Archives

Tagged ‘Sierra Club‘

Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests in DC

The Post-Modern Protest Blues

Counterpunch

Weekend Edition April 12-14, 2013

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
7152obamarisingsunflag

The scene was striking for its dissonance. Fifty activists massed in front of the White House, some of them sitting, others tied to the iron fence, most of them smiling, all decorous looking, not a Black Blocker or Earth First!er in the viewshed. The leaders of this micro-occupation of the sidewalk held a black banner featuring Obama’s campaign logo, the one with the blue “O” and the curving red stripes that looks like a pipeline snaking across Kansas. The message read, prosaically: “Lead on Climate: Reject the KXL Pipeline.” Cameras whirred franticly, most aimed at the radiant face of Daryl Hannah, as DC police moved in to politely ask the crowd to disperse. The crowd politely declined. The Rubicon had been crossed. For the first time in 120 years, a Sierra Club official, executive director Mike Brune, was going to get arrested for an act of civil (and the emphasis here is decisively on civil) disobedience.

Revealed: The Day Obama Instructed the Big Greens to Keep Silent on Climate Change

“My most vivid memory of that meeting is this idea that you can’t talk about climate change,” said Jessy Tolkan, who at the time was a leader of the climate youth movement, Power Shift.

 

“On a separate note, I’m curious what new ‘directives’ from the White House this time around might be for the climate movement, from one of those exclusive insider events, you know?  Those insiders among you, mind to share with the rest of us a little sooner this time, than the end of the second term?  Or do we still have to deduce from the unified talking points among you?  On National Public Radio a progressive movement leader explained that, at the beginning of Obama’s first term, he couldn’t be pushed very much, because he had to avoid jeopardizing the chances for his second term.  That’s why we needed to vote for him again, so that now he can really fight for us!  You see, keeping his job in the Oval Office is so much more important than the fate of the world, and savvy movement leaders can obviously agree with that.” – Scientist Maggie Zhou

Revealed: the day Obama chose a strategy of silence on climate change

Sandy has blown climate change back on the agenda – and many believe the White House was wrong when it decided in 2009 that climate change was not a winning political message

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent

guardian.co.uk

Barack Obama

Barack Obama: a 2009 off-the-record event marked a strategic decision by the White House to downplay climate change. Photograph: Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis

The invitation to the White House in the spring of 2009 struck Barack Obama‘s allies in the environmental movement as a big moment: a clear sign that climate change was on his radar and that the president was eager to get to work.

The event was indeed a turning point, but not the one campaigners expected. Instead, it marked a strategic decision by the White House to downplay climate change – avoiding the very word – a decision some campaigners on the guestlist say produced the strange absence of climate change from the 2012 campaign, until hurricane Sandy blew it right back on the political agenda.

The storm – which interrupted campaigning for three of the last eight days of the presidential race – may even prove the decisive factor in the elections, with voters watching how Obama handles Sandy’s aftermath. The devastation has already sparked debate about America’s present-day vulnerability to climate change.

But back in 2009, the off-the-record event with the White House green team at the old executive office building offered the first chance for the White House to share its plans for getting a climate change law through Congress. Aides handed round a one-page memo of polling data and talking points.

“It was in the context of the financial collapse. With everyone struggling, how do we connect with the public and build political support when everyone’s mind was on the very scary economy,” said Betsy Taylor, president of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions an organisation that works with philanthropic and non-profit clients, who attended the meeting.

The answer was clear: climate change was not a winning message. Raising the topic would also leave Obama open to attack from industry and conservative groups opposed to intervention in the economy.

“What was communicated in the presentation was: ‘This is what you talk about, and don’t talk about climate change’.” Taylor said. “I took away an absolutely clear understanding that we should focus on clean energy jobs and the potential of a clean energy economy rather than the threat of climate change.”

The message stuck. Subsequent campaigns from the Obama administration and some environmental groups relegated climate change to a second-tier concern. After industry and conservative groups mobilised to attack Obama’s policies and climate science in the summer of 2009, the topic was seen as an even greater liability and politically toxic.

