Greenpeace, WWF, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Working Group, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy

Questionable Funding For Environmental Groups And What They Do With It

By —— Bio and Archives--August 9, 2018

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Questionable Funding For Environmental Groups
Many corporations provide funding to environmental groups and the level of funding has been growing. As Steve Goreham says, “We’re talking big dollars here. Corporate funding of environmental groups amounts to hundreds of million of dollars per year. In 2007, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Coca-Cola announced a multi-year partnership worth over $20 million to WWF. Home improvement retailer Lowe’s contributes more than $1 million each year to The Nature Conservancy for conservation projects in North America. In 2013, Wells Fargo bank provided $21.8 million in grants to nearly 500 environmental nonprofits. The Nature Conservancy received millions in contributions from oil giant BP. Boeing, Chevron, Clorox, ExxonMobil, Monsanto, Shell, Starbucks, and Walmart are just a few of the global corporations partnering with environmental groups. Saving the world has become big business for environmental NGOs, courtesy of contributions from corporate partners.” 1


In addition to the money NRDC wields to influence elections and energy policy

Greenpeace, the largest environmental organization in the world, will take in more than $10 million this year to support its US operations. The group has an organizational membership of more than 3 million and offices in more than 40 countries. This is the organization lobbying against every form of energy except wind and solar. They oppose GMOs. In fact, they are perhaps the world’s leading opponent to of ‘golden rice,’ the genetically engineered miracle food that can prevent debilitating deficiencies in millions of children worldwide. The have led the global campaign against the pesticide DDT. Hundreds of thousands now contract the malaria DDT could prevent. 2

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is one of the largest and most well-funded environmental groups in the United States. In 2013, NRDC had $268.1 million in financial assets and $116 million in income. The NRDC Action Fund brought in $1.7 million in revenue to support its lobbying efforts in 2013. Between 1998 and 2013, NRDC and its affiliates spent $9.5 million on lobbying and $1.6 million supporting political candidates. 3

In addition to the money NRDC wields to influence elections and energy policy, NRDC has developed cozy relationships with federal agencies. NRDC staff members have held 50 positions on 40 federal advisory committees. NRDC representatives submitted regulatory recommendations to 256 federal dockets, and the organization funded numerous congressional junkets, including 40 to Alaska for five members of Congress. Demonstrating the revolving door between NRDC and Capitol Hill, as of 2013, 10 NRDC lobbyists worked in congressional offices before they joined the group. 3

NRDC throws lavish parties for EPA and have even gotten their own employees hired, using specially created job descriptions that have nothing to do with science in order to make them qualified to work there. The government’s own GAO criticized the administration for engaging in ‘propaganda’ related to environmental goals. 4

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) will raise more than $12 million this year. These are the “your sunscreen is giving you cancer people.” You can find them behind almost any chemical scare spreading across the web. Examples: fresh fruits and vegetables are covered in toxins, lipstick gives you lead poisoning, baby bottles are toxic. And so on. This group has mastered the art of turning bogus scare campaigns into donation dollars. They are responsible for some of the worst pseudoscience fear mongering around, including the reprehensible claim that vaccines can lead to autism. 2

Each year since 1991, the USDA has been publishing the results from a large-scale pesticide residue monitoring program call the PDP. Each year, a different set of crops is chosen and samples purchased from regular stores and tested. Year after year, the results of these studies confirm the safety of the food supply. Year after year, the EWG misrepresents the data to say otherwise. EWG generates an incorrect ‘grade’ for the crops and posts it as part of their ‘Shopper’s Guide,’ and on their notorious ‘Dirty Dozen List.’ 5

The Dirty Dozen may attract attention from concerned consumers, but it doesn’t use the same rigorous methods for measuring risk that food scientists typically do. A report by the World Health Organization and United Nations found that the Dirty Dozen list results in consumer perceptions about fruits and vegetables that go against dietary advice to eat more of them. The EWG performs their own analysis which research experts have rejected as utterly anti-scientific.6

Research using USDA data found levels of pesticides in 90 percent of cases from the 2010 Dirty Dozen List that were at least 1,000 times lower than the chronic reference dose which is the concentration of a chemical a person could be exposed to on a daily basis throughout life before risking harm.7

