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Campaign to Correct NRDC Continues at Bar Association

March 10, 2010

NRDC again was targeted for supporting gas drilling in NYS and beyond

By Kerry

A coordinated campaign to challenge the promotion of gas drilling by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a corporate-friendly environmental organization which has come under fire in recent years for its controversial stances, funding sources, and what-some-perceive as a Board of Directors with many conflicts of interests between their ties to polluting industry and the mission of the organization expanded into Midtown today.

Related: NRDC Blasted For Gas Drilling Support: Activists exposed NRDC’s support for gas drilling at Green Drinks event in West Village

Keywords: News, Bronx, Nature,

A coordinated campaign to challenge the promotion of gas drilling by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a corporate-friendly environmental organization which has come under fire in recent years for its controversial stances, funding sources, and what-some-perceive as a Board of Directors with many conflicts of interests between their ties to polluting industry and the mission of the organization expanded into Midtown today.

Activists crashed the event:

Marcellus Shale: Shall We Drill?

Co-sponsored by the New York City Bar Environmental Law Committee and the Environmental Law Institute

at the New York City Bar Association

the Moderator: Jeff Gracer, Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C. and the Panelists: Kate Sinding, NRDC Thomas West, Counsel for Chesapeake Energy Corporation Hilary Meltzer, New York City Corporation Counsel’s Office The activity was promoted by the NYC Environmental Meetup Group although all of the panelists support gas drilling.

Fliers distributed stated: Stop Greenwash Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The NRDC has been an incredibly destructive force for the environmental movement in the United States. Now Greendrinks is providing legitimacy for this corporate “environmental” group.

But the NRDC supports gas drilling!

They have partnered with the worst polluting industry as part of the United States Climate Action Partnership to greenwash these industries’ role in polluting the local and global environment. USCAP advocates for: • Continued use of coal for decades • New Nuclear power plants • Targets for carbon stabilization of 450-550 ppm (when the entire world knows that 350 ppm is the outer limit of what we need to aim for to avoid catastrophic environmental destruction.

Ask NRDC to explain their betrayal inside. Or ask Greendrinks why NRDC is being allowed to our green party. Greendrinks has a sponsorship program – is NRDC appearing under that guise, and paying to present their greenwash?

See these websites for more information on NRDC polluter greenwash and the threat their support for ‘natural gas poses to the environment of New York State:

http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/tools-resources/mcj-take-on-corportate-polluters-and-corporate-environmental-organizations/ www.un-naturalgas.org

Stop Greenwash by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The NRDC has been an incredibly destructive force for the environmental movement in the United States. Now Greendrinks is providing legitimacy for this corporate “environmental” group. • But the NRDC supports gas drilling! • They have partnered with the worst polluting industry as part of the United States Climate Action Partnership to greenwash these industries’ role in polluting the local and global environment. USCAP advocates for: • Continued use of coal for decades • New Nuclear power plants • Targets for carbon stabilization of 450-550 ppm (when the entire world knows that 350 ppm is the outer limit of what we need to aim for to avoid catastrophic environmental destruction.

Ask NRDC to explain their betrayal inside. Or ask Greendrinks why NRDC is being allowed to our green party. Greendrinks has a sponsorship program – is NRDC appearing under that guise, and paying to present their greenwash?

See these websites for more information on NRDC polluter greenwash and the threat their support for ‘natural gas poses to the environment of New York State:

http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/tools-resources/mcj-take-on-corportate-polluters-and-corporate-environmental-organizations/ www.un-naturalgas.org

By Kerry http://www.climatesos.org/

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WATCH | Brazil: The Money Tree | NRDC Exploitation

This story is a joint project of FRONTLINE/World and the Center for Investigative Reporting, in association with Mother Jones magazine.
“Brazil: The Money Tree” was produced by Andrés Cediel and co-produced by Daniela Broitman.

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/carbonwatch/moneytree/

NRDC Conflicts of Interest

A Cursory Analysis to Prompt Further Examination by An Inquiring Press Corp.