There was no mention of climate change during six hours of televised debate. Moderators failed to bring up the question, and Obama and Mitt Romney made no effort to fill in the gaps – even during a long and heated exchange about offshore drilling and coal.

Romney’s convention speech reduced climate change to a laughline. Obama defended climate science at the Democratic convention, and he answered a question on climate in an MTV interview last month.

Otherwise, Obama mentioned climate only in passing and in front of safe or rock-solid Democratic audiences, such as fundraisers in San Francisco and New York or events on college campuses. Since Sandy’s devastating storm, a number of prominent Democrats like Bill Clinton and Al Gore have talked about climate change, and taken Romney to task on the issue.

Those gathered on 26 March 2009 to hear from key members of Obama’s green dream team — Carol Browner, then energy and climate adviser, Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Van Jones, then green jobs adviser, believed it would be a pivotal year.

The White House and both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats, world leaders were due to gather in Copenhagen in December to finalise a global climate change treaty.

But the economy was in meltdown. The White House, after studying polling and focus groups, concluded it was best to frame climate change as an economic opportunity, a chance for job creation and economic growth, rather than an urgent environmental problem.

“My most vivid memory of that meeting is this idea that you can’t talk about climate change,” said Jessy Tolkan, who at the time was a leader of the climate youth movement, Power Shift. “The real sense at that time was that talking about clean energy jobs, green jobs, was the way we were going to be able to gain momentum and usher in real change. Talking about climate change and global warming was not going to resonate as much.”

None of the principal White House officials would talk on the record about the meeting. The White House did not release materials related to the meeting or respond to a request for visitors’ records.

But most of the environmental groups were inclined to go along. “When the White House invites you to a meeting and says: ‘here is how we are going to talk about these things’, it sends a very clear message,” said Erich Pica, president of the US Friends of the Earth Action, who was also at the meeting.

“25 x 25” is a Big Fat Bio-Massacre

Vote Yes on Proposal 3!

 

For a list of the key groups behind this bill view the 25x25_organization_endorsements. Environmental groups, corporations and regional partners include those such as Environmental Defence Fund, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Monsanto, National Wildlife Federation, World Watch Institute and Chrysler.

 

November 4, 2012

By Jeff Gibbs

Open Mike

“Some of my friends in the professional environmental movement have reacted as expected yesterday when I called them out for having allowed biomass burning to be a huge part of what Michigan is going to get under Proposal 3 or “25 x 25.”  Accusations and anger. It went down the same way when we stopped a local biomass plant from being built in Traverse City a few years ago: we got yelled at, several PR firms were hired to fight us, and most of the paid environmentalists sat on their hands.”

Let me tell you whose funding IS affiliated with fossil fuel money: “25 x 25.” Follow the money. Something called the “Green Tech Action Fund” in San Francisco has put up $1.3 million for the Michigan “25 x 25” campaign.  Who funds the Green Tech Action Fund? That would be “The Energy Foundation.” Who funds the “Energy Foundation?” That would be Pew Charitable Trust in part, which is Sun Oil or Sunoco. Who else helped fund “The Energy Foundation?” The Rockefeller Foundation. Who is the Rockefeller Foundation? That would be Exxon.

 

In Michigan right now ballot Proposal 3 known as “25 x 25” would require our state to get 25% of its electricity from “renewable” sources by the year 2025. “25 x 25” is being sold as all about solar panels and wind mills. It’s not. Far more than anyone suspects, it’s going to ramp up the dirtiest form of energy of all: biomass burning. Incinerating trees in the name of “green energy.” And it must be stopped if we care about climate change, clean air and thriving forests.

Yes that’s right, in the name of saving the planet and renewable energy we are about to make things worse. For those unfamiliar with biomass burning, it releases more carbon dioxide and more harmful particulates than even coal. Logging for biomass can drastically reduce biodiversity and set back a forest’s ability to sequester carbon dioxide for centuries. Most environmentalists oppose it. Or used to.

Michigan environmental groups promoting “25 x 25,” whose goals such as stopping climate change I otherwise support, have insisted there will not be much biomass burning. Their campaign shows images of wind and solar exclusively.

2012-11-05-green1.jpg
Clean Water Action

2012-11-05-green2.jpg
Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs

2012-11-05-green3.jpg
Green Energy Future

But this is what we are actually going to get. I call it a bio-massacre:

 

2012-11-05-bio1.jpg
Massachusetts logging for biomass

2012-11-05-bio2.jpg
Michigan trees chipped for biomass

2012-11-05-bio3.jpg
New Hampshire biomass plant

Don’t believe it? It was hard for me grasp as well. Still, there was that little word “biomass” in the definition of renewable energy. So I decided to check for myself.

Here was my first stunner: the national “25 x 25” Steering Committee seems to be 100% agribusiness and logging interests. Ethanol and biomass. On their bios are found the words cattle, corn, biomass and forestry, not solar or wind.

The national “25 x 25” mission statement reflects this commitment to biofuels and biomass:

25x’25 Vision: By 2025, America’s farms, forests and ranches will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber.

When questioned about national “25 x 25” being primarily big ag and big timber, Michigan “25 x 25” supporters responded saying they have little to do with the national organization. Really? That’s odd. Because the national “25 x 25” organization brags on their website that they have influenced state laws and they include Michigan as a place where good things are happening.

And then the Michigan 25 x 25 Jobs and Energy Report was released. It was produced at Michigan State University, our state’s agricultural college. It was written not by the solar and wind department, but by faculty from the Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics Department with a huge vested interest in biomass and biofuels.

The report projects a nearly 300% increase in biomass. The red line on the chart below indicates the projected increase in biomass plant staffing.

2012-11-04-biomassjobyears.jpg The authors of the report also aren’t shy about describing the new opportunities for their friends:

… the impact to the agricultural and forestry sector is anticipated to be… significant. Accounting for direct and indirect impacts due to feed stock procurement, transportation, logistics, storage etc., it is expected that biomass generation under a 25% RPS will result in nearly 12,000 job years.

(Please note: boosters of “25 x 25” routinely turn “job years” into “jobs” – e.g. one job for 25 years is 25 “job years.” This means 75,000 “job years” gets turned into 75,000 “jobs” when it should be more like 3,000.)

And just what is the aforementioned “feedstock procurement?” In large part, logging. Ah, the wonderful green jobs! Logging, trucking, installing air quality control equipment, using bulldozers to move around giant piles of wood chips lest they spontaneously combust like this fire at Biomass One in Oregon, or this entire biomass plant that exploded in flames.

So widely known (except to the public) is this new opportunity for “green energy” that “Biomass Magazine” has already alerted its readers. The magazine cautions though, that making “25 x 25” a constitutional amendment might be a mistake because it could draw “scrutiny and introduce more controversy than legislative action…” Yes that’s right, it’s easier to sell a bio-massacre beyond closed doors.

But there’s more. The burning of woody biomass isn’t all we’re going to get. The chart below reveals a big helping of biogas as well as biomass.

2012-11-04-biomassmarketcapacity.jpg

What are the other biogas and biomass sources besides trees and forests? Confined animal feed operations, landfill gases, burning garbage including old homes and tires, human and agricultural “waste.” All have serious issues and depend on enormous fossil fuel intensive systems. But those are not my main concerns – it’s the burning of the source of our clean air and clean water as “green energy” that is my nightmare. Only two great planetary systems are capable of soaking up the CO2, our forests and our oceans. It makes no sense to destroy either one of them.

But alas the bio-massacre isn’t just in our future. It’s the reality of “renewable energy” right now:

 

2012-11-05-burlington.jpg
Burlington, Vermont biomass plant. Note whole trees looking like matchsticks in this photo prior to chipping.

–In Vermont, the biggest single contributor to climate change and air pollution is their “green energy” facility. An enormous biomass burner that only produces a fraction of the energy of a fossil fuel plant.

–There is at least 15 times more biomass burning RIGHT NOW in Michigan than solar and wind combined. Given this, is it ethical for “Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs” to ONLY show solar and wind on its photo “tour” of Michigan renewable energy? Here is what they won’t show you:

2012-11-05-Cadillac.jpg
Cadillac, Michigan biomass plant
2012-11-05-biomassbenzie.png

Enjoying Michigan’s sustainable state forests
–Michigan State University, the source of the “25 x 25” report, has no wind and almost no solar yet has already obtained a permit to toss 24,000 tons of trees annually into their coal plant to meet their “renewable energy” goals, a feat which will actually increase the CO2 coming from the smokestack.

–In Holland, Michigan the Sierra Club has been fighting to stop a coal plant expansion. But Holland’s “clean energy” plan is in large part biomass burning disguised as “combined heat and power.” (The word “biomass” isn’t mentioned until page 31 in the proposal. That’s not an accident.)

So why are we getting so much burning in the name of green if wind and solar are such miracles? That’s a story for another day. Suffice to say there are issues with solar and wind that cannot be wished away. One major problem is that right now wind supplies only about 0.3 percent of Michigan’s electrical energy. To ramp that up to provide a significant share of our electricity would take tens of billions of dollars and 50 times more wind turbines than currently exist. Anyone think that’s going to happen?

And so it all comes back to cutting and burning our forests for energy. They say we would never denude the land of trees, yet that is the most common way civilizations end. It doesn’t happen in a day or a year, but blow by blow, cut by cut. We went though this once before. The trees are now smaller, stressed, and far less in extent. We won’t survive doing it again.

 

2012-11-05-old1.jpg
2012-11-05-old2.jpg2012-11-05-old3.jpg
Michigan logging scenes from 120 years ago

It makes no sense to stop the tar sands, fight fracking, or end the horror of mountaintop removal to protect the living planet, if we then incinerate the living planet for energy. Let’s get back to our “roots.” Save the trees. Stand with them against any “renewable energy” scheme like “25 x 25” that calls incinerating trees and forests “green energy.”

For more information about biomass burning go www.biofuelwatch.org.uk or to Partnership for Policy Integrity or this article I wrote.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 6TH, 2012, ELECTION DAY:

Some of my friends in the professional environmental movement have reacted as expected yesterday when I called them out for having allowed biomass burning to be a huge part of what Michigan is going to get under Proposal 3 or “25 x 25.”  Accusations and anger.

It went down the same way when we stopped a local biomass plant from being built in Traverse City a few years ago: we got yelled at, several PR firms were hired to fight us, and most of the paid environmentalists sat on their hands. Two people from the Sierra Club did show up a few times out of hundreds of meetings for which we were thankful but by NO means were the drivers of this movement.

The movement was initiated, advanced and completed by citizens. For the Sierra Club to claim otherwise is insulting and wrong. In the end, despite the attacks of biomass supporters, 99% of our community was against biomass burning and the plan was withdrawn.

Now the accusations by biomass supporters are wild and desperate once again. They imply that I, a producer for Michael Moore, producer of a film about the radical environmentalist Paul Watson, might be in bed with or somehow aiding the Koch brothers. It’s a common tactic for those unable to deal with facts to resort to innuendos and slurs.

Perhaps people who live in glass houses should hesitate to pick up stones.

Let me tell you whose funding IS affiliated with fossil fuel money: “25 x 25.” Follow the money. Something called the “Green Tech Action Fund” in San Francisco has put up $1.3 million for the Michigan “25 x 25” campaign.  Who funds the Green Tech Action Fund? That would be “The Energy Foundation.” Who funds the “Energy Foundation?” That would be Pew Charitable Trust in part, which is Sun Oil or Sunoco. Who else helped fund “The Energy Foundation?” The Rockefeller Foundation. Who is the Rockefeller Foundation? That would be Exxon.

Yes BOTH sides of the energy debate are funded by the same people: giant corporations, the 1%, fossil fuel and otherwise.

Now I am not saying that everyone who has accepted money that in part originated with big oil money is automatically up to no good. I AM saying that that the world’s most powerful corporations, their corporate foundations, fossil fuel interests, investment bankers, and the uber wealthy, are NOT going fund the revolution that ends the growth machine that is killing the planet.

But they will fund “renewable energy” that includes biomass, ethanol, biofuels, etc. despite the insanity of burning trees or food or garbage as energy.

To be clear I have zero funding from anyone. I am a citizen doing what a citizen should do: not trusting what I am told by those in systems who think they know better than everyone, but checking for myself. And speaking out.

It was no accident I used facts from “25 x 25’s” own reports because I knew they would try to deny the biomass burning reality of green energy in our state; inquiries about biomass burning have been met with denials every step of the way. But supporters of “25 x 25” cannot refute my core contentions—not without calling their own experts and data wrong.

THEIR forecast for three times more biomass burning comes from THEIR jobs and energy report. One of them is wrong; their experts or those in charge of rhetoric.

THEIR report indicates for at least ten times more biomass burning than solar panels and as much as wind. One of them is wrong; their experts or those in charge of rhetoric.

“25 x 25” also has not answered to why they mislead the public about what’s included in the definition of renewable energy. It’s indisputable that biomass burning is on the ballot proposal.

And if this gets in the Michigan constitution do you REALLY think green groups can control timber and agriculture interests who make billions from biomass and biofuels? Look how hard it is to stop fossil fuel plants, and now we want to add more biomass, biogas and biofuel plants?

“25 x 25” has also not answered why they wildly exaggerated the jobs report by turning “job years” into jobs thus misleading the public.

And I have to tell you that the more I look into the reality of biomass burning in Michigan the uglier it seems. When I heard rumors that toxic creosote laden railroad ties and old houses were being burned as green biomass I thought that be hidden from the public. But no, it’s being bragged about on their website. Apparently railroad ties are being brought in from as far away as Canada, since Canada does not want this toxic stuff being burned in their own backyard.

This should come as no surprise because for a long time the largest green energy facility in Michigan was the giant waste incinerator in Detroit. Instead of “clean coal” we have “clean trash burning.”

There might be a few cases where burning off landfill gases is better than letting it escape but calling this green and subsidizing it as renewable energy is wrong because it subsidizes a giant environmental mistake.

Claims have been made it’s going to be “farm waste” as biomass. Well, in Michigan the reality of biomass burning is indeed 99% burning trees supplemented with “waste” on occasion. But let’s talk about burning to stop climate change for a minute. Burning farm “waste” does indeed like burning anything release CO2. That’s just physics. The concept of turning “waste” to energy is highly flawed and dependent on waste streams from fossil fuel intensive farms and CAFO’s.

Michigan voters should turn down Proposal 3 which will put in BIOMASSS BURNING in our state constitution.  THAT is a green nightmare. And environmental groups paid to promote “25 x 25” ought to learn that attacking citizens who speak out, is the wrong way to go.

When Environmentalists Collaborate

The Wages of Compromise

by MICHAEL DONNELLY
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:

FLASHBACK: Big Greens and Real Greens

Biodiversity in the Age of Big Money Environmentalism

Counterpunch Weekend Edition January 15-17, 2010

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

“The real history has yet to be written.”

—Mike Roselle

As a grassroots activist involved in the environmental campaigns of the last four decades, of course I’m going to be interested in histories written about them. Especially one that mostly comes thru, with one thesis-killing lacuna, on its promise to delineate the taxonomy of green activism.

So, I’ve read another one…and, I’m still waiting for an accurate, complete one that celebrates the victories and explains the defeats of committed citizen activists instead of merely providing hosannas to paid, non-profit professionals – of whatever genus.

Maybe it’s a function of time and distance and real journalism – someday, we’ll get a real history – but “The Rebirth of Environmentalism: Grassroots Activism from the Spotted Owl to the Polar Bear” a dissertation-turned-book by Douglas Bevington falls into the same sad mix of hagiography and self-promotion as one of his main sources – Kathie Durbin’s beyond awful “Tree Huggers.

No Pay; No Count

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

—Upton Sinclair

In both books, the wrongdoings of the Big Green/Democratic Party lapdogs are decried and then the very same sins of the Mid-market Greens are not just overlooked, but deemed positives. Instead of telling the tales of the highly-paid green factotums in DC, Bevington tells the tales of lesser-paid folks in the hinterlands who suffice for “grassroots” to such authors. In either case, the interests of the institution – mostly a perpetual money chase to pay staff and rent posh digs be they in DC, San Francisco, Portland or some small town – come before those of any underlying protection campaign.

Non-paid citizen activists are nowhere to be found. An entire genus missing in Bevington’s taxon. Yet, show me any effective movement – large or small – that consists solely of professionals; one that ever succeeded without the synergy of a mass of regular citizens rallying to the cause and paid staffers who take direction from the larger group. The top-down nature and utter lack of grounding in a wide-spread, active-participation, place-based citizenry is precisely what’s wrong with environmentalism today and why we keep losing. Not only is a citizen underpinning missing; the professionals undermine, drive out or co-opt any such assemblage that arises despite them; usually taking credit for any gains the citizens have achieved. To the non-profit pros, the function of any “membership” consists of writing donation checks, swallowing/parroting false victory claims, signing Petitions and voting lock-step for Lesser Evil Democrats.

A Compromise is a Compromise is a…

Bevington begins by noting that “The institutionalization of the nationals tied them to a process of deal-making that would sacrifice some biodiversity protection in order to broker political compromises.”

He quotes Mark Dowie, “Compromise; which had produced some limited gains for the movement in the 1970s, in the 1980s became the habitual response of the environmental movement…These compromises have pushed a once-effective movement to the brink of irrelevance.”

He then goes on to produce a tome that snarkily dismisses the No Compromise philosophy and Civil Disobedience (CD) efforts of the volunteer activists of Earth First! as not “influential.” And, while spending considerable time on the Ancient Forest issue, he fails to even note our true grassroots Ancient Forest victories in the Oregon Cascades (at least Durbin deigned to give Opal Creek/Breitenbush one sentence in her “comprehensive history”). He then proceeds to celebrate a series of smaller groups that started strong yet went “mainstream” and fully adopted the Big Green trade-off game plan as their coffers and bureaucratic empires expanded. He does feature some who stayed true to their roots; saw others claim credit for their efforts, when not sabotaging them; and, ultimately withered or now teeter on the brink from lack of support.

FLASHBACK: How Nonprofit Careerism Derailed the “Revolution”

December 27, 2004

Greens and Greenbacks

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

My good friend Lisa Goldrosen is a veteran of many left causes. Lisa has spent her entire adult life working in various coop endeavors. She has a wonderful collection of buttons and posters from back when America rose from the slumber of the Eisenhower years. She has buttons from the early days of the clean-up of the Hudson River ­ Pete Seeger’s precursor to Greenpeace. More are from the early Civil Rights Movement. Others are from the anti-Vietnam War effort and the SDS era on campus. She has one anti-war poster that could be recycled as is and still be useful today.

Lisa has arranged them all in a wonderful historic collage. She regularly uses it to give history lessons to young radicals here in Oregon. Someone always asks, “Why didn’t I ever hear about this in school?”

Being a 60s activist myself, having grown up in Flint — steeped in the history of the Labor Movement, a Civil Rights activist at fourteen, a UAW member at eighteen and a draft resister/ Conscientious Objector/anti-war activist later — I always enjoy my discussions with Lisa.

Recently, she put my frustrations with the current state of activism in full perspective.

The Three-legged Stool of Counterrevolution

Lisa notes, “The Revolution was derailed by three things: the end of the draft; Roe v. Wade and the rise of the nonprofit sector. Once the children of privilege were no longer subject to any personal pain, it was over. It was a brilliant strategy by predatory capitalism.”

While I’m not sure if Revolution, or even Reform, was/is inevitable, I agree. Once the draft and the possibility that middle-to-upper class kids would be sent to fight Imperial Wars was over, it’s easy to see how the bottom fell out of the anti-war movement. Recent Imperial Wars, fought predominantly with “volunteers,” are just as heinous as Vietnam, but with few highly-educated, comfortable kids’ lives being on the line, we have yet to see anything approaching the across-the-board, massive opposition that Vietnam engendered. (Astonishingly, this very year during yet another ill-fated Imperial misadventure, we saw the “Peace” Movement line up vociferously behind a proudly-stated “I’ll hunt ‘em down and kill ‘em” warmonger for president!)

Same with Roe v Wade. A whole lot of steam went out of progressive social efforts once this same socioeconomic group could gain access to affordable, legal abortion. (It appears to be the sole bottom line litmus test still applied to the Democratic Party.) Remove the pain and the rulers gain.

It really did become — remove the personal pain from these me firsters and the hiccup of resistance vanishes. I already felt that way about these two issues. But, Lisa’s expansion of the concept to include the rise of the “Nonprofit Sector” put the final piece of the puzzle in place.

Selling Out: Frackin Blood Money for the Sierra Club and Tex Hall

By Brenda Norrell writing for Censored News.

The road into New Town, of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, in North Dakota, fouled with dust, pollution and heavy trucks. Photo Brenda Norrell

T.he Sierra Club admits it accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, while Chairman Tex Hall, of the Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa Nation, continued his push for fracking and the rape of Mother Earth. Hall pushed against fracking regulations designed to protect the land and water.

In ‘Breaking Up with the Sierra Club,’ Sandra Steingraber said the Sierra Club admitted secretly accepting $25 million from the fracking industry between 2007 and 2012 and most of it came from Chesapeake Energy.

Red Truth, White Cover-Up: How the Udalls, Sierra Club and White Environmentalists Sold out Navajos and Hopis on Black Mesa

By John Redhouse, Navajo

Navajos from Big Mountain protesting coal mining  in front of the Navajo Nation Council Chambers. Photo by Cate Gilles, news reporter found dead in Tucson in August of 2001.

As a Navajo and Indian rights activist since 1969 and an active member of the Navajo and Indian environmental movement since 1970, I can say that Rob’s (Rob Smith of Sierra Club) version of the Udall-Brower compromise is a gross misrepresentation and distortion of what really happened back then.

Stewart and Morris Udall’s roles in the compromise are well documented in my 1980 “The Navajo Hopi Land Dispute: Its Energy Aspects and Implications”, 1980 “Who Is Behind the Navajo Hopi Land Dispute”, and 1985 “Geopolitics of the Navajo Hopi Land Dispute.” Sierra Club guru David Brower’s role was a big part of the compromise.

Behind closed doors, they (Udall brothers and Brower) met with energy and water industry captains to come up with the infamous Plan B Alternative to the proposed Grand Canyon hydroelectric dams. In 1969-70, I was a member and field representative of the National Indian Youth Council and worked with many Navajo and Indian rights organizations, including the Chinle-based Committee to Save Black Mesa and the Los Angeles Chapter of the United Native Americans.

Breaking Up with the Sierra Club

March 23, 2012, by Sandra Steingraber

The Orion

Orion‘s search for a more truthful relationship between humans and the natural world occasionally calls for the expression of outrage. The more we learn about a gas-drilling practice called hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—the more we see it as a zenith of violence and disconnect, impulses that seem to be gathering on the horizon like thunder clouds.

Long-time friend and Orion columnist Sandra Steingraber has been particularly vocal about the dangers of fracking. Her columns in recent issues of the magazine have frequently been dedicated to the issue; and last year, after receiving a Heinz Award for her work, Steingraber donated the cash prize to the fight against fracking in her home state of New York.

In February, Time magazine broke the news that the Sierra Club, an old and respected environmental defender, had, for three years, accepted $25 million from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest gas-drillers in the world. (In 2010, Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s new executive director, refused further donations from the company.) The story prompted Steingraber to write an open letter to the Club, posted below. We invite you to read the letter, which testifies to the confusion, fear, and outrage that’s pouring out of communities in gasland—but which is also, importantly, a bold call to courage.

