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Stroke of a Pen

Quileute-Nation-canoe-arrives-at-Swinomish

Image: The Swinomish Tribe has lived on the coasts of the Salish Sea since time immemorial. Today, rising seas not only threaten cultural traditions, but also the economic vitality of this small island nation in the shadow of a large oil refinery. [Source]

Intercontinental Cry

October 28, 2013

By Jay Taber

I think some environmentalists opposing fossil fuel export on the Salish Sea believe that Coast Salish tribes will be able to defeat Wall Street in this battle. I would not place much confidence in that assumption.

In addition to the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance/Tea Party anti-Indian campaign, federal departments — especially Interior, Treasury and Commerce — under Obama have intensified the attack against tribal jurisdiction. Given the make up of Congress and Obama’s commitment to Wall Street, tribal opposition to fossil fuel export could — like tribal sovereignty itself — be extinguished with the stroke of a pen.

FLASHBACK | Conservation International: Privatizing Nature, Plundering Biodiversity

conservation-international

Seedling | Grain

October 2003

by Aziz Choudry

Conservation International’s corporate sponsor list reads like a list of the US’ top fifty transnational corporations. Biodiversity conservation is at the top of Conservation International’s list of goals. But as the list of Conservation International’s dubious ventures and questionable partners around the world grows, Aziz Choudry is starting to wonder if it is time to ‘out’ this ‘multinational conservation corporation’ and show its true colours.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C, with operations in over 30 countries on four continents, Conservation International claims to be an environmental NGO. Its mission is “to conserve the Earth’s living natural heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature.” [1] This all sounds very laudable and Conservation International has some very high profile fans. This year Colin Powell shared the podium with Conservation International President Russell Mittermeier at the launch of the Bush Administration’s “Initiative Against Illegal Logging” at the US State Department. In December 2001, Gordon Moore, who founded Intel Corporation, donated US $261 million to Conservation International, supposedly the largest grant ever to an environmental organisation. Moore is chairman of Conservation International’s executive committee. Conservation International has repaid Moore’s largesse by nam-ing an endangered Brazilian pygmy owl after him. [2]

FLASHBACK: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction: Methane, Propaganda & the Architects of Genocide | Part III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spin Doctors | Spinning the Potential for Abrupt and Catastrophic Climate Change

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

It is now beyond obvious that those who control the world’s economy are hell-bent on burning all of our planet’s remaining fossil fuels – including those that not long ago, were considered impractical to exploit. Corporate-colluded states, corporate-controlled media and corporate-funded scientists will be red-lining the well-oiled engine of the propaganda machine as it works overtime.

Democracy in Reverse | Non-Profit Disaster Capitalism on the Gulf Coast

July 11, 2013

by Elizabeth Cook 

GulfOilSpill2

The most recent public meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, held in Belle Chase on June 12, was an exercise in democracy in reverse.(1)

It is an undemocratic process that is largely for political theater, in my view, so I used it as such. I was as dramatic as possible in presenting the most important points, in my view, of the reality on the Gulf. People have only three minutes to speak. The funding is a long way off, so why not have round table discussions, that can go on all day, where people wander in and out depending on their schedule? No, in three minutes, you have to state all of your concerns about the gulf, BP, oil, the Corexit (2), bioremediation or the lack thereof in the marshes, the dying marshes (3), the culpability of the government in the use of Corexit (4), the fact that the Feds want to expand drilling to Florida (5) and the Corexit is being stockpiled all up and down the Gulf coast (6). If there another major oil well blowout in the Gulf and the Corexit is used in massive quantities again, then this restoration process will have to start all over. Common sense folks (yes, I did say that). 

FLASHBACK | The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction: Methane, Propaganda & the Architects of Genocide | Part I

WKOG editor: The first segment (Part I-below) of this investigative report was published on January 17, 2011. On December 13, 2011, it was quietly reported that:

 Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

“Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said….

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said.

“We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal,” he said.

Dr Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Since this the quiet release of this report, the (essentially non-existent) media coverage on the destabilizing methane hydrates should be considered that of a heavily censored topic by corporate and foundation funded media.

+++

An investigative report.

By Cory Morningstar

January 17, 2011

Part I

World Marches to Methane Annihilation

 

“[T]he question is not will this methane be released, but when.” – Robert C. Hendricks, NASA, November 2007

 

The architects of death: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction are the melting permafrost, the destabilizing methane hydrates and the corporations such as Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and the banking and investment industry who, hand in hand with the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense, have been planning and waiting to exploit methane hydrates for decades. Methane hydrates are considered the ultimate in climate wealth opportunity because the control of these hydrocarbons could literally shift the balance of global power (US Department of Defense). It is clear that nothing has been done to prevent catastrophic climate change – and nothing will be done. Global emissions are set to continue skyrocketing. This article attempts to clearly articulate why, almost two decades after the first international climate change summit, the world governments have failed to protect us from dangerous atmospheric climate interference. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of misinformation that is being perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda.WKOG editor: The first segment (Part I-below) of this investigative report was published on January 17, 2011. On December 13, 2011, it was quietly reported that:

 Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

“Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said….