The Declared Mission of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is, ostensibly, “to foster the fundamental right of all people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment. We seek to break down the pattern of disproportionate environmental burdens borne by people of color and others who face social or economic inequities. Ultimately, NRDC strives to help create a new way of life for humankind, one that can be sustained indefinitely without fouling or depleting the resources that support all life on Earth”.

When considering a few examples (below) of their Board Members’ financial interests, please consider what inclination the NRDC will have to work against the financial interests of their Board Members, when deciding on the organization’s position regarding pressing environmental issues. Would they, for instance, stand against their Board Members’ interests if these stand to profit greatly from a neo-liberal trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (or the Colombia FTA) or from a deal with a major coal plant operator (like TXU) or an oil company that wants to cut a road deep into the Ecuadorian Amazon (like Conoco)?

(See here for details on anti-environmental positions taken by the NRDC.)

Based on the interests of Board Members of the NRDC, the ‘environmental’ organization’s advocacy for a dangerously inadequate U.S. climate policy comes off as self-dealing and self-serving.

    The Business Interests of Some NRDC Board Members

1. Richard E. Ayres, Esq.
The Ayres Law Group
We assist clients in high stakes regulatory proceedings, both informal and formal. We counsel clients on how to use the regulatory process to their own benefit often helping design regulatory proposals to be taken to EPA or important state pollution control agencies. We help our clients to understand what environmental regulations require – and don’t require – so they can stay in compliance and still achieve their business objectives. And we help those who may have enforcement issues with the Environmental Protection Agency.

2. Henry R. Breck, Trustee and Finance Chair of N.R.D.C.
Partner, Heronetta Holdings
Former member of the CIA and investment banker at Lehman Brothers. Also Chair of the Lehman Management Company.
See here and here.

Henry R. Breck has been Chairman of Ark Asset Management Co., Inc., a money management firm with $13 billion under management, since 1989. Previously, he was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and Chairman of Lehman Management Company, the predecessor company to Ark Asset Management. Mr. Breck joined Lehman Brothers in 1968 and was made a partner in 1972. Prior to his investment banking career, Mr. Breck was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency. He also served in the United States Air Force.

The NRDC website, interestingly, changed from an earlier version which listed Breck’s association as Chair of Ark Asset Management. That’s confirmed here.

While Heronetta Holdings is quite opaque, Ark Asset Management is well known:

Ark Asset Management has three subsidiaries
(http://www.transnationale.org/companies/ark_asset_management.php) :
Covance, Inc., formerly, Hazleton Labs, Ralcorp Holdings, Inc, and Wolverine World Wide

Wolverine World Wide has holdings in Amgen, Apache Corp, Anadarko Petroleum, Bank of America, Chevron, Citigroup, Clorox (in 2002), ConocoPhillips, Dow (2002), Duke Energy, Exxonmobil, Freeport McMoran, Gap, General Electric, Halliburton, International Paper (2002), JP Morgan, Kimberly Clarke, Marathon Oil, Merck (2002), Merrill Lynch, National Oilwell Varko Inc,, Newmont Mining, Oil States International, Pfizer, Phillips Petroleum (2002), Pioneer Drilling, Precision Drilling Corp, Reliant Energy (2002), Royal Dutch Petroleum, United Technologies.

http://www.secinfo.com/dR92z.se.htm

Mr. Breck is also on the boards of Butler Capital Corporation and ASA Limited.

http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/own-disp?action=getissuer&CIK=0001230869

However, Breck is not listed as on the ASA board through their own website:

http://www.asaltd.com/about/bodirectors.asp

ASA Limited is a closed-end management investment company. The Company provides investors a vehicle to invest in a portfolio consisting primarily of the stocks of companies engaged in the exploration, mining or processing of gold, silver, platinum, diamonds or other precious minerals. The Company may invest in gold, silver and platinum bullion or securities. These securities seek to replicate the price movement of gold, silver or platinum bullion.

