Green, Inc. - A Preview
After nearly two months (and $20 million spent on t.v. and radio alone) of deceitful television/radio commercials from the utility-funded No on Prop 7 campaign, PG&E and Southern California Edison executives are hoping that the thought they’ve impressed into everyone’s minds is “The environmental groups oppose Proposition 7! Oh my!" They are crossing their fingers that by trotting out environmental groups, people won’t notice the Big Utilities’ $28 million anti-clean energy campaign those ‘environmental’ groups are fronting for.
“…while it seems easy to take unflattering insider accounts from certain industries -- say, the energy and chemicals industries -- at face value, it is much more difficult to fully accept the criticisms made of environmental non-profits like The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, many of which some of us have either worked with or volunteered for in the past.”
But it appears that popular culture may finally be ready for the truth about corporate America’s hijacking of the environmental movement.
This month, a scathing insider’s perspective on how America’s environmentalists have been taken over by oil, gas, coal and electricity industry insiders has been published, complete with charts and graphs and all the goodies necessary to understand the free flow of money from the Big Utilities that has mutated the environmental groups we blindly trusted.
For months now I’ve been making the case that the environmental groups opposed to Proposition 7 are acting as a willing front group for the utilities funding the No on 7 campaign, for two main reasons: (1) collectively they’ve taken millions of dollars from the utilities in ‘grants’ over the years and (2) their board memberships are comprised of past and former utility executives.
Apparently, this is a national epidemic.
Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court says
“Green Inc. is a must read. Christine MacDonald reveals the seedy underbelly of the greenwashing movement where brand-name environmental groups provide a PR bonanza for some of the worst polluters in corporate America, and get paid to do it. Americans will never look at many environmental groups the same way after reading Green Inc. Green Inc. should stir a revolt among the dues-paying membership of the environmental movement against those who believe working with oil companies to improve their image is the way to save the earth.”
MacDonald hits the nail on the head. This is exactly what the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Union of Concerned Scientists are doing for PG&E, Southern Cal Edison, and Sempra to help them defeat stricter renewable energy requirements in California. A preview of the book states:
“In Spring 2006, Christine MacDonald left journalism for a dream job at Conservation International, one of the world’s largest environmental organizations. Soon after she reported to the groups Washington, D.C. offices, it became all too apparent to her that something is rotten in today’s clubby, well-upholstered world of conservationists.
Green, Inc. is a riveting first person account of an eco-warriors travails at the cross roads of the non-profit and corporate worlds – one that will shock anyone who has ever made a donation to an environmental group.”
And from a New York Times book review:
“Why must conservation leaders make more than 99 percent of U.S. taxpayers? Once they get used to such lavish pay, doesn’t it follow that fundraising — to keep those salaries coming — would trump their core mission?
Those compromised missions, Ms. MacDonald argues, find their fullest expression when corporate donors — from energy and car companies like B.P., Exxon Mobil and G.M. to retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot — are able to maintain the allegiance, or at least the silence, of environmental organizations, even as those businesses pursue separate agendas that contribute to climate change, deforestation and other environmental sins.”
“In example after example, groups that get too close to corporations lose their ability to be critical. To some extent it might be human nature – the nonprofit leaders develop friendships with corporate leaders and don’t want to criticize their friends. On another level it’s practical – organizations that become dependent on corporate dollars to pay for programs and salaries don’t want to risk losing the funding.”
This last point really hit home. The environmental groups opposed to Proposition 7 have very close relationships with the Big Utilities opposing it. The NRDC ‘energy czar’ and No on 7 spokesman, Ralph Cavanagh, was a Yale classmate and friend of the recent CEO of Edison International, (Southern California Edison’s parent company), John Bryson. Bryson, interestingly, co-founded NRDC. But that’s just one example. If you look at the board of directors of these groups, both the environmental groups and the pro-industry groups that claim to have an ‘environmental’ bent, you will quickly see that they all have the same cast of characters determining the agendas.
Proposition 7 is the strictest law ever proposed to move California off dirty fossil fuels and onto clean and renewable energy sources. No surprise the Big Utilities that have spent years ingratiating themselves to our environmental groups through windfall funding and strategic board membership positions are pulling every card they have to defeat it.
The environmental groups should be ashamed of profiting from the Big Utilities by advancing their agenda. Instead of asking themselves why the environmentalists oppose a clean and renewable initative, voters should be asking themselves: Why have the environmental groups become front groups for the big utility (and oil, and gas) industry agendas?