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Cashing in While the Earth Burns

Grassroots environmental organizations including the Friends of the River, the American River Conservancy and California Native Plant Society, have reported dwindling income in recent years, the result of declining foundation funds and membership donations available due to the current economic disaster.

Many organizations are having to lay off key staff, close offices and curtail their programs. Environmental justice, river advocacy and grassroots groups working to restore salmon and other fish populations have been particularly hard hit.

While local and state groups are facing cuts in their programs, the CEOs and top staff of large foundations and environmental NGOs – referred to by some as “Gang Green” or “Big Green” – are raking in huge salaries, up to $1,196,037.00 per year.

At the same time that it is increasingly difficult for grassroots environmental organizations to keep their doors open, Californians are faced with some of their greatest environmental challenges ever, including Governor Jerry Brown’s plan, announced on July 25, 2012, to build twin peripheral tunnels around the Delta to export more northern California water to corporate agribusiness and southern California.

The same Governor has continued many of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s other abysmal environmental polices, including forging ahead with the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called marine protected areas on the California coast, killing record numbers of Sacramento splittail, a native fish in 2011 and exporting record levels of water out of the California Delta last year.

As the same time, the Obama administration is supporting the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel, the controversial catch shares program that privatizes ocean public trust resources, and the FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon.

While big bucks continue to flow to foundation and NGO CEOs, hundreds of thousands of people throughout the US, Mexico and Europe, inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York City that began last fall, have protested the disparity of wealth between the 1 percent on Wall Street and the 99 percent of people that are struggling to get by.

They are also challenging the increasing influence that Wall Street corporations, who contribute heavily to the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican parties, exert over foreign and domestic policies, including promoting the stripping of environmental protections.

Nils Stolpe of FishNet-USA has uncovered some great financial information in his ongoing exposure of the big money behind corporate environmental NGOs and foundations that fund them. In this time of severe economic crisis, the “compensation” for CEOs and selected staff of the large ENGOs and foundations is very alarming.

Please note that the compensation listed is only from the organization – not necessarily the total compensation that person received from all sources – in the most recent year for which a Form 990 was available.

At the top of the compensation list is the Chief Investment Officer of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, who received $1,196,037.00 from the organization.

David Packard (1912–1996), the co-founder of Hewlitt-Packard, and his wife Lucile founded the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 1964. While styling himself as an “environmentalist” in his later years, it is noteworthy that he served as Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon. “Packard served in this high-echelon position during Nixon’s secretive carpet bombing campaign against Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War,” noted independent journalist David Gurney. (http://noyonews.net/?p=219)

Not far behind, the President & CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts received $1,071,525.00, while the President/CEO of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation received $696,687.00

The Sunoco oil company, headed by J. Howard Pew and Joseph N. Pew, Jr., set up the original endowment for the Pew Foundation, now called the Pew Charitable Trusts. Sunoco currently refines bitumen in Ohio and is planning to do so soon in Philadelphia. Sunoco has, through either Pew family members or current board members and CEO’s of Sunoco, held a majority of the board of trustees of the Pew Charitable Trusts to this very day.

The Packard Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts are paying these huge compensation packages while millions are out of work or struggling to make ends with minimum wage jobs.

These foundations fund efforts to promote controversial programs such as the federal “catch shares” program, an effort to privatize public trust fisheries, and California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

The MLPA Initiative, overseen by oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate operatives, created “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from pollution, oil spills and drillling, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The David and Lucillle Packard Foundation contributed $8.2 million to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to fund MLPA hearings. Both foundations have also dumped millions into the NGOs promoting the MLPA Initiative, as revealed in their 990 form statements.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast task forces. Reheis-Boyd is a strange kind of “marine guardian,” since she has been lobbying for new offshore oil drilling off the West Coast, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the expansion of the environmentally destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing (hydro fracking) and the evisceration of California’s landmark environmental laws.

The Packard Foundation, along with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and Stephen D. Bechtel Foundation, is notorious for funding studies promoting the construction of the peripheral canal.

A coalition of Delta residents, family farmers, Indian Tribes, grassroots conservationists and environmental justice advocates opposes the construction of the peripheral canal because it would likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other imperiled species.

