Prominent Conservation Society to Take $30 Million from Chesapeake Energy?

Suppose you are a leader of a nationally prominent environmental conservation society or even a local conversation society.  Let’s say the society is the Audubon Society or the Ruffed Grouse Society, whose missions, respectively, are: “To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity,” and “the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.”  Suppose you’re a leader of one of these organizations in a state like Pennsylvania, where the government has made it a mission to maximize the profits and socialize the inherent risks associated with fracking and natural gas exploration.  Now let’s suppose you, the executive of that society, was approached by Brian Grove, the Senior Director of Corporate Development for Chesapeake Energy, and made you an offer you couldn’t refuse – a $30 million proposition – to help generate restoration projects in the Marcellus Region.  Will you accept that money or will you deny that money – especially given the difficult economic times we are facing as a country?

Now, let’s throw these assumptions out of the window and jump right into reality. Earlier this year, Chesapeake Energy was burned when their relationship with the Sierra Club was made public and criticized.  Chesapeake Energy donated $26 million to the Sierra Club from 2007 through 2010 as a public relations campaign to tout natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal. When local Sierra Club members found out what those at the top of the organization were doing with the gas industry, Sierra Club faced massive blow-back from local members who were fighting against the gas industry.  Chesapeake Energy has a history of using or working with environmental organizations to tout their form of energy as “clean” and as a “viable option” to coal, and are now leaning on other environmental organizations to help them “offset” the environmental impact that is created when roughly 9 acres of trees and surrounding environment are clear-cut for a natural gas pad.

Before we get talk about the $30 million dollar proposition Brian Grove made to executives from the Audubon Society and the Ruffed Grouse Society, let’s look at how we got to this point.

The Meeting and The Proposition.

Don Williams, a Montgomery county native, blogger and environmentalist, caught wind of a series of meetings with the Audubon Society and the Ruffed Grouse Society, but found it odd that the meetings were being co-sponsored by another party: the Marcellus Shale Coalition – the lobbying arm for the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania.  The meetings were held on August 27th and 28th at Audubon Centers in Audubon, Montgomery County, Hamburg, Berks County, Lancaster City, Lancaster County and the state capitol.  The email Mr. Williams received about the event targeted outdoors enthusiasts in South Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania.  The email started out with the following:

Are you a hunter, angler, hiker, or other outdoors-person living in South-central or Southeast Pennsylvania?
Do you have something to say to Marcellus shale gas drilling  companies about their operations in the state?
Audubon Pennsylvania and the Ruffed Grouse Society have partnered with the Marcellus Shale Coalition to sponsor four “Listening Sessions” to bring conservation group representatives together to ask questions, discuss concerns, and partner on habitat restoration opportunities.

The letter goes on to explain that there are inherent risks and environmental alterations caused by gas drilling. The letter concludes by calling for a in a kind of “kumbaya moment” with the industry:

given that habitat changes will occur in much of the state due to Marcellus gas drilling and pipeline construction, we have an opportunity to be pro-active regarding what happens to these sites once gas extraction is completed. Can we create early successional (young) forests  to reverse the downward trend of bird populations that depend on this habitat — such as ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and golden-winged warbler?  How can the natural gas drilling industry be a partner in this effort?

Before we get into what happened at the meeting, it’s worthwhile to scrutinize the locations of these meetings.  The locations of the meetings, with the exception of  Harrisburg, were political hotbeds over the summer when Senator Charles McIlhinney quietly inserted a drilling moratorium into the state budget that prohibited gas drilling in the South Newark Basin.  The basin is one of the largest untapped shale plays left in the country, and happens to stretch from Northern New Jersey, through Southeastern and into South Central Pennsylvania – going right through Montgomery, Bucks, and parts of Berks and Lancaster counties.

The turnout for the Southeast PA “Listening Session” held on August 27-28 was small – maybe a maximum of 20 people – but that did not stop Chesapeake Energy from making a $30 million proposition to the two organizations.  When Mr. Williams reported the incident, he thought he was hearing things. But what he heard was clearly stated in the meeting’s minutes.  On page 4 of the minutes, they note:

Is the industry willing to create a pool of funds within either the National Fish & wildlife Foundation or another credible foundation that would be used to fund competitive grants to conservation groups in Pennsylvania interested in identifying opportunities to benefit fish and wildlife in partnership with the industry? Suggestion was made that a minimum of $30 Million be set aside to establish an endowment to generate earnings-only project funds. Those funds would be available to conservation groups on a competitive grant basis.

The minutes also make reference to how other gas companies have been working on rehabilitation projects. An attendee of the meeting who did not want to be identified, claimed that it was representatives from the Audubon Society and the Ruffed Grouse Society who initially solicited Chesapeake for the money.  The attendee stated that Brian Grove from Chesapeake Energy was concerned about setting up a direct fund with the two organizations because of the blow-back they received from the controversy with the Sierra Club.  They would rather do it through a third-party or a fund.  It was also reported that the executive from the Ruffed Grouse society was pushing hard for the deal because the financial situation with the Ruffed Grouse society is not in the best health and such a significant influx of funds would help the organization tremendously. I called the two organizations several times for comment about these claims, but as of this writing they have yet to response.

Who is to blame?

So we have two environmental conservation agencies going to the coffers of the natural gas industry?  Should the blame be placed on the environmental organizations for accepting this money, which  those who left the Sierra Club would think of as “blood money”?  Should we place the blame on Chesapeake Energy for using these groups as part of a public relation ploy?  Or should we place the blame on our failed institutions that are supposed to regulate and govern this industry?

This isn’t the first time that the Audubon Society has kicked the tires on aligning themselves with the oil and gas industries.  In an article titled “Audubon Society Considers allowing Oil and Gas Drilling,” the history between the conservation society and the resource extraction industries date back to Louisiana in the 1940’s, when the society opened up the Paul J Rainey Sanctuary – a migratory destination for thousands of birds during the winter time – to oil companies.  The society “allowed prospectors to dredge oilfield access canals across the property” and “production continued until 1999, when the last of Audubon’s energy leases expired.” A couple of years after the society banned oil drilling on their sites, former Chief Operating Officer Daniel Beard went on the record explaining that the oil production caused “irreparable, long-term damage”

Jump ahead to 2009, the Audubon Society found themselves behind the eight-ball once again when Paul Kemp, director of Audubon’s Gulf Coast Initiative, wanted to open up the sanctuary to oil and gas companies so the profits generated from the wells can fund “multimillion-dollar land-building projects” that the society couldn’t afford.  But different Audubon Societies throughout the country have issued statements going against the oil and gas industry.  In one letter published by the Florida Audubon Society, the group is advocating keeping offshore and nearshore drilling away from environmentally sensitive areas, and the letter even acknowledges the in-house debate about opening up the Paul Rainey Sanctuary to gas drilling.  Around the same time-period as the two examples mentioned, another newsletter came out from the Presque Isle Audubon chapter condemning natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.  Go Erie, a local newspaper from Erie, PA, quoted the document, which said: “We have already seen environmental damage in this area thanks to oil and gas operations. Tapping into the Marcellus will only increase the pressure on a stressed environment.”

The next culprit in this three ringed circus is Chesapeake Energy themselves.  On the company’s website, they tout their environmental excellence and philosophies on the environment, but their environmental stewardship is barely mediocre.  In Pennsylvania, the company has 1,335 gas wells and has received 380 violations and accumulated 1.15 million in environmental fines. But this isn’t the first time the company has thrown their money around environmental organizations in order to boost their own public relations.  As mentioned above, Chesapeake Energy threw 26 million in the faces of the Sierra Club executives to promote natural gas as a “clean bridge energy,” and we all remember the blow-back Sierra Club executives received as members were turning in their members as protest.

Finally, the last of the parties responsible for this form of bribery is are institutions that are supposed to govern and effectively regulate this industry – the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Legislature.  In Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy, Chris Hayes explains why – on a federal level – major governmental regulatory institutions are unable to effectively regulate the industries they are supposed to regulate.  He argues that the income inequality between the government regulator and the worker he/she is regulating creates a competitive environment, almost like a minor league system, where those making peanuts want to move up the majors. The only way they can move up is if regulators don’t do their jobs so they can have a shiny resume to present to their future employer – in that particular industry.  It has turned the regulator agencies into breeding grounds for corporate “Yes Men” who move up the ranks from government agency to private industry. In Pennsylvania we are effectively seeing the same relationship between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Natural Gas Industry.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is headed by Michael Krancer, a former judge on the Environmental Hearing Board. Mr. Krancer has a hard time taking criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes hydraulic fracturing.  When EPA Region 3 Administrator Lisa Jackson got involved with the Dimock controversy last year, Krancer wrote “We real­ize and rec­og­nize that EPA is very new to all of this and the EPA’s under­stand­ing of the facts and sci­ence behind this activ­ity is rudi­men­tary” and “For­tu­nately, Penn­syl­va­nia is not new to all of this and we have a long his­tory of expe­ri­ence at over­see­ing and reg­u­lat­ing oil and nat­ural gas extrac­tion activ­i­ties in our state, includ­ing hydraulic fracturing.”  But if Krancer has some of the best experts on the planet working for him, then why has the DEP done so little to protect the environment?  A 2011 Clean Water Action report titled “Recurring DEP Budget cuts hinder enforcement against gas drilling violations,” analyzed DEP issued violations against the gas industry, and the article raised concerns on how lax the agency has been.  In 2011, there were 1,192 violations issued against the industry with less than half the resulting in “enforcement actions” and 7% of those violations resulted in a monetary fine.  So if the DEP isn’t doing their job, the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor Corbett can’t be as incompetent as Krancer?

