The Heat Is Online

Sierra Club Took $26 Million in Gas Industry Contributions

Sierra Club Received Millions from Natural Gas Industry

Yahoo news, Feb 5, 2012

According to a blog post from Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, the environmentalist organization accepted millions of donated dollars from the natural gas industry to fight against coal-fired plants nationwide. Here are the details.

* Brune stated he became aware of the $26 million in donations from individuals and subsidiaries of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas companies in the U.S., shortly after he became executive director in 2010. The funding began in 2007, he said.

* According to Brune, the money funded the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" initiative, which focuses on stopping new coal-fired power plants and pushes the efforts to retire older coal plants. In 2007, the Sierra Club board of directors decided natural gas might be necessary in the organization's clean energy goals.

* The club's views on natural gas had changed by 2010 when Brune became executive director, he explained, and he made the recommendation that the funding be stopped. Brune posted the Sierra Club opposes natural gas development that poses a risk to the environment and the organization is now insisting the recipes of fracking fluid be disclosed and toxics eliminated from the mix.

* In spite of the decision by Sierra Club to withdraw from its funding agreement with Chesapeake in 2010, the United Mine Workers of America -- which just found out about the funding -- called foul, with union President Cecil E. Roberts issuing a statement accusing the organization of putting people at risk with its practices.

* According to Roberts' statement, the revelation of $26 million in funding makes sense of the Sierra Club's avocation of natural gas over cleaner coal technology. Roberts called for the support of the Sierra Club in the next generation of coal-fired plants, combined with carbon capture and storage technology.

* According to Brune, the position of the Sierra Club remains that America needs to quickly move beyond coal while "taking care of workers in mines and at coal-burning utilities." He stated coal plants should be replaced with clean energy, using as little gas as possible.

* In a Jan. 15 blog post, Brune said few Americans care about the oil industry's bloated profits and spoke out against the $12 million lobby for the Keystone XL pipeline.