PolluterWatch Blog

Connecting the Anti-Environmental Movement and the Oregon Armed Occupation of National Wildlife Refuge

  • Posted on: 7 January 2016
  • By: kert

Last weekend when an armed group of men in eastern Oregon occupied building within a National Wildlife Refuge to protest the jailing of a rancher for Federal crimes, we immediately went to the Anti-Environmental Archives to do some research.  Lo and behold, the Archives contain lots of documents about the location, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and lots of information on the decades long conflict between ranchers like Dwight Hammond who want to run their cattle into protected areas and Federal authorities seeking to uphold the law and protect the area from despoliation. 

The Refuge, home to millions of migratory birds, was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Starting in March, according to the Fish & Wildlife Service website, visitors will see the annual torrent of "greater sandhill cranes, tundra swans, northern pintails and white-fronted, snow, Ross' and Canada geese...American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, western grebes, long-billed curlews, and American avocets" along with numerous songbirds.  Must be something to see and hear. Meanwhile, there are a few non-migratory armed thugs in cowboy hats.

We published the Anti-Environmental Archives in April 2015, a catalog of thousands of original documents published by and about the groups involved in the Wise Use Movement. You can search the Archives for yourself here.  

Much of the media coverage of the Oregon situation has been light on the long history of anti-Federal government agitation in the West.  Some reporters have described the “Sagebrush Rebellion”, the resistance to Federal control of Western lands that originally dates back to the early 1990s and was emboldened by the Reagan Administration and Interior Secretary James Watt.

Missing from coverage is mention of the pro-logging, pro-ranching, pro-mining Wise Use Movement, which escalated in the early 1990s during the Clinton Administration.  These local fights eventually led to the election of such extremists as Representative Richard Pombo (Republican of California) who authored a book titled “This Land is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property” in 1996.  The most memorable was over the protection of the endangered Spotted Owl in western Oregon and Washington state, which restricted logging of old growth timber.  But the fight with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing "rights" was at the heart of Wise Use conflict.  In fact, Western ranchers are recipients of the one of the largest federal welfare programs, (~$500 Million in taxpayer money in 2014), getting below-market-value leases to public lands to graze their cattle.

Much of the reporting on the armed occupation in Oregon has also failed to go very deep on rancher Dwight Hammond, the inspiration for the protest that begat the armed occupation of the refuge last weekend.  Its important context that Hammond has been war with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities going back to the 1970s, that he was arrested in the early 1990s for blocking a fence being built on the Refuge border.  These incidents were well before the 2001 arson, for which they were convicted and for which Hammond and son are now in prison. Thus the Hammonds became hero/martyrs of the Wise Use Movement more than 20 years ago.  

The right wing media is playing this like a righteous fight against the oppressive Federal government.  The racial hypocrisy in press coverage of this mess is not unnoticed. Will we see a Republican candidate make anti-environmental anti-Federal land ownership promises?

Industry: 

ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson has a Climate Science Problem (VIDEO)

  • Posted on: 4 December 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson

The third and final meeting of the year for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) just wrapped up in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week.

On the day of ALEC's board meeting, Greenpeace attempted to ask ALEC's board of directors and executives about climate change science. ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson was not keen on speaking to us.

ALEC has a long history of denying climate change. It continues to take payments from fossil fuel companies like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and Peabody Energy. It was part of the American Petroleum Institute's leaked plan to manipulate the public's trust in climate scientists, spelled out in an eerie memo from 1998.

Get Rich or Lie Tryin': Climate Hustler Marc Morano

  • Posted on: 14 November 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson

If you've ever turned on the TV and seen a charismatic, boyish, conservative looking man yelling at scientists in an animated fashion, there's a good chance it was Marc Morano.

Marc's new movie, Climate Hustle, is slated for release during global climate change negotiations next month. As in past years, Marc Morano will be among a contingent of a dying breed of science deniers attending the COP with the simple intention of interference.

Smile and Lie

Having met Marc before, I know what it's like to look into the eyes of someone who is paid to misrepresent truth with confidence, and attack my natural hesitation to call out his dishonestly.

Last June, at The Heartland Institute's tenth climate denial conference--a desert of true climate science expertise--I recorded my conversation with Marc. At minute 2:45 in the recording of our talk, he pulls a classic move. Listen to him pull a a double-layered lie, baiting me to confirm that 2014 was the hottest year on record, then attacking me for saying yes.

Exxon Continues to Fund Climate Science Denial

  • Posted on: 12 November 2015
  • By: Cindy Baxter

Guest Post by Cindy Baxter. Originally posted to Climate Investigations Center.

In the wake of Inside Climate News and the LA Times’ investigations into ExxonMobil’s climate science,  the company has been terribly busy telling the world that it stands by its scientific work.

New Methane Rules Underestimate the Climate Threat from Oil and Gas

  • Posted on: 19 August 2015
  • By: JesseColeman

As promised earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency has released methane pollution standards for the oil and gas industry. While regulation of methane is a necessity, these rules are much too weak to accomplish the administration’s goals of meaningful greenhouse gas reduction. Here is why:

Methane Must Be Regulated, But New Rules Underestimate Its Power

Methane is 86 to 105 times as powerful as carbon dioxide at disrupting the climate over a 20-year period. The EPA and many news organizations misreport the real power of methane by using old science since updated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Obama’s new rules calculate that methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 100-year timeline. However, this ignores the fact that methane is most potent when it is first released. Scientists say that methane could push the climate over a “tipping point” in the next 18-25 years, causing runaway global warming, and making a 100-year timeline obsolete. In order to take the threat from methane seriously, we must join the IPCC and assess methane’s threat on a time scale that makes sense in the context of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Craig Sautner lights a plastic jug of water from his well on fire. Methane from nearby hydraulic fracturing natural gas drilling has contaminated his water supply.

Craig Sautner lights a plastic jug of water from his well on fire. Methane from nearby hydraulic fracturing natural gas drilling has contaminated his water supply.

Oil and Gas Industry—Especially Fracking—Is the Largest Industrial Methane Polluter

It is undisputed that the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial emitter of methane. A recent study of the major gas producing shales found that the Barnett Shale around Dallas was leaking the equivalent of 16 coal plants worth of greenhouse gases every year. Similar studies from Colorado found that highly fracked areas leaked more than 19 tons of methane an hour.

Industry: 

Dirty Corporations Pay Big to Host ALEC Legislators in San Diego

  • Posted on: 24 July 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson
-- By Nick Surgey of The Center for Media and Democracy and Connor Gibson of Greenpeace
 
At the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2015 annual meeting in San Diego, California, dirty energy companies and their supporters--including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Duke Energy--continue to dominate the funding of activities, according to a list of conference sponsors obtained jointly by the Center for Media and Democracy and Greenpeace.
 
Industry: 

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