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Foundation and NGO executives rake in the ‘green’
by Dan Bacher
Sunday Aug 5th, 2012 9:24 AM
While local and state groups are facing cuts in their programs, the CEOs and top staff of large foundations and environmental NGOs – referred to by some as “Gang Green” or “Big Green” – are raking in huge salaries, up to $1,196,037.00 per year.

Photo of Natural Resources Secretary John Laird at a press conference with Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiling the peripheral tunnel plan that will destroy the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and Stephen D. Bechtel Foundation have funded the studies by the Public Policy Institute of California promoting the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more water to corporate agribusiness and southern California.
Foundation and NGO executives rake in the ‘green’

by Dan Bacher

Grassroots environmental organizations including the Friends of the River, American River Conservancy and California Native Plant Society, have reported dwindling income in recent years, the result of declining foundation funds and membership donations available due to the current economic disaster (

Many organizations are having to lay off key staff, close offices and curtail their programs. Environmental justice, river advocacy and grassroots groups working to restore salmon and other fish populations have been particularly hard hit.

While local and state groups are facing cuts in their programs, the CEOs and top staff of large foundations and environmental NGOs – referred to by some as “Gang Green” or “Big Green” – are raking in huge salaries, up to $1,196,037.00 per year.

At the same time that it is increasingly difficult for grassroots environmental organizations to keep their doors open, Californians are faced with some of their greatest environmental challenges ever, including Governor Jerry Brown's plan, announced on July 25, 2012, to build twin peripheral tunnels around the Delta to export more northern California water to corporate agribusiness and southern California. (

The same Governor has continued many of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's other abysmal environmental polices, including forging ahead with the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called marine protected areas on the California coast, killing record numbers of Sacramento splittail, a native fish in 2011 and exporting record levels of water out of the California Delta last year.

As the same time, the Obama administration is supporting the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel, the controversial catch shares program that privatizes ocean public trust resources, and the FDA's approval of genetically engineered salmon.

While big bucks continue to flow to foundation and NGO CEOs, hundreds of thousands of people throughout the US, Mexico and Europe, inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" protests in New York City that began last fall, have protested the disparity of wealth between the 1 percent on Wall Street and the 99 percent of people that are struggling to get by.

They are also challenging the increasing influence that Wall Street corporations, who contribute heavily to the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican parties, exert over foreign and domestic policies, including promoting the stripping of environmental protections.

Nils Stolpe of has uncovered some great financial information in his ongoing exposure of the big money behind corporate environmental NGOs and foundations that fund them. In this time of severe economic crisis, the “compensation” for CEOs and selected staff of the large ENGOs and foundations is very alarming.

Please note that the compensation listed is only from the organization – not necessarily the total compensation that person received from all sources – in the most recent year for which a Form 990 was available. (

At the top of the compensation list is the Chief Investment Officer of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, who received $1,196,037.00 from the organization.

David Packard (1912–1996), the co-founder of Hewlitt-Packard, and his wife Lucile founded the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 1964. While styling himself as an "environmentalist" in his later years, it is noteworthy that he served as Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon. "Packard served in this high-echelon position during Nixon’s secretive carpet bombing campaign against Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War," noted independent journalist David Gurney. (

Not far behind, the President & CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts received $1,071,525.00, while the President/CEO of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation received $696,687.00

The Sunoco oil company, headed by J. Howard Pew and Joseph N. Pew, Jr., set up the original endowment for the Pew Foundation, now called the Pew Charitable Trusts. Sunoco currently refines bitumen in Ohio and is planning to do so soon in Philadelphia. Sunoco has, through either Pew family members or current board members and CEO's of Sunoco, held a majority of the board of trustees of the Pew Charitable Trusts to this very day.

The Packard Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts are paying these huge compensation packages while millions are out of work or struggling to make ends with minimum wage jobs.

These foundations fund efforts to promote controversial programs such as the federal “catch shares” program, an effort to privatize public trust fisheries, and California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

The MLPA Initiative, overseen by oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate operatives, created "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from pollution, oil spills and drillling, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The David and Lucillle Packard Foundation contributed $8.2 million to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to fund MLPA hearings. Both foundations have also dumped millions into the NGOs promoting the MLPA Initiative, as revealed in their 990 form statements. (

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast task forces. Reheis-Boyd is a strange kind of “marine guardian," since she has been lobbying for new offshore oil drilling off the West Coast, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the expansion of the environmentally destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing (hydro fracking) and the evisceration of California's landmark environmental laws. (

The Packard Foundation, along with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and Stephen D. Bechtel Foundation, is notorious for funding studies promoting the construction of the peripheral canal (

A coalition of Delta residents, family farmers, Indian Tribes, grassroots conservationists and environmental justice advocates opposes the construction of the peripheral canal because it would likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other imperiled species.

The top staff of other NGOs also received huge salaries. The President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) received $432,742.00, while the President of the Environmental Defense Fund received $423,359.00.

The Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group received $400,487.00, while the Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund received $347,963.00.

The Environmental Defense Fund, funded by millions from the Walton Family Foundation every year, is under fire from fishermen, environmentalists and consumer advocates, for promoting "catch shares" programs. (

According to Food and Water Watch, "Catch shares, often called individual fishing quotas (IFQs), are a means of fisheries management that is spreading rapidly throughout the coastal regions of the United States. Rather than solving our nation’s fishery management problems, however, these programs only create a host of new ones."

"Catch shares divide the total amount of fish that can be caught in a year — called a total allowable catch, or TAC — into smaller portions, called shares or quota. These have been given away for free, and often practically forever, to individual fishermen and fishing companies, who are able to lease and sell them. This creates a small elite group that has access to and control over fish — a public resource. Effectively, this amounts to privatization and hurts consumers, fishermen and our oceans," the group explained.

Regarding the high salaries of NGO executives promoting catch shares and other privatization programs, Stolpe commented, “And with salaries (and perks) ranging up into seven figures, is it any wonder that these people exhibit such a lack of empathy for people with real jobs – you know, the kind of jobs that depend on actually producing something tangible to justify a paycheck? And no, putting people out of work isn’t producing something tangible.”

“Anyone who has built a successful career – that is, successful as far as the size of their paycheck and their ability to climb the (ENGO) corporate ladder is concerned – by spending money earned by someone else isn’t likely to have much of an idea of what it would be like to be out of work or, it appears, to be particularly concerned when their actions have that consequence on others,” said Stolpe.

So while grassroots environmental organizations are struggling to pay for staff salaries, office expenses and campaign costs, top officials of foundations and environmental NGOs are raking in the “green,” just like the CEOs of Wall Street corporations. It is no surprise that the perspectives, interests and "environmental" programs of these NGO CEOs are aligned with the Wall Street 1 percent - not the 99 percent devastated by the 1 percent's political, economic and environmental policies.

As Robert Fritchey, author of Wetland Riders, so eloquently stated, "Some of the hottest journalistic action is still in following the money. But don't look to your local newspaper, newsmagazine or public radio station for enlightenment, because the money trails today often radiate from a handful of the nation's wealthiest 'charitable' foundations, and end with those media outlets themselves."

Below is the list of the positions, organizations and total compensation from the organizations:

Chief Investment Officer, David and Lucille Packard Foundation: $1,196,037.00
President & CEO, The Pew Charitable Trusts: $1,071,525.00
President/CEO, David and Lucille Packard Foundation: $696,687.00
President, Natural Resources Defense Council: $432,742.00
President, Environmental Defense: $423,359.00
Managing Director, Pew Environment Group: $400,487.00
Executive Director, Environmental Defense: $347,963.00
VP West Coast, VP Land, Water and Wildlife, Environmental Defense: $304,626.00
Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $277,846.00
Development Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $265,001.00
President and CEO, Ocean Conservancy: $261,111.00
Finance Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $259,460.00
Chief Executive Officer, Oceana: $247,164.00
VP Marketing and Communication, Environmental Defense: $242,947.00
Executive Vice President, Oceana: $237,589.00
EVP/COO, Ocean Conservancy: $217,911.00
Communications Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: $213,737.00
Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, Oceana: $205,868.00
Senior Vice President for North America, Chief Scientist, Oceana: $203,272.00
VP Legal Affairs, Ocean Conservancy: $180,426.00
President, Ecotrust: $178,527.00
VP Resource Development, Ocean Conservancy: $172,381.00
VP Communications, Ocean Conservancy: $172,161.00
Jim Ayers Oceana Regional Director in North Pacific, Oceana: $170,114.00
Shark Conservation Program Director, Ocean Conservancy: $152,754.00
Managing Director, Ecotrust: $151,050.00
VP State Advocacy Center Director, Conservation Law Foundation: $141,141.00

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Joey Racano
(SMRdragon [at] Sunday Aug 5th, 2012 12:45 PM
Dan brings up some excellent points, such as the fact that a peripheral canal, or tunnel, or whatever it is being called these days, is a bad idea and will destroy the delta ecosystem rather than save it. But Dan is wrong about the value of implementing the MLPA (Marine Life Protection Act). There has never been a better tool for coastal and ocean conservation goals and there never will be a better one coming in the future. The idea is how to use it. Personally, I see the SMR designation as a game changer, able to stop toxic polluters in their tracks, as it did in 2009, when the Calif Mens Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo got hammered by the CCRWQCB. Arnold did some bad stuff, but not that time! Further, if the Point Buchon SMR is upheld and enforced, it would single handedly protect the lives of countless Great Blue, Finback and Humpback whales from seismic testing at 260db, off the coast of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. In the last month, John Laird and his staff have given me an open door to state government and for that I can say with confidence, 'they ain't all bad'. I thank Dan for his hard work and iron clad integrity, but he's wrong on the MLPA. If you want to attack something, attack the San Diego sewage waiver that allows that city to pour 50 BILLION gallons of dirty sewage off Point Loma every year. The discharge does not meet even the minimum 50 year old requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act, and is the only such waiver left in California. Yet, the discharge is still 99% water! Dan, read my lips: STOP THAT WAIVER AND YOU STOP THE PRESSURE FOR A PERIPHERAL CANAL IN CALIFORNIA. Respectfully, Joey Racano, Director California Ocean Outfall Group

I applaud you for your superb work over the years in fighting for the environment, against pollution and for true marine protection. However, you don't seem to understand that the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 - the law itself - and the MLPA Initiative created by Schwarzenegger are two entirely different things.

The Marine Life Protection Act is a good law, a good tool for conservation in the right hands. However, the MLPA Initiative is corrupt to the core, ranging from the "science" that it is based on, to the private funding of the process by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, to the domination of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces by oil industry and other corporate interests, to the violation of tribal gathering rights.

The people who oversaw the MLPA Initiative were not environmentalists or people concerned about the environment; they were ocean industrialists, political hacks and corporate operatives appointed to NOT implement the MLPA in a comprehensive manner.

You must understand that until there is a complete, independent audit and investigation of the funds and expenses of the process since 2004, we can't proceed forward and expect good results to come out of this process. If you somehow "take over" a corrupt and unaccountable process like the MLPA Initiative, you will inherit the corruption, violations and laws and then bear responsibility for them also.

Until you decide to support a complete accounting, financially and otherwise, for what has transpired under the MLPA Initiative, there is nothing worth "taking over." If we want the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 actually enforced to include tough restrictions and bans on oil spills and drilling, pollution, nuclear, wind and wave energy projects, seismic and military testing and all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering, as the law originally intended to do, you, me and everybody who cares about the public trust needs first to push for this audit and investigation. Only after we do this can we ever expect to see real environmental justice to unfold in what has been an environmentally unjust process and classic example of corporate greenwashing.

I'm very glad that you have started some productive conversations with John Laird; but let me point out that until this point, Laird has done everything he can NOT to implement the MLPA, the law, as originally intended, as well as relentlessly push for the construction of Jerry Brown's peripheral canal.

I completely support ending the City of San Diego's permit to pollute. However, that in and of itself won't stop the peripheral canal.

First, corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and the LA and other Southern California water agencies will continue pushing for the construction of the canal, regardless of what San Diego does, until the water rateholders throughout southern California rise in revolt about paying higher water rates that will result from the canal.

Second, Jerry Brown has indicated that the real reason for him building the tunnels is as a legacy project, as a monument in his memory, as the Edmund G. Brown Aqueduct was to his father. Brown really doesn't care if the project makes environmental, scientific or economic sense at this point; he wants to build it as a lasting legacy to his political ego. That became very clear in the press conference in Sacramento that I attended on July 25.

Getting San Diego to recycle its sewage water and end its permit to pollute would ease some of the pressure to build the tunnels, but it would not stop the campaign to build the tunnels in and of itself.
by Beeline
Sunday Aug 5th, 2012 4:34 PM
The government/executive branch should not have to rely on huge donations by corporations to do its job. The present economic crisis did not happen by chance- it happened largely because the 40 some odd conservative think tanks with budgets over 1 million a piece, and which make policy for their corporate benefactors, know that a crisis provides an opportunity for more corporate control. (see Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine). Klein states that the conservative economist Milton Friedman new very well that "the atmosphere of large-scale crisis provided the necessary pretext to overrule the expressed wishes of the voters and to hand the country over to economic technocrats". We hear the same montra from the governors office when there is a "California economic crisis". We must privatize, deregulate and make deep cuts in social spending and allow free market reform. It's manipulation folks-big time.

I don't want to see the offshore environment or the Delta or even northern California become sacrifice zones to enrich the already over-rich 1% any more than they already are.

by Dan Bacher
Sunday Aug 5th, 2012 5:26 PM
"The government/executive branch should not have to rely on huge donations by corporations to do its job."

You got that right, beeline!

The privatization of so-called "conservation" processes in California can lead only to disaster. The appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, as chair of the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, in and of itself, makes the process illegitimate. You can't possibly implement comprehensive marine protection in a process overseen by a leading ocean industrialist - and funded by corporate greenwashers like the Packard and Resources Legacy Foundation Foundations. This is a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house.

Likewise, the Department of Water Resources' hiring of Westlands Water District and State Water Contractors Association executives to implement the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build a peripheral canal or tunnel can't possibly result in the protection of Central Valley salmon and the Bay Delta Estuary.

In both cases, putting corporate operatives funded by corporate-funded foundations in charge of conservation processes must be opposed all those who care about the public trust and the environment!