Gift Trojan Horse: Pew Trusts, Née Sunoco Oil
Sheesh, not exactly what I wanted to do on a fine saturday afternoon, but after a couple of days of snarkism over at Pogie’s place, I’m feeling a bit vindictive. Seems that the Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director, Mike Garrity, has set off a firestorm, with all of the liberals in Helena getting their panties in a twist over some obscure reference to Vichy France and MWA.
I don’t see any real reason to relive the debate over Mike’s choice of words, they’ve been beaten to death in a near 100 comment marathon session that ripped the scabs off some old battle-worn scars. Mike’s words were contained in a Missoulian editorial written in response to an attack ad taken out by several of the “collaborators” working with the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) on Senator Tester’s Logging Bill, of which I’ve had much to say, so I’m not going to go there again.
What I really want to get at is the mangling of the analogy that the learned folks at Intelligent Discontent were capable of, in order to set up another round of radical “extremist” enviro bashing. Of course, I had to wade in and lay some testimony to the good Senator’s “Sista Souljah” moment when he dissected himself from part of his 2006 winning coalition of lefty enviros and mainstream dems.
While Mike Garrity is fully capable of choosing his words carefully, and building an analogy that likens Foundation funding of MWA with Nazi (I know, I said the awful “N” word) subversion of France during WWII, I like to think of a different analogy for what it is that foundations like the Pew Trusts, and other denizens of the Environmental Grantmakers Association remind me of: Trojan Horses.
You see, Pew and a few other big foundations started the EGA in order to whip radical obstructionists into order, by drying up their funding, and only fund nonprofits that followed their methods and pursued their policies. And those policies and strategies are not to be so effective that things like real wilderness protection actually happens, but that just enough scraps get thrown out to their memberships and the general public that they think something substantial is being done.
Well, there are many examples of the cover being blown off of Pew’s method, like the work of Jeffrey St. Clair and his relentless investigative reporting of the top 10 Green Washers and their funders:
“…the endowed money held by these trusts was carefully invested in the very corporations that a vigorous environmental movement would be adamantly opposing. An examination of Pew’s portfolio in 1995 revealed that is money was invested in timber firms, mining companies, oil companies, arms manufacturers and chemical companies. The annual yield from these investments far exceeded the dispensations to environmental groups.”
To make a long story short, Pew Trusts, and its lackeys at the EGA take their ill-gotten money and invest their foundation assets in the same companies that their grantees — like MWA — are fighting. So what does all of this get MWA? Well, let’s just go to the words of past MWA President Elaine Snyder and Board member Ross Titus in their 2007 letter to the MWA Council:
“By collaborating with five sawmills and two conservation groups not seriously concerned with wilderness designation, MWA has fallen in with the likes of The Wilderness Society, Idaho Conservation League, and, of course, the thoroughly compromised Campaign for America’s Wilderness, seeking fast and painless wilderness tokens at the cost of the most essential element of the wilderness ethic: working and sweating for wilderness support among the people that live near it and out on the political hustings, and not trading equally precious wildlife and ecological values (especially the integrity of roadless areas) for drabs of rocks-and-ice wilderness.
Does MWA intend to continue the current practice of collaborating with any partner offering to help gain wilderness designation in its area of commercial operations in return for our help in gaining access to saw timber in that area? In other words, quid-pro-quo. If the answer is yes, then the Council must prepare to fully inform the membership of this opportunistic turn of policy that is totally at odds with this organization’s founding land and wilderness ethic…
Also of concern to us is the fact that current leadership and possibly some among the large Helena staff of MWA appear to have a pessimistic attitude about MWA’s history that has driven them to “consult” with the Campaign for America’s Wilderness (formerly the Pew Wilderness Center), and now to rely on money from Pew Charitable Trusts. The latter continues the old Pew drive to confine wilderness legislation to rocks-and-ice regions by co-opting gullible or calculating people in the wilderness movement. The material supporters of Pew include Weyerhaeuser, Burlington Northern, International Paper, ITT Rayonier, Dow Chemicals, Dupont, Phelps-Dodge, General Electric, Raytheon, Caterpillar, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Texaco and others.
Organizations that have gained access to Pew money are expected to show short-term gains in wilderness protection regardless of the cost to other public resources and political efforts. MWA received $37,000 from the Campaign for America’s Wilderness. What conditions, “advice” or other strings were attached to this grant? All MWA’s members should have received this information long ago. “
So, Trojan Horse it is, in my mind. Not only do we have to deal with the corporations themselves, but we get to deal with their alter-ego foundations that on the surface appear to be do-gooders. And once the foundations get their foot in the door of these groups, it is so hard to extract them, as one wrong move — one effective victory — will dry up all the money from the other members of the EGA.
And what we are seeing in Montana with Pew, MWA and Senator Tester is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from the Tar Sands to climate change, BP oil spill and Keystone Pipeline are getting the great “Green Wash”. The Group of 10 “Big Green” suck up the majority of foundation moneys and deliver prepackaged, pre-compromised packages for agency approval or congressional approval, accomplishing just enough to defuse the environmental movement from taking any meaningful action. And the foundations protect their corporate forebears from any real opposition.
And those groups that have the integrity to not get tied into EGA monies are left to do the real lifting with little resources–like AWR does. And of course, they are left hanging out to dry as the good Senator triangulates away, preening himself for the mythical “center” where the majority public opinion lies, and the “gullibles” over at Intelligent Discontent and elsewhere work to protect the Senator’s campaign from the likes of us “extremists”.