|11-21-2011, 10:53 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Member # 3975
Sierra Club leader departs amid discontent over group's direction
By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2011
The chairman of the Sierra Club, one of the nation's most influential environmental groups, has stepped down amid discontent that the group founded by 19th century wilderness evangelist John Muir has strayed from its core principles.
The departure of Carl Pope, 66, a member of the club for more than 40 years, comes as the nonprofit group faces declining membership, internal dissent, well-organized opponents, a weak economy and forces in Congress trying to take the teeth out of environmental regulations.
Pope became chairman of the club in 2010, after serving for more than 17 years as executive director. He was replaced by Michael Brune, 40, a veteran of smaller activist groups, who has pledged to concentrate on grass-roots organizing, recruit new members and focus on such issues as coal-fired power plants. "We have different approaches," Brune said of his relationship with his predecessor.
Pope said he will leave his position as chairman to devote most of his time to "revitalizing the manufacturing sector" by working with organized labor and corporations. That emphasis caused schisms in the club, most notably when he hammered out a million-dollar deal with household chemical manufacturer Clorox to use the club's emblem on a line of "green" products and, more recently, with its support of utility-scale solar arrays in the Mojave Desert, the type of place the club made its reputation protecting.
"I'm a big-tent guy, " Pope said in an interview in the group's San Francisco headquarters. "We're not going to save the world if we rely only on those who agree with the Sierra Club. There aren't enough of them. My aim is getting it right for the long term. I can't get anything accomplished if people think: 'This guy is not an honest broker. He's with the Sierra Club.' "
Pope led the Sierra Club's efforts to help protect 10 million acres of wilderness, including California's Giant Sequoia National Monument, and brought litigation challenging the right of then-Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force to secretly hash out energy policy with major oil companies. Pope also co-wrote California's Proposition 65, which allowed citizens to sue polluters if they failed to comply with the law. More recently, he helped block 150 proposed coal-fired power plants.
But his tenure was marked by controversial decisions that revealed the costs and political consequences behind the brand of environmental activism he practiced. Acrimony remains over the 2008 Clorox deal, which brought the club $1.3 million over the four-year term of the contract, according to Pope.
Many of the rank and file felt Pope diminished the role of chapter experts and volunteers who have sustained the organization since Muir first championed California's Sierra Nevada and an expanding list of American wild places, favoring paid staffers and attorneys and chumming with political players such as United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The longest-serving executive director in club history, Pope pulled the group closer to large donors and redirected efforts toward fighting climate change over narrowly focused campaigns to protect wild places. The group's support for utility-scale solar development, which threatens such species as the desert tortoise, captures the philosophical shift that occurred under Pope.
"If we don't save the planet, there won't be any tortoises left to save," Pope said.
The 66-year-old Harvard graduate acknowledged that big challenges await his successor, who will manage a budget of nearly $100 million and a staff of about 600. Pope earned a salary of $207,374 in 2010, the last year for which figures were available.
The Sierra Club leadership, which is elected by members, sought to minimize the issue of philosophical differences between Pope and Brune and to focus on a smooth transition.
"We're fortunate that the two of them work so well together, and that Carl has done such a great job of passing the torch," said Sierra Club Board President Robin Mann, who praised Pope's "groundbreaking work," including developing alliances with labor that "put us in a whole different position in terms of influence."
Brune, who has undergraduate degrees in economics and finance, previously worked for the Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace, groups known for scrappy and theatrical anti-corporate tactics. That background emerges in his view of the group's relationship with Clorox, a company that has had a checkered environmental past.
"We're done with Clorox," Brune said in an interview. "The contract with Clorox runs out in December, and by mutual consent it will not be renewed."
"I'm not going to bring any deals to the board that would negatively impact the Sierra Club brand," he added. "Nor will we associate with any company that has a green product line and also produces products that can damage the environment in ways they are not willing to address."
Pope had blunt words for critics of the Clorox decision: "I could predict with 90% certainty where somebody would stand on the Clorox controversy by knowing one bit of demographic data. The people in the Sierra Club who had significant concerns were between 50 and 68. They were people who cut their teeth on the counterculture greening-of-America anti-business stuff of the 1970s."
That assessment rankled Brune, who will have to address a decline in paid membership, from 714,000 in 2005 to 616,000 today.
"Over the next year we will be adding a million members and supporters," Brune said. "In order to get off coal, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse emissions, we'll need an army of well-trained volunteers, as well as lobbyists and lawyers. Our members will be finding new members as tenacious and devoted to finding solutions as they are. We'll be activating and inspiring everyday people who genuinely care about the environment."
That kind of talk "is refreshing," said Joan Taylor, a Sierra Club activist of 40 years.
"We desert activists felt the club had abandoned the desert in the name of ramping up utility-scale renewable energy projects," Taylor said. "We don't need the club beholden to big labor and big corporations. That's a huge error in judgment. Eventually, it can't help but affect what you can say and what you can do."
Ed Mainland, co-chairman of Sierra Club California's energy-climate committee, said: "I'm hopeful there will be a change of course. We shouldn't be in bed with industry and utilities. Big donors start dictating policy."
Pope agreed, to a point.
"The biggest source of legitimate unhappiness," Pope said, "has been that after 9/11, the Sierra Club and all other membership organizations started getting less and less individual donations — so we became more reliant on money that came with strings. That's the reality of the world."
The club has received hefty financial contributions over the last two decades, including more than $100 million from clean-energy investor David Gelbaum. In July, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's main charitable organization announced it would donate $50 million over four years to the club's campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants.
