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A Land Trust Is No Place for A Hard Hitting Climate & Pipeline Campaign

Quisling Accommodationist Installed At NJCF

A Platform For Foundation Funding and Corporate Mitigation

This is what co-optation looks like

File this one under “be careful what you ask for”.

Last October, in the wake of the People’s Climate March, I blasted NJ conservation groups for failure to seize the momentum and  opportunity and mount a real climate campaign (see:  People’s Climate Collapse? What’s Wrong With the NJ Environmental Community? A Wake Up Call)

Guess they were too busy with the new environmental activism, which means  (and this is a real list of well publicized events, rattled off the top of my head, in just the last month or so – you can’t make this stuff up):

planting milkweed; keeping NJ highway medians safe for pretty flowers; writing corporate Foundation grant applications; hosting fundraisers; burning and logging forests; planting bushes alongside electric powerlines and gas pipelines; meeting with Corporate Stewardship Councils; taking Walmart and energy company grants; buying expensive “eco-goats”; writing propaganda Op-Eds promoting theft of billions of dollars of environmental funds; selling sustainable rain barrels and compact fluorescent bulbs; holding road rally’s with highly polluting cars; conducting cultural carnivals; planting flowers at the local shopping center hardware stores; pubcrawls; expensive eco-tours; seafood  festivals; picking up litter; certifying voluntary local feel good measures; promoting state funded greenscam projects (e.g. beach replenishment for birds, dredge spoil disposal in wetlands, and stormwater detention basins in Barnegat Bay)  in exchange for State DEP and federal grants……….

I repeated that criticism more recently, in a March 21, 2015 post: Multiple Pipeline, Rail Oil Shipments, and Off Shore LNG & Drilling Controversies Provide Huge Opportunity to Educate and Organize on Climate Change

Right now in New Jersey, thousands of residents – many of whom were previously politically inactive or not affiliated with “environmental” groups or causes  – are turning out to public hearings and demonstrations to protest all forms of fossil infrastructure: pipelines, oil rail shipments, off shore LNG ports, electric transmission lines, and power plants.

The recent announcement by the Obama administration to open up the Atlantic coast to off shore oil and gas drilling has sparked huge public outrage, activating thousands more opponents of fossil infrastructure.

These battles provide enormous opportunities to inform, activate, and organize thousands of people to the common threads that link all these fossil infrastructure projects: climate change.

These battles provide “Occupy” like public platforms – events, protests, and formal public hearings – to gather huge groups of like minded people in a unified collective endeavor – politics and democracy in action – a means to build the climate movement.

These controversies can generate significant media coverage to shape public opinion and hold elected officials accountable.

As Bruce Dixon has written in his series: Organizing 101 in response to Ferguson and the “Black Lives Matter” movement:

It’s not a movement unless it’s organized, and it might never happen unless YOU organize it.

Unfortunately, I hope I’m wrong, but from where I sit, I don’t see this kind of advocacy and organizing happening.

And even more recently, in a personal note about the financial collapse of NJ PEER, I bitterly rued the dynamic that led to PEER’s demise, see: After A Decade At The Barricades, The Lights Go Out At NJ PEER:

But, all that effort is not supported financially by the funders of the NJ environmental community.

They put their big corporate money in far less threatening – and far less effective – organizations and “campaigns”:  ”Keep it Green” – “Sustainable NJ”  – Citizens Campaign – NJ Future – Together NJ – Yay!

So, with all that said, the good news is that it looks like someone was listening and has ponied up some money to fund a climate and pipeline campaign.

The bad news is that they installed a lame, lying, quisling accommodationist to head the campaign and housed it in a land trust.

That’s right, fresh off the strategic disaster that duped NJ voters, known as “Keep It Green”, according to news reports, that very same Tom Gilbert now moves to NJ Conservation Foundation to head a new “Cimate, Energy and Pipeline” campaign:

With multiple proposals for oil and natural gas pipelines into and through New Jersey — and a slew of organizations fighting those proposals — one state environmental group is hoping a soft-spoken activist can organize the pipeline opposition.

Thomas A. Gilbert, 45, a longtime activist known for his land preservation work, will begin working June 15 as a campaign director at New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

I won’t comment any further today on the substance, if you hit the links, my thoughts on this are pretty clear.

I see this NJCF “campaign” as a dangerous vehicle to both drain Foundation funds from real activism and divert public demands and co-opt activism.

And, a closing personal note to Senator Smith who is quoted in that story essentially praising Mr. Gilbert:

Senator, you know god damned well that Tom Gilbert had absolutely nothing to do with the Highlands Act.

And you also know that I spent many weeks meeting with you and OLS staffers to draft that bill, which you sponsored.

[End Note: and while we’re airing all the dirty laundry today, let me say that this was not the first time that a good idea and real campaign proposal was hijacked by the Foundation funded weenies.

In a huge irony,  a 1/25/13 Dodge Foundation letter from Chris Daggett declined funding of my Delaware Bayshore campaign proposal on this basis:

Your proposed engagement of environmental partners to build community support for an ecosystem benefits approach to regional planning in the Delaware Bayshore is commendable, but is not consistent with your stated primary organizational mission of protecting public employees and monitoring natural resource management agencies.

Dodge and Wm, Penn foundations subsequently pumped millions into a weenie campaign, derailing that real proposal for some of the ineffective tactics I criticize above.

They are doing the same thing with climate & pipelines. As I noted above, a climate & pipeline campaign is “not consistent with [NJCF’s] stated primary organizational mission”.

I discuss the Bayshore campaign scam in more detail in this April 2014 post:

end update

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