3. Ruben Kraiem, Partner, Covington and Burling
Rubén Kraiem is a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, where he co-chairs, with Stuart Eizenstat, the firm’s Carbon Markets, Climate Change and Clean Technology practice. His practice includes transactional work on behalf of investors and institutions in the carbon markets. He is involved also in legislative work on behalf of clients engaged in the climate change policy debate. Most recently, he was involved in promoting the proposed acquisition of TXU which resulted in three massive coal plants being built in Texas. Mr. Kraiem is an advisor to the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, and in this capacity he attended the Bali Conference on Climate Change (COP-13) in December, 2007. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Fordham Law School.

C&B’s practice in the Energy area:
We represent investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, local distribution companies, natural gas pipelines, energy marketers and traders, oil and gas producers, wind producers, electric cooperatives, large end-users, financiers, project developers, institutional equity investors, a coalition of electric generators, transmitters, distributors, and consumers, and project advisory firms in a wide range of regulatory, corporate, and legislative energy matters.

C&B’s practice in the Nuclear area: (note the revolving door)
The former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dr. Richard Meserve, has rejoined the firm and brings extensive experience on nuclear matters. We can provide experienced counseling and advisory services in connection with nuclear matters arising at the state and federal level.

4. Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr.; Chair Emeritus
Senior Counsel, Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Some of their clients as found at http://www.cravath.com/Cravath.html
Here are a few choice few of the most environmentally destructive ones:
Weyerhaeuser Company
In 2007, we represented Weyerhaeuser in the merger of its fine paper business with Domtar Inc. for approximately US$3.3 billion.

Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. – Phelps Dodge Corp.
In 2007, we advised JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, as lead arrangers and underwriters, in connection with the financing of Freeport-McMoran’s purchase of Phelps Dodge for approximately US$23 billion, the largest mining acquisition on record.

Petroplus Holdings AG
In 2006, we represented the global coordinators (Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley) in connection with the CHF2.52 billion (equivalent to US$2.1 billion) 144A/Reg. S initial public offering of registered shares of Petroplus Holdings AG, one of the largest independent refiners and suppliers of unbranded petroleum products in Europe. The shares were listed on the SWX Swiss Exchange.

LS Power Equity Advisors, LLC
In 2006, we represented LS Power Equity Advisors, LLC in connection with a sale of assets to, and joint venture with, Dynegy.

Southern Peru Copper Corporation
In 2005, we represented the underwriters (led by Citigroup and UBS Investment Bank) in connection with the US$947 million registered common stock offering of Southern Peru Copper Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded copper company as measured by reserves. The shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Lima Stock Exchange.

Latin America
We have represented Vitro, Mexico’s largest glass maker, AmBev, the Brazilian beverage manufacturer, and GP Investimentos in a variety of transactions. In addition, we have represented JPMorgan Securities and Citigroup, as lead underwriters, in connection with the securities offerings of South American businesses, particularly in the pulp and paper manufacturing and mining sectors, which involve significant environmental issues.

5. Robert J. Fisher; Vice Chair, Director, GAP Inc.

http://www.gapsucks.org/gwa/history/wsj/

6. Michel Gelobter, Ph.D.
Founder, CEO, Cooler Inc.
“Cooler is an on-line, for-profit venture that enables consumers and retailers to buy and sell millions of everyday goods and services while offsetting their global warming impacts. ”
http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/news/stories/2008/gelobter.htm

NRDC’s Finances

The NRDC’s 2007 financial statement also reveals their millions of dollars of investment in the fossil fuel industry. Can we really expect them to be pushing for a transition towards renewables (i.e. not hydrocarbons or biofuels/biomass) when they are heavily invested in those? Two lines of credit from top carbon trading promoting banks – Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase – extend to NRDC 10s of millions of dollars at low interest.

The NRDC’s most recent financial statement has them investing $23 million of their endowment with the biggest underwriter of coal operations in the U.S., the Bank of America. It also shows the NRDC heavily invested in the Carlyle Group widely considered as profiting from no-bid contracts in an illegal invasion of a sovereign country launched to secure hydrocarbons. The Carlyle Group funds also include major holdings in the fossil fuel industry itself. These include massive ethanol biofuel and toxic gas infrastructure and service companies, like the major oil and gas player Cobalt, which seeks to extract oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico and Africa, and Gibson Energy which provides “midstream services” to the oil and gas industry, services which have found their way to providing ’solutions’ to accessing hydrocarbons in Western Canada.

There are other intriguing Board Members to research for enquiring minds at the following link (a few are listed below):

http://www.nrdc.org/about/board.asp

Adam Albright; Vice Chair, Private investor; Environmentalist

Susan Crown, Principal, Henry Crown and Company; Executive, Foundation Chair, Community
Activist
Henry Crown and Company has holdings in Aspen Ski Resort.

http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/40/40214.html

Also in oil and gas:

http://investing.businessweek.com/businessweek/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=4304111

They are also an opaque investment company. So more info appreciated.

Bob Epstein
Co-Founder, Sybase, Inc., and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2); Organizer and Director, New Resource Bank

Environmental Entrepreneurs – a few of these people w/links to both Hill & Knowlton (http://www.prwatch.org/search/node/hill+knowlton) and the NRDC; Creepy cousins

http://www.e2.org/jsp/controller?cmd=liqleader

Jill Tate Higgins, Private investor; General Partner, Lakeside Enterprises, L.P.
Nothing on her/Lakeside except that she’s also in E2

Bob Kerrey, President, The New School

Philip B. Korsant, Managing Member, Korsant Partners

http://www.secinfo.com/$/SEC/Name.asp?S=philip+b.+korsant

Maya Lin, Artist; Designer – Maya Lin was the proposed architect for a proposed paper de-inking facility on the South South Bronx waterfront, which was championed by NRDC. It took Bronx-wide mobilization to defeat this environmentally unjust project.

Philip (Pete) Ruegger III, Chair, Executive Committee, Simpson, Thatcher & Bartlett
Christine H. Russell, Ph.D., Environmentalist; Foundation director
Wendy Schmidt, President, The Schmidt Family Foundation; Founder, The 11th Hour Project
Max Stone, Managing Director, D.E. Shaw & Company, L.P.
Elizabeth Wiatt, Environmentalist; Founder, Leadership Council

HONORARY TRUSTEES
Dean E. Abrahamson, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Robert O. Blake, U.S. Ambassador (retired)
Joan K. Davidson, Former Parks Commissioner, NY State; President Emeritus, The J.M. Kaplan
Fund
Frederick A. Terry, Jr.. Senior Counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell

http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/tools-resources/mcj-take-on-corportate-polluters-and-corporate-environmental-organizations/nrdc-conflicts-of-interest/

United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP)

Resources on the NRDC and USCAP

Members of the United States Climate Action Partnership

– Top climate scientist Dr. James Hansen: NRDC showing “poor judgment”

– Support for Carbon Trading Ignores History’s Lessons and Basic Economics, Leading Environmental Economist Charles Komanoff (of the Carbon Tax Center) declares. “Come Back, NRDC!” ( 4 minute video )

– Dr. James Hansen on “Why we’re targeting the NRDC Greenwash” (2 min video)

http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/tools-resources/mcj-take-on-corportate-polluters-and-corporate-environmental-organizations/united-states-climate-action-partnership-uscap/

NRDC’s Greatest (Environmental) Hits

From the Mobilization for Climate Justice Organization

NRDC – Undermining sound environmental campaigns through deal-making and betrayals

Here below are a few examples of this corporate-friendly “environmental” group’s greatest betrayals of sound, uncompromised environmental positions. At the end of this post, we offer some background on NRDC’s role in shaping current US climate policy and conclusions about US Climate Policy moving forward in an equitable, sound manner.

