Letters From the West

Jewell attacked for giving money to environmental groups

Washington Republican Rep. Doc Hastings is the chairman of the House Resources Committee, which gives him a powerful forum for his pro-development views on public lands.

And it has given him the power to put Obama Administration officials and environmentalists on the hot seat when their views and policies don’t line up with his. Unfortunately for him it does not give him the power to grill Obama’s nominees for posts like Interior Secretary.

But he’s weighing in by proxy anyway with an attack on REI, Inc. CEO and former petroleum engineer Sally Jewell, Obama’s popular choice for Interior Secretary.

Sally Jewell, the REI CEO that President Obama nominated for Interior Secretary

Sally Jewell, the REI CEO that President Obama nominated for Interior Secretary. Her sins?(AP)

Her sins?

She gave money to mainstream environmental groups like the Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited and others like Save Our Wild Salmon. Hastings especially doesn’t like them because they are pushing to remove the four lower Snake dams in Washington he’s fighting to save.

Jewell personally and as REI CEO gave to the Conservation Alliance, founded in 1989 by REI, Patagonia, the North Face and Kelty, to forward environmental causes. But the attack, e-mailed out from the House committee staff, said the groups the alliance funds “have sued the federal government and state governments to pursue their extreme agendas of locking up federal land and blocking American domestic energy development.

“They proudly claim as “successes” their grantees delivering “victories,” including protecting 1.1 million acres of land, 38.5 river miles and halting 77 oil and gas leases,” it says.

The groups filed more than 1,100 federal lawsuits between 2005 and 2012, “in pursuit of their radical agendas.”  Those included protecting endangered species, stopping mountaintop-removal mining and enacting the federal roadless rule.

 

Here is the full document:

 

“Sally Jewel, personally and as CEO of REI, Inc., has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to the Conservation Alliance, an organization founded in 1989 by REI, Patagonia, the North Face and Kelty, which has provided funding to environmental groups that have sued the federal government and state governments to pursue their extreme agendas of locking up federal land and blocking American domestic energy development.  They proudly claim as “successes” their grantees delivering “victories,” including protecting 1.1 million acres of land, 38.5 river miles and halting 77 oil and gas leases.

 

Publicly available legal documents reveal that since 2005, when Jewell was named CEO of REI and began pledging up to $100,000 per year to the Conservation Alliance which funded about $1 million per year to more than 30 environmental groups, those same groups filed more than 1,100 federal lawsuits between 2005 and 2012 against federal, state, local and private entities in pursuit of their radical agendas.

 

Some egregious examples of how these funds have been used include:

 

  • A 2006 grant of $20,000 to WildEarth Guardians, which that year, filed 144 Endangered Species Act lawsuits and negotiated a closed-door settlement in 2011 with the Department of Interior to force more than 700 Endangered Species Act listing decisions;

 

  • Over $830,000 in total grants since 2005 to American Rivers, Earthjustice, Idaho Rivers United, The Wilderness Society, Pacific Rivers Council, American Whitewater, Trout Unlimited, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Center, and Save Our Wild Salmon,—groups that are either named plaintiffs in costly litigation or groups that have endorsed and are actively seeking removal of four large federal hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in southeast Washington state.  The plaintiffs have been awarded close to $2 million in taxpayer funded attorneys fees on this litigation by a former Oregon federal judge that was biased in favor of removing the dams;

 

  • $105,000 in grants to the Sierra Club, which among other things, has joined lawsuits challenging the de-listing of the gray wolf in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Great Lakes regions.

 

  • $30,000 grant to the National Parks Conservation Center, which filed or was party to 70 lawsuits since 2005, including the Center’s lawsuit to force a re-write of the Department of Interior’s stream buffer zone rule, which would destroy countless coal jobs.  Concerning, Jewell served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees that granted and oversaw these lawsuits against the Department of Interior, an apparent future conflict of interest to her potential role as Secretary.

 

  • $150,000 in grants since 2005 to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which filed 66 lawsuits to block access to roads and other uses in millions of acres of Utah.  The SUWA, with other groups, have sought to invalidate dozens of oil and gas leases issued in the latter part of the Bush Administration.

 

  • $380,000 in grants since 2005 to the Alaska Wilderness League, which is a fervent supporter of designating the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, stating that drilling in ANWR “will do nothing to lower today’s gas prices and will not address our nation’s long-term energy needs.”

 

  • $30,000 grant to the Endangered Species Coalition, which last year released the report “Water Woes: How Dams, Diversions, Dirty Water and Droughts put America’s Wildlife at Risk,” (see: http://stopextinction.org/media/WaterWoesTopTen.pdf) authored in part by the Center for Biological Diversity which entered into a closed-door settlement with the Department of Interior in 2011 to force more than 700 Endangered Species Act listing decisions in the next three years.

 

  • Over $100,000 in grants since 2005 to Oregon Wild, which has filed 31 lawsuits to challenge federal and state timber sales, block expansion of a ski resort, and challenge federal de-listing of the gray wolf.

 

  • $115,000 in grants since 2005 to the Wilderness Society of Idaho, which has filed 56 lawsuits in support of its agenda to enact a roadless rule in tens of millions of acres of national forests, block timber thinning, sales and other access to forests.

 

  • $140,000 in grants since 2006 to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, which has filed 42 lawsuits, including a 2009 lawsuit that led to a federal court decision that climate change is deteriorating a species of pine tree that yield nuts for grizzly bears to thrive.”

 

 

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West