FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sierra Club Board Member Gets Money from Chevron and Freeport McMoran

by Bernardo Issel

The Sierra Club has been a leading critic of corporate polluter funding of politicians and of corporations trying to greenwash their record. So it is with great surprise to find that Sierra Club Director Anne Ehrlich benefits from donations from Chevron and other interests linked to polluting corporations. The membership of the Sierra Club recently re-elected Mrs. Ehrlich to the board, but without knowledge of these environmentally tainted funding sources.

Mrs. Ehrlich is the associate director of Stanford University’s Center for Conservation Biology (CCB). The Center was founded by Mrs. Ehrlich’s husband, Paul, who is current president of CCB. Since at least 1995, the oil giant Chevron has funded CCB. This is problematic to say the least.

Chevron operates polluting refineries in Richmond and Los Angeles, California. Its basic product oil is a major contributor to air and water pollution in California and elsewhere. Its product also contributes to global warming; and Chevron has been a supporter of the Global Climate Coalition, a leading global warming naysayer. Abroad, environmentalists have challenged Chevron drilling operations for despoiling the environment. A recent Human Rights Watch Report charged Chevron with involvement in severe human rights violations in Nigeria, including ties to “Kill-And-Go” death squads.

In an interview, Mrs. Ehrlich brushed off concern about the Chevron support, explaining that it merely funded a few graduate students and that the donation was given with no strings attached. Well it just so happens that Mrs. Ehrlich supports continued oil drilling to meet future global demand, a position that she failed to disclose in her Sierra Club ballot statement. One is reminded of the rationalizations by politicians receiving oil funding. If Chevron is quite happy to support the Ehrlichs, it raises questions as to why their environmentalism is acceptable to this environmentally noxious company.

In light of Mrs. Ehrlichs outspoken stances on population control and immigration restrictions, the fact that she is comfortable accepting funding from a company whose profits have been described as “blood money” is exceedingly loathsome. As an advisor to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, she supports tight controls on immigration into the United States, but is apparently comfortable taking funding from a company bringing in oil from abroad where it has despoiled the environment and violently repressed opposition to its operations, as in Nigeria. The Sierra Club has been at the forefront of criticizing Shell Oil’s operations in that county, yet has been seemingly silent on Chevron, the actions of which have been viewed as comparable to that of Shell. It so happens that Chevron is headquartered San Francisco, California – the site of the Club’s own headquarters and the Club’s home state. It would seem that a Sierra Club campaign exposing Chevron’s odious environmental and human rights abuses could fruitful results. Yet with Ehrlichs’ funding from Chevron, one should not expect her to be supportive of such an effort.

The funding by Chevron is not the only questionable funder of the Ehrlichs’ conservation work. Others include:

— Ward Woods, a director of Boise Cascade, Freeport McMoRan, and Kelley Oil – Boise and Freeport are environmentally rapacious companies; for example, Freeport, the New Orleans based mining giant which invited Henry Kissinger on its board, has been charged with cultural genocide and eco-cide for its operations in Indonesia.

— Global coal and natural gas power plant billionaire Roger Sant of AES

— The Ehrlichs’ leading benefactor NYC apartment property heir Peter Bing sits on the board of the conservative Hoover Institute along with the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife and Dwayne O. Andreas(Archer Daniels Midland CEO). The Hoover Institute has long been a fountain of anti-environmentalism, recently publishing a book touting the benefits of global warming.

— Support from the Munger foundation, which receives its wealth from the founder of and partner in law firm that represents Unocal and Southern California Edison. Stanford’s board of trustees has close ties to Edison, including the presence of Edison CEO John Bryson. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mrs. Ehrlich views Edison as one of the most forward looking corporations. Edison’s efforts to run the Carbon II power plant without scrubbers seems not to be a concern to Ehrlich. The California chapter of Sierra Club in 1998 supported a repeal of billion dollar bailout of Edison’s nuclear stranded costs, but with no help from Sierra Club leadership – no wonder with board members like Anne for whom it would be awkward.

— Donations from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the foundation of the scions of Sun Oil, which has been criticized by many grassroots environmentalists for its domineering funding strategy. In the 80’s Pew was viewed as part of the right wing funding community. In this decade the foundation has tried to remake itself as a centrist do-gooder agent, yet Pew supported pro-NAFTA advocacy of the Heritage Foundation while simultaneously generously funding many of the environmental groups that supported NAFTA. Sierra Club courageously opposed NAFTA.

— Funding from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) trustees Teresa Heinz and Wren Wirth through the Winslow Foundation. On a variety of policy matters, i.e. NAFTA, global warming, and air pollution strategies, EDF has been at odds with Sierra Club. The Ehrlichs’ recent book acknowledged input from EDF staffers and extolled market based environmentalism, yet seemed to have no link to or mention of the Sierra Club. Perhaps Mrs. Ehrlich would be more comfortable at EDF.

This briefing at the very least raises several disturbing questions that Sierra Club members have not been informed of about the resume, financial backers and environmental philosophy of Anne Ehrlich, when they elected Ehrlich to the board of directors of the Club. While Mrs. Ehrlich separates the funders of CCB and her role as a Sierra Club director, it is not clear that Sierra’s membership would agree with this compartmentalization. At the least, there is concern that Ehrlich’s corporate ties create a conflict of interest with her role as a director of the Sierra Club.

A Sierra Club volunteer Karen Jones who served on a Sierra Club consumption task force with Mrs. Ehrlich while Ehrlich was a Club director found a disinclination by Ehrlich to take into account the role of corporations in driving consumption and resource extraction; ultimately the report included none of the concerns of Jones who had her name removed from the report. In a letter of dissent, Jones cited the case of populations in foreign countries unable to control the operations of oil companies taking advantage of repressive political regimes — ironic in light of how this reflects Chevron’s operations in Nigeria. CP

Click here to read the entire report on the funders of Anne Erhlich.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail