Saturday, January 01, 2011

How Green Became the Color of Money

Jeffrey St. Clair writes at Counterpunch ... click here for the entire first part, excerpted from the upcoming book with Joshua Frank, "Green Scare: The New War on Environmentalism" ...
  • here for Part 2 [the H.W. Bush years]
  • Part 3 [Clinton]
  • Part 4 [more Clinton: ‘One of the strange pathologies afflicting contemporary environmentalism is that a conservation group without a law firm behind it suffers extreme pangs of institutional impotence. “The problem was that the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund’s arguments stemmed from political, not legal, judgments,” recalls Oregon environmentalist Larry Tuttle. “And those arguments were shaped in large measure by their own economic self-interest, that is, their right to sue and reap heft attorneys’ fees from the government, and not the future of the forests or the spotted owls.”’]
  • Part 5 [Bruce Babbitt: ‘Enter the Environmental Defense Fund, a fanatical espouser of free trade as the salve for more or less everything. EDF was vociferously pro-NAFTA and had positioned itself as a long-time foe of dolphin protection laws as “ideologically unsound.”’]
  • Part 6 [Carol Browner]
  • Part 7 [Al Gore]
  • Part 8 [more Al Gore: ‘It is a hallmark of the Gore style that he knows how deftly to exploit public interest groups even as he betrays their constituents. ... He knew that what the big green groups based in DC craved most was access.’]
  • Part 9 [more senators]
  • Part 10 [The Wilderness Society: ‘A quarter century after the first Earth Day, the corporate counter-attacked launched in the 1970s was nearly complete.’]
  • Part 11 [George W. Bush, Gale Norton, et al.]
  • Part 12 [‘Back in the good old days, a corporation with an unappetizing relationship to the natural world would often try to burnish their image by luring an executive or top staffer from an environmental group onto their board or into their public relations department, where they could offer testimonials to the toxic firm's newfound reverence for Mother Earth. But times have changed. Now it's the environmental groups who seem to be on a shopping spree for corporate executives. For a ripe example of this repellent trend let us turn to the World Wildlife Fund.’]
  • Part 13 [‘From Greenpeace to Greenwash’]
  • Part 14 [‘All for Oil, Oil for One’]
  • Part 15 [Ken Salazar et al.]
In the early summer of 1995, Jay Hair quietly resigned as head of the National Wildlife Federation. This Napoleonic figure had transformed a once scruffy, apolitical collection of local hunting and gun clubs into the cautious colossus of the environmental movement with more than four million members and an annual budget of nearly $100 million. By the time Hair left, the Federation enjoyed more political clout in Washington than the rest of the environmental groups combined.

Hair, a former biology profession who also served as a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus during the Carter Administration, was the architect of this astounding transformation. Under the firm hand of Hair’s leadership the Federation’s membership doubled and it’s budget tripled. His strategy was simple: market the Wildlife Federation as a non-confrontational corporate-friendly outfit. Hair created the Corporate Conservation Council and forged relationships with some of the world’s most toxic corporations: ARCO, Ciba-Geigy, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Exxon, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Mobil Oil, Monsanto, Pennzoil, USX, Waste Management and Weyerhauser. The corporations received the impri,atur of the nation’s largest environmental group, while the National Wildlife Federation raked in millions in corporation grants.

The conservation giant showed less deference to its members. In 1975, Dr. Claude Moore, a long-time member, donated a 367-acre tract of forest land in Loudon County, Virginia to the Federation to be managed as a wildlife sanctuary. The land provided rich habitat for an extraordinary number of birds. A Smithsonian guidebook called the area a natural gem.

Then in 1986 the National Wildlife Federation decided to sell the sanctuary to a developer for $8.5 million and use the money to help pay for the construction of the Federation’s new seven-story office building on 16th Street in DC. Outraged, Dr. Moore and other members sued the Federation, alleging it had violated a contract to manage the land as a nature preserve. Moore lost. The land was sold and 1,300 houses constructed on the site.

While Hair was turning the National Wildlife Federation into a corporate-friendly operation, the Wilderness Society was being run by a millionaire from Montana named Jon Roush. Roush had formerly been the chairman of the Nature Conservancy, the most unapologetically pro-corporate of all environmental groups.

In the winter of 1995, Roush was caught selling off $150,000 worth of timber from environmentally-sensitive lands on his own 800-acre ranch in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. The trees went to Plum Creek Timber Company, the corporate giant which a conservative congressman from Washington, Rod Chandler, labeled the “Darth Vader of the timber industry.”

Roush’s first gallant reaction to a probing call was to blame it on his wife, whom he was in the process of divorcing. He later claimed that he need to sell of the timber to pay his property taxes. However, local tax records revealed that Roush owed less than $1,000 a year in taxes on property valued at nearly $3 million.

At the same time, the National Audubon Society was being run by a lawyer named Peter Berle, who commanded an annual salary of $200,000. After he savagely trimmed away the muscle from the Society’s conservation staff, Berle gloated, “Unlike Greenpeace, Audubon doesn’t have a reputation as a confrontational organization.” ...