Dossier

A publication providing succinct biographical sketches of environmental scientists, economists, "experts," and activists released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

 

Environmental Grantmakers Association

The Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) is an umbrella group of several hundred foundation and corporate givers to the environmental movement. The group was created in 1987 after several environmental grantmakers assembled in Washington, D.C. to discuss common interests and to learn more about each other's programs. The enthusiasm that ensued led the participants to make the meeting an annual event and the EGA was born.

Currently, the EGA has over 180 members. Some of the corporate EGA members include: Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, American Express Company, Chevron Oil and Chemical Company, General Electric, IBM Corporation, Merck Chemical Company, and Turner Broadcasting, just to name a few. Ironically, the environmental movement frequently rails against these very companies as "corporate polluters."

In recent years, the EGA has devoted enormous resources to discrediting the wise use movement -- a movement of farmers, ranchers, timber workers, miners and others who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. The last session of the EGA's 1992 closed-door meeting, for example, was entitled "The Wise Use Movement: Threats and Opportunities." This session, led by Debra Callahan of the W. Alton Jones Foundation and Judy Donald of the Beldon Fund, focused on the environmental movement's attempts to characterize the wise use movement as a group of "command and control, top-heavy corporate-funded front groups." But in fact, Callahan and Donald revealed, the wise use movement was "a local movement driven by primarily local concerns and not national issues... And in fact, the more we dig into it, having just put together over a number of months a fifty-state survey of what's going on, we have come to the conclusion that this is pretty much generally a grassroots movement, which is a problem, because it means there's no silver bullet."

Callahan and Donald's survey found the wise use movement to be a serious threat to the establishment environmental movement and advised environmentalists to use a two-pronged attack: "Tar wise use leaders" and "focus public attention on ties between wise use and extremists." The survey also suggested that environmentalists should attempt to link the wise use movement and its leaders to Lyndon LaRouche, Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, the John Birch Society, the Scientologists, Neo-Nazis, and the militias. Callahan went so far as to encourage attendees of the EGA's 1992 annual meeting to "Attack wise use... We need to... talk about the wise use agenda. We need to expose the links between wise use and other extremists: The Unification Church, the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche. We need to talk about the foreign influences."

During the early 1990's, the EGA offered funding to anyone who created materials characterizing the wise use movement as a front for corporations or as part of a far right, extremist terrorist network. David Helvarg, an author and writer for the Sierra Club, began writing articles attempting to tie the wise use movement to militias and the Oklahoma City bombing. These articles were part of the EGA grant-driven campaign to denounce the wise use movement. While working on his anti-wise use campaign, Helvarg participated in a news conference in Washington, D.C., where he accused the wise use and property rights movements of being accomplices with militias in blowing up the Oklahoma City federal building. "James Nichols, held as a material witness in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, is a member of the Michigan Property Rights Association, founded by property rights activist Zeno Budd," Helvarg said. "Budd, in turn was a featured speaker at a militia forum in Detroit." Helvarg also suggested that the wise use movement was the primary recruiting source for militias.

The EGA exercises enormous influence over the environmental movement's agenda by deciding which projects get funded and which do not. As Mother Jones (a decidedly left-wing publication) noted: "By deciding which organizations get money, the grant-makers help set the agenda of the environmental movement and influence the programs and strategies that activists carry out." Indeed, EGA coordinator Donald Ross once said "Funders have a major role to play [in the development of environmental policy agenda]."

Not all environmental groups are happy with the EGA's influence over the movement's agenda. Chuck Clusen of the American Conservation Association explains: "There's definitely a feeling on the part of the not-for-profit organizations that in cases of some of the campaigns... they resent funders, not just picking the issues, but also being directed in the sense of the kind of campaign, the strategy, the style, and so on."

 

Selected Quotes by and about the Environmental Grantmakers Association

"James Nichols, held as a material witness in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, is a member of the Michigan Property Rights Association, founded by property rights activist Zeno Budd. Budd, in turn, was a featured speaker at a militia forum in Detroit." -David Helvarg, former Sierra Club author, at a Washington D.C. press conference. Helvarg, at the time, was writing articles attempting to tie the wise use movement to militias and the Oklahoma City bombing. These articles were part of a grant-driven campaign funded by the EGA.

"[The wise use movement is] a local movement driven by primarily local concerns and not national issues... And in fact, the more we dig into it, having just put together over a number of months a fifty-state survey of what's going on (the MacWilliams Cosgrove Snider report), we have come to the conclusion that this is pretty much generally a grassroots movement, which is a problem, because it means there's no silver bullet." -Debra Callahan of the W. Alton Jones Foundation and Judy Donald of the Beldon Fund at the October 1992 closed-door meeting of the EGA repudiating the left-wing environmentalists' allegations that the wise use movement was a collection of command and control, top-heavy corporate-funded front groups.

"Economics is a very chauvinistic invention -- and I don't mean male chauvinist -- it is a species chauvinist idea. No other species on earth, and there may be 30 million of them, has had the nerve to put forth a concept called economics, in which one species, us, declares the right to put value on everything else on earth, in the living and non-living world." -Zoologist and environmental author David Suzuki in keynote address to the 1992 EGA retreat.

"There's definitely a feeling on the part of the not-for-profit organizations that... they resent funders, not just picking the issues, but also being directive in the sense of the kind of campaign, the strategy, the style, and so on." -Chuck Clusen of the American Conservation Association discussing the effort to control non-profit environmental organizations through the power of the purse as discussed at the 1992 annual retreat of the EGA.

"Attack wise use... We need to... talk about the wise use agenda. We need to expose the links between wise use and other extremists: the Unification Church, the John Birch Society, Lydnon LaRouche. We need to talk about the foreign influences." - League of Conservation Voters President Deb Callahan at the October 1992 closed-door meeting of the EGA advising environmentalists on ways to stop the growing wise use movement.

"By deciding which organizations get money, the grant-makers help set the agenda of the environmental movement and influence the programs and strategies that activists carry out." - Mother Jones magazine.

"[The EGA's purpose is] to promote recognition that the environment and its inhabitants are endangered by unsustainable human activities and to increase the resources available to address environmental concerns." - Some of the stated purposes of the EGA according to one of their brochures.

Version date: September 1997

 



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