Ten days after the BP oil rig collapsed into a flaming ball of oil on April 20, I wrote a post about how most of the environmental groups still had nothing about it on their landing pages. Here was the Sierra Club’s landing page on the morning of April 30:
I chalked it up to an unwillingness to buck the White House, as President Obama had a press conference in the Rose Garden to announce the expansion of offshore drilling on March 31:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration. We’ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.
That’s why my administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic. That’s why we’ll continue to support development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska, while protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
But the Washington Post is reporting that money from BP itself was also complicating matters for the enviros:
[The Nature Conservancy] stress that contributions from BP and other large corporations constitute only a portion of the organization’s total revenue, which now exceeds a half billion dollars a year.
And the Conservancy is far from the only environmental nonprofit with ties to BP.
Conservation International has accepted $2 million in donations from BP over the years and partnered with the company on a number of projects, including one examining oil extraction methods. From 2000 to 2006, John Browne, who was then BP’s chief executive, sat on the board of Conservation International.
In response to the spill, executives at the nonprofit said they plan to review the organization’s relationship with the company, said Justin Ward, a Conservation International vice president.
“Reputational risk is on our minds,” Ward acknowledged.
The Environmental Defense Fund, which has a policy of not accepting corporate donations, joined with BP, Shell International and other major corporations to form the Partnership for Climate Action, which promotes “market-based mechanisms” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And about 20 energy and environmental groups, including the Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Audubon, joined with BP Wind Energy to form the American Wind and Wildlife Institute, which works to protect wildlife through “responsible” development of wind farms.
The reporter says that “Some purists believe environmental groups should keep a healthy distance from certain kinds of corporations, particularly those whose core mission poses risks to the environment.” No, what the “purists” actually believe is that these groups should not be raising money from the public to act as watchdogs of the oil companies, and then take money from the oil companies to rubber stamp their green washing efforts and shield them from criticism when they richly deserve it.
It’s known in common parlance as a “scam.”