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said.

“We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal,” he said.

Dr Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Since this the quiet release of this report, the (essentially non-existent) media coverage on the destabilizing methane hydrates should be considered that of a heavily censored topic by corporate and foundation funded media.

+++

An investigative report.

By Cory Morningstar

January 17, 2011

Part I

World Marches to Methane Annihilation

“[T]he question is not will this methane be released, but when.” – Robert C. Hendricks, NASA, November 2007

The architects of death: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction are the melting permafrost, the destabilizing methane hydrates and the corporations such as Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and the banking and investment industry who, hand in hand with the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense, have been planning and waiting to exploit methane hydrates for decades. Methane hydrates are considered the ultimate in climate wealth opportunity because the control of these hydrocarbons could literally shift the balance of global power (US Department of Defense). It is clear that nothing has been done to prevent catastrophic climate change – and nothing will be done. Global emissions are set to continue skyrocketing. This article attempts to clearly articulate why, almost two decades after the first international climate change summit, the world governments have failed to protect us from dangerous atmospheric climate interference. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of misinformation that is being perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda.WKOG editor: The first segment (Part I-below) of this investigative report was published on January 17, 2011. On December 13, 2011, it was quietly reported that:

 Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

“Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said….

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said.

“We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal,” he said.

Dr Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Since this the quiet release of this report, the (essentially non-existent) media coverage on the destabilizing methane hydrates should be considered that of a heavily censored topic by corporate and foundation funded media.

+++

An investigative report.

By Cory Morningstar

January 17, 2011

Part I

World Marches to Methane Annihilation

 

“[T]he question is not will this methane be released, but when.” – Robert C. Hendricks, NASA, November 2007

 

The architects of death: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction are the melting permafrost, the destabilizing methane hydrates and the corporations such as Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and the banking and investment industry who, hand in hand with the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense, have been planning and waiting to exploit methane hydrates for decades. Methane hydrates are considered the ultimate in climate wealth opportunity because the control of these hydrocarbons could literally shift the balance of global power (US Department of Defense). It is clear that nothing has been done to prevent catastrophic climate change – and nothing will be done. Global emissions are set to continue skyrocketing. This article attempts to clearly articulate why, almost two decades after the first international climate change summit, the world governments have failed to protect us from dangerous atmospheric climate interference. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of misinformation that is being perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda.

FLASHBACK: WWF’s Eco Imperialism

Corporate Power and Mining in Mongolia

November 03, 2008

Some of parts of the environmental movement have long presented a serious obstacle to the destruction wrought on life by the corporate powers that be and their imperial overseers. On the contrary, other influential and well publicized parts of the movement have also played a critical role in undermining the emancipatory potential of environmentalism in order to satisfy imperial interests. Environmental groups that fit comfortably within this latter category of “environmentalists” include those collectively referred to as the Big Green, or the Group of Ten, although only the work of one member of this elite group, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), will be examined in this article. (For a comprehensive overview of WWF’s capitalist-friendly agenda, see my recent article “The Philanthropic Roots of Corporate Environmentalism,” Swans, November 3, 2008.)

Recognition of the imperialist nature of many so-called green nongovernmental organizations has, paradoxically, been widely promoted by conservative commentators. Thus resident scholar at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Paul Driessen, recently published a controversial book titled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power Black Death (Merril Press, 2003). The introduction to Driessen’s book was penned by Niger Innis, the national spokesperson of the once progressive civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality – an organization which has now warped into a “fraudulent” corporate front group. In his introduction, Innis noted how:

“The ideological environmental movement is a powerful $4 billion-a-year US industry, an $8 billion-a-year international gorilla. Many of its members are intensely eco-centric, and place much higher value on wildlife and ecological values than on human progress or even human life. They have a deep fear and loathing of big business, technology, chemicals, plastics, fossil fuels and biotechnology – and they insist that the rest of world should acknowledge and live according to their fears and ideologies. They are masters at using junk science, scare tactics, intimidation, and bogus economic and health claims to gain even greater power.” (pdf)

Innis is correct in observing that the environmental movement is a multi-billion dollar industry, but like Driessen, he deliberately fails to highlight how the most powerful and well-funded environmental groups driving this industry work hand-in-hand with big business and imperial governments. On the other hand, those environmental organizations that seriously challenge corporate prerogatives receive little funding from the public or even for that matter from ostensibly progressive liberal foundations. Consequently I agree with Innis and Driessen that the best-funded parts of the environmental movement that are regularly talked-up in the mass media promote eco-imperialism, but this is not because they challenge powerful elite interests, but rather because they serve them so effectively. For instance, in 2007 WWF’s Global Networks income was US$0.8 billion; therefore, it should be no surprise that such groups that were founded by powerful corporate and political elites, and are presently funded by those same elites, should first and foremost promote capitalist interests under the cloak of environmentalism. For more on this see Elaine Dewar’s groundbreaking book Cloak of Green: The Links between Key Environmental Groups, Government and Big Business (Lorimer, 1995).

EXCLUSIVE: BP Funds Front Group Claiming Oil Spill Jobs Are Better Than ‘Normal’ Ones, Storm Will Clean Up Oil

EXCLUSIVE: BP Funds Front Group Claiming Oil Spill Jobs Are Better Than ‘Normal’ Ones, Storm Will Clean Up Oil

Shortly after BP’s catastrophic oil spill in the gulf, the New York Times spoke to Quenton Dokken, the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, about the environmental impact. “The sky is not falling,” Dokken told the paper, adding “it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.” ProPublica dug into the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, and reported that the Times had failed to disclose that Dokken and his group are funded by a consortium of oil companies with business in the gulf, including companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon rig, Transocean and Anadarko. Today, the Times reported that the Foundation has been downplaying effects of the spill, possibly because of its funding from oil companies.

ThinkProgress has obtained more documents and evidence that the Gulf of Mexico Foundation has operated as a front for the oil companies involved in the spill. In addition to Transocean and Anadarko, this 2008 “Guardians of the Gulf” award ceremony hosted by the Foundation shows that BP is also a “CEO council member” of the nonprofit. View a screenshot here:

On May 20 and 21, about thirty days into the BP oil spill, the supposedly pro-”environmental conservation” Gulf of Mexico Foundation hosted a conference with oil industry lobbyists to promote further deep water drilling not only the in Gulf of Mexico, but in environmentally sensitive areas throughout the United States. The Foundation pretends it is just a do-gooder organization, sponsoring learning trips for Middle School students and other positive events. But clearly displaying the Foundation’s true goal of greenwashing the oil industry and suppressing the environmental impacts of oil spills, Dokken spoke at length downplaying the impact of the current BP oil disaster, minimizing the impact of ExxonValdez, boasting that the BP oil spill clean up jobs are better than “normal jobs,” and even “guaranteeing” that a hurricane will clean up any remnants of BP’s spill:

Dokken explaining why the “sky is not falling”: “Oil is not new in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been entering the Gulf of Mexico for as long as the oil has existed.”

Dokken on how the spill has helped the local economy: “In Alabama, speaking on a sea grant program, the big problem he had was the spill response jobs were paying so much more than the normal jobs, everybody was leaving their normal jobs for spill response.”

Dokken on minimal impact of ExxonValdez: “And don’t forget, it was Governor Sarah Palin who championed the drill, baby, drill slogan, and that was after Exxon Valdez! So apparently, it didn’t scare Alaska away from the spill or the oil and gas industry, and you know I can, say after the smoke cleared and the headlines cleared or the headlines were cleared with another catastrophe, the true and financial impact was not the disaster that was predicted or portrayed.”

Dokken on how a hurricane will clean the oil: “I guarantee you there will be very little evidence that the Deepwater Horizon ever blew out, if its shut off by the time the hurricanes gets here. And it’s not magic, its just dilution. It mixes it up, spreads it out, breaks it down and it’s gone. We still shouldn’t be putting it in there, don’t get me wrong, but storms and nature is what keeps getting us out of these binds.”

Watch a compilation of clips from Murkowski and Dokken’s remarks:

In reality, the courts struck down ExxonValdez settlement payments, and victims still have not been compensated for their losses. In addition to the lives ruined and suicides caused by Exxon’s spill, the environment is poisoned and herring, the prime economic engine of the Prince William Sound, have not returned.

Current oil drilling trade association head Randall Luthi, who previously worked for Dick Cheney on the team that signed off on a vast expansion of dangerous drilling leases and who later served in the Minerals Management Service in the Bush administration, gave a presentation at the conference. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a close friend of the oil industry who previously said wellhead blowouts are “impossible,” spoke at the Foundation conference, telling attendees “we should be careful and not pass reactionary legislation that hasn’t been fully thought through” in response to the spill. Notably, Murkowski blocked legislation to raise the liability cap for oil companies.

Extended transcript of Dokken’s remarks:

DOKKEN: As I said, my ’sky is not falling’ comment was not well received in a lot of quarters, even a lot of science quarters. […] Environmental impact of this, oil is not new in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been entering the Gulf of Mexico for as long as the oil has existed. National Research Council reports estimate 1.1 million barrels of oil and gas enter the gulf through natural seapages. […]

DOKKEN: It’ll be interesting to see what the average and medium incomes of the folks of Alaska were before the Exxon Valdez spill compared to data taken during the event and after the event. After all the Federal government dollars spent, during and after the spill, the response jobs funded, vessels chartered, and all the personal injury lawsuits settled to the advantage of the Alaskans, what was the true financial impact? I heard today, just came across my computer that a speaker from Alaska was here, er, not here, where am I? In Alabama, speaking on a sea grant program, the big problem he had was the spill response jobs were paying so much more than the normal jobs, everybody was leaving their normal jobs for spill response. And don’t forget, it was Governor Sarah Palin who championed the drill, baby, drill slogan, and that was after Exxon Valdez! So apparently, it didn’t scare Alaska away from the spill or the oil and gas industry, and you know I can, say after the smoke cleared and the headlines cleared or the headlines were cleared with another catastrophe, the true and financial impact was not the disaster that was predicted or portrayed. Alaska wants the oil and gas industry and I bet Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama do too. […]

DOKKEN: I guarantee you there will be very little evidence that the Deepwater Horizon ever blew out, if its shut off by the time the hurricanes gets here. And it’s not magic, its just dilution. It mixes it up, spreads it out, breaks it down and it’s gone. We still shouldn’t be putting it in there, don’t get me wrong, but storms and nature is what keeps getting us out of these binds.

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/06/18/bp-gulf-foundation/

Why The Sierra Club No Longer Deserves Your Trust

Why The Sierra Club No Longer Deserves Your Trust

Jane Hamsher

Founder, FireDogLake.com

Posted: June 14, 2010 01:52 PM

There has been a massive silence on the part of the major environmental groups in the wake of the BP oil catastrophe, ever since the rig collapsed.

But it went into overdrive last week when many of those groups took out an ad in the Washington Post, not to criticize the government’s response, but to praise the president for putting a hold on a drilling project in Alaska…

The Sierra Club has one of the most well-known progressive brands, and their membership is both deep and broad. Their ability to successfully advocate for environmental causes doesn’t depend on access to politicians. It appears that they have opted for an “inside” game, and have completely dropped the ball on pressuring elected officials from the outside — right when their efforts could have the most impact….

More at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-hamsher/why-the-sierra-club-no-lo_b_611447.html

Background (from the same author) on how the Obama admin. silences opposition from progressives at http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/09/06/van-jones-a-moment-of-truth-for-liberal-institutions-in-the-veal-pen/

Nature Conservancy faces potential backlash from ties with BP

Oil spill cleanup, containment efforts, hearings in wake of gulf disaster

Cleanup and containment efforts continue at the Gulf of Mexico site of the oil spill following the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

“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 in.”

What De Leon didn’t know was that the Nature Conservancy lists BP as one of its business partners. The Conservancy 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 group she loves and the company she hates. “That’s kind of disturbing.”

The Conservancy, already scrambling to shield oyster beds 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.

The crude emanating from BP’s well threatens to befoul a number of alliances between energy conglomerates and environmental nonprofits. At least one group, Conservation International, 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 groups should keep a healthy distance from certain kinds of corporations, particularly those 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 who, like the Conservancy, see partnering with global corporations as the best way to create 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 County-based Conservancy has made no secret of its relationship with BP, just one of many it has forged with multinational corporations. The Conservancy’s Web site lists BP as a member of its International 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 ties

The Conservancy has long positioned itself as the leader of a nonconfrontational arm of the environmental movement, and that position has helped the charity attract tens of millions of dollars annually in contributions. A number have come from companies whose work takes a toll on the environment, including those engaged in logging, home building 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 corporations make up only a portion of the organization’s total revenue, which exceeds half a 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 nonprofit’s board.

In response to the spill, the nonprofit plans to review its 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 that “now is not the time for ranting.” He made no mention of BP.

Nate Swick, a blogger and dedicated bird watcher from Chapel Hill, N.C., chastised Tercek on the site for not adequately disclosing the Conservancy’s connections to BP and for 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 added that he 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 said. “It would be naive to ignore them.”

There might be a sense of the past among long-timers at the Conservancy.

Years ago, worried officials 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.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/23/AR2010052302164_2.html?sid=ST2010052203644

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

in.”

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.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/23/AR2010052302164.html

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