You have to hand it to the fractivists; they know how to do propaganda and this week’s Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Helen Slottje, is no exception.
Helen Slottje has been received a lot of news coverage this week regrading the announcement of a $175,000 award from the Goldman Environmental Foundation for her work in getting New York towns to pass bans and moratoriums against natural gas development in that forlorn state. Most of them have been fawning pieces of pseudo- journalism that are little more than propaganda. This story, at least, quoted our own Rachael Bunzey to give an alternate perspective but, as is typical, waited until the 20th paragraph of the story to do so. Rachael will be telling the rest of story on these pages tomorrow, but there a couple of things worth noting now.
Helen Slottje Gets Green Award from Friends of Park
The Golden Environmental Prize is given out every year to a handful of environmentalists on six continents. It is described by the grantor, the Goldman Environmental Foundation, as follows:
The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives an award of $150,000, the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.
Helen Slottje is hardly a “grassroots environmentalist” given the fact her effort was launched and has been largely financed by the Park and Rockefeller families and their trial lawyers friends at the Sustainable Markets Foundation. This isn’t what most interesting in this instance, however. Rather, it is the fact this is simply another donation of funds to the anti-fracking cause by the same club of special interests that finances the campaign everywhere. The award even comes with a suggestion to donate more to the cause.
The Goldman Environmental Foundation was created by Richard and Rhoda Haas Goldman. Like so many of the anti-fracking groups, this one is located in San Francisco, on the left coast. Richard founded Goldman Insurance and Risk Management and Rhonda was an heiress to the Levi Strauss fortune. They established the Richard & Rhonda Goldman Fund in 1951 and the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1990. The Fund was closed upon Richard’s death and the monies apparently devolved to the Goldman Environmental Foundation ($112 million in assets) and other foundations established by their children, including the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund ($187 million in assets).
It seemed more than a little strange that Helen Slottje would be picked as the recipient of this prize. Upstate New York is hardly an environmental disaster or likely to become one under any circumstance. Plus, her and her husband’s efforts have been fleeting successes at best. Two of their moratoriums, in Binghamton and Sidney, went down in flames and others are not being renewed. Their bans are still in court being tested.
Finally, as the above map illustrates, virtually no ban and moratorium has been adopted in any community where it matters; they’re almost all in communities without viable Marcellus Shale gas. Yet, here she is getting this “Green Nobel” prize, as it’s sometimes called. Well, the answer may be in this story about the actual awards at which the thoroughly disreputable RFK, Jr. spoke and Bonnie Raitt (remember her?) entertained. Helen Slottje is quoted as follows:
“Here in California we have started conversations with activists and attorneys to bring some of our strategies that have been so successful in New York,” Slottje told the crowd raising her fist, “So California, please join us in saying ‘No Fracking way.’”
So, this award isn’t just about New York; it’s also about California, where Doug Goldman is trying to stop the fracking that even Jerry Brown recognizes as a good thing. He hopes to borrow Helen Slottje to create a little mo-jo there with some Potemkin bans and moratoriums. But, there’s also something else. Doug Goldman is closely allied with the Park Foundation in propagandizing against natural gas development and other environmental special interest causes.
The Park Foundation, the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Open Society Institute (George Soros) and the Wallace Global Fund, fractivist funders all, partnered to create and fund the Center for Media and Democracy, which puts out anti-capitalist blather from second generation capitalists. They also fund the Independent Media Institute, which initiated the SPIN Project, which provides propaganda training to members of Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and other like-minded enterprises funded by the same people.
One of our primary strategies has been the development of the Vision for Improved Environmental Coverage in collaboration with a range of key news media outlets and organizations. This Vision is designed to serve as a scaffold for innovation that defines the opportunity and outlines core principles for improved environmental coverage.
The “vision” is to propagandize, of course, although it’s stated in euphemisms. Also, notice the prominent roll of the Society of Environmental Journalists, which is one of the Park Foundation’s pet causes. This award to Helen Slottje is just more of the same and, to be fair, it’s a very effective way to gain the attention and increased environmental coverage desired, except that’s it’s all paid for and there’s nothing grass-roots about it. More from Rachael on that score tomorrow, but there’s one more thing too good to wait on.
Helen Slottje and Her Pink Patagonia Jacket
The Times-Union article on the award featured some very nice, high-resolution photos of Helen Slottje that readers can, for a fee, have imprinted on a matte, shirt, mug or apron. It’s a clever way to develop a profit center. Isn’t capitalism grand? It finds a way to earn money off its enemies’ enmity. As supporters of capitalism, we won’t interfere. Indeed, we urge you to go there and take notice of the nice jacket Helen is wearing. It’s Pink Patagonia (see advertisement to right).
What’s interesting about this jacket is that Patagonia uses fleece made partially from recycled plastic soda bottles. It’s a great idea, frankly, but we took a look at this once before. We documented how Patagonia does this. Short answer–they use natural gas, fracked gas in large part, to make these trendy products. They also know just how to package and market the product to self-righteous yuppie enviros by appealing to their guilt and desire to be stylish in alleviating it. More capitalism at work.
That’s not all of it, though, because the plastic itself came from natural gas, which contains ethane that is converted to ethylene that is used to make the bottles. So, Helen Slottje is wearing a natural gas product that has itself been further converted to fleece using natural gas. It’s increasingly fracked gas, too. No doubt, none of this matters much to Helen Slottje, for whom the Patagonia label signifies “I am and I care.” It sure demonstrates the shallowness of the opposition, though, does’t it? Pink and green have always gone together, you know.
(Hat tip: Curt Coccodrilli.)