The gutting of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection by the legislature and by the governor’s office has brought us to the point where environmental organizations have to solicit and get in bed with the natural gas industry.  This should come to no surprise because the legislature and the governor’s office have used this playbook with public education and public higher education.  By slashing public education to the bones, school districts have to look elsewhere to fill the necessary budget gaps.  When Governor Corbett signed his 2011 budget, which cut public education by a billion dollars, the Blackhawk School District – 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh – leased over 160 acres to – you guessed it – Chesapeake Energy for $300,000 and a 15% royalty on revenue generated by the gas that’s produced on that site.  More recently – in 2012, the Wilimington, Shenango and Mohawk school districts have all considered opening up their land to Shell, Halicorp Energy and REX Energy.  With regards to public higher education, which has seen its fair share of cuts, “The Student Association” at California University of Pennsylvania became the first PASSHE university to lease land to the industry to subsidize their 2011 budget cuts.

By gutting education to the bone – a precedent has been set by the governor – public universities and public schools are being forced to drill for natural gas.  Now the state government is forcing environmental conservation organizations to go beg at the feet of the industry so they can help fix the environment.  But this leaves the question I asked earlier, “who is to blame?”  The Pennsylvania state government with Governor Corbett steering his PA GOP boat, should be blamed for this action since their policies are what set the fracking crisis in motion. It is common knowledge that this administration will not do anything to fix these problems.  The blame also should be shared by the Audubon and Ruffed Grouse Societies for even conjuring up this plan because Chesapeake Energy has no interests in helping to protect our environment.  The gas company is using these conservation societies – just as they used the Sierra Club to sell the idea that natural gas was a clean bridge fuel – to boost their image as an entity that nurtures the environment, not as an entity that clear cuts 9 acres of environment every time a gas pad is installed.

 


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Sean Kitchen is an Assistant Editor and Social Media Organizer for Raging Chicken Press. He is student at Kutztown University.

 

 

 

About Sean Kitchen 584 Articles
Assistant Editor of the Raging Chicken Press and living in Harrisburg pursuing journalistic opportunities. You can send tips to SeanKitchen@RagingChickenPress.org and reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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28 Comments on Prominent Conservation Society to Take $30 Million from Chesapeake Energy?

  1. I’ve hunted woodcock in Pike County since childhood and there is nothing more important to their habitat than a healthy wetland. After seeing the construction of the Tennessee and Columbia pipelines here last summer and the wetlands the contractor dredged and failed to restore in our state forest, I’m disgusted by the Ruffed Grouse Society’s endorsement of natural gas development. They do not serve my interest as a sportsman. Working with the Marcellus Shale Coalition is unacceptable.

  2. We have over 55 padsites in our 99sq mile town in Arlington TX. Before any conservation society takes money, they need to take this advice as to what demands need to be made before entertaining any kind of “buy in”. And these itens don’t cover any human errors or accidents (we had a drill spill inour drinking water supply lake)….Frackers need to use electric rigs, frackers need NOT frack until they invent technology to keep their toxic silica dust on the padsite-those pathetic pillow case looking socks aren’t getting the job done….and they need to use scrubbers on the open hatch flowback tanks during topflow prior to Green Compeltions. Frackers need to have the pipeline in place FIRST so that flowback doesn’t sit in the ground for months festering a man-made hydrogen sulfide of stale water flowback. Frackers need to be set back away from people…one fracking mile for starters. But most of all if they can’t guarantee that the casings will last and the injections wells won’t migrate their horrid contents…then frackers need to spend their time & money on renewables. Sing with me now…OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUELS-MAKES A FEW RICH AND THE REST OF US FOOLS!

  3. Deposing Old King Coal – Chesapeake Energy and American Lung Association
    http://blog.shaleshockmedia.org/2012/08/13/deposing-old-king-coal/

    also see: Chesapeake Energy – Job not finished until paperwork is done
    http://blog.shaleshockmedia.org/2012/08/23/chesapeake-energy-job-not-finished-until-paperwork-is-done/

    Part 2: Chesapeake Energy – Behind the Curtain
    Part 3: Chesapeake Energy: A Problem like Aubrey
    Part 4: Chesapeake Energy: It’s Raining Shoes

    And: Energy-in-Depth (EID) “GAS”roots – 1
    http://blog.shaleshockmedia.org/2012/08/20/energy-in-depth-eid-gasroots-1/

    Energy-in-Depth (EID) “GAS”roots – 2: The Birth of Energy-In-Depth
    Energy-in-Depth (EID) “GAS”roots – 3

