Tagged ‘Environmental Defense Fund‘

A Fixed Mentality

The San Franciscan

December 1, 2015

by Jay Taber

Gates Energy

US President Barack Obama, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and heads of state attend the ‘Mission Innovation: Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution’ meeting at COP21. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition includes Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Virgin Group head Richard Branson [Photograph: Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images][Source]

In 2014 the Energy Foundation/Fund in San Francisco (assets $100 Million) granted four million to Sierra Club Foundation, a couple million to Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as $665,000 to Earth Justice (Sierra Club), $565,000 to Environmental Defense Fund, and $335,000 to CERES. Smaller grants went to Seattle area groups: $30,000 to Washington Environmental Council, $15,000 to Sightline Institute (a climate think tank that promotes Bill Gates) and $7,500 to Re-Sources.


Laying the groundwork for a fixed mentality behind the ‘clean energy’ Ponzi scheme led by Gates, these beneficiaries become its cheerleaders. Spreading money around to media, environmental groups and think tanks that supply them with ideas ensures compliance with the Ponzi agenda.

Compromising celebrities with strong environmental creds ensures they will maintain silence about elite fraud. The hush money Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Buffett invested in this is augmented by oil companies and financial institutions that benefit from the fraud.

Following the money is challenging, since they routinely launder it through private and public foundations, as well as brokerages that make small grants. This way, no one examines the source of the money or the agenda that controls its use, let alone the overall actual purpose, as opposed to the stated purpose.

The payoff for this financial elite investment is potentially well above the bank bailouts of 2008-2009, that devastated the US economy. The climate bail out funds from public treasuries worldwide could easily eclipse that.




[Jay Thomas Taber (O’Neal) derives from the most prominent tribe in Irish history, nEoghan Ua Niall, the chief family in Northern Ireland between the 4th and the 17th centuries. Jay’s ancestors were some of the last great leaders of Gaelic Ireland. His grandmother’s grandfather’s grandfather emigrated from Belfast to South Carolina in 1768. Jay is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] Website:]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part II of an Investigative Report] [The “Climate Wealth” Opportunists]

Ceres & the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)


March 10, 2014

Part two of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII


 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X


Preface: A Coup d’etat of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.




 “One recent weekday afternoon, three men walked out of the Environmental Defense Fund’s midtown Manhattan office on their way to have lunch together. On the left was EDF’s senior economist. On the right was an environmental expert in the Soviet government. Between them was a businessman, a trader in the nascent enterprise of buying and selling pollution rights. Together that trio forms a picture of how the new environmentalism is shaping up: global, more cooperative than confrontational – and with business at the center.” — ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The present can only be fully understood if one understands the past. Therefore, in order to understand the present day divestment campaign, we must look at the inception/creation of’s partner: The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres).

Who is Ceres? Ceres is the 21st century puppeteers of Wall Street who, most recently, are pulling the strings behind the divestment campaign. Ceres represents the very heart of the nexus: millionaire liberals, their foundations, the “activists” they manage, and most importantly, where the plutocrats invest their personal wealth and that of their foundations. [“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Ceres relies on support from foundations, individuals and other funders to achieve our mission to integrate sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people.” (Source: Ceres 2010 Annual Report)

On the Ceres Board of Directors we find key NGO affiliations: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, World Resources Institute, Ecological Solutions Inc. and Green America, to name a few. (The history of the Ceres board of directors is discussed at length, further in this report.)

 “Building climate change risks and opportunities into Wall Street research and analysis is a top Ceres priority.” — Ceres Annual Report 2006

Exxon Valdez: Opportunity Knocks

 “… sceptics of the effectiveness of a voluntary environmental ethics question whether or not the Valdez principles contain more smoke than substance.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

On March 24, 1989, one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters in Earth’s history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, shook public confidence in corporate America to the core. This catastrophic event, 5 years after the atrocious man-made disaster in Bhopal, brought corporate misconduct to the forefront. Corporate America found itself in the midst of an unprecedented public relations disaster.

 “…not long after the Exxon Valdez spill, 41% of Americans were angry enough to say they’d consider boycotting the company.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

Within six months of the Exxon disaster, the late Joan Bavaria, then-president of Trillium Asset Management, had formed a coalition that included high profile environmentalists. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) was formed with its 10-point code of conduct in hopes of reigning in corporate power. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] Presented to the public as The Valdez Principles [1] on September 7, 1989, the strategic name brilliantly exploited the Valdez crisis (the Principles are said to have actually been written before the Valdez spill, in 1988) to build its own brand recognition and value. Ceres would be the watchdog and savior, reigning in corporate power and making it behave. Although corporate America was reluctant, due to the growing hostility and resentment from the public it also recognized that this coalition offered a strategy (“a voluntary mechanism of corporate self-governance”) as a means of re-establishing public trust, securing brand reputation and most importantly, protecting profits and power. Its influence was enhanced by the fact that member institutional investors controlled over $150 billion in assets. Yet, the risks did not go unrecognized:

“A new basis for environmentally-related derivative suits may now be emerging. Various social-activist groups are successfully sponsoring shareholder resolutions at many major corporations to mandate greater environmental accountability by the corporations. These resolutions require the implementation of ‘Valdez Principles,’ which call for the corporations to curtail air and water pollution, conserve energy, market safe products, pay for damage caused to the environment, and make regular reports on environmental matters to the shareholders. If directors and officers of corporations which have adopted these Valdez-type resolutions fail to comply with their mandate, derivative suits against the directors and officers are likely to follow.” — ACE Bermuda News, July 1991

Corporate America held out. Ceres eventually buckled. The Valdez Principles became the CERES Principles (a 10-point code of environmental conduct) [2], with the most powerful language watered down and abolished. This was fully understood by Bavaria, who recognized that without the annual public audits in particular (principle #10), the principles would be meaningless. November 1990:

“Joan Bavaria, co-chairperson of CERES, believes that the first 8 principles are meaningless without the tenth principle allowing public accountability. The difference between having the company develop their own principles, then monitoring them internally is like putting a fox in the chicken house.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

In the meantime, environmentalism was changing and becoming big business. The world had embraced Neoliberalism (or had it shoved down their throats by the IMF and World Bank) with a statement of neoliberal aims being codified in the Washington Consensus in 1989. This was to be the means of liberating the market from state intrusion, which would instead serve to shield the expanding corporatocracy. Neoliberalism would prove to be the instrumental tool of choice in what would serve, protect and expand the power of the oligarchy.

From the CNNMoney Fortune article: ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, February 12, 1990:

“Far fewer activists of the 1990s will be embittered, scruffy, antibusiness street fighters. AS AN EXAMPLE of the new breed, consider Allen Hershkowitz, who freely drops the names of his CEO acquaintances. As a solid-waste-disposal expert at the litigious Natural Resources Defense Council, Hershkowitz has won many legal battles with business. Now high-ranking executives of major companies regularly make the pilgrimage to his office in the elegant, airy, and amply funded New York City headquarters of NRDC, coming to him lest he go after them. As he explains, ‘They come in here to see what they’ve got to cover their asses on. ‘The cocky 34-year-old Ph.D., who serves as an adviser to banks and Shearson Lehman Hutton, among others, elaborates, ‘My primary motivation is environmental protection. And if it costs more, so be it. If Procter & Gamble can’t live with that, somebody else will. But I’ll tell you, Procter & Gamble is trying hard to live with it. ‘Still, for all his militancy, Hershkowitz is no fanatic or utopian. He understands that a perfect world can’t be achieved and doesn’t hesitate to talk of trade-offs: ‘Hey, civilization has its costs. We’re trying to reduce them, but we can’t eliminate them.’


Environmentalists of this stripe will increasingly show up even within companies. William Bishop, Procter & Gamble’s top environmental scientist, was an organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and is a member of the Sierra Club. One of his chief deputies belongs to Greenpeace. Eager to work with business, many environmentalists are moving from confrontation to the best kind of collaboration. In September an ad hoc combination of institutional investors controlling $150 billion of assets (including representatives of public pension funds) and environmental groups promulgated the Valdez Principles, named for the year’s most catalytic environmental accident. The principles ask companies to reduce waste, use resources prudently, market safe products, and take responsibility for past harm. They also call for an environmentalist on each corporate board and an annual public audit of a company’s environmental progress. The group asked corporations to subscribe to the principles, with the implicit suggestion that investments could eventually be contingent on compliance. Companies already engaged in friendly discussions included DuPont, specialty-chemical maker H.B. Fuller, and Polaroid, among others.


Earth Day 1990, scheduled for April 22, the 20th anniversary of the first such event, is becoming a veritable biz-fest. ‘We’re really interested in working with companies that have a good record,’ says Earth Day Chairman Denis Hayes, who predicts that 100 million people will take part one way or another. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard have donated equipment. Shaklee, the personal and household products company, paid $50,000 to be the first official corporate sponsor. Even the Chemical Manufacturers Association is getting in on the act, preparing a list of 101 ways its members can participate. The more than 1,000 Earth Day affiliate groups in 120 countries propose to shake up politicians worldwide and launch a decade of activism. THE MESSAGE that leading environmentalists are sending, and progressive companies are receiving, is that eco-responsibility will be good for business. Says Gray Davis, California’s state controller, who helped draft the Valdez Principles and who sits on the boards of two public pension funds with total assets of $90 billion: ‘Given the increasing regulation and public concern, there’s no question that companies will eventually have to change their ways. The first kid on the block to embrace these principles will increase market share and profit substantially.'”

The primary NGOs involved in the Valdez Principles from inception were the Sierra Club, The National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The necessity of the “environmental movement” as the face and foundation of Ceres cannot be understated. In 1989 it was well understood by all players that NGOs were very much perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the public. The non-profit industrial complex was perhaps the only entity in the position of lending the much needed legitimacy and credibility that could mollify the public and allow the corporate world to continue their raping and pillaging, unregulated, under voluntary compliance. And while there is little doubt that well-intentioned individuals with sincere intentions were present in the formation of Ceres (as the corporate watchdog), many such “activists” will never admit to themselves that they are enablers of the very systems collectively destroying us. There is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. Privilege has a convenient way of convincing one’s self to be blind.

“The New York Times/CBS News poll regularly asks the public if ‘protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.’ In September 1981, 45% agreed and 42% disagreed with that plainly intemperate statement. Last June, 79% agreed and only 18% disagreed. For the first time, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, profess concern for the environment in roughly equal numbers.” ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The Valdez Principles, which morphed into the completely watered down Ceres Principles, became the perfect antidote to appease an outraged populace. Corporations could breathe a sigh of relief for a continued voluntary system of corporate self governance – freshly laundered in a light green wash. At a time when public support for environmental protection was unprecedented, restrictive federal regulation power would be avoided. Corporate supremacy would continue apace.

CERES: Clearing House for the Institutionalization of Private Governance

 “It is high time that myths were called what they are. They are stories which may help explain our feelings but they are stories nonetheless and they do us no good.” — Margaret Kimberley

The CERES “Sustainable Governance Project” (SGP) was officially announced to the public in Washington, DC, 2002. The non-profit industrial complex was and continues to be an instrumental tool in building public acceptance for expansion of neoliberal policies. Hence a key focus of SGP in 2001 (prior to the official launch) was “expanding collaboration with climate change experts at groups such as The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Redefining Progress, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund, and many others.” (Source: 2001 Annual Report) Jump forward to 2013 and the Ceres network includes over 130 NGOs.

Today, Ceres serves as the underwriter and clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance. Such transformation is now well under way and evolving as witnessed under the guise of the “green economy.” Such strategy is calculated and requires tactical execution. For such transformation to be successful, key critical elements must coalesce: the real or perceived (manufactured/purposeful) decline of public regulatory power; the appearance of “civil society” (self-appointed NGOs) to emanate a patina of legitimacy, credibility and trust; the perception of “caring” corporations (see “Who Cares Wins“); and lastly, media to disseminate the compiled elements in endless waves. When these elements coalesce seamlessly, fertile ground is laid for private regulatory institutions to emerge. By stressing the “risks” (i.e. water scarcity, crumbling infrastructure, etc.) Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.

The Ceres Network Companies (the first pillar) make up the crème de le crème (approx. 70 corporations) of the corporate world. Examples include Citi, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Suncor and Virgin. The Ceres Coalition (the second pillar) is comprised of more than 130 institutional investors, environmental and “social advocacy” groups, and public interest organizations. Examples of coalition members are Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rockefeller Financial Asset Management, NRDC, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (a founder of Avaaz) and The Carbon Neutral Company.



Leadership Circle

Image above: Just a few of the 2009 and 2013 Ceres Conference Sponsors.

The Ceres Coalition represents: the Ceres Network Companies, Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) (publicly launched in November 2003 at the first Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at the United Nations) and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP: a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations.) [Ceres Membership Requirements] [3]

“Ceres is a national network of over [130*] investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and the capital markets to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Coalition members serve on our board of directors, participate on company stakeholder teams and engage with the Wall Street community to incorporate social and environmental costs into their research practices. More than [100*] companies worldwide, many of them Fortune 500 firms, make up the Ceres Network of Companies.” [4] [*Updated to reflect current status]

The network of Ceres companies represents a broad range of corporate interests, including oil and gas, electric utilities, and financial services. More than one-third of the company members are in the Fortune 500. Members include McDonalds Corporations, Bank of America Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Citi Bank, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nike, PepsiCo, Suncor, Sunoco, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Virgin America, and Time Warner, to name just a few. Ceres has close ties with high-level leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, American Accounting Association, the American Bar Association and many of the world’s most powerful corporations. The forté of Ceres is briefing/advising powerful corporate boards, from Nike to American Electric Power, on risk and opportunity.

In addition to working with investors in the Ceres Coalition, Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR):

“INCR members, whose collective assets total about $[11*] trillion, include many of the world’s largest pension funds and asset managers.” [*Updated to reflect current status]

INCR has grown from 10 institutional investors managing $600 billion (2003) to 100 institutional investors managing more than $11 trillion in assets (2012).

In 1997 CERES launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de facto international standard for corporate voluntary sustainability reporting implemented by more than 1,800 corporations worldwide.

Benefits for corporations adopting GRI “standards” included/include guideline tools for “brand and reputation enhancement, differentiation in the marketplace and protection from brand erosion resulting from the actions of suppliers or competitors, networking and communications.” [Source] Since releasing its first Reporting Guidelines in 2000, its global network has grown to more than 600 organizational stakeholders and over 30,000 people representing different sectors and constituencies. GRI has also developed key strategic partnerships with the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Organization for Standardization. [Source]

Mindy Lubber is the president of Ceres (2012) and a founding board member of the organization. She also directs Ceres’ INCR. Mindy Lubber’s blog “Sustainable Capitalism” is integrated with Forbes. Lubber is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post (acquired by Time Warner in 2011) and Forbes. Lubber has been honored by the United Nations as one of the “World’s Top Leaders of Change.” (Other award winners were the corporations Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart and Reebok). Lubber was named one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance” by Directorship magazine and is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Skeletons (and Skolls) in the Ceres/1Sky Closet


Photo [Source: Skoll Foundation]: Green capitalist Al Gore with (left to right) Chris Fox of Ceres, Gillian Caldwell of 1Sky ( officially merged with 1Sky in 2011), Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation and Alessandro Galli of Global Footprint Network.

In 2009, 1Sky’s campaign director, Gillian Caldwell, a lawyer by training, was paid $203,620 (US) through the Rockefeller Family Fund. Although McKibben often refers to as a “scruffy little outfit” – a salary of more than $200,000 is hardly typical of a legitimate grassroots organization.

In the Dec 3, 2009 article Prepping for Copenhagen as found on the Skoll Foundation website, the author reports, “The Skoll Foundation, along with a number of Skoll social entrepreneurs and partners, will be participating in the Copenhagen meetings on climate change later this month. Reflecting the high caliber of environmental leaders in the Skoll portfolio, some 10 Skoll social entrepreneurs and/or their organizations will be at Copenhagen: ACORE, Amazon Conservation Team, BioRegional Development Group, Ceres, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, Fundacion Gaia, Global Footprint Network, Health Care Without Harm, IDE-India, and Gillian Caldwell (formerly of Witness), representing 1Sky.” [Emphasis added.]

In the December 15, 2009 article More from the Ground in Copenhagen, also featured on the Skoll Foundation website, Skoll CEO Sally Osberg reports:

 Just a couple of highlights from the Climate Leaders’ Summit: Leadership on climate change – both moral and real – is coming from the sub-nation state levels and small countries.

What Osberg neglects to report is the fact that these very states were deliberately and grossly undermined by the non-profit industrial complex, with corporate TckTckTck, and Avaaz at the helm of the elitist fifth column. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide | Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Who Cares Wins


 “To address the tough environmental and social issues facing global corporations today, we need to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders who challenge us to innovate and operate in a sustainable manner. No one has access to such a vast network of valuable, independent input as Ceres.” — Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

It is clear why branded agencies such as, SumofUs, Avaaz et al, who dominate social media, are heavily financed (and in many cases were created by) the oligarchs. Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, founder of One Young World, (recently a featured speaker at the 2013 World Form on Natural Capital), makes the case that “social media and corporate social responsibility are not two separate subjects; rather, they are intrinsically interlinked. Businesses that embrace the new rules are set to both make more money and become forces for good in the world.”

“Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” — Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, Global Chief Executive, Havas Worldwide, Creator of the “TckTckTck” campaign and Co-founder of One Young World.

Those born into today’s “young world” are indiscriminately lusted after and seduced by predatory marketing agencies bankrolled by the world’s most powerful corporations and oligarchs, via their foundations. Thus, in stealth synchronicity, the brilliant (albeit pathological) sycophants have created a world where corporate pedophilia runs rampant and indoctrination of youth is perfected and normalized. One cannot deny such a virtuoso performance. Nor can one deny the profound repercussions of such vulturesque exploitation. For adults who willingly offer up their children as sacrificial lambs to appease the corporate gods, denial must be considered the preferred opium of the 21st century.


The name of the game is this: Corporations present themselves as humble and caring elements integral to society with a fierce determination to “do better.” Rather than refusing to comply with ethical environmental and social conduct, which only serves to tarnish brand image, the corporations embrace and welcome all criticisms. This stratagem is made even more effective when CEOs unabashedly take the first opportunity in any given situation to point out the harmful impacts of their industry, articulated with deep concern, followed by a laundry list of all the magnificent things the corporation is looking at for the future that they believe will alleviate environmental degradation and unbridled exploitation.


Next: Part III


[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]




[1] The Valdez Principles: In September 1989, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies set forth the following ten broad principles for evaluating corporate activities that directly or indirectly affect the biosphere.

1. Protection of the Biosphere

We will minimize and strive to eliminate the release of any pollutant that may cause environmental damage to air, water, or earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard habitats in rivers, lakes, wetlands, coastal zones and oceans and will minimize contributing to global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain or smog.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve nonrenewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning. We will protect wildlife habitat, open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Waste

We will minimize the creation of waste, especially hazardous waste, and wherever possible recycle materials. We will dispose of all wastes through safe and responsible methods.

4. Wise Use of Energy

We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources to meet our needs. We will invest in improved energy efficiency and conservation in our operations. We will maximize the energy efficiency of products we produce or sell.

5. Risk Reduction

We will minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate by employing safe technologies and operating procedures and by being constantly prepared for emergencies.

6. Marketing of Safe Products and Services

We will sell products or services that minimize adverse environmental impacts and that are safe as consumers commonly use them. We will inform consumers of the environmental impacts of our products or services.

7. Damage Compensation

We will take responsibility for any harm we cause to the environment by making every effort to fully restore the environment and to compensate those persons who are adversely affected.

8. Disclosure

We will disclose to our employees and to the public incidents relating to our operations that cause environmental harm or pose health or safety hazards. We will disclose potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations, and we will not take any action against employees who report any condition that creates a danger to the environment or poses health and safety hazards.

9. Environmental Directors and Managers

At least one member of the Board of Directors will be a person qualified to represent environmental interests. We will commit management resources to implement these Principles, including the funding of an office of vice president for environmental affairs or an equivalent executive position, reporting directly to the CEO, to monitor and report upon our implementation efforts.

10. Assessment and Annual Audit

We will conduct and make public an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these Principles and in complying with all applicable laws and regulations throughout our worldwide operations. We will work toward the timely creation of independent environmental audit procedures which we will complete annually and make available to the public.

[Source: A New Agenda for Managers, The Challenge of Sustainability]

[2] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[3] [Ceres Membership Requirements: All coalition members must be approved by the Ceres Board of Directors. All coalition members pay annual membership dues that are scaled from $50 to $2,000, depending upon the size and type (non-profit, grant making, or investment firm) of the organization. Coalition members are also strongly encouraged to participate in Ceres’ engagement work, including through our multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, investor engagements and other opportunities.] “The primary direct costs of endorsing the CERES Principles are the payment of annual dues and the completion of the annual CERES report form. The dues for a company differ according to the size of the company, but, for a large multinational corporation, are usually in the range of $50,000 dollars a year. The costs associated with dues are not prohibitive considering the size and the budget of the companies.” [Source.]

[4] “Once companies officially join Ceres, they gain access to exclusive benefits, such as a customized stakeholder advisory team that provides advice on sustainability reporting, strategy, policies and specific initiatives.”

The John Stauber Interview


New Left Now

April 25, 2013


New Left Now: It’s great to talk with you today, John. I came across your Counterpunch article, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats recently, and New Left Now is keen to talk to you about it and related fronts. So, if I understand your take on this, the progressive movement is largely ineffectual, and for some fairly obvious reasons. What role does the Congressional Progressive Caucus have to play in the mix here? Why have we not seen more efficacy in what they purport to do or represent?

When Environmentalists Collaborate

The Wages of Compromise

March 01, 2012

Spring is in the air in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Crocus and daffodil add a splash of late winter color. Trees are budding. Days grow longer, the sun makes a cameo appearance…and, like swallows to Capistrano, the usual suspects cadre of eco-wonks/lawyers return to Eugene and the University of Oregon for the 30th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference   (E-LAW) March 1 – 4, 2012.

“Compromise is often necessary, but it ought not to originate with environmental leaders. Our role is to hold fast to what we believe is right, to fight for it, to find allies, and to adduce all possible arguments for our cause. If we cannot find enough vigor in us or our friends to win, then let someone else propose the compromise, which we must then work hard to coax our way. We thus become a nucleus around which activists can build and function.” — David Brower, first Executive Director of the Sierra Club. This year PIELC officially celebrates the 100thAnniversary of Brower’s birth.

E-LAW is part employment bazaar for newly-minted attorneys seeking jobs in the ever-expanding (much thanks to E-LAW) field of Environmental Law. It is also part gathering of actual non-paid, in the trenches eco-activists who are the ones who generate the resistance that leads to all those legal jobs. What matters to the job seekers and the already employed panelists who draw a paycheck derived from a cornucopia of foundation-funded groups and what motivates the volunteer or underpaid activists sometimes coincide and sometimes the activists are featured panelists; but, most of the time the disconnect is palpable. Invariably, PIELC becomes living proof of the Upton Sinclair dictum.

“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something  when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” —Upton Sinclair

Many environmental topics – local, national and international are featured among the many panels and plenary sessions.  Excellent panels on Civil Liberties and Activism always are on the agenda, as are ones addressing threatened Species. Many prominent issues are left unaddressed. And, as Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle (now in Appalachia fighting the good fight against the abomination of Mountaintop Removal coal extraction) always notes, “The real work at any of these gatherings is done in the hallways and bars.”

So, here’s a summary of the local and national ones that I see are the hot points issues right now; the ones getting the mountain lion’s share of the funding and attention:

The Commodification of Earth’s Forests: The Key Players Behind REDD

“The ALBA bloc also agreed to Bolivia’s proposal to reject the idea of seeing forests as simply carbon-offsets to be traded on the carbon market, as it is with the currently promoted policy of REDD. In its place, ALBA will advocate a mechanism denominated “sustainable life of forest” in which an integral vision takes into account the role forest play not only in absorbing carbon but also in regards to food production, water, biodiversity, and land.” See full article: ALBA nations prepare to fight for humanity at Durban climate summit

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, produced a statement on REDD (September 2010) explaining in more detail his opposition to REDD (available here in Spanish, pdf file – 734.6 kB). See more on Morales regarding his leadership on environment and climate change: Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales.

Image: The Unsuitablog

An Excerpt from a Must Read Document Written by Carbon Trade Watch

(Full document:

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

The WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Woods Hole Research Center, CIFOR, Wildlife Conservation Society and other “conservationist” NGOs are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from REDD+.

The interests of these conservation NGOs and large corporations have become more clear. Corporations on one hand have been using these NGOs as their best green public relations’ agencies – if paid the right amounts of money, and the NGOs funds on the other hand, have grown more dependent on the “contributions” from these same corporations.

TNC states in its website that they “pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges”, however, right below they continue saying that they “partner with indigenous communities, businesses, governments, multilateral institutions, and other non-profits”.25 Conservation organizations such as these thrive on these types of conflicts of interest. The Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia where TNC is a partner mentioned in above, shows how social and environmental considerations are left aside over profit interests. CI is also an intensive promoter of REDD+ including a very controversial REDD-type project in the Lancondon rainforest in Chiapas, Mexico. In 2009, the government of Chiapas began work on the Climate Change Action Programme for the State of Chiapas (PACCCH), financed by the British Embassy, with CI as a key actor in its implementation. The pilot projects were planned by CI for 2011 Several groups like The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Conservation International (CI), for example, have lobbied for sub-national targets to be at the core of REDD+. Sub-national targets allow the implementation of specific projects without having a national-based target. An insider who is employed by a leading green group explained to the journalist Johann Hari the motivations: “It’s because they will generate a lot of revenue this way. If there are national targets, the money runs through national governments. If there are subnational targets, the money runs through the people who control those forests – and that means TNC, Conservation International and the rest. Suddenly, these forests they run become assets, and they are worth billions in a carbon market as offsets. So they have a vested financial interest in offsetting and in subnational targets, even though they are much more environmentally damaging than the alternatives. They know it. It’s shocking.”24

TNC states in its website that they “pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges”, however, right below they continue saying that they “partner with indigenous communities, businesses, governments, multilateral institutions, and other non-profits”.25 Conservation organizations such as these thrive on these types of conflicts of interest. The Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia where TNC is a partner mentioned in above, shows how social and environmental considerations are left aside over profit interests.

CI is also an intensive promoter of REDD+ including a very controversial REDD-type project in the Lancondon rainforest in Chiapas, Mexico. In 2009, the government of Chiapas began work on the Climate Change Action Programme for the State of Chiapas (PACCCH), financed by the British Embassy, with CI as a key actor in its implementation. The pilot projects were planned by CI for 2011 in Chiapas – where there are 1.3 million hectares of land considered natural reserves – fall under the framework of an agreement signed in November 2010 between California in the US, Chiapas in Mexico and Acre in Brazil. The agreement establishes the bases for initiating a carbon credit scheme incorporating REDD+ and other forest carbon schemes into the regulatory frameworks of these municipalities. However, immediately outside the area designated for the sale of carbon credits, there is a continued promotion for the expansion of agroindustry, tourism development, industrial plantations of oil palm, and other activities that lead to deforestation.26

Another example of how these NGOs are counter-acting real environmental and social struggles is to take a closer look into their partners. CI’s corporate partners include several polluting industries such as ArcelorMittal, Barrick Gold, BP Foundation, Cargill, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Monsanto, Newmont Mining Corporation, Rio Tinto, Shell, Toyota Motor Corporation, Walmart, among many others. Despite the ghastly record of human rights violation and environmental destruction of these climate criminals, CI blatantly states: “We believe that corporations are a major ally in our conservation efforts… We’ve always taken pride in our relationships with our creative corporate partners. Many have been making a difference for decades; others are just getting started.”27 In May this year, the magazine Don’t Panic secretly filmed a senior employee discussing with undercover reporters ways in which the organisation could help an arms company boost its green credentials. The film shows the CI employee suggesting North African birds of prey as a possible endangered species mascot for the arms company because of the “link to aviation”.28

These corporate partnerships are not only allowing these industries to greenwash their destructive activities, but also by paying CI or any other green group, they are buying the silence of “recognized” conservation groups about the environmental and social impacts that these activities entail.

