their clients as found at http://www.cravath.com/Cravath.html
Here are a few choice few of the most environmentally destructive ones:
In 2007, we represented Weyerhaeuser in the merger of its fine paper business with Domtar Inc. for approximately US$3.3 billion.
Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. – Phelps Dodge Corp.
In 2007, we advised JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, as lead arrangers and underwriters, in connection with the financing of Freeport-McMoran’s purchase of Phelps Dodge for approximately US$23 billion, the largest mining acquisition on record.
Petroplus Holdings AG
In 2006, we represented the global coordinators (Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley) in connection with the CHF2.52 billion (equivalent to US$2.1 billion) 144A/Reg. S initial public offering of registered shares of Petroplus Holdings AG, one of the largest independent refiners and suppliers of unbranded petroleum products in Europe. The shares were listed on the SWX Swiss Exchange.
LS Power Equity Advisors, LLC
In 2006, we represented LS Power Equity Advisors, LLC in connection with a sale of assets to, and joint venture with, Dynegy.
Southern Peru Copper Corporation
In 2005, we represented the underwriters (led by Citigroup and UBS Investment Bank) in connection with the US$947 million registered common stock offering of Southern Peru Copper Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded copper company as measured by reserves. The shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Lima Stock Exchange.
We have represented Vitro, Mexico’s largest glass maker, AmBev, the Brazilian beverage manufacturer, and GP Investimentos in a variety of transactions. In addition, we have represented JPMorgan Securities and Citigroup, as lead underwriters, in connection with the securities offerings of South American businesses, particularly in the pulp and paper manufacturing and mining sectors, which involve significant environmental issues.
5. Robert J. Fisher; Vice Chair, Director, GAP Inc.
6. Michel Gelobter, Ph.D.
Founder, CEO, Cooler Inc.
“Cooler is an on-line, for-profit venture that enables consumers and retailers to buy and sell millions of everyday goods and services while offsetting their global warming impacts. ”
The NRDC’s 2007 financial statement also reveals their millions of dollars of investment in the fossil fuel industry. Can we really expect them to be pushing for a transition towards renewables (i.e. not hydrocarbons or biofuels/biomass) when they are heavily invested in those? Two lines of credit from top carbon trading promoting banks – Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase – extend to NRDC 10s of millions of dollars at low interest.
The NRDC’s most recent financial statement has them investing $23 million of their endowment with the biggest underwriter of coal operations in the U.S., the Bank of America. It also shows the NRDC heavily invested in the Carlyle Group widely considered as profiting from no-bid contracts in an illegal invasion of a sovereign country launched to secure hydrocarbons. The Carlyle Group funds also include major holdings in the fossil fuel industry itself. These include massive ethanol biofuel and toxic gas infrastructure and service companies, like the major oil and gas player Cobalt, which seeks to extract oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico and Africa, and Gibson Energy which provides “midstream services” to the oil and gas industry, services which have found their way to providing ’solutions’ to accessing hydrocarbons in Western Canada.
There are other intriguing Board Members to research for enquiring minds at the following link (a few are listed below):
Adam Albright; Vice Chair, Private investor; Environmentalist
Susan Crown, Principal, Henry Crown and Company; Executive, Foundation Chair, Community
Henry Crown and Company has holdings in Aspen Ski Resort.
Also in oil and gas:
They are also an opaque investment company. So more info appreciated.
Co-Founder, Sybase, Inc., and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2); Organizer and Director, New Resource Bank
Environmental Entrepreneurs – a few of these people w/links to both Hill & Knowlton (http://www.prwatch.org/search/node/hill+knowlton) and the NRDC; Creepy cousins
Jill Tate Higgins, Private investor; General Partner, Lakeside Enterprises, L.P.
Nothing on her/Lakeside except that she’s also in E2
Bob Kerrey, President, The New School
Philip B. Korsant, Managing Member, Korsant Partners
Maya Lin, Artist; Designer – Maya Lin was the proposed architect for a proposed paper de-inking facility on the South South Bronx waterfront, which was championed by NRDC. It took Bronx-wide mobilization to defeat this environmentally unjust project.
Philip (Pete) Ruegger III, Chair, Executive Committee, Simpson, Thatcher & Bartlett
Christine H. Russell, Ph.D., Environmentalist; Foundation director
Wendy Schmidt, President, The Schmidt Family Foundation; Founder, The 11th Hour Project
Max Stone, Managing Director, D.E. Shaw & Company, L.P.
Elizabeth Wiatt, Environmentalist; Founder, Leadership Council
Dean E. Abrahamson, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Robert O. Blake, U.S. Ambassador (retired)
Joan K. Davidson, Former Parks Commissioner, NY State; President Emeritus, The J.M. Kaplan
Frederick A. Terry, Jr.. Senior Counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell