The Rockefellers say they’re divesting themselves from fossil fuels but their “decision” is a part of a long-running phony PR campaign.
There has been much hoopla, even in the oil and gas world, about the Rockefellers divesting themselves from fossil fuels, as if they had made some sort surprising recent decision of great import. The truth is this; they didn’t join the divestment movement. Rather, they created it and have funded every part of it from the very beginning. Moreover, their decision, such as it is, of so little real world consequence as to be laughable, as is the case with the actions of their friends among other elitist foundations.
The Rockefellers and Their Agents
The Rockefellers are, as regular readers of this blog know, behind the NRDC, the Sustainable Markets Foundation, the Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Delaware Riverkeeper and numerous other fractivist groups and initiatives across the country and in Canada. The fossil fuels divestment gig is part of a larger strategy aimed at frustrating all growth that diminishes their influence and threatens what they like to enjoy in their extravagance. They’ve opposed growth and hated the source of their wealth ever since the guilt-ridden son of John D. Rockefeller made friends with Ida Tarbell, his nemesis. The subsequent generations became obsessed with environmental causes and population control, desiring to keep the masses in check.
Ron Arnold, an author and columnist, writes about Rockefellers and their divestment charade over at CFact.org, offering these insights regarding the statement issued by the Rockefellers through the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF):
Is RBF’s divestment from the energy source that keeps America running financially significant? We should be able to find out because the Fund is a private foundation, meaning that all its investments are public information under the law and must be shown on its annual IRS Form 990-PF. What does it say?
A lot of nothing, really: RBF has its $700.2 million portfolio invested in 52 commingled investment funds and 50 limited partnerships that don’t have to reveal their investments and trades, so even RBF itself doesn’t know from day to day whether fossil fuel shares might be in them.
RBF directors can instruct their key investment management contractor, Investure LLC – which has $487.9 million of the total $700 million invested in five of its own funds – to dump fossil fuel holdings, but that would require a very cautious, very slow process so board members could make sure they don’t violate their fiduciary trust to keep the Fund solvent.
RBF’s visible investments in fossil fuel limited partnerships – both of them, Natural Gas Partners VIII and NGP Energy Technology Partners – were sold off in 2012 as dead weight, costing RBF a net capital loss of $49,000. At the same time, RBF also dumped its three biofuel investments at a loss over a million dollars.
Nothing indicates anything else solid to divest, but there could be hundreds of millions tucked in there and nobody would know.
There’s no evidence, in other words, that the Rockefellers have anything significant to divest and, even if they did, they probably wouldn’t know where or how much. They could also tons of money in fossil fuels and we would have no way of knowing where or how much. The numbers being thrown around are utterly meaningless.
The Rockefellers’ Foundational Role in Environmental Politics
Arnold goes on to reveal more of how they’ve been doing this in recent years:
…beginning when the Fund was established in 1940 by the six grandchildren of Standard Oil mogul John D. Rockefeller, RBF has poured billions into the broad environmental movement, becoming its biggest single donor from the 1950s into the 1990s.
In 1984, under its program titled “One World: Sustainable Resource Use,” RBF began campaigning specifically against fossil fuel industries with huge grants to promote climate change ideology. RBF sponsored climate scientists’ workshops in Europe in 1985 and 1987; it co-funded the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988, donated to the IPCC trust fund and kept very busy giving grants for the 1992 Earth Summit to push an anti-fossil fuel treaty package.
In 2008, RBF launched an incredible $7 million per year death-blow campaign against Alberta oil sands (“tar sands”) with the strategy, “Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, and Enroll Key Decision-Makers,” as shown in a leaked PowerPoint presentation by Fund program manager Michael Northrop, posted here as an easy-to-view pdf.
The sheer malice and unconcern about the economic impact of the anti-oil sands campaign is breathtaking, and has shocked many viewers.
RBF also funded the launch and growth of Bill McKibben’s 350.org, leader of the divestment campaign, with $800,000, including a 2012 gift of $225,000. There’s much more at http://oilsandsfactcheck.org/
2014/09/25/video-the-truth- about-the-anti-keystone-xl- rockefeller-brothers-fund/.
We’ve written about some of this before as it relates to the completely phony 350.org effort and Vivian Krause has done a phenomenal job unraveling the connections with respect to the Tar Sands issue. The PowerPoint to which Arnold refers, however, is something of which I wasn’t aware and it struck me how much this strategizing by these elitists to frustrate development resembled what we wrote about regarding the William Penn Foundation’s attempts to control development of the Delaware River Basin.
The Rockefellers’ Allies and Their Alinsky Tactics
The William Penn Foundation and the Rockefellers have joined hands in that regard as we have noted. They both fund the Delaware Riverkeeper and have partnered through the Open Space Institute which is an NRDC/Rockefellers spinoff headed by a Rockefeller heir who also heads a separate foundation that also supports the Delaware Riverkeeper. Keeping track of the way these special interests control the message and push their agenda using multiple outlets is like playing Three Card Monte.
The PowerPoint focused on a political strategy the Rockefellers, acting through their RBF and NRDC fronts, launched to fight Tar Sands development in Canada but with a much bigger worldwide objective of changing the “energy paradigm.” The “Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, and Enroll Key Decision-Makers” strategy was pure Alinsky in form and included five “strategic campaign tracks” that look just like the campaign against natural gas development six years later. These were:
Track ! – Stop/Limit Pipelines and Refinery Expansions (hence the opposition to the Keystone Pipeline).
Track 2 – Force Tar Sands Water, Toxics, and Land Reforms (raise the costs now with “reforms” even though your intent is to completely eliminate it).
Track 3 – Significantly Reduce Future Demand for Tar Sands Oil.
Track 4 – Leverage the Tar Sands Debate for Policy Victories in the US and Canada (that means us).
Track 5 – Generate Unity Around the Fuels Endgame and Sell it to Decision-Makers (which included promoting “going green” with transportation fuels, and even encompassed natural gas vehicles until the NRDC, et al decided they were against that too).
The various presenters organized their remarks around these tracks and It is a remarkable display of how these special interests influence public opinion and policy to get their way by throwing the Rockefellers’ money at it. Here is a sampling of slides, which tell the story:
Notice who the Rockefellers use among NGOs to deliver their message, including the NRDC and several other entities created and/or funded by the family. They also enlist the help of the Hewlitt Foundation which is one of the major fractivist funders. They have clearly defined short, mid and long-term goals and tactics to reach them through combinations of lawsuits, organizing (protesting), education (indoctrination) and legislation, all of which require piles of their money that they’re not bashful about. Here are more:
Notice in these slides how they cynically plan to exploit First Nations groups as plaintiffs in lawsuits intended to advance the Rockefellers’ interests. See, too, how they even use Alinskyite terms about the “Theory of Change” to promote their message using multiple outlets they control and what is akin to blackmailing of financial institutions and energy companies.
Our favorite slide, though is this one, which uses a cartoon from a Canadian newspaper obviously intended to criticize efforts such as their own by pointing out how they work. They wore it as a badge of honor to effectively suggest doing a lot more of it under the cover of generating “unity around the fuels endgame” to “sell” to decision-makers. Yes, that defines the fractivist movement pretty well; spread a vicious rumor that has no basis in fact and use it corral public opinion to take to policymakers.
The “Change” Strategies Employed
All this has the same ring as the William Penn Foundation’s efforts in 2009, best expressed in this paragraph from their report on their own strategic planning conclave (emphasis added):
In October 2009, ConservationStrategy LLC was hired by the William Penn Foundation to advise us on the development of a cohesive water policy agenda and a strategy for change in our bi-state region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This engagement included an analysis of water policy issues and stakeholders in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and a review of other funders’ approaches to water policy issues and resulted in the report “Recommendations for Developing a Focused Water Policy Agenda.
They then held another more recent conference, headlined as ”Accelerating Action: The Delaware River Watershed Forum,” which picked up on the strategic change theme (emphasis added):
The development of a campaign strategy for an integrated Delaware River program should include a focus on the potential role of the Delaware River Basin Commission and ways in which to develop a more effective constituency that monitors its work, participates in its decision-making processes, encourages it to become more of a change agent, and works to assure the member states and federal agencies take DRBC seriously and provide adequate support.
It’s the same people, doing the same thing, with the Rockefellers and the William Penn Foundation having linked together for purposes of chaining off the upper Delaware River basin from any further development. Substitute “Delaware River basin” for Alberta or “fracking” for “tar sands” and you have it. This is the way these people work, using their gobs of money to suggest they’re speaking for the “people” while pushing their own anti-growth interests and pretending to take the moral high ground.
No Moral High Ground Among Divestrocrats
There is no moral high ground in divestment, though, as Ron Arnold so well illustrates. It’s a con game. There’s no authenticity to it. They’ve also looped in their friends from other elitist foundations who were enlisted to play key parts in the farce, which is something they’ve been working on for some time. We learn this in a fawning article about Adelaide Park Gomer, whose Park Foundation is listed among the divestocrats:
In 2004, while participating in a Rockefeller philanthropic workshop in Berlin, Germany, Gomer was exposed to the concept of socially responsible investing or SRI. She found that Europeans were ahead of the United States on this front. When she returned to the states, Gomer decided to reinvest her personal portfolio in a way that would not harm people and the environment. Pleased with the performance of her new portfolio, she took on the challenge of convincing the foundation to follow suit.
Gomer told the interviewer SRI had done well for the Park Foundation, saying “since 2012, our returns have been 19.7 percent in a much diversified portfolio,” but that doesn’t tell us much given the stock market went up 26 percent over the period she was talking about. We do their 2012 IRS filing indicates net investment income of $18,195,148 on investments of $260,615,400, which indicates a mere 7.3 percent return. Moreover, while she brags about their investments in Al Gore’s Generation Global Equities Fund (in which NRDC is listed as a partner and which apparently makes money trading phony carbon credits) they paid $17,941,595 and solid it for $19,186,029 for a $1,244,434 or 6.9% capital gain, which is anything but doing well given Cabot Oil & Gas, to use one example, gained roughly 25% in 2012 and has more than tripled since 2010.
This suggests we ought to be very happy the Parks and Rockefellers are divesting from fossil fuels because they’ll have that much less to spend fighting them in the future. Still, it’s clear they hope to make lots of money off carbon trading or similar schemes. The Rockefellers had roughly $700 million invested in 2012, according to their 990 return, of which 62% was invested in Investure funds (Evergreen, Alternative and Global Equity Funds), at least two of which are operated from the Cayman Islands, as Vivian Krause learned, where it’s all but impossible to know where the money comes from and goes. But, a reasonable guess is that they’re invested in things their names imply, which supplies the motive for the Rockefellers’ and other divestocrats phony divestment campaigns.
Once again, Vivian Krause nails it with her own analysis of what’s happened in the National Post (a must read) where she notes the 62% of Rockefeller Brothers Fund money invested with Investure and their total lack of transparency, despite a claim on their website saying “We believe this requires transparency in our actions as well as honest and straight forward discourse with our clients, team members and business partners.”
Yeah, like putting two-thirds of your investments in secret off-shore accounts is the way to claim the moral high ground when you’re trying to convince others to divest. The whole episode is a wide open window into how fractivist funders work, in the dark, pushing buttons to advance their special interests. Thank you, Ron Arnold and Vivian Krause, for exposing these fake divestocrats.
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