    Info on Brian Grove:
    Back Mountain Recreation
    Former Executive Director (2005-2006)
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-grove/9/433/4a8

    Baker, Lisa – Senator PA Legislature
    Former Campaign Manager (2005-2006)
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-grove/9/433/4a8

    Baker, Lisa – Senator PA Legislature
    Former Chief of Staff (2005-2009)
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-grove/9/433/4a8

    Chesapeake Energy Corporatiom
    Senior Director of Corporate Development – Northeast PA http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-grove/9/433/4a8

    Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Governor’s Office of Public Liason
    Former Director (2002-2006)
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-grove/9/433/4a8

  4. When an enormous corporation like Chesapeake can expect a non-profit like the Audubon Society to take money ill-got from its activities as an environmentally genocidal profiteer, we should become very very clear that corporations are far more than cesspools of bribery–they are sociopaths willing to utilize ANY means to their profiteering ends. Any means at all. In the film “Alien,” no matter how nasty was the monster, we could still identify with a creature trying to protect its young. The fracking corporations offer us no such avenue. Their ends are profit for profit’s sake. Wealth for the sake of its own endless accumulation. And what is the evidence of this? A corporation like Chesapeake that will use a charitable organization like the Audubon Society not merely to act as cover for its grotesque exploitation of precisely those environments for which it professes concern–but will utilize an economic recession to which it contributes as the leverage to extract both the land upon which habitat depends AND the consent of the societies it targets.

  5. So here’s Mike Knapp: Since wind generated power can hurt birds just as much as fracking can, fracking is good.

    Truth: To whatever extent EITHER can injure birds and other wildlife, we must consider the implications of both. But whereas wind CAN be regulated and limited in a fashion that is not a serious danger to bird wildlife, fracking cannot be. And whereas wind at least offers us a renewable source of energy, fracking destroys and then is exhausted. We must, indeed, do wind in a fashion that thinks very carefully through its implications for birds, bats, etc–but we must BAN fracking.

  6. We would like to clarify that Audubon is not accepting a $30 million donation from Chesapeake Energy and has no agreement or plans to do so, either directly from Chesapeake Energy or through any third party. So the answer to the question mark in the headline is, ‘No,’ and we’d like that to be very clear.

  7. You do know that the PA Audubon chapter is considered an independent entity from the National organization, and that even though the National Audubon doesn’t take money, local chapters can and may take donations from gas drillers.

    Also I need to clarify your sentence Chesapeake Energy donated $26 million to the Sierra Club from 2007 through 2010 as a public relations campaign to tout natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal.

    This is incorrect and Politico mislead its readers. The money had no strings attached, it was to use to stop coal use but not to promote natural gas as a bridge fuel.

    I am not saying the club was correct in taking the money, but the personnel who knew of the donations, and kept this information from the Board of Directors have been disciplined (as they are or were employees of the club the specifics are not allowed to be made public in accordance with California labor laws)(Sierra club is incorporated in the state of CA so those are the labor laws which govern human relations actions for the club) Also the club has revised its policies regarding donations and now does not take any donations from fossil fuel or nuclear companies, as well as any company which is considered a major threat to the environment.

  8. Dear Dave M.

    First, it is somewhat difficult to take you entirely seriously since you don’t use your full/real name.

    Second, whether or not the 26 million Chesapeake donated to the Sierra Club had strings attached is only minimally relevant. THAT the Sierra Club took the money from this deeply corrupted polluter IS the issue…and 26 million is not chump change for the Sierra Club even if it is for Aubrey McClendon.

    It’s great that the Sierra CLub doesn’t take any more money from fossil fuel corporations–but too late for many former members disappointed and distrusting of a club they thought really was FOR environmental integrity. Moreover, it’s not just about the fossil fuel corporations–it’s about an entire infrastructure and their affiliated corporations–like Aqua America, for example, that have thrown their own lots in with the likes of Chesapeake. Should Audubon or Sierra take money from Nick DeBenedictis? No–he is responsible for some of the most foul abuse of water on the eastern seaboard, and just because Aqua is not directly engaged in fracking doesn’t not make it a worthy donor. Audubon and Sierra have now to do their homework about ALL of their donors–and as this pool of the compromised gets larger and larger, the non-profits will have to make some very hard decisions about their bedfellows.

    • Dear Wendy,
      I have commented on other posts with the same name with no problem. (post s on 9/4/and 9/5) So I don’t understand why the grief about this post.

      My point was to clarify the article sited. Also yes, the club made a mistake, and thought that robbing Peter to pay Paul was ok, but the club did change its direction on natal gas, not as fast as others would have wanted but it did change and is now actively fighting against natural gas!

      The issue have is that it seems (particularly with people/groups working on Natural gas) that unless you agree 100% with their stance or position you become the enemy as well.

      Audubon (Both chapters and the national organization, Earthworks, Sierra Club and now the Natural Resources Defense Council have taken stances regarding natural gas, each has a different philosophy regarding the issues surrounding natural gas . However, what I hear from numerous people on “our side” is that group “A” is bad because they don’t follow our exact tact regarding this issue. The problem with this is that it keeps our community divided and fractured (no pun intended) and as a whole on local state or national issues All the general public sees is the fighting and not that each group is working on a different aspect. When our community is more interested in talking about its dirty laundry it keeps the effort as a whole from accomplishing anything.

  9. Dear Mr. Meiser,

    Thank you for identifying yourself–and too bad you still miss the point. I have no idea who Dave M. is, and can only assume Dave M. has something to hide.

    It’s GREAT that Audubon is taking up the fight against natural gas. I will look forward to seeing the evidence of this at protests, on billboards, and in all of the other relevant locations that all of the rest of us in the anti-fracking movement have risked to make clear our resistance to this egregious polluter.

    But in order to take up this fight seriously, you WILL have to come to terms with your false view that you have to agree 100% with the anti-fracking stance in order to avoid criticism. THAT is NOT what happened to the Audubon Society.

    The anti-fracking movement is VERY diverse, and includes activists from a VERY wide range of organizations–from earth First to the Responsible Drilling Alliance, from Occupy Well Street to the gas Drilling Awareness Coalition. We include vegans and hunters, farmers and city-dwellers–and this movement is quite global in scope. There IS no single “stance.” This is rather like claiming that there is a single “feminist” stance or “the view of THE African American.” No such thing, and to insist that there must be such a “stance” is nothing more than a strategy to dismiss the critic. So, no go here.

    Fact is, you guys took MONEY–and LOTS OF IT–from precisely the mega-corporations responsible for destroying our ecologies, our water, our air, our communities, and our ways of life–especially in rural regions. You took MONEY saturated by the suffering of our rivers, our wildlife, our children. That is not a “mistake.” It is SHAMEFUL, and you unequivocally ought to have known better.

    Moreover, while it’s great that the environmental organizations have begun to get on board with the facts about hydraulic fracturing and its dangers, they SHOULD have been a leader–not a follower. This is not to say that they can’t make a substantive contribution–but it will have to be a LOT more than merely adopting anti-fracking as part of their stated positions on issues. You’ll all now need to show US the money, as it were. We need to see you walking the walk–not just talking the talk. After all, some of us our out here risking arrest for the sake of preventing yet another fracked well from being drilled. Some of us are LIVING in this nightmare. I appreciate that you aren’t likely to get unanimity for any particular action you undertake to publicly oppose fracking–you might lose some members. But, I’ll tell you what, you’ll lose many MORE members–just like me–if you don’t get a little braver and put some teeth into your positions. When your members are more interested in dishing over their internal poo than they are the issues–especially one as pressing as the dangers of fracking–you’ve already lost your organization–and to that extent I feel for you.

    But I don’t have time for much sympathy.

    We are at war out here.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  10. Wendy

    You with your post you just substantiated my point,

    For example this paragraph

    Fact is, you guys took MONEY–and LOTS OF IT–from precisely the mega-corporations responsible for destroying our ecologies, our water, our air, our communities, and our ways of life–especially in rural regions. You took MONEY saturated by the suffering of our rivers, our wildlife, our children. That is not a “mistake.” It is SHAMEFUL, and you unequivocally ought to have known better.

    Hindsight is always 20/20 and it is quite easy to preach and pontificate on who has the higher moral ground. People need to follow this native american quote. Never judge a man till you have walked two moons in his moccasins.

    You also prove my point of forcing your own opinion on the policy of other organizations

    In addition you also have shown by this post exactly what I meant when I said: “The issue have is that it seems (particularly with people/groups working on Natural gas) that unless you agree 100% with their stance or position you become the enemy as well.”

    “you’ll lose many MORE members–just like me–if you don’t get a little braver and put some teeth into your positions. When your members are more interested in dishing over their internal poo than they are the issue”

    Also I am concluding by your same sentence you don’t seem to know what the Sierra Club is dong in regard to natural gas here Are just a few actions the club has undertaken with regard to natural gas

    (it isn’t just fracking the club is opposing it is the use of fossil fuel methane)

    The club was one of the major sponsors of the Stop the Frack Attack meeting and Rally in Washington DC, the club opposing and challenging every LNG export terminal in the US, especially Cove Point MD. It took the lead on Opposing the BLM’s regulations concerning drilling on public lands. It is actively protesting and commenting for EPA to ban diesel in Fracknig fluid. It is organizing citizen water sentinels in NY and many other states to monitor for pollution from gas drilling. It is taking legal action on pipelines in NY, NJ OR TX as well as Keystone XL. Fighting for strict Air regulations in CO and WY caused by existing gas drilling/distribution infrastures. In OR a natural gas pipeline would slice through public forest, rivers and streams is being fought as well There are may other items I have obviously missed.