The Sierra Club is one of the best funded environmental activist groups with over $82 million in assets on its last tax return. One of the Sierra Club’s primary goals is to shrink our energy portfolio to only include renewable resources such as wind and solar. The Club runs campaigns aimed at eliminating the use of fossil fuels, including “Beyond Coal,” “Beyond Natural Gas,” and Beyond Oil.” Ending the use of fossil fuels isn’t enough for the Club, however, they also oppose the use of nuclear power and large scale hydropower.  Currently, Sierra Club approved energy sources contribute less than 5% of the power in the United States and their unrealistic energy policy would mean disaster for family budgets and the economy.  8

As part of their Beyond Coal campaign, in 2011 the group very publicly took $50 million form New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to further its campaign. But before that, they also took secret contributions of more than $25 million from Chesapeake Energy, one of the nation’s biggest owners of natural gas holdings. This was back when the Sierra Club saw natural gas as a preferred replacement for the nation’s coal-fired power. 9

But then something happened. Natural gas reserves boomed and electric utilities began converting some coal-fired plants to natural gas, prompting the Sierra Club to launch a sister campaign called “Beyond Natural Gas.” Just two years removed from accepting millions from a natural gas company, the group was opposed to natural gas as an energy source in principle. It wasn’t a change of heart, but a re-evaluation of strategy.

One observer has commented: “For an organization largely responsible for increasing coal production a generation ago, mainly because such promotion satisfied its ideology du jour, the Sierra Club’s current stance on electricity production is not just Beyond Coal, it’s Beyond Reason.” 9

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has a yearly annual income of more than $14 million. This group are experts at the scary press release. They have become America’s food police using shaky science to go after dozens of popular foods and demanding ridiculous levels of food labeling. Their founder is so obsessed with caffeine that he urges Americans to replace coffee ships with ‘carrot juice house.’ And, of course, they are violently anti-GMO.2

The NRDC, The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters accepted donations of $13.5, $15 and $18.1 million from the Sea Change Foundation. This group got $23 million from the shell corporation Klein Ltd, which only exists on paper. Klein Ltd has deep ties to Russian energy investment groups and is incorporated in the Bahamas so it doesn’t have to disclose its donors.  This is an example of high-level Russian oil and political interests funding and supporting American environmental groups which then launch attacks on the US natural gas and oil industry. 10

In another case, Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and the group it funds, like US Right To Know and the lawyer-run partisan attack site Sourcewatch, may be in a lot of trouble. Shortly after being revealed as the financial source for promoting anti-vaccine sentiment, they have now been shown to be working in collusion with the propaganda arm of the Kremlin. 11


1. Steve Goreham, Outside the Green Box, (New Lenox, IL, New Lenox Books, 2017)
2. Hank Campbell, private communication, August 2, 2018
3. Ron Arnold, Natural Resources Defense Council: the scaremongering chemophobe-in-chief,” Environmental & Climate News, March 2017
4. Hank Campbell, “Who watches the watchers?”, Priorities, July 2016
5. Steve Savage, “How wrong is the latest dirty dozen?”, appliedmythologyblogspot.com, May 16, 2013
6. Carl K. Winter and Josh M. Katz, “Dietary exposure to pesticide residues from commodities alleged to contain the highest contamination levels,” J. Toxicology, May 15, 2011
7. Kelly April, “Dirty dozen debate,” Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2011
8. “Sierra Club,” Activist Facts, accessed August 7, 2018
9. Lance Brown, “Sierra Club energy: beyond affordable,” masterresource.org, September 12, 2012
10. Andrew Follett, “Here’s how Russian oligarchs gave $23 million to US environmentalists,” The Daily Caller, December 8, 2015
11. Hank Campbell, “How the Kremlin manipulates environmentalists,”, and more ACSH links,”, acsh.org, May 22, 2017


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Jack Dini -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jack Dini is author of Challenging Environmental Mythology.  He has also written for American Council on Science and Health, Environment & Climate News, and Hawaii Reporter.

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