***
No right way is easy. . . .We must risk our lives to save them.
—John Muir, Sierra Club’s founder
Dear Sierra Club,

I’m through with you.

For years we had a great relationship based on mutual admiration. You gave a glowing review of my first book, Living Downstream—a review that appeared in the pages of Sierra magazine and hailed me as “the new Rachel Carson.” Since 1999 that phrase has linked us together in all the press materials that my publicist sends out. Your name appears with mine on the flaps of my book jackets, in the biography that introduces me at the speaker’s podium, and in the press release that announced, last fall, that I was one of the lucky recipients of a $100,000 Heinz Award for my research and writing on the environment.

I was proud to be affiliated with you. I hoped to live up to the moniker you bestowed upon me.

But more than a month has past since your executive director, Michael Brune, admitted in Time magazine that the Sierra Club had, between 2007 and 2010, clandestinely accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, with most of the donations coming from Chesapeake Energy. Corporate Crime Reporter was hot on the trail of the story when it broke in Time.

Big Greenwashing 101

(Or How Sierra Club Learned To Stop Worrying About The 99% And Love Wall Street)

02/12/12

By Red Emma

Greenwashing—[a compound word modeled on “whitewash”] a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that a company’s policies or products are environmentally friendly.

John Muir must be rolling over in his grave.

The organization he founded in 1892, the Sierra Club, America’s oldest and largest environmental group, have been in cahoots with the worst of the worst corporations in recent years. They’ve been paid tens of millions of dollars by the fossil fuel industry, tyrannical billionaire mayors and Wall Street in exchange for cleaning (and greening) up their public images.  Not only have they acted as a green public relations firm for the bastions of wealth and power, but have also sold out frontline communities most impacted by extractive industry.

Corporations rule our world with an unyielding iron fist. They poison and literally explode local communities with fracking and mountaintop removal. They profit off of dirty extractive industry with multi-billion investments. They empower a police state to repress democratic people’s movements drawing a line in the sand against Corporate America.  But they also insidiously mitigate the power of grassroots resistance movements with a complicit non-profit industrial complex. Most environmental non-profits actively serve as a buffer zone between our people’s movements seeking real change and a corporate state hell bent on sucking every last bit out of the planet and its people before the impending ecological collapse.

In recent years, there has been an expanding critique of the big greens. Corporate executives and the super wealthy occupy the donor rolls and boards of many green non-profits. Organizations like Environmental Defense and Natural Resources Defense Council have actively partnered with the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a front group that helped stop climate legislation in 2010. A 2010 expose in The Nation by Johann Hari revealed that Big Oil made large donations for decades to organizations like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy to negate bad press over human rights and environmental abuses. Essentially, the big institutions of the environmental movement have been bought and sold.

Sadly, the Sierra Club which boasts a democratic governance system and a healthy grassroots base of local chapters have become part of the corporate world’s equation for control. They’ve partnered with, and been funded by, natural gas corporations to promote gas as a “bridge fuel.” They’ve taken large donations from New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg even as he’s attacked labor unions and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and released his racist police force to harass and demonize the Muslim community. They’ve even been business partners with the worst of the worst Wall Street banks, Bank of America, in greenwashing schemes to repair the bank’s damaged public image to the environmental community.

“Natural” gas flaring

Greening Natural Gas

In an attempt to stem scandal, the Club’s executive director Michael Brune revealed in Feb. 2012 to Time that from 2007 to 2010 they had taken over $25 million in anonymous donations from the natural gas industry. The industry is most known for the environmentally destructive extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Fracking’s methods of extraction from deep gas shale include the burning of diesel fuel and polluting ground water with toxic chemicals.

From 2007 to 2010, while local chapters in states like New York and Pennsylvania were fighting these gas companies, former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope developed a cozy relationship with Chesapeake Energy, a leading gas company. Pope, in fact, toured the country with CEO Aubrey McClendon promoting natural gas as a “bridge fuel” because it burns cleaner than oil or coal. Local Sierra activists were outraged that Pope publicly sold them out to the fracking industry.

%d bloggers like this: