By John Lewallen, Public Ocean Access Network, oceannetwork [at] mcn.org
There has to be another word to define the “foundation-funded corporations” such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which calls itself an “environmentalist” organization. Created by oil money and awash in Pew Charitable Trust funds, the NRDC brings big oil’s agenda wherever it operates.
On California’s North Coast, the NRDC is working in tandem with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to make sure the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) gets the Foundation-preferred alternatives enacted on tight schedule.
Karen Garrison, may she enjoy good health, is NRDC’s lead employee in helping other foundation-funded corporations deal with problems met in the MLPAI process of trying to separate California’s ocean food providers from public ocean waters and intertidal zones.
Now operating on California’s North coast, the MLPAI is operating a cruel private process of imposing permanent zones where sustainable ocean food providers are permanently banned.
My wife Barbara and I were “processed” in the North Central Coast by the MLPAI, where ancient tribal food-gathering areas were permanently closed, along with vital, sustainable abalone diving, fishing, and seaweed harvesting habitats.
Karen Garrison of the NRDC both was a “conservation stakeholder” in the stakeholder process involving ocean food providers, and acted as an MLPAI official in doing interviews in the Point Arena area. I have seen Karen Garrison encourage complaining ocean food providers to make their own “external array,” which is a complete closure plan. Then I saw her organize mobs of ill-informed “conservationists” to come to key hearings and tell Fish & Game Commissioners to ignore the voices of ocean food providers present, and enact the Integrated Preferred Alternative.
In the North coast, the NRDC and another foundation-funded corporation, the Ocean Conservancy, have hired field agents from the community to promote and advance the MLPAI agenda. I believe it is a conflict of interest for any NRDC employee to participate in any of the community “external array” processes now in progress.
At best, a good-hearted community member employed by the NRDC is in danger of being used by the NRDC to advance their corporate agenda in community groups.
Now we environmentalists must distinguish between democratically run and membership-funded groups such as the Sierra Club (usually), the Ocean Protection Coalition and the Mendocino Environmental Center, contrasted with foundation-funded corporations such as NRDC, heavily funded and influenced by big corporate money.
The Natural Resources Defense Council was founded with a big Tides Foundation grant (see ActivistCash.com). The Tides Foundation is the first money-laundering foundation, doing “donor-advised giving,” open about where the money goes, but not where it comes from. Other sources show that the Pew Charitable Trusts has poured over $40 million into Tides.
The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (Foundation) is also a money-laundering foundation. Who is really directing MLPAI Executive Director Ken Wiseman, my beautiful friend so transparent in deception? The money trail leads to the Resources Law Fund, a legal group committed to donor confidentiality.
The MLPAI team, who are all Foundation employees, are running the MLPAI with no legislative oversight, under authority given to them by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the California Resources Agency. This is a very destructive and divisive process, and I believe this MOU should be cancelled as soon as possible.
I could find only two grants made by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation in 2002: $500,000 to the NRDC, $264,000 to Tides. Now the Foundation funds and controls the MLPAI, and even has granted modest sums for North coast external array participants.
The Pew Charitable Trusts: Oil Money
Started by Joseph Pew with profits from the oil company he founded, Sun Oil, the Pew Charitable Trusts now deploys the biggest profits ever made in the history of profits, oil company profits, into managing America in a direction oil companies like.
Of the two top NRDC financial supporters, the first, Energy Foundation (almost $15 million between 1991-2005) was founded by a Pew grant, and the second is Pew itself (almost $13 million from 1991-2000).
The presence of Katherine Reheis-Boyd, CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, on the MLPAI North coast Blue Ribbon Task Force is further sign of oil industry influence in the MLPAI process. Nothing in the MLPAI would stop the ongoing process of opening offshore oil and gas drilling along the North coast, a major Petroleum Association goal.
Ms. Reheis-Boyd is also the oil industry’s international expert on climate change policy. This leads to “cap and trade,” a moneymaking shell game that big polluting corporations and the NRDC love, but real pollution control activists hate.
NRDC, Cap-and-Trade, Draining Salmon Habitat: Real Environmentalists React
A Nov. 30 Huffington Post story covered the Mobilization for Climate Justice Demonstration against the NRDC. The NRDC has joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, along with America’s great oil companies and greenhouse gas emitters. “U.S. CAP played a pivotal lobbying role in drafting the massive Waxman-Markey climate bill in the House which, while calling for modest emission reductions, will also create an exponentially lucrative carbon trading market...what some activists call a new system of climate profiteering,” wrote Joseph Huff-Hannon.
California Delta water activist Daniel Bacher reports that NRDC representatives worked out backroom deals supporting the water legislation package, ramrodded through the Legislature by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in early November, that creates a clear path to the construction of the peripheral canal and more dams. “Northern California water activists--tribal leaders, environmentalists, fishermen, Delta family farmers and community leaders--feel sold out by the NRDC in their signoff on this water catastrophe for Northern California,” said Bacher.
The External Array Process: Cruel Deception
By encouraging the external array process and even hiring a community member to participate in it, the NRDC is both setting community members against each other, and stimulating the community to get organized to support sustainable ocean food providers. Both the NRDC and the Foundation would be wise to ask the new Resources Secretary, Mr. snow, to join in stopping the MLPAI process. We ocean food providers of the North Coast always are, have been, and will be, ready for government help in protecting our vital and sacred home, the ocean ecosystem and intertidal zone.
I am afraid the vain hope that the MLPAI process may be good for people and ecosystems if citizens help make closure maps--the external array process--sometimes keeps people from the inevitable task of organizing to stop the privatization of California resources management. It is not sustainable to try to close huge, vital public areas of North Coast Ocean and intertidal zones, rapidly and with no reason, in the beginning of a spiraling depression that already has almost one-third of Mendocino County residents food-insecure.
The NRDC, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, and other foundation-funded corporations are going to fail in their bid to privatize public access to the North coast’s ancient and sacred ocean food habitats. People are an integral part of the North coast ocean ecosystem. Dear foundations, please spare our society this suicidal, exhausting attack on the North Coast’s sustainable ocean food providers!