There are many more players that are pushing for legitimizing and expanding REDD+. For example, key funders that are promoting REDD+ are the Climate and Land Use Alliance (Ford Foundation, Packard Foundation, Climate Works, Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation), the Clinton Foundation, the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, Germany), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to name a few.

Read the full report:

The latest publications from Carbon Trade Watch:

@COP17 in Durban: NO REDD+ TEACH-IN
Friday, 2 December 14:00 to 17:00 at the Chemistry Building: CC1 (room size 309)
University of KwaZulu-Natal – King George V Avenue, Glenwood, Durban
“Africa says NO to a new form of colonialism!”
The purpose of this Teach-In is to share the truth about Reducing Emissions Deforestation and Forest Degradation with grassroots and community-based groups and facilitators. Will be organized using participatory workshops using popular eduction dynamics, multimedia and games.

1. No REDD popular education blog!
Some say that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme could help communities who rely on the forests while others see REDD+ as paving the way for land grabs around the world which threaten the livelihoods and cultures of communities and the forests. This educational booklet aims to decode the complexities of REDD+ using clear and straight-forward language while opening up a space for critical perspectives. This REDD+ popular education blog contains a series of educational booklets that can be used as tools for widening on-going collective discussion and learning about REDD+.
All the booklets can be downloaded in English and Spanish at
Please, feel free to print, reproduce and disseminate as much as you want!

2. No REDD Papers
This booklet aspires to broaden the debate on the forest offset scam known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism. It aims to highlight critical perspectives that are frequently drowned out by large NGOs, corporative lobbies, governments, carbon traders, international financial institutions and the United Nations.

3. No REDD Platform – Environmental groups denounce diversion of forest funding to REDD plantations
The No REDD Platform, a coalition of environmental groups and Indigenous peoples organizations, has launched a call to the international donor community to halt the diversion of forest conservation funding to dubious schemes to “Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks” (REDD+), which are being promoted within the framework of the United Nations Climate Convention. The Platform charge that climate policy makers are working with a flawed definition of “forests” that includes monocultures, genetically engineered trees and agrofuel plantations. diversion-of-forest-funding-to-redd-plantations.html

4. REDD+ Fact sheets

Key arguments against REDD+ (English and Castellano)
There are many who defend REDD+ for valuing ecosystems services; there are others who see it as the only way to protect forests and stabilize the climate. But whatever form REDD+ takes, even if it includes Human Rights safeguards, it will be designed to allow industrialized countries and polluting industries to continue polluting. Corporations and Northern countries responsible for the climate crisis need to take responsibility for their own emissions by addressing the structural changes necessary to be made in the North and stopping pollution at the source.


Some key REDD+ players
There are billions of dollars at stake and no real obligation to respect human or collective rights – the so-called ‘safeguards’ mentioned in the negotiating text states that they should only be “promoted and supported” rather than being obligatory for governments. These sneaky words are absolutely inadequate to protect Indigenous and forest-dependent Peoples’ rights. REDD-type projects have already resulted in land grabs, jailings, servitude and threats to cultural survival. It is crucial to ask who is gaining from REDD+, who is making the decisions, where is the money coming from and who is pushing REDD+, and why. This is an overview of some of the key players who are behind designing, implementing and profiting from REDD+.

5. The CDM in Africa: Marketing a new land grab
The United Nation’s carbon offset mechanism is rewarding pollution, and could lead to a land grab for industrial agrofuels, tree plantations, genetically modified crops and biochar projects in Africa. This briefing, produced by the Gaia Foundation in collaboration with the African Biodiversity Network, Carbon Trade Watch, Timberwatch Coalition and Biofuelwatch, examines the experience of the United Nation’s carbon market, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and looks at emerging threats. and-land-grab-threat-from-un-carbon-market.html

6. Beating Goliath: A resource for corporate campaigners
This publication gathers case studies from previous successful campaigns against corporations, looking at how they won and what we can learn from them. It provides links to many useful resources for activists, and highlights current campaigns engaged in the fight against climate change through targeting corporations. a-resource-for-corporate-campaigners.html

7. Letting the market play: corporate lobbying and the financial regulation of carbon trading
The European Union is changing its rules on how carbon is traded in response to a series of fraud cases and the financial crisis. This report co-published by Carbon Trade Watch and Corporate Europe Observatory looks at how corporate lobbies are trying to influence this process, and notes that such measures are bound to fall short since they attempt to “regulate the unregulatable”. corporate-lobbying-and-the-financial-regulation-of-carbon-trading.html

8. EU Emissions Trading System: failing at the third attempt
Emissions trading is the European Union’s flagship measure for tackling climate change, and it is failing badly. In theory it provides a cheap and efficient means to limit greenhouse gas reductions within an ever-tightening cap, but in practice it has rewarded major polluters with windfall profits, while undermining efforts to reduce pollution and achieve a more equitable and sustainable economy. The third phase of the scheme, beginning in 2013, is supposed to rectify the “teething problems” that have led to the failures to date. This report co-published by Carbon Trade Watch and Corporate Europe Observatory shows how the third phase of the ETS will continue the same basic pattern of subsidising polluters and helping them to avoid meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. failing-at-the-third-attempt.html

Flashback: The Eco-Establishment

Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman, “The Eco-Establishment,” in: Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe (Harper and Row, 1970), pp.15-24.

Ask Vietnam protesters about the April 22 National Environmental Teach-In and they’ll tell you it’s a scheme to contain their spring offensive against the ecological disaster in Southeast Asia. Ask young blacks about this new movement to save the ecosystem and they’ll tell you that it is a way of distracting attention from the old movement that was supposed to save their skins.

Then go and talk to an environmental activist, a Survival Walker. Ask him why the ecology movement has turned its back on Vietnam and civil rights and he’ll explain, with a convincing freshness the old New Left has lost, that the sky is falling. He’ll point out that we all have to breathe and that none of us – white or black, Vietnamese peasant or American marine – has much of a future on CO2. We all must eat, and a diet of pesticides is deadly. We all need water, and the dwindling supplies are unfit for human (or even industrial) consumption. We all depend on the same limited forests, mines, oceans and soil, and we are all going to choke on the same waste and pollution.

To this new ecology activist, nothing could be more obvious: we’ve all got to unite behind the overriding goal of unfouling our common nest before it’s too late, turning back the pages of the environmental doomsday book. If we succeed, then we can get back to these other questions. There is no stopping, he will add, an idea whose time has come.

He will be right, too-though a bit naive about where ideas come from and where movements go. Environment will be the issue of the ’70?s, but not simply because the air got thicker or the oceans less bubbly, or even because the war in Vietnam got too bloody to have to think about every day. It will be the issue of the ’70?s because such stewards of the nation’s wealth as the Ford Foundation, with its Resources for the Future, Inc. (RFF), and Laurance Rockefeller’s Conservation Foundation needed a grass-roots movement to help consolidate their control over national policymaking, bolster their hold over world resources, and escalate further cycles of useless economic growth.


The environment bandwagon is not as recent a phenomenon as it seems. It began to gather momentum back in the mid-’60?s under the leadership of Resources for the Future. “The relationship of people to resources, which usually has been expressed in terms of quantity, needs to be restated for modern times to emphasize what is happening to the quality of resources,” warned RFF President Joseph L. Fisher in his group’s 1964 report. “The wide variety of threats to the quality of the environment may well embrace the gravest U.S. resources problem for the next generation.” The following year, Resources for the Future established a special research and educational program in environmental quality, funded with a $ 1.1 million grant from its parent organization, the Ford Foundation.

Created by Ford in the early ’50?s during the scare over soaring materials costs, RFF had just made its name in conservation by organizing the Mid-Century Conference on Resources for the Future, the first major national conservation conference since Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot staged the National Governors’ Conference in 1908. Held in 1953, the Mid-Century Conference mustered broad support from both the country’s resource users and conservers for the national conservation policy already spelled out by President Truman’s Materials Policy Commission. It was this Commission, headed by William S. Paley (board chairman of CBS and a founding director of RFF), which had openly affirmed the nation’s inalienable right to extract cheap supplies of raw materials from the underdeveloped countries, and which set the background for Eisenhower and Dulles’ oft-quoted concern over the fate of the tin and tungsten of Southeast Asia. Insuring adequate supplies of resources for the future became a conservationist byword.

By the mid-’60?s, Resources for the Future had begun to broaden its concern to include resource quality, thus setting the tone for a decade of conservationist rhetoric and behavior. The trustees of the Ford Foundation, an executive committee of such international resource users and polluters as Esso and Ford Motor, established a separate Resources and Environment Division which, since 1966, has nourished such groups as Open Space Action Committee, Save-the-Redwoods League, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense Fund. A year later, the Rockefeller Foundation set up an Environmental Studies Division, channelling money to the National Academy of Science and RFF and to Laurance Rockefeller’s own pet project, the Conservation Foundation.

The conservationist-planners’ new concern over threats to the quality of resources, and to life itself, was actually an outgrowth of their earlier success in assuring cheap and plentiful raw materials. It had become clear that supplies of resources would be less a problem than the immense amount of waste generated as a by-product of those now being refined. The more industry consumed, the more it produced and sold, the larger and more widespread the garbage dumps. Rivers and lakes required costly treatment to make water suitable for use in homes and industry. Smoggy air corroded machines, ruined timberlands, reduced the productivity of crop lands and livestock – to say nothing of its effect on the work capacity of the average man. Pesticides were killing more than pests, and raising the spectre of cumulative disaster. Cities were getting noisier, dirtier, uglier and more tightly packed, forcing the middle class to the suburbs and the big urban landowners to the wall. “Ugliness,” Lyndon Johnson exclaimed sententiously, “is costly.”

This had long been obvious to the conservationists. Something had to be done, and the elite resource planners took as their model for action the vintage 1910 American conservation movement, especially its emphasis on big business cooperation with big government.


When the 1890 census officially validated the fact that the frontier was closed, a generation of business and government leaders realized with a start that the American Eden had its bounds. Land, timber and water were all limited, as was the potential for conflicts over their apportionment. What resources should timber-men, grazers or farmers exploit? What should be preserved as a memory of the American past? Who would decide these questions? The conservationists – Teddy Roosevelt, Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot and some of the bigger timber, grazing and agricultural interests – pushed heavily for a new policy to replace the crude and wanton pillage which had been part of the frontier spirit. While preservationists like John Muir were fighting bitterly against any and all use of wild areas by private interests, the conservationists wanted only to make sure that the environment would be exploited with taste and efficiency.

Roosevelt and his backers won out, of course. And the strategy they used is instructive: failing initially to muster congressional support for their plan, they mobilized a broadly based conservation movement, supposedly to regulate the private interests which they in fact represented. Backed by the widespread public support it had whipped up, the conservationist juggernaut then began to move the country toward a more regulated – but still private – exploitation of its riches.

Of course, the private interests which had helped draft this policy also moved – to staff the regulatory agencies, provide jobs for retiring regulators, and generally to put the right man in the right niche most of the time. Within short order, the regulatory agencies were captives of the interests they were supposed to regulate, and they were soon being used as a screen which kept the public from seeing the way that small interests were squeezed out of the competition for resources. Their monopoly position thus strengthened by regulatory agencies, these large interests found it easy to pass the actual costs of regulation on to the citizen consumer.


The old American conservation movement had reacted out of fear over resource scarcities; the new movement of the mid-’60?s feared, as well, the destruction of resource quality. And the corporation conservationists and their professional planners in organizations like Resources for the Future onceagain looked to government regulations as an answer to the difficulties they foresaw. Only this time the stakes were much higher than they had been at the early part of the century. Many of the resource planners want an all-encompassing environmental agency or Cabinet level Department of Resources, Environment and Population. Holding enormous power over a wide range of decisions, this coordinating apparatus would be far more convenient for the elite than the present array of agencies, each influenced by its own interest groups.

Who will benefit from this increased environmental consciousness and who will pay is already quite clear to business, if not to most young ecology activists. “The elite of business leadership,” reports Fortune, “strongly desire the federal government to step in, set the standards, regulate all activities pertaining to the environment, and help finance the job with tax incentives.” The congressional background paper for the 1968 hearings on National Policy on Environmental Quality, prepared with the help of Rockefeller’s Conservation Foundation, spells out the logic in greater detail: “Lack of national policy for the environment has now become as expensive to the business community as to the Nation at large. In most enterprises, a social cost can be carried without undue burden if all competitors carry it alike. For example, industrial waste disposal costs can, like other costs of production, be reflected in prices to consumers. But this becomes feasible only when public law and administration put all comparable forms of waste-producing enterprises under the same requirements.” Only the truly powerful could be so candid about their intention to pick the pocket of the consumer to pay for the additional costs they will be faced with.

The resource planners are also quite frank about the wave of subsidies they expect out of the big clean-up campaign. “There will have to be a will to provide funds,” explains Joseph Fisher, “to train the specialists, do the research and experimentation, build the laws and institutions through which more rapid progress [in pollution control] can be made, and of course, build the facilities and equipment.” The coming boondoggles – replete with tax incentives, direct government grants, and new products – will make the oil depletion allowance seem tame. And what’s more, it will be packaged as a critical social service.

The big business conservationists will doubtless be equally vocal about the need for new bond issues for local water and sewage treatment facilities; lead crusades to overcome reluctance of the average citizen to vote “yes” on bond measures; and then, as bondholders themselves, skim a nice tax-free six or seven per cent off the top.

It isn’t just the citizen and taxpayer who will bear the burden, however. Bedraggled Mother Nature, too, will pay. Like the original conservation movement it is emulating, today’s big business conservation is not interested in preserving the earth; it is rationally reorganizing for a more efficient rape of resources (e.g., the export of chemical-intensive agribusiness) and the production of an even grosser national product.

The seeming contradictions are mind-boggling: industry is combating waste so it can afford to waste more; it is planning to produce more (smog-controlled) private autos to crowd more highways, which means even more advertising to create more “needs” to be met by planned obsolescence. Socially, the result is disastrous. Ecologically, it could be the end.

Why don’t the businessmen simply stop their silly growthmanship? They can’t. If one producer slowed down in the mad race, he’d be eaten up by his competitors. If all conspired together to restrain growth permanently, the unemployment and cutbacks would make today’s recession look like full employment, and the resulting unrest would make today’s dissent look like play time at Summerhill.


They began in the mid-’60?s in low key, mobilizing the academicians, sprinkling grants and fellowships at the “better” schools, and coordinating research efforts of Resources for the Future, the Conservation Foundation, RAND, Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Science and the Smithsonian Institution. Major forums were held in 1965 and 1966 on “The Quality of the Environment” and “Future Environments of North America.” Research findings were programmed directly into industrial trade associations and business firms.

Then the resource people put their men and programs in the official spotlight: Laurance Rockefeller (founder of and major donor to the Conservation Foundation and also a director of RFF) chaired both the White House Conference on Natural Beauty and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty (which Nixon has rechristened his Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality). Conservation Foundation President Russell Train headed up Nixon’s Task Force on Resources and Environment, with help from Fisher and several other directors of RFF and the Conservation Foundation, and then became Undersecretary of Interior.

Then the media were plugged in, an easy task for men who have in their hands the direction of CBS, National Educational Television, Time-Life-Fortune, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times and Cowles publications, as well as many of the trade journals and conservation magazines. Independent media, seeing that environment was now news, picked up and broadcast the studies which the conservation elite had produced. Public opinion leaders told their public, in Business Week’s words, “to prepare for the approval of heavy public and private spending to fight pollution.”

Finally, the grass roots were given the word. RFF, Ford and Rockefeller had long worked with and financed the old-time conservation groups, from Massachusetts Audubon to the Sierra Club, and now the big money moved beyond an appreciation of wilderness to a greater activism. When, for example, David Brower broke with the Sierra Club, it was Robert O. Anderson of Atlantic-Richfield and RFF who gave him $200,000 to set up Friends of the Earth (prudently channeling the donation through the organization’s tax exempt affiliate, the John Muir Institute).

When Senator Gaylord Nelson and Congressman Pete McCloskey got around to pushing the National Teach-In, it was the Conservation Foundation, the Audubon Society and the American Conservation Association which doled out the money while Friends of the Earth was putting together The Environmental Handbook, meant to be the Bible of the new movement.

The big business conservationists and their professionals didn’t buy off the movement; they built it.


Ecology activists out picketing a polluter or cleaning up a creek will have total freedom to make up their own minds about the threats to our environment, and they will have every right to choose their own course of constructive action. Yet they will surely never get a dime from Robert Anderson, or even a farthing from Ford or Rockefeller. And so far, the grass-roots ecology movement has done nothing but echo the eco-elite.

Ecology, unlike most of the fractured scientific field, is holistic. It talks of life and its environment as a totality: how organisms relate to each other and to the system which provides their life-support system. As a discipline applied to human affairs, then, ecology should help us get a whole view of our natural and social environment-from oxygen cycles to business cycles, from the jeopardized natural environment to the powerful institutional environment which creates that jeopardy. If it revealed these interconnections, ecology would become, as it has been called, a “subversive science,” subverting the polluters and resource-snatchers who now control the conservation of the nation’s wealth. It would point the finger not simply at profit-making polluters or greedy consumers, but at the great garbage-creation system itself – the corporate capitalist economy.

But this is a far cry from the ecology movement as we have inherited it. Ecology, the science of interconnections, becomes a matter of cleaning up beaches and trying to change individuals’ habits and attitudes, while ignoring the institutions which created them and practically all environmental damage.

The grass-roots ecology groups do have politics-the politics of consumer boycotts, shareholder democracy and interest group pluralism, all of which show a wonderfully anachronistic faith in the fairness of the market, political and economic. “If Dow pollutes,” say the boycotters, “then we just won’t buy Saran Wrap.” If Super Suds won’t make biodegradable soap, we’ll buy Ivory. If Ford and Chevy won’t make steam cars, we’ll buy Japanese imports. From the planned obsolescence in automobiles, to 20 brands of toothpaste, much of what industry produces is insulting to the intelligence while also serving no real need; it is waste, to say nothing of the enormous pollution entailed in overproduction.

Consumer sovereignty has gone the way of the dodo, its passing noted two decades back by that stalwart defender of the new corporate capitalism, John Kenneth Galbraith. Consumers just don’t control what gets produced, or how. To educate or build support for some stronger action, boycotts, like the picket line, work well. Bi to change production habits, an ecology movement will really hay to pull the big plug at the other end of the TV transmitter, or better at the production line itself.

Failing in the economic arena, the ecology groups can of course try their hand directly in the political marketplace. Oil has its lobby the auto manufacturers theirs. Why not a People’s Lobby? Californians have already created one, which is now pushing in Sacramento for a referendum “to make the polluters pay.” The Environmental Defense League, geared primarily to the court system, also defending the environment in Congress. The Sierra Club have already lost its tax-exempt status for being too political, and number of the older conservation groups are pushing new, stream-lined legislation. The strategy seems to be paying off, winning victories here and there. Most of the victories, however, mere strengthen the regulatory agencies, which, after public vigilance peters out, will become tools of the big corporations.

Where boycotts and stockholder strategies simply fail, this interest group politics may lead the ecology movement off the edge of a very well-conserved cliff. Eco-catastrophe threatens to kill it all – and Mother Nature, too. But to engage in the give-and-take of interest group politics, the ecologists must grant serious consideration to and must compromise with the oil interests, auto manufacturers and other powerful business groups. Standard Oil gets Indonesia only if they will market that country’s prized sulphur-free oil here; the auto makers can keep producing their one-man-one-car civilization in return for making additional profit (and apparent compromise) on smog control. The world is dying: write your congressman today.

From lobbying, the eco-groups will move into the nearest election, trying to put Paul Ehrlich or David Brower in office. But elections aren’t won on single issues. Allies must be wooed, coalition built. Already parochial and out of sympathy with the blacks an other out-groups, the environmentalists, anxious to infiltrate the electoral system, will become even more respectable and more careful to avoid contamination by “extreme” positions or people. The will become further compartmentalized and will be at dead center sacrificing even those of their own who refuse to compromise.

Avoiding “politics,” the ecologists have taken up the old liberal shuck. Give equal freedom to aristocrats and the people, to bosses and workers, to landlords and tenants, and let both sides win. The scheme, of course, overlooks the one-sided distribution of resources, money and media-power. Some “reformers” will have all they need, but their solution, which will become the solution, is itself a good part of the problem. Profit-seekers and growth-mongers can’t co-exist with Mother Nature and her fragile children without doing them irreparable harm.

To save any semblance of democracy, a decent relationship to the environment and perhaps the environment itself – ecology, the “in” movement, must become a movement of the outs. It must be committed to a long-term militant fight on more clearly understood grounds – its own grounds. That too might be impossible. But, as Eugene V. Debs once observed, it’s a lot better to fight for what you want and not get it, than to fight for-and get-what you don’t want.

Katherine Barkley is a staff member of the Pacific Studies Center.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. s Defense of Fracking (NRDC, Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, EDF)

“… you cannot regulate an abomination. You have got to stop it.” – Wendell Berry, writer/ environmental activist

Since the article featured below, published on October 26, 2011, Global News has aired a new video titled – ‘Untested Science’. The investigation reports that the technique called ‘fracking’ is raising serious environmental red flags. Bloomberg reported on November 2nd, 2011, that “gas fracking probably caused earthquakes in United Kingdom. Petroleum Economist reported on November 3rd, 2011:”Shale gas vs renewables: a battle for Britain“. In a shameful blog post on November 4th, 2011, the king of corporate ‘greens’, Environmental Defense Fund wrote that “shale gas reserves could reignite U.S. economy” (see blog post following article below). On the EDF website you can “See how we’re accelerating climate change: EDF’s corporate partnerships.” On November 9th, 2011, it was disclosed that the gas fracking industry is using military psychological warfare tactics and personnel in U.S. communities.

Notes on RFK, Jr.’s defense of fracking in the Huffington Post

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the ‘natural’ gas industry he works with

October 26, 2011

By Robert Jereski

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has finally acknowledged some terrible things about the fracking-for-natural gas industry. This took the good work of a lot of activists outraged at his appearance in ads for the gas industry and his groups’ promotion of gas as a ‘transition’ fuel. Tragically for New York, however, by the middle of his opinion piece, it is clear that he hasn’t even convinced himself.


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has finally acknowledged some terrible things about the fracking-for-natural gas industry. This took the good work of a lot of activists outraged at his appearance in ads for the gas industry and his groups’ promotion of gas as a ‘transition’ fuel. Tragically for New York, however, by the middle of his opinion piece, it is clear that he hasn’t even convinced himself, and that he ignores the need to ban fracking and the widespread demand by engaged environmental activist that it be banned.

Mr. Kennedy is on New York Governor Cuomo’s Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel. Rather than listen to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who in communities throughout the state have voted to ban fracking in their part of New York, Mr. Kennedy praises his buddy on the fracking panel, Mark Boling, from Southwestern Energy, a massive gas industry player.

Kennedy is Still a Booster of Safe Fracking, Despite all his Pained Reasons not to be. Why?

Because he is still a shill for the gas industry, who is proceeding with phase two of the Critical Path Energy Summit’s plans about fracking: “Make it Safe.” Robert F. Kennedy’s recent, apparently purely theatrical, diatribe against the gas industry in the Huffington Post spills much ink repeating industry talking points and then concludes that fracking is safe and that environmentalists will support it if the promised jobs and royalties materialize and if it is ‘reasonably regulated’. What??

For someone claiming to speak the “truth” why no mention of widespread popular movement to ban fracking?

A year ago regulator/politicians, gas industry CEOs (including Kennedy’s mentor on NYS Governor Cuomo Fracking Advisory Panel Mark Boling) and fellow pro-‘safe’ fracking NGO representatives concluded that the pro-gas p.r. strategy had failed and that the public was overwhelmingly against fracking. They decided they needed to reframe ‘gas’.

Since their summit, Kennedy, Boling and others claim to have made the following progress: (

Below is quote from Aspen Energy Summit site revealing collusion between Kennedy (of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Riverkeeper), Carl Pope and Michael Brune (Sierra Club), Aubrey McClendon and Boling (Chesapeake and Southwestern Energy respectively), and pro-fracking politicians:

“Our 2010 Natural Gas Solutions Summit 1.0 was convened to chart the critical paths that will enable natural gas to achieve its optimal potential as that source—environmentally, economically, politically and globally.

A year later, that gathering of leaders can claim impressive results, in terms of new alliances, important ongoing initiatives, and fundamental changes in the US energy approach, among them:
• Developing a system for 100% transparency in the disclosure of chemical ingredients in hydraulic fracturing fluids that does NOT infringe on trade secrets
• Developing a model regulatory framework designed to ensure well bore integrity throughout the full lifecycle of a hydraulically fractured well.
• Forming a legal team and petitioning the EPA to enhance Natural Gas use: define and enforce Clean Air Act provisions, MACT Boiler Rule etc
• Development and publishing of tabletop life-cycle analysis of carbon impact coal vs. natural gas
• An alliance of NGOs, industry, government leaders committed to replacing coal with natural gas”

Big Gas isn’t just going after the NY Times, as Kennedy claims. Their PR cast and crew are congregating in Texas soon to prepare a new assault on grassroots pro-ban anti-fracking activists by studying “militant NGO’s” websites to take their PR campaign to a new level of “combat.” People who are against fracking aren’t just activists in the streets, but entire communities, regions, even states and countries.

Fracking has been banned by elected officials representing hundreds of thousands of people in numerous cities and towns throughout the country–places like Dryden, NY (pop. 13,532), Ithaca, NY (pop. 18,198), (Morgantown, West Virginia (pop. 26,809), Baldwin, Pa (pop. 19,767), Buffalo, NY (pop. 292, 648), and Pittsburg, Pa. (pop. 305, 704). Seems like something a truthsayer might breathe a little mention of.

RFK says there are 40,000 activists. Okay, well there are many more people who have banned fracking in their communities. Will those people simply be angry about promised jobs not materializing? No. We know what we want and it’s not what Kennedy’s pushing.

Here are a few relevant annotated quotes below.

“In pitting itself against public disclosure and reasonable regulation, the natural gas industry is once again proving that it is its own worst enemy”.

Note: Calls for disclosure and regulation of the fracking industry have been made by large DC-tied environmental organizations, many of which have long supported methane as a transitional fuel, without sound evidence on which to base this pro-polluting industry spin. Communities impacted by the fracking industry are much more inclined to ban fracking so these ‘environmental’ groups are trotted out to declare that bans or bills to impose criminal sanctions on frackers are ‘politically unrealistic’.

This is Kennedy’s role: he pens this op ed pretending to make amends to the environmental community that has been outraged by his support for fracking (through the pro-‘safe’ fracking NRDC and Riverkeeper and through his ads for the fracking industry). The Op Ed sidles up to the powerful NYTimes, gives a useful list of many of the egregious crimes of the industry, regulators and legislators revealed by the NYTimes, but pairs these outrages with the same old defense of fracking!

What a sleight of hand! Guess they don’t pay Kennedy the big bucks for nothing.

If only the gas industry were more honest and forthright and allowed “reasonable regulation”, we would all be happy and allow the country to be fracked because . . . (Kennedy implies) fracked gas is better for the climate than coal. That’s the industry lie he continues to repeat implicitly as he makes a false mea culpa about having colluded with them in Aspen, and appeared in gas industry propaganda!

The Cuomo ‘Fracking Advisory Panel is stacked with pro-‘safe’ fracking advocates like Kennedy and his ‘bright light’ Mark Boling. Here’s the Gas Main report, entitled “A GRASSROOTS PERSPECTIVE: Is the DEC Spending Taxpayer Funds on Propaganda to Promote ‘Safe’ Fracking? A Look at New York Governor Cuomo’s Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel”:

It may be true that the industry could have more easily continued to deceive and damage the communities of American people as it moved into the more densely populated Eastern states if it had pursued the p.r. strategy suggested by Kennedy here. But we’re not interested in being convinced by lies of ‘safe’ fracking.

Fracking is opposed by all real environmentalists. Period.

Kennedy oped here:
The Fracking Industry’s War On The New York Times — And The Truth
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.President, Waterkeeper Alliance; Professor, Pace University Posted: 10/20/11 02:18 PM ET


Shale Gas Reserves Could Reignite U.S. Economy

By EDF BLOGS | BIO | Published: NOVEMBER 4, 2011

By: Drew Nelson, EDF’s Clean Energy Project Manager

Yesterday, Bloomberg News produced a comprehensive article on shale gas and the hydraulic fracturing process used to tap it. The article provides some interesting history on how hydraulic fracturing has gone from a fringe technology practiced by only a few innovators to a widespread technology that, along with horizontal drilling, led to the current shale gas boom. It also highlights the fact that expanding U.S. shale gas production will play an important role in the U.S. economy and provide potential wins to local economies, local air quality, and the global climate system. However, as EDF President Fred Krupp points out in the article, these wins will only materialize IF the U.S. produces shale gas “in the right way.”

The article highlights EDF’s role on the front lines of ensuring that shale gas is produced in the right way, which we believe should include, among others:

– Comprehensive disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals (significantly, a Chesapeake Energy spokesman notes in the story that industry’s failure to disclose that information has led to a lack of trust by the public and slowed down industry efforts to expand drilling);
– Modernization of rules for well construction and operation;
– Systems-based management of wastes and water;
– State and national standards for improving air quality and reducing climate impacts; and
– Minimization of land use and community impacts from natural gas development.

It is important for the natural gas industry to realize that business as usual isn’t going to cut it and EDF will continue to work with responsible gas companies to get the rules right. Stay tuned.


Note: Any politically sentient being should understand that if the strategy suggested below prevails, Democrats will have given Republicans a sword through which it will be even more possible for Republicans to capture Congress. Such a strategy, as suggested below, would allow Republicans to attack Democrats through the rest of the year and certainly into the elections saying that Democrats are plotting to pass cap and trade in a lame duck Congress. While, in truth, there are not and will not be the votes to do that, it will unecessarily provide Republicans with such powerful ammo, that Republican pollsters will likely consider sending the Democratic leaders, and their politcally inept environmental group enablers, a big thank you card after the elections. One can only hope that sanity will prevail.

Environmentalists are pressing Biden and President Barack Obama to amp up their whip operations to give the legislation a chance of passing Congress this year. But one source from a major advocacy group said Wednesday that another option is for the Senate to pass a pared back energy measure now and then go to conference during a lame-duck session with the House-passed climate bill that includes greenhouse gas limits across multiple sectors of the economy. At that point, the source said, anything is possible.

Leaders from the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council are scheduled to meet later Wednesday to map out strategy with Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Caucus Vice-Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).


Dems divided on energy bill
By: Darren Samuelsohn and Coral Davenport
July 21, 2010

Senate Democrats are increasingly divided over whether to move forward on any energy and climate bill in the coming weeks.

On one side are those who say it’s too late to move even a modest energy measure, and are urging colleagues to abandon their efforts and bring up a small package of offshore drilling reforms next week before heading home.

On the other are ardent liberals, who are mounting a last-ditch campaign to push through an ambitious climate bill with a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

For months, many moderates in the caucus have said that trying to move a climate bill that caps carbon was a bridge too far for this Congress, and they have urged dropping the cap in favor of a modest “energy-only” bill that ramps up renewable energy.

But at a caucus meeting of Senate Democrats on Tuesday, the prevailing feeling was that even that measure doesn’t stand a chance, say people familiar with the meeting. “The meeting mood wasn’t exactly excited about the prospect of doing climate and energy next week,” said one source familiar with it, who also said “not to expect anything but a spill bill.”

West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller said the reason for the mood is a growing expectation that Republicans will block any legislation that’s brought up. “We didn’t discuss [energy and climate] at all at the chairman’s meeting. And that should stun you,” Rockefeller told POLITICO on Wednesday. “We’re trying to figure out, can we do anything? Can we pass anything? Because their idea is they’re going to stop all legislation.”

But advocates of passing a climate bill aren’t backing down – particularly the leading champion for the legislation, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, who told POLITICO on Wednesday that he will keep plugging away so long as Congress is in session.

“No, it’s not dead because we’re going to have a lame-duck session and we have weeks ahead of us,” Kerry said. “And the issue is not going away as I’ve said 100,000 times. So it’s not dead at all.”

Kerry got fresh backing Wednesday afternoon from a cohort of twelve liberal Democrats, who wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demanding that any energy and climate legislation to be considered in the coming weeks include a cap on carbon emissions.

“ The single most important action we can take to reform our energy policy and make the United States a leader in the global clean energy economy is to make polluters pay for the pollution they emit,” the letter said. “President Obama has consistently called for establishing a price on carbon as part of any comprehensive clean energy legislation Congress passes.”

Democrats are expected to caucus again on Thursday to determine a path forward on a bill, which Reid hopes to bring to the floor next Monday. Democratic leadership aides said Wednesday that there may be a White House presence at Thursday’s meeting.

Kerry and his partner, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), expressed concern Tuesday about the bill’s prospects of reaching the floor before the August recess as electric utility companies press for more time to negotiate complicated provisions of a bill that places limits on their emissions before any other major industrial sector.
Reid had been aiming to release the energy and climate legislation ahead of a floor debate next week, but that schedule appears to be in jeopardy now because of difficulty in finding 60 votes on the carbon pricing piece and the utility industry’s pleadings for more time.

Still, Kerry on Wednesday said he wasn’t ready to rule out action next week. “I don’t even think that is out of the question,” he said. “We have to see where we are on utilities and we have to see where Harry wants to land.”

“Obviously, the clock is pressing on it,” Kerry added.

Kerry met Wednesday morning for breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden where the energy and climate issue came up only “marginally,” Kerry said. Instead, the meeting was mostly about foreign policy.

Environmentalists are pressing Biden and President Barack Obama to amp up their whip operations to give the legislation a chance of passing Congress this year. But one source from a major advocacy group said Wednesday that another option is for the Senate to pass a pared back energy measure now and then go to conference during a lame-duck session with the House-passed climate bill that includes greenhouse gas limits across multiple sectors of the economy. At that point, the source said, anything is possible.

Leaders from the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council are scheduled to meet later Wednesday to map out strategy with Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Caucus Vice-Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Kerry and Lieberman said they will continue to work with the electric utility industry after meeting with several top CEOs on Tuesday. The power plant executives also met Tuesday with White House energy and climate adviser Carol Browner.

For now, prospects for the electric utility provisions remain uncertain in the Senate as both moderate Democrats and Republicans say they’re skeptical an agreement can be reached any time soon.

“There is a way in which you could build consensus,” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said on Tuesday. “But whether that can be part of any base energy bill really is highly questionable, I’d expect, because it’d be hard to build consensus on that particular question.”

Snowe said Democrats should consider offering the power plant-first proposal as an amendment to an energy bill, rather than place it in the underlying legislation. But Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who will unveil a bill later Wednesday to promote nuclear power, said there is no shot of a climate bill with carbon limits passing this year.

“This is going through the motions to satisfy your conference,” he said on Tuesday. “Anybody that’s being intellectually honest has got to say there’s no time to get anything done on climate.”

Nature Conservancy’s ties to BP (+ Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Etc.)

Nature Conservancy faces potential backlash from ties with BP

By Joe Stephens

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, May 23, 2010; 12:30 PM

In the days after the immensity of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico

became clear, some Nature Conservancy supporters took to the

organization’s web site to vent their anger.

“The first thing I did was sell my shares in BP, not wanting anything to

do with a company that is so careless,” wrote one. Another added: “I

would like to force all the BP executives, the secretaries and the

shareholders out to the shore to mop up oil and wash the birds.” Reagan

De Leon of Hawaii called for a boycott of “everything BP has their hands


What De Leon didn’t know was that the Nature Conservancy lists BP as one

of its business partners. The organization also has given BP a seat on

its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million

in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over

the years.

“Oh, wow,” De Leon said when told of the depth of the relationship

between the nonprofit she loves and the company she hates. “That’s kind

of disturbing.”

The Conservancy, already scrambling to shield oyster beds in the region

from the spill, now faces a different problem: a potential backlash as

its supporters learn that the giant oil company and the world’s largest

environmental organization long ago forged a relationship that has lent

BP an Earth-friendly image and helped the Conservancy pursue causes it

holds dear.

Indeed, the crude emanating from BP’s well threatens to befoul a number

of such alliances that have formed between energy conglomerates and

environmental non-profits. At least one conservation group acknowledges

that it is reassessing its ties to the oil company, with an eye toward

protecting its reputation.

“This is going to be a real test for charities such as the Nature

Conservancy,” said Dean Zerbe, a lawyer who investigated the

Conservancy’s relations with its donors when he worked for the Senate

Finance Committee. “This not only stains BP but, if they don’t respond

properly, it also stains those who have been benefiting from their money

and their support.”

Some purists believe environmental organizations should keep a healthy

distance from certain kinds of corporations, particularly those such as

BP, whose core mission poses risks to the environment. They argue that

the BP spill shows the downside to what they view as deals with the devil.

On the other side are self-described pragmatists, such as the

Conservancy, who see partnering with global corporations as the best way

to bring about large-scale change.

“Anyone serious about doing conservation in this region must engage

these companies, so they are not just part of the problem but so they

can be part of the effort to restore this incredible ecosystem,”

Conservancy Chief Executive Mark Tercek wrote on his group’s web site

after criticism from a Conservancy supporter

The Arlington-based Conservancy has made no secret of its relationship

with BP, just one of many it has forged with multi-national

corporations. The Conservancy’s web site identifies BP as a member of

its Leadership Council.

BP has been a major contributor to a Conservancy project aimed at

protecting Bolivian forests. In 2006, BP gave the organization 655 acres

in York County, Va., where a state wildlife management area is planned.

In Colorado and Wyoming, the Conservancy has worked with BP to limit

environmental damage from natural gas drilling.

Until recently, the Conservancy and other environmental groups worked

alongside BP in a coalition that lobbied Congress on climate change

issues. And an employee of BP Exploration serves as an unpaid

Conservancy trustee in Alaska.

“We are getting some important and very tangible outcomes as a result of

our work with the company,” said Conservancy spokesman Jim Petterson.

Reassessing Relationships

The Conservancy has long positioned itself as the leader of a

non-confrontational arm of the environmental movement, and that position

has helped the charity attract tens of millions of dollars a year in

contributions. A number have come from companies whose work takes a toll

on the environment, including those engaged in logging, homebuilding and

power generation.

Conservancy officials say their approach has allowed them to change

company practices from within, leverage the influence of the companies

and protect ecosystems that are under the companies’ control. They

stress that contributions from BP and other large corporations

constitute only a portion of the organization’s total revenue, which now

exceeds a half billion dollars a year.

And the Conservancy is far from the only environmental nonprofit with

ties to BP.

Conservation International has accepted $2 million in donations from BP

over the years and partnered with the company on a number of projects,

including one examining oil extraction methods. From 2000 to 2006, John

Browne, who was then BP’s chief executive, sat on the board of

Conservation International.

In response to the spill, executives at the nonprofit said they plan to

review the organization’s relationship with the company, said Justin

Ward, a Conservation International vice president.

“Reputational risk is on our minds,” Ward acknowledged.

The Environmental Defense Fund, which has a policy of not accepting

corporate donations, joined with BP, Shell International and other major

corporations to form the Partnership for Climate Action, which promotes

“market-based mechanisms” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And about 20 energy and environmental groups, including the Conservancy,

the Sierra Club and Audubon, joined with BP Wind Energy to form the

American Wind and Wildlife Institute, which works to protect wildlife

through “responsible” development of wind farms.

A Rude Awakening

On May 1, Tercek posted a statement on the Conservancy’s site, writing

that it was “difficult to fathom the tragedy” that was unfolding but

adding that “now is not the time for ranting.” He didn’t make any

mention of BP.

Nate Swick, a blogger and dedicated bird watcher from Chapel Hill,

chastised Tercek on the site for not adequately disclosing the

Conservancy’s connections to BP and not working to hold the company

accountable. Swick said in an interview that he considered BP’s payments

to the organization to be an obvious attempt at “greenwashing” its image.

“You have to wonder whether the higher-ups in the Nature Conservancy are

pulling their punches,” said Swick, who admires the work the Conservancy

does in the field.

A Conservancy official quickly responded to Swick’s accusations, laying

out the organization’s ties with BP. A subsequent post by Tercek named

BP and said the spill demonstrated the need for a new energy policy that

would move the United States “away from our dependence on oil.”

“The oil industry is a major player in the Gulf,” he explained. “It

would be na?ve to ignore them.”

There may be a sense of d?j? vu among longtimers at the Conservancy.

Years ago, worried officials there quietly assembled focus groups and

found that most members saw a partnership with BP as “inappropriate.”

The 2001 study, obtained by The Washington Post, found that many

Conservancy members felt a relationship with an oil company was

“inherently incompatible.” And to a minority of members, accepting cash

from these types of companies was viewed as “the equivalent of a payoff.”

Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Earth Day, Paying Dues and Shades of Green

Published on Thursday, April 22, 2010 by

Earth Day, Paying Dues and Shades of Green

by Rachel Smolker

It’s Earth Day and oh how my heart aches.

Yesterday it came to my attention that Environmental Defense Fund, an organization my own father cofounded, is supporting the construction of several new coal plants in Texas! Environmental Defense is supposed to Defend the Environment as I understood it. Haven’t they heard James Hansen the climate scientist repeating ad nauseum his message that eliminating coal is the single most important step we can take to address global warming? Did they fail to even notice the noisy protest outside EPA offices a week or two ago, demanding that Lisa Jackson see firsthand the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining in Southern Appalachia that has resulted in clear-cutting thousands of acres of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests, burying crucial headwaters streams (nearly 2000 miles already) and contaminating the groundwater with lead and mercury?

EDF’s Jim Marsten reassures us that these new coal plants will be “models” of “green-ness” because they will capture the CO2. Oh good…. Then they are going to use that CO2 for “enhanced oil recovery” — pumping it into nearby oil wells to create pressure that will push the last stubborn bits of oil out.

Hmmmm… burning coal and capturing the emissions to get more oil out of wells… Is that good for the environment, or a little less bad, or perhaps worse?

The plants will also waste less water. That’s good, I think.

But instead of using water to cool the plants, they will use fans run off electricity, which will require more coal burning.

They will also have to burn more coal because it turns out that capturing carbon and pumping it into the oil wells, requires a lot of energy.

So after we burn more coal in order to capture the carbon and cool the plant, what will happen to the more CO2 after it is pumped into the ground to squeeze out more oil? Will it leak out of the wells and into the sky in the end there to mingle with the CO2 from all the other coal burning, and enhanced oil recovery to wreak further havoc on earth? The Greenpeace report “False Hope” says CCS is unproven (a few demonstrations but not likely ready until 2030 at earliest), expensive (nearly doubling plant costs), energy intensive (using 10-40% of the energy produced), risky (CO2 could well leak out slowly or abruptly with severe consequences for human and ecosystem health and climate).

It’s hard to figure how EDF considers this a “victory” for the environment. Maybe board member Stanley Druckenmiller can explain it for us — he knows a few things about coal, what with 200 million shares in Massey Energy.

Massey Energy. They own the mine that exploded a week ago, killing 29 miners and they are responsible for blasting in Coal River next to the Brushy Fork impoundment containing 8.2 billion gallons of toxic slurry waste that, if it were to break, would obliterate an entire community. Somehow EDF’s Earth Day “victory” just doesn’t feel very inspirational. I think I can hear my father rolling over in his grave again.

Johann Hari’s recent piece in The Nation spelled out how the big greens have either prostituted themselves to corporate foundation funders, or become so paralyzed by the constraints on political feasibility within the DC beltway culture (again, a construct of corporate influence), that they have been rendered inert. Hari’s piece was followed by another recent article in Common Dreams by Gary Houser, who passionately implores the big greens to regrow their spines and actually BE green. Maybe that’s possible…

Or maybe it’s up to us once again. Just as the failure of Copenhagen stimulated the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, going on now in Bolivia, perhaps we can light the fires of an alternative environmental movement in the U.S.. Real environmental groups abound — groups like Indigenous Environmental Network, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, WEACT, Energy Justice Network, Global Justice Ecology Project, Rising Tide and a host of others don’t have the big bucks, nor the “ties that bind” that come along with corporate sponsorship. Nor do they have the Big Green “branding” and name recognition. What they have is the guts and integrity to fight for what is right and to know green when they see it.

I know where my membership dues will go!

Let’s hope next Earth Day offers real reasons to celebrate.

Rachel Smolker is codirector of Biofuelwatch, and an organizer with Climate SOS. She has a Ph.D. in behavioral ecology from the University of Michigan and worked as a field biologist before turning to activism. She is the daughter of Environmental Defense Fund cofounder, Robert Smolker, and she engaged in direct action at EDF offices to oppose their advocacy for carbon trade. She has written on the topic of bioenergy, carbon trade and climate justice. She was arrested protesting outside the Chicago Climate Exchange in November as part of the Mobilization for Climate Justice day of actions, which she wrote about for