Our actions on Nov 30 sent a warning shot across the bows of corporate ‘greens’ who distort climate science on behalf of major polluters and are obstructing and undermining grassroots campaigns for a prompt transition to a just, low carbon economy.

The MCJ proposes a range of solutions (including leaving hydrocarbons in the ground and more).

Table of Contents

1. NRDC played a key role in the formation and promotion of the United States Climate Action Partnership (2007- present):
2. NRDC is promoting methane gas drilling despite absence of scientific studies (2007)
3. NRDC supports New Coal Plants
4. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the N.R.D.C.
5. Oil Giant Conoco and NRDC vs. the Ecuadorean Amazon and Huaorani – forest-dependent peoples (1991)
6. NRDC and Enron: Role in Utility Deregulation
7. A Kinder Gentler Alberta Tar Sands
8. Utility Shill NRDC attacks Prop. 7
Background on NRDC and Current Climate Policy
Conclusion

NRDC’s Greatest (Environmental) Hits

‘No compromise’ faction attacks climate bill 104 | NRDC

OUTFLANKED

‘No compromise’ faction attacks climate bill

by Jonathan Hiskes

1 Oct 2009 5:08 PM

$2 trillion billCourtesy Climate SOSGlobal warming activists endorsed by the preeminent climatologist James Hansen are working to defeat the climate and energy bill in Congress, and they’re using some provocative stunts to spread their message.

Briefly:

  • Activists handed out fake $2 trillion bills at a rally for climate legislation in New York last week, criticizing the size of the global-warming emissions market they oppose. ($2 trillion is their estimate for the size of the emissions market they oppose.) The bills depict Al Gore holding a wrench and a compact-fluorescent light bulb and the words “Corporate Giveaways! Carbon Ponzi Schemes! FALSE SOLUTIONS!”
  • Others hung a 14-foot banner of the same bill from the Manhattan headquarters of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
  • “Cap’n Trade,” an actor in a pirate costume, unfurled a similar banner at a presentation by Connie Hedegaard, chairperson of the Dec. 2009 UN Climate Summit and Denmark’s minister for climate and energy.
  • Still others blocked a motorcade of UN delegates to drop a banner with the message “Cap + Trade is a Dead End.”

At least three groups worked together on last week’s events—Climate SOS, Rising Tide North America, and “Greenwash Guerrillas,” which pied Thomas Friedman last year. They all hold a “no compromise” philosophy on climate-change action, opposing carbon markets that allow polluters to buy and sell pollution credits and arguing that larger environmental groups such as NRDC have compromised too much in working with businesses and Democratic lawmakers.

“It’s an awkward position to be environmentalists working on climate change but opposing a climate bill,” said Climate SOS organizer Rachel Smolker, a Vermont ecologist and author. “Especially with a new administration that we want to support. But we felt we need to take a really strong position because this [bill] is so inadequate.”

The campaign is awkward for “establishment” green groups too. They’ve been preparing to battle fossil-fuel interests over the energy bill introduced in the Senate this week. Now they must figure out if and how to respond to this attack from the far left.

“It’s troubling,” said Daniel J. Weiss, director for climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, a center-left think tank with close ties to the Obama administration. “No one believes that the clean energy bill that will come out of Congress will address the threat of global warming in a single step. But we have to start.”

“The real enemies are Big Oil and Big Coal and the right wing attack machine,” he said. “For them to mock [Gore] in the way they did shows that they don’t understand you need to attack your enemies and not your allies.”

Hansen’s involvement is especially troublesome. The director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies wasn’t involved in the New York stunts, but he endorsed Climate SOS’s recent tour against a climate bill. The $2 trillion bill includes his statement that a cap-and-trade program “would be worse for the environment than doing nothing.”

The opposition by Hansen and Climate SOS is unlikely to influence Washington policymakers, in Weiss’s opinion, but it’s got the potential to make everyday Americans think the situation is hopeless.