    Most of these actions you don’t see in the media because the medial feels these are not “press worthy” So while you don’t see much in the papers there is quite a bit of action taking place.

  11. Dear Dave, AS I had said–I am VERY happy that the Sierra CLub is getting on board with the anti-fracking movement. GREAT! I had indeed checked all of this out before I drafted my response. And I am very happy to see that SC is using its capacity to make challenges to laws and regulations which clearly privilege the relevant corporations a part of its platform. This does not mitigate, however, against the fact that SC ought never to have taken any ill-gotten money in the first place, nor does it make those decisions merely “mistakes.” These were mistakes that effectively made SC an associate of the fracking industry and allowed corporations like Chesapeake use the term “environmental” for cover–you helped Chesapeake legitimate itself as a “green” company when is precisely the opposite. While going pro-active is certainly a great good–YEAH FOR YOU!–there will be much work to be done to repair the damage that the exploitation of your image as an environmental organization has caused. You’re kind of like the spouse who cheats, gets caught, says they’re sorry, does finally actually feel bad enough to bring flowers, and even offers to plant them. I–and many others–will take you seriously the very moment Chesapeake, Inergy, Cabot, etc attack you–in public, that is when YOUR organization has to withstand the heat WE are already getting–and still fights on. Only then can you say your flowers are growing.

  12. Wow Wendy talk about a low blow, I am sorry but your comment is lower than the attack articles from Energy In Depth! Considering you are (or were) one of my Facebook friends you most certainly know that I lost my wife to cancer in January of this year. Your response just shows again how obdurate people like you are and how you have to resort just like Tom of EID to attacking the person and not the information.

    It is obvious that you don’t know anything about the Sierra Club if you say “will take you seriously the very moment Chesapeake, Inergy, Cabot, etc attack you–in public, that is when YOUR organization has to withstand the heat WE are already getting” Sierra has been attacked by industry and others more times than you can say frack. Just a few of the recent comment in the news

    Just look at the Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304363104577390432521371296.html
    Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2011/08/18/the-sierra-club-fails-an-environmental-consistency-test/

    or Congressional testimony http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.LiveStream&Hearing_id=e3793731-802a-23ad-477e-50688b7ea737

    The ad hominem attacks by Energy in depth are spiteful while I did try to support you and others who were attacked by EID I am now wondering it was worth the effort.

    I am again going to circle around to my original point of my first post, It is because of the venom being spewed and the backbiting as well as the personal attacks from people who can not, or will not see the other person’s perspective that is keeping people away from joining the fight.

    Meanwhile Tom Shepstone, Governor Corbett, and Aubrey McClendon are watching and laughing at us!

  13. Response to attack (Facebook) by Dave Meiser’s daughter, Manie:

    Dear Manie:

    Really, you and your dad need to get a grip. I had NO idea your mother had died. NONE. I do NOT spend time on the pages of my Facebook friends. I don’t have this kind of time. I am nothing but sorry for this suffering–but it has NOTHING to do with my criticism of the position your father has taken on the enormous donation the Sierra Club accepted from the fracking industry.

    Moreover, I was unequivocally NOT calling your father a cheater.

    My point–as I am sure you both know–is that taking money from the fracking industry is LIKE cheating on a spouse in the sense that it involves a fundamental betrayal of a relationship. To then recognize the wrong and try to make up for it is fine, but this takes time–It’s not as if a betrayal of that magnitude can be fixed with an “I’m sorry,” and “here are some flowers.” No, The Sierra Club (which is NOT your father–and it is arrogant to identify him with it) owes its members (of which I had been one very likely as long as he had) far more than mere apology. And I see–as I have said over and over–that they are making an effort.

    When I see this effort sustained, when your members take the risks that we out here in the trenches of this war are taking, when the Sierra Club is attacked by the likes of EID–THAT is when it deserves my membership. What you and your father are engaged in right now is called a RED HERRING–an attempt to distract the readers of these comments from the real issues with something that appears to be relevant but ISN’T. You mother’s loss is a terrible tragedy–and you should both be ashamed to be using it to attack a critic of your organization. My criticism isn’t personal–and you both damn well know it.

    Response to Dave Meiser:

    Again–you [Dave and his daughter, Manie] both need to re-read my post. The ‘You” is OBVIOUSLY a reference to The Sierra Club and NOT to Dave Meiser. I have brought no one down. I have stomped on no one. That you identify this closely and obviously personally with the Sierra Club is something you might want to review. You are NOT the Sierra Club–however much you identify with its goals. But I might make this observation: If you think that the criticism I have rendered of the Sierra Club is rough–and I am critical–though in no way personal–you may very well not be suited for the REALLY nasty stuff dished out by the like of Energy In Depth. And you may really not be prepared to make decision about what level of non-violent civil disobedience you’re prepared to commit to. I am a critic of Sierra Club betrayal of its members and the hypocrisy that followed that betrayal–Energy in Depth? They’re cheerleaders for genocidal profiteers. The difference? NIGHT AND DAY.

    One last point:

    Dave, you are a devoted member of SC. Well and Good. Bravo. But you are NOT the SC. I can only surmise that it is because you identify so closely with SC that you think I am attacking you personally. That–needless to say–is ridiculous. That you lost your wife is a terrible awful tragedy–and I am completely sorry about that. But to use THAT as a weapon against a critic in order to deflect attention away from the criticism….THAT is the real wrong done here.

    THAT is shameful, and, well, exactly the dirty poo to which the folks at EID resort.

    Wendy Lynne Lee–not this easily intimidated.

    *As for the EID folks and others watching–buddy, they were watching and laughing the moment they realized they could buy environmental organizations. If you’d like to vent your anger somewhere useful, talk to the folks at The Environmental Defense Fund: http://www.businessinsider.com/environmental-defense-fund-supports-fracking-2012-9.

  14. Pretending to be united only helps those pollution-friendly ‘safe fracking’ orgs like the National $ierra Club, NRDC, National Wildlife Federation etc. Why? Because if we pretend we’re all on the same team, the politicians will gladly take the easiest, lowest common denominator position, and support ‘safe fracking’ instead of a ban and rapid transition to renewables.

    Dave Meiser and other boosters of the $ierra Club know this very well as do the ‘environmental’ group$ pushing ‘safe fracking’.

    Shame on them.

    As for making amends, a quiet disciplinary action is not enough. I think at very least the recommendations by Luanne Kozma and Greg Pallast here (http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/newsfrom187/entry/6799/P50/ see comment 67 and especially 70) are required to start to make amends. Meanwhile, the $ierra Club National imposes a gag on state chapters against their advocacy for a ban and undermines movements like the Constitutional referendum for a ban in Michigan by pushing fake anti-fracking legislation which would gag doctors etc. (see Ban Michigan Fracking). .

  15. Wendy,
    First off directly quoted from your post:

    “You’re kind of like the spouse who cheats, gets caught, says they’re sorry, does finally actually feel bad enough to bring flowers, and even offers to plant them.

    Yet you say in your next post this insult is “though in no way personal” is hogwash! it was meant as a direct attack at me.
    That is an insult directed toward me and there is no way to spin that.

    You gave condolences regarding my wife’s passing so don’t tell me you didn’t know!

    As for your post on me not representing the club”
    I am a member of the Sierra Club therefore I am the Sierra Club, along with the other 2 million members. The club is a member driven organization and every person who is in the Sierra club represents the club. While some have elected titles and hold officer positions it is a grassroots organization first and foremost. the membership elect its leaders, the membership determine the policy the membership manage and direct the staff.

    So when people criticize the club they are criticizing every person in the club.

    • This is drivel and nonsense. As a member of the NY Atlantic Chapter they tried to silence our support for a ban on fracking here. I won’t comment any more because so many comments here have so much information and links to facts about the corrupt NGO establishment.

        • Thank you Debbie–and you’re right. This was drivel. The more I reflect on it, the angrier it makes me. I have read and re-read the post in which I draw the analogy to a cheating spouse. It is ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that I am referring to THE SIERRA CLUB THROUGHOUT, and not to Mr. Meiser. I stand by it and will even repeat it: THE SIERRA CLUB IS LIKE A CHEATING SPOUSE WHO MAY RECOGNIZE THE ERROR OF HIS/HER WAYS, BUT EXPECT TO BE FORGIVEN WITH THE MERE DELIVERY OF FLOWERS WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE TO SHOW THEIR GENUINE CONTRITION VIA REAL ACTION, REAL RISK, AND REAL RESULTS. I wasn’t referring to Mr. Meiser at all, and he should be embarrassed. The closest one could possibly get to an accusation of Mr. Meiser himself is if Mr. Meiser IS the Sierra Club (and he does indeed think so), but that is manifestly ludicrous.

          Moreover (see below), turns out the Sierra Club is still in fact a potentially cheating spouse. Insofar as its 2009 statement on fracking in NO way calls for a ban, but simply regulation, it’s like a spouse who says “No, honey, I’m not really cheating, we’re just friends,” when you know damn well that more–maybe not full-on-affair, but some smooching is still going on.

          Simple fact is that the Sierra Club presents two-faces here–one that is really doing some good in the anti-fracking fight, and the other that threatens to undermine all of this good by being an ultimately gutless wonk for “regulation,” when what MUST be accomplished is a BAN. Is this latter a “my way or the highway” sort of position? May be–but it’s one adopted by more and more of thousands and thousands of people every day.

          lastly, to agitate for only regulation and not a ban ignores the plenitude of other issues that attend fracking. I and many others have been talking about these for YEARS now.That the Sierra Club seems only now and dimply to be getting a clear idea of these is disheartening, and no amount of regulation is going to address them adequately.

          The death of Mr. Meiser’s wife is a tragedy to be sure. And I am very sorry for it. That he should use that death as a weapon to attack those with whom he disagrees is unseemly, and almost certainly not something she would have wanted. I hope he stops.

          • Example of the Sierra Club’s policy inconsistency:

            The Sierra Club’s stated position on Act 13 is really useful:

            http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/downloads/FrackingMythbustersFactSheet.pdf.

            Way to go! Right on Sierra Club!

            In fact, it’s far more consistent with a ban than it is with regulation.

            So why not just end this nonsense about Safe fracking? Why not just end the nonsense about fracking in “appropriate” locations?

            Why not just join the anti-fracking movement?

          • Lets get the actual quote from your post on September 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

            “You’re kind of like the spouse who cheats, gets caught, says they’re sorry, does finally actually feel bad enough to bring flowers, and even offers to plant them.”

            That is a direct attack directed toward me! you can change the words but it is in black and white in that comment.

            As for my post about using the death of my wife I was not talking about what my daughter posted YOU gave me condolences in previous Facebook posts when I posted about my wife.

  16. Posted these comments on Facebook:

    Here is the official policy on fracking for the Sierra Club. I’ve been surprised since it was issued in 2009 that it commits to the fiction that natural gas drilling can be safe and that the Club supports it only if it’s safe and until then supports a moratorium. The Club only supports a ban in “inappropriate places” which implies that there are “appropriate” places. I would ask David M where an “appropriate” place may be? Also if there is no “appropriate” place, why does the Club’s policy position still stand as written? The great scientists and researchers of the Club ought to know the “safe” drilling scenario is complete fiction. There’s a huge body of evidence that proves this to be true. I don’t know if the original version of the policy position was written to appease Chesapeake Energy, but it’s still inadequate and not in line with the vast majority of grass roots people in impacted areas fighting to keep drilling and related infrastructure out of their communities, not make it “safe”.

    http://www.sierraclub.org/policy/conservation/NaturalGasFracking.pdf

    Also, this is the national position and there are many Sierra Club members, supporters, staff, and entire chapters who would like to push it farther who have come out for a ban since and support bans in their states and communities (New York is a great example). Comments to me and on articles critical of the Club are proof that the national policy people need to play catch up with the rest of us.

    Also, just be really careful when you criticize Sierra Club to make sure you’re talking about the leadership. I try to make that distinction when I criticize any unions, companies, or government bodies. There are usually poor schmucks at the bottom who we can win to our side if we don’t rope them into the same rodeo as their bosses.

  17. Mr. Meiser,

    I am done here. The context makes the “You’re” of the sentence you insist is personal absolutely clear. It’s the Sierra Club. Why you want to persist in this absurdity is beyond me. Why you’d think anyone (especially someone who does not know you) would have reason to attack your wife or your relationship is truly bizarre. I can only surmise that you need targets for your anger about her death, and that this is a case of such a transferal. Or you are so clear–as we all are–that the Sierra Club is in fact engaged in a deep-going and pernicious hypocrisy–that you need to erect a really BIG red herring to distract us from it. Either way, you’re just off the track, and it’s clear that rational discourse isn’t going to help you back. I hope you’ll consider getting help (or better help) dealing with the tragedy of your wife’s passing–and I say this out of nothing but sincere concern for your psychological health.

    I will not comment further.

  18. Well if you think this is bad let me tell you about how the Audubon Society has been in regards to industrial wind farms and birds. We bought a retirement place on the Garden Peninsula in Upper Michigan because of the bounty and diversity of birds there, only to find out that an industrial wind farm was being planned for. No vote was allowed on this. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency kept writing the wind developer to not build there because it was a major part of the “Lake Michigan Flyway”. But the company ignored these letters and went ahead anyway. It even made up a poster that was an outright lie that said that no significant migratory birds and bats existed there. I was furious and contacted both the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and either got no response or letters saying that they supported (500) foot wind turbines. I wrote back and called them “betrayers of birds” and they’d never get me to be a member again. All bird enthusiasts should do the same. The Audubon Society is the biggest Benedict Arnold around and has been corrupted by big corporate monies and profiteers. Shame on them. We have alot of fog on our peninsula. And I’m going to weep when I see whole sections of flocks getting wiped out. And the scientists say that 200 bats will be killed each night. I’ll be cursing the Audubon Society then.

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