May 25, 2010

How many (other) enviromental groups are in bed with big oil?

Here's a quote from an interesting Washington Post article titled "Nature Conservancy faces potential backlash from ties with BP":

The Conservancy, already scrambling to shield oyster beds from the spill, now faces a different problem: a potential backlash as its supporters learn that the giant oil company and the world's largest environmental organization long ago forged a relationship that has lent BP an Earth-friendly image and helped the Conservancy pursue causes it holds dear.
The "spill," of course, refers to the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The cozy relationship refers to a $10 million (in cash and land) contribution to the Nature Conservancy by BP and its affiliates over the years. Certainly some of the cash has helped the Conservancy do what it does best -- but then something like the oil spill happens and suddenly a big benefactor is creating a big problem. How upset can you get about the disaster when you risk future donations?

How many other environmental groups are in the same boat? The Environmental Defense Fund is one example cited in the article. The Sierra Club is another. (And how does this taint their views of ethanol and other renewable fuels?)

And certainly we're familiar with so-called environmental groups who bash renewable fuels like ethanol -- like the Environmental Working Group and Natural Resources Defense Council. They jumped in bed with Big Oil more than once as part of a campaign to spread myths (another word for "lies") about corn ethanol and biofuels.

(Interestingly enough, the American Meat Institute, which represents meat packers, jumped in bed with these same groups...the same groups who bash the corn that feeds the meat they sell. The same groups who bash modern livestock farming and farmers who provide the livestock to AMI members. But that's a story for another day.)

The Nature Conservancy's CEO Mark Tercek responded to some criticism by his organization's ties to BP. From the Washington Post article:

A subsequent post by Tercek named BP and said the spill demonstrated the need for a new energy policy that would move the United States "away from our dependence on oil."
That's a message ethanol and renewable fuel folks have been saying for quite some time now. But it's good to hear it from someone working for an environmental organization.

Addition on 5/26/10: Interesting enough, another environmental group -- Friends of the Earth -- has filed a lawsuit against EPA to reduce the use of biofuels. Their logic is, of course, a bit flawed. I quote:

By displacing some gasoline from the U.S. market, the RFS reduces overall demand for petroleum, which in turn leads to lower prices, increased consumption, and higher greenhouse gas emissions in other countries.
In other words, because ethanol reduces U.S. petroleum demand (a good thing!), others may use more. Call me crazy but that sounds like a problem for those countries who don't have an active biofuel development program, not us. Check out this post at Domestic Fuel for more.

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