“If they hear from such a respected scientist as James Hansen that what Congress is doing won’t matter, then why would they bother to call their senators to say ‘Act on this’?” he said.

What does that even mean?

Banner at NRDCClimate SOS activists at NRDC’s headquartersCourtesy tanukiAside from the stunts last week, other moves by the “no-compromise” camp are downright perplexing. Last week Greenwash Guerrillas launched a website in response to Cleanenergyworks.us, a three-month-old diverse coalition supporting a comprehensive energy bill. The similar-sounding Cleanenergyworks.biz was a replica of the real Clean Energy Works site, with two notable changes: The phone number and email address for spokesperson Josh Dorner had been changed. His name was left the same. The site changed to a more innocuous version over the weekend and is currently down. (Have a screen grab? Send it in and we’ll post.)

Dorner had no interest in speaking about the site that took his name. “I don’t send too much of my day worrying about a website,” he said Thursday. “There are considerably more important tasks before us to get this bill across the Senate floor.”

NRDC spokesperson Michael Oko shared Dorner’s reluctance to give attention to the stunts. “There are a lot of different groups out there,” he said in regard to the banner hung at NRDC’s office. “Everybody has the right to express themselves.”

About the replica website Oko said, “Frankly, I was a little confused about what their intention was.”

Smolker of Climate SOS said the idea was “to provide a spoof, to reveal the emptiness of the claims Clean Energy Works provides. For them, it’s green jobs and clean energy and everything’s a smiley-face, you know? Our goal is to tell people to look deeper and take the smiley faces off.”

At EDFAt Environmental Defense Fund.Courtesy tanukiShe said she contributed ideas for the mock site, but individuals from Greenwash Guerrillas, who did not want to be identified, created the idea.

The 51-year-old Smolker has seen firsthand how environmental groups can evolve, professionalize, and grow in wealth and influence. Her father was one of the founders of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), another group targeted by Climate SOS last week. EDF met in her childhood home when it was still a “ragtag group,” as Climate SOS is now, she said. (Smolker, who works for Biofuel Watch, declined to give funding information for Climate SOS but said all members were volunteers.)

“We’ve played that compromise game for a long time,” she said. “There’s too much at stake right now.”

The old saw

The compromise question—whether to sacrifice what is ecologically necessary for what seems politically possible–has been around as long as the green movement itself. The naturalist-and-mystic John Muir and the politician-and-forester Gifford Pinchot clashed over the same tensions in the early 20th century.

As for Hansen’s “worse than nothing” remark, there has been plenty written about the failings of the House climate and energy bill—it gives away too much to dirty-energy backers, it even protects coal-plant pollution from further regulation. But there is historical precedent of legislation that is deeply flawed at first evolving into something effective and durable. The original Clean Air Act did not address the acid rain crisis, an omission not corrected until 1990. The original Social Security Act did not include domestic or agricultural workers, effectively excluding many Hispanic, black, and immigrant workers, as Democratic strategist Paul Begala notes.

“If that version of Social Security were introduced today, progressives like me would call it cramped, parsimonious, mean-spirited and even racist,” writes Begala. “Perhaps it was all those things. But it was also a start. And for 74 years we have built on that start.”

Most progressives, including many major green groups, would gladly embrace an imperfect climate bill as a start.

“Those who see the House clean energy bill as somehow tainted by deals, and therefore want a carbon tax, have to understand that no tax proposal would ever emerge from Congress as we know it without similar or worse deals being made,” said Weiss. “Unfortunately the moral high ground of ‘we must act for our children’ is necessary but not sufficient for our political process.”

Smolker said Climate SOS would continue on a different tack, insisting on an acceptable bill from the get-go. She expected the group would pause to take stock of the bill released in the Senate this week, then regroup.

Here’s Cap’n Trade delivering his message to Danish climate and energy minister Connie Hedegaard:

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