Big Green and Moral Outrage
It took a presidential veto to stop the Keystone pipeline and a whole lot of misinformation on the part of the Left. To hear their rendition, this was framed as a war between David and Goliath with David (the environmental Left) winning over Goliath (Big Oil). Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this effort to block the pipeline started back in the Bush administration.
In 2008, Michael Northrop- an organizer for environmental and anti-corporate causes- first appealed to the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, which was founded in 1940, for financing to stop the pipeline and tar sands exports from Canada. Dubbed the Tar Sands Campaign, its stated goal was to “raise the negatives, raise the costs, slow down and stop infrastructure, and stop pipelines.” This strategy came at any cost and included outright lies and more subtle forms of misinformation. No matter what one thinks of climate change, reasoned debate was thrown out the window.
For example, although there were likely people affected by the pipeline’s route, its detractors often trotted out extreme examples and portrayed that as the norm. Eminent domain is a contentious issue in any context and it was used to maximum effect by the Left. It is also illustrative of their hypocrisy. One wonders, given their attacks on eminent domain in relation to the pipeline’s route, how protective they would be of one’s property rights if eminent domain was used for a nature preserve or some other project near and dear to the hearts of the environmental Left.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is but one of many players in this game. With assets estimated at $800 million, they make Tom Steyer’s $100 million NextGen look like peanuts. Granted, not all of that $800 million is going to environmental causes, but a good portion clearly is being steered that way. With access to over $100 billion in assets, Leftist foundations certainly have ample money to fund environmental causes and have plenty left over to fund a host of other Leftist causes. Some estimate the flow of money from these Left-leaning foundations to environmental groups to be anywhere from $13 to $80 billion. And it is not just the Keystone pipeline; that is simply the latest flash point. They have also targeted hydraulic fracturing, offshore drilling, and drilling in ANWR.
For comparison purposes, many Democratic legislators like to stand up in the halls of Congress and give eloquent speeches about Big Oil. The oil industry’s main lobbying group is the American Petroleum Institute- a single entity that competes with a plethora of environmental groups for educational/propaganda purposes. According to IRS reports, the API has assets of $237.9 million. The Natural Resources Defense Council- but a single environmental group- has assets of over $241 million. The Nature Conservancy alone has assets of over $6 billion.
In the period from 2000 to 2012, Leftist foundations have contributed over $80 billion to environmental groups. That averages to $6.6 billion a year. Now compare that to what Big Oil expends every year and listen to the crickets chirp.
In addition, the government under Obama directs another $2.6 billion a year since 2009 to climate change research projects and rest assure these are research projects for only climate change adherents.
Nothing could be accomplished without the legal system and there is a cadre of law firms dedicated to environmental law. As the Northrop comment mentioned earlier said, the goal is disruption with the ultimate goal of increasing costs. The hope is that at some point the costs will become prohibitive and the project will be dropped. And they can afford these efforts; environmental groups have the money to be in it for the long haul. EarthJustice, formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Club, raked in $133.8 million in concessions from industry in a single year.
Many times the obstructionist tactics are nothing short of extortion. In exchange for dropping objections to projects, these environmental law firms often settle with the companies (or government) they are suing. Sometimes it is the Federal government itself. Over a five year period, the Center for Biological Diversity- a Leftist environmental law firm- squeezed $29.2 million out of the federal government.
One can look through miles of IRS tax filings and come to one unmistakable conclusion: when it comes to money and influence, the environmental Left far outstrips Big Oil. it is easy to portray Big Oil as the ultimate polluter and rapist of the land. Of course as they do so, they are flying about the country in airplanes and vehicles running on petroleum products.
We can decry the influence that oil companies place on Congress, but it is quite disingenuous and hypocritical to suggest that environmentalists are being locked out of the discussion. They clearly have the money, people and influence to get their message out. It is high time these people are exposed and they end the David versus Goliath charade.