The top staff of other NGOs also received huge salaries. The President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) received $432,742.00, while the President of the Environmental Defense Fund received $423,359.00.

The Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group received $400,487.00, while the Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund received $347,963.00.

The Environmental Defense Fund, funded by millions from the Walton Family Foundation every year, is under fire from fishermen, environmentalists and consumer advocates, for promoting “catch shares” programs.

According to Food and Water Watch, “Catch shares, often called individual fishing quotas (IFQs), are a means of fisheries management that is spreading rapidly throughout the coastal regions of the United States. Rather than solving our nation’s fishery management problems, however, these programs only create a host of new ones.”

“Catch shares divide the total amount of fish that can be caught in a year — called a total allowable catch, or TAC — into smaller portions, called shares or quota. These have been given away for free, and often practically forever, to individual fishermen and fishing companies, who are able to lease and sell them. This creates a small elite group that has access to and control over fish — a public resource. Effectively, this amounts to privatization and hurts consumers, fishermen and our oceans,” the group explained.

Regarding the high salaries of NGO executives promoting catch shares and other privatization programs, Stolpe commented, “And with salaries (and perks) ranging up into seven figures, is it any wonder that these people exhibit such a lack of empathy for people with real jobs – you know, the kind of jobs that depend on actually producing something tangible to justify a paycheck? And no, putting people out of work isn’t producing something tangible.”

“Anyone who has built a successful career – that is, successful as far as the size of their paycheck and their ability to climb the (ENGO) corporate ladder is concerned – by spending money earned by someone else isn’t likely to have much of an idea of what it would be like to be out of work or, it appears, to be particularly concerned when their actions have that consequence on others,” said Stolpe.

So while grassroots environmental organizations are struggling to pay for staff salaries, office expenses and campaign costs, top officials of foundations and environmental NGOs are raking in the “green,” just like the CEOs of Wall Street corporations. It is no surprise that the perspectives, interests and “environmental” programs of these NGO CEOs are aligned with the Wall Street 1 percent – not the 99 percent devastated by the 1 percent’s political, economic and environmental policies.

As Robert Fritchey, author of Wetland Riders, so eloquently stated, “Some of the hottest journalistic action is still in following the money. But don’t look to your local newspaper, newsmagazine or public radio station for enlightenment, because the money trails today often radiate from a handful of the nation’s wealthiest ‘charitable’ foundations, and end with those media outlets themselves.”

Below is the list of the positions, organizations and total compensation from the organizations:

Chief Investment Officer, David and Lucille Packard Foundation: $1,196,037.00

President & CEO, The Pew Charitable Trusts: $1,071,525.00

President/CEO, David and Lucille Packard Foundation: $696,687.00

President, Natural Resources Defense Council: $432,742.00

President, Environmental Defense: $423,359.00

Managing Director, Pew Environment Group: $400,487.00

Executive Director, Environmental Defense: $347,963.00

VP West Coast, VP Land, Water and Wildlife, Environmental Defense: $304,626.00

Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $277,846.00

Development Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $265,001.00

President and CEO, Ocean Conservancy: $261,111.00

Finance Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $259,460.00

Chief Executive Officer, Oceana: $247,164.00

VP Marketing and Communication, Environmental Defense: $242,947.00

Executive Vice President, Oceana: $237,589.00

EVP/COO, Ocean Conservancy: $217,911.00

Communications Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $213,737.00

Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, Oceana: $205,868.00

Senior Vice President for North America, Chief Scientist, Oceana: $203,272.00

VP Legal Affairs, Ocean Conservancy: $180,426.00

President, Ecotrust: $178,527.00

VP Resource Development, Ocean Conservancy: $172,381.00

VP Communications, Ocean Conservancy: $172,161.00

Jim Ayers Oceana Regional Director in North Pacific, Oceana: $170,114.00

Shark Conservation Program Director, Ocean Conservancy: $152,754.00

Managing Director, Ecotrust: $151,050.00

VP State Advocacy Center Director, Conservation Law Foundation: $141,141.00

Dan Bacher can be reached at: Danielbacher@fishsniffer.com

 

 


More articles by:

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.

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