Pope acknowledged that many people in the organization disagreed with his fundraising philosophy. "But my view and the view of the board," Pope said, "was that accepting some loss of flexibility for some increase in clout was a risk worth taking."
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|11-21-2011, 11:34 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Member # 13974
Lets add some change at the Wilderness society to the mix shall we?
Thanks to Greenwire/ E&E for the story.
Wilderness Society sheds 17 percent of staff, seeks new president
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
The Wilderness Society, one of the nation's largest public lands advocacy groups, this week cut about 17 percent of its workforce, a reflection of challenging economic times for nonprofits.
The staffing change comes shortly after the group's president, William Meadows, announced he will transition out of his position over the next year to become a counselor until a new president is chosen.
The Washington, D.C.-based group, which currently runs on a $26.7 million annual budget, cited reduced donations amid a sluggish economy as one reason for the cuts.
"The Wilderness Society, like so many other organizations, has been feeling the effects of a down economy, creating budget pressures," said spokeswoman Kitty Thomas. "The recent staff reduction is part of the normal course of business to make sure we are running efficiently and well positioned for the future."
The group's latest federal filing indicates that contributions and grants fell from $32 million in 2009 to $20 million in 2010, a change the group largely attributed to one pledge it received in 2009 to be used over three years. Expenses exceeded revenues by about $7 million in 2010.
Total staff numbered 224 in October 2010 but has now been reduced to 155, Thomas said.
Thomas said the group -- with offices in Denver; Bozeman, Mont.; and Boise, Idaho, among other locations -- will continue its focus on protecting wild lands, as well as promoting site-appropriate renewable energy development and conservation funding.
The group will deepen its administrative work on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management wild lands to maximize land protections, she said. Recently, it has fought to defend federal support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and pass several wilderness proposals in Congress, while defending a Republican push to overturn millions of acres of roadless protections.
The group is also a frequent plaintiff in lawsuits challenging Obama administration decisions to allow drilling in sensitive waters or development on scenic or wildlife-rich lands.
"In just the last month we have contributed to some important victories, including a big win in the courts for roadless forests and the designation of a new national monument," Thomas said. "We continue to focus on our vital mission to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places."
The group reported capital reserves and endowment investments at all-time highs of $26 million in 2010, due in part to generous pledges in 2009 by donors who significantly increased giving despite the economic downturn. It listed more than 500,000 members and supporters in 2010, a more than 25 percent increase over two years ago.
Meadows, who has served as president since 1996, told the group's governing council of his plans to leave his post at the board's annual meeting in West Virginia in September.
"This is a change I have been planning for the last two years," Meadows said. "In the coming months, I am committed to ensuring a smooth leadership transition for TWS. Once a new president is chosen, I am looking forward to filling a new role as counselor to the organization, where I will remain dedicated to protecting our wild places."
Meadows is credited for helping the group promote protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and defend the Clinton administration's sweeping rule to protect 58.5 million acres of roadless forests. He is also credited for achieving permanent protection for more than 5 million acres of wilderness nationwide, among other accomplishments.
The change at TWS comes shortly after the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, announced it would remain independent despite drawing most of its funding from energy companies including Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Entergy Corp. (Greenwire, Nov. 9).
The new Center for Climate and Energy Solutions will retain as much independence as it did when it was 70 percent funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, its president, Eileen Claussen, said.
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|11-21-2011, 04:26 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Member # 3975
OMG, the Pew announcement is as laughable as the rest of these bogus environmental group lead changes, reorganizations, staff reductions and changes in funding sources.
Climate, Energy Think Tank Gets New Backers
Article By: Marty Niland
"A major climate and energy think tank is no longer getting most of its funding from a charitable trust and is now relying on corporate funding.
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change announced today it is changing its name to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, after the Pew Charitable Trusts, which had provided more than 70 percent of the center's funding since the center opened in 1998, ended their financial relationship. Tracy Schario, a spokeswoman for the Pew Clean Energy Program, told energyNOW! that the Pew Trusts, which changed status in 2004 from a foundation to a public charity, no longer makes signature grants to outside groups. Schario said the trusts would continue their own work on energy and climate issues.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions will be funded through what it terms "strategic partnerships," with Entergy Corp., an electric utility and generation company based in New Orleans; Hewlett-Packard, a global information technology company based in Palo Alto, CA; and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, one of the world's largest oil companies, based in the Netherlands. Additional funding will come from lcoa Foundation, Bank of America, General Electric, The Energy Foundation, Duke Energy, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Eileen Claussen, who will continue as the center's president, said the group and its research would not be influenced by funding from energy companies. "We have always been independent and we intend to remain independent," she said at a news conference. Claussen said the companies have their own industry associations and lobbyists working for them in Washington, and that would not be part of her group's work. "They're looking to us for objective analysis," she said.
While the Pew Center's efforts included support for climate change legislation in Congress, Claussen said that will not be a focus of the new organization. She said the group's work would include research on deployment of plug-in electric vehicles, carbon capture technology and enhanced oil recovery and educating consumers and corporate employees on reducing energy use and carbon footprints."
Old man Pew started his empire in the late 19th century exploiting "dirty oil sand" and could care less about the environment, this continued well into the 20th century and created a mass of wealth, environment be damned.
It wasn't until he died that his heirs realized they needed to create all of their charitable "Trusts" and "Research" entities as a method of covering their tracks so they could continue to conduct business as usual.
Now they are switching it up? In the end its SSDD!!!
|11-21-2011, 04:29 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Member # 3975