|PEW THIS STINKS
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
Sean Treglia is a senior advisor for democracy initiatives at the University of Southern Californias Annenberg School for Communication where he teaches courses on the First Amendment and ethics in journalism. In his past life, Treglia was a program officer at Pew Charitable Trusts and was responsible for issuing Pew financial grants.
In March of 2004, Treglia gave a speech at his university in which he candidly described Pews goal to facilitate campaign finance reform legislation in the mid 1990s. The trouble with the campaign finance reform movement, according to Treglias videotaped presentation (which can be found online at YouTube.com), was that there was no movement it didnt have a constituency. In order to give legs to that campaign, Treglia said Pew needed to jump start a crusade.
The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform, Treglia said of the Pew Charitable Trusts quest to create a campaign finance reform constituency. According to investigative journalist Rayn Sager (www.ryansager.com), ultimately, more than $140 million dollars in funding was dispensed by Pew in a 10-year span from 1994 until 2004, with various think-tanks and research foundations on the receiving end of millions in charitable Pew funding.
Through his experience working on Capitol Hill, Treglia knew that if legislators were aware that the campaign finance reform arguments had come from research and lobbying efforts funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, it would adversely impact his efforts to get legislation off the ground. If Congress thought this was a Pew effort, itd be worthless, Treglia told the audience. In order, in essence, to convey the impression that this was something coming naturally from outside the beltway, I felt it was best that Pew stay in the background.
Five years later, Pew doesnt feel as compelled to simply hide in the shadows, and the lessons learned during the faux campaign finance reform movement of the 90s has led to a keener awareness of how to function as political puppet-master in the 21st century. In 2010, Pew Charitable Trusts has learned how to navigate around the legalese of campaign finance and lobbying laws, while supporting action, advocacy, public perception and media campaigns nationwide.
Big oil has struck a vein, but most Americans have no idea just how deep the drill has gone.
BLACK GOLD & THE GREEN MOVEMENT
According to their official corporate history, Sun Oil Company was born in 1886 when Joseph Newton Pew and Edward O. Emerson, partners in The Peoples Natural Gas Company in Pittsburgh, Pa., made a bold move to diversify their business, paying $4,500 for two oil leases near Lima, OH. Within a few years the company had acquired pipelines, leases, and storage tanks, emerging as one of Ohios leading suppliers of crude oil. Sunoco set up corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, and by their 25th year in business, Joseph Newton Pew had passed the Presidents torch to son, J. Howard, while another son, Joseph N. Pew, Jr., took over as Vice President. Not long after J. Howard died in 1971, major restructuring reshaped the company and it was re-organized into 14 operating units, two property companies and a non-operating parent company. The company moved to a major new corporate headquarters in Radnor, PA, and Sun Oil Company (Sunoco) was renamed Sun Company, Inc. in 1976.
The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent nonprofit, became the sole beneficiary of seven individual charitable funds established between 1948 and 1979 by the children of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew. While Pew was said to be politically conservative, the Pew Charitable Trusts has taken a very radical shift in its ideology in the past decade, particularly with the ascension of Rebecca Rimel to the organizations President and CEO in 1994. Rimel, a former emergency-room nurse and assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia Hospital, became Executive Director of Pew in 1998. Today, shes in charge of a $4 billion philanthropic endowment organization which doles out in excess of $200 million annually towards a variety of interests including health, arts and the environment.
A 2006 article by the Wharton University of Pennsylvania said that 80 percent of the Pew Charitable Trusts funding focuses on pubic policy, specifically the environment, health and human services, and state policy issues. Its environment initiative has three main goals reducing global emissions, halting the destruction of the marine environment, and protecting intact ecosystems on public lands. Go back 11 years and think about global warming, said Rimel. Most of the public, none of the policy makers and no one in corporate America believed it was real. They thought it was pseudoscience, environmentalists gone berserk.
Rimel credited her organization with funding the scientists which provided much of the global warming message, and said with that day, she went to work enlisting the support of Fortune 500 CEOs. They took the position that it is not only a problem, but it is putting us in a non-competitive position in the world market. These 38, whom a Washington Post editorial at one point described as 38 brave guys, became Pews biggest allies in their roundtable business leaderships group as they moved forward with the global warming movement.
In the Wharton interview, Rimel described Pew as if it was a Fortune ranked company, and with assets in the billions, they very well could be. We are a business, Rimel said. We have to deliver our share and we have a bottom line. The Pew staff is rewarded as such with employee contracts on what will be delivered. According to the article, if staffers cant come through on their commitment, budgets are cut and job security can ultimately be adversely affected.
SCIENCE FOR SALE
In 2006, the U.S.Journal Science published a study by a group of Pew-funded researchers who concluded that continued overfishing and coastal water quality degradation were leading to the disintegration of all marine life. If the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime, by 2048, said Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Canada, the lead author of the study. All the major media outlets jumped on the story the headlines pushed the story to the top of the fold.
The Worlds Fish and Seafood Could Disappear by 2048.
Empty Oceans: No More Fish in 40 Years.
Seafood Will Likely Be Extinct In 40 Years.
Just three years prior to the release of Worms doomsday story, the Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation got together and signed off on a similar study reporting that 90 percent of the oceans large fish including tuna, marlin, swordfish, sharks, cod, halibut, flounder, and skates have been taken from the sea since the early 1990s. This international body of world-renowned marine conservation experts released what was known as the Ocean Action Statement for Fisheries Conservation, which was then signed by almost 50 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation. The late Ransom Myers, lead author of the 2003 study noted, This isnt just about one species. The sustainability of fisheries is being severely compromised worldwide. Nature magazine later revealed, Myers/Worm research was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Five Pew Marine Conservation Fellowships are awarded annually to the tune of $150,000 each, with Pew Fellows expected to carry out innovative, interdisciplinary projects addressing challenges facing our marine environment around the world. Some of those grant funds have increased in recent years to more than $240,000 per fellow and Pew Fellowship awards have also been offered to journalists and media professionals Marla Cone, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, was one of the first journalists to break the Worm report in 2006, leading off her story with All of the worlds fishing stocks will collapse before mid-century, devastating food supplies. Ms. Cone herself became a Pew Fellow in 1999.
In the 2003 study published in Nature magazine, Pew Fellow Dr. Ellen Pikitch, then Director of Ocean Strategy for the Wildlife Conservation Society said, This study confirms there is no time left to quibble about whether the glass is half empty or half full. For the large fishes of the worlds oceans, the glass is nearly completely drained. We have no time to waste if we are to have any chance of saving the oceans wildlife. Today, Pikitch is Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and Professor at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. The Institute at Stony Brook was founded in 2008 by a $4 million endowment by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Another Pew Fellowship Award winner who had been working the marine circuit with Pikitch from the mid 90s into the early part of the 21st century was Dr. Jane Lubchenco, now head of NOAA and NOAA Fisheries. Before stepping in and taking the brass ring of global marine conservation as a presidential appointment in 2009, Dr. Lubchenco was a member of the U.S. Oceans Commission in 2004 which suggested the creation of an ocean trust fund. The fund would come from money from leases for offshore activities such as oil and gas exploration and recovery.
That same report said that other future activities including bioprospecting, wind farms and aquaculture, could join the list as they develop. As reported by author David Lincoln in a comprehensive essay on Pew called the Conquest of the Ocean, this pseudo-sharecropping idea has been a recommendation long lobbied for by the oil companies, because it ultimately ties coastal state revenues to offshore development activities and gives the states a vested interest in removing obstacles to leasing which could accelerate permit approvals.
THE PEW OCEAN ACTION NETWORK
In 2007, the Pew Charitable Trusts merged with the staff and operations of the National Environmental Trust to form a brand new 800-pound gorilla of conservation. The consolidated team, to be called the Pew Environment Group, will have a domestic and international staff of more than 80 and estimated annual operating revenue of approximately $70 million, making it one of the nations largest environmental scientific and advocacy organizations, said Pew publicist Justin Kenney. According to Kenney, the scientists, attorneys, public policy experts and campaign professionals at Pew Environment Group would focus the specific mission of advancing environmental policy by supporting top-level scientific research; building, assisting and coordinating broad coalitions of organizations representing diverse constituencies concerned about environmental protection in the United States. Of particular focus according to Kenney was the destruction of the worlds marine environment, with particular emphasis on global fisheries. In 2009, Kenney was hired away from Pew by Dr. Lubchenco, with whom he now works as NOAAs full time director of communications.
At the formation of the new environmental arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Marine Fish Conservation Network (Network) announced that its Executive Director, Lee Crocket, would step down to join Pew Environment Group as federal fisheries policy director. Crockett spent eight years at the Network helping hog-tie the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act with more restrictive anti-fishing language, and joined the new Pew Environment Group to ensure that those restrictions were followed to the letter of the law. As Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post reported at the time, the merger Highlights a shift among green groups toward campaign-oriented advocacy. Rather than having staffers who work on general environmental issues over time, Pew Environment Group will aim to accomplish a few high-profile goals such as overhauling the 1872 Mining Law and creating several major overseas marine reserves within the next few years.
Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, called it a coordinated strategy, and explained how Pew brought Crockett aboard not simply for his fisheries experience, but for his proven track record of conducting campaigns to advance fisheries management reform. Before joining Pew, Reichert served as executive director of the National Security Archive in Washington DC; vice president for conservation at Conservation International; regional representative of the Inter-American Foundation, a public corporation that provides assistance to the urban and rural poor in Latin America and the Caribbean; and special assistant to the chairman of the sub-committee on foreign appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives. Of the goals now set for Pew, Reichert said Were integrating a set of skills and talents into a unified campaign.
Part of the unified campaign was the continued support of the Marine Fish Conservation Network. Five different conservation groups initially united to form the Network in 1992, including the Center for Marine Conservation (now called Ocean Conservancy), Greenpeace, National Audubon Society, National Coalition for Marine Conservation, and World Wildlife Fund. Funding to originally create and further support the Network (according to their website at www.conservefish.org) comes in the form of charitable grants from Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Henry Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Oak Foundation, Ocean Foundation, Patagonia, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Zephyr Charitable Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.
According to one of their own mission documents (A Vision For Our Ocean Future), the Network was formed To help counter industry influence over the fishery management system. During their first four years, the Network helped persuade Congress to pass the Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA), but they were also successful in seeing that Important conservation provisions were included in the federal law, which specifically included the insertion of rigid, arbitrary and inflexible timelines for reaching rebuilding targets. These are the non-scientific, time-specific deadlines and inflexible management requirements which have led to emergency closures on important recreational fisheries like sea bass, red snapper and amberjack, and which continue to result in draconian regulations on other fisheries.
During U.S. Senate hearings in Washington 10 years later on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), Senator Ted Stevens had debated Crockett when he was director of the Network. Stevens, one of the MSAs authors and namesake indicated his concern over the amount of litigation over fishing issues, explaining Slowly but surely the court system is entering into the management of the fisheries.
During one particular exchange, Stevens questioned Crockett about his organizations financing and membership and asked Crockett directly if the Network was financed by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Partially, Crockett replied.
That fiscal connection between Pew and the Network is one that continues to be a major sticking point as the two entities lead the charge in opposition to the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act, a bill sponsored in the House by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and in the Senate by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) which would incorporate limited flexibility into the federal fisheries law to provide recreational anglers more open access to rebuilding fisheries while providing the economic opportunity that the Pew study reports is currently being lost. In their 2007-2008 annual report to members, the Network boasted openly of joining Network Member groups to oppose Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2008 submitted to Congress.
When the Networks Board of Directors met in July of 2008, one of the primary points discussed at the meeting were with regard to Internal discussions are being held within the Pew Environment Group to determine how to best make the transition away from grant giving and still support Network. The Network continues to put the full-court press in late 2009 and early 2010 to defeat the Pallone/Schumer legislation.
Whats helped the Pew-funded Marine Fish Conservation Network become more successful in their ability to tap into the very industry that their initial charter was developed to counter. Having pure environmental and preservationist board members in the early 90s didnt provide the Network with enough lobbying strength to have all their goals met, and soon after 2000 they began enlisting the help of various fishing organizations to gain more representative juice when pressing legislators for the need to deny access to fisheries. Many American sportfishermen would probably be surprised to learn the Networks Board of Advisors, which provides the overall policy direction for the organization, boasts the support of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, National Coalition for Marine Conservation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Association, United Anglers of California and International Game Fish Association.
Perhaps as some groups have learned, silence is golden.
THE GREENING OF AMERICA
In an effort to undermine the fishing communitys efforts to stave off more restrictive measures on coastal fisheries, the Pew Environment Group in 2009 purchased a new scientific report called Investing in Our Future: The Economic Case for Rebuilding Mid-Atlantic Fish Populations. The Pew-funded paper used retroactive analysis to estimate the amount of money that Pew claims couldve been generated in commercial and recreational fisheries if the populations of summer flounder, black sea bass, butterfish and bluefish were considered at rebuilt levels back in 2007.
In a press conference last July, Dr. John M. Gates told reporters that he was asked by Pew to conduct this analysis, and explained that in order to compile fiscal data from the recreational sector, we used something called Willingness to Pay of Recreational Fshermen, and I had estimates that were done in 1994 by a man by the name of Hicks. Gates explained that the study assigned a dollar value for what researcher Dr. Robert Hicks originally called an anglers willingness to pay for the better opportunity to catch fish. If the stocks recovered, youd have a higher catch rate, Gates said, explaining that by multiplying numbers, I was able to estimate the foregone willingness to pay in the recreational sector.
The Pew study shows that anglers are willing to pay more for the opportunity to fish, which is exactly how our industry is currently being destroyed. As many fishermen have said all along, American anglers are being denied opportunity to fish on healthy, rebuilding fish stocks, and yet Pew Environment Groups buys the science to support the claims that denied access is having a terrible impact on our coastal communities.
The Pew study finds that rebuilding summer flounder, black sea bass, butterfish and bluefish populations to federally mandated targets by 2007 would have generated an additional $570 million per year in direct economic benefits. Of course, Pew makes no mention of the fact that scientific targets keep changing, which should mandate more flexibility in the management process. In 2007, scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service were mandating a 197-million pound target for rebuilt summer flounder stocks, until a new best available science target of 132 million pounds was set using 2007 data.
While the research itself shows that denied opportunity is costing business owners dearly within the marine district, the Recreational Fishing Alliance points out issues with the Pew study as treating all facets of the fishery in absolute, inflexible terms. It makes some broad assumptions, said RFA research scientist, John DePersenaire. During extremely low fishing mortality, the size of the commercial and recreational fishing industry remains constant with no attrition, while the amount of fish seems to be more important to the study than the actual access to the fishery in terms in economic activity. We know for a fact that these two assumptions are false, DePersenaire added.
Daniel Furlong, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) pointed out that bluefish was considered rebuilt in 2007, and explains that the best available data on black sea bass shows that fishery is also fully rebuilt. No doubt there will be some more economic benefit accruing to the Mid-Atlantic when butterfish and summer flounder are fully rebuilt, but I seriously doubt it will equate to $570 million inasmuch as our most valuable fisheries (surf clams and ocean quahog) generate only $60 million annually, Furlong said.
Quite frankly, I would have to argue that the recreational bluefish fishery was more economically valuable when it was overfished in the 80s and early 90s compared to now when it is fully rebuilt, DePersenaire added.
These groups have been trying to stick with too radical of a rebuilding process, and if we had stuck with their model of rebuilding over the past few years we wouldve already been forced out of business, said Dave Arbeitman, owner of Reel Seat Bait and Tackle in Brielle, NJ. The longer the public is denied access, the more likely theyre going to leave the fishery and leave the sport for good.
Arbeitman said it best when he adds These groups arent taking into consideration the fact that many anglers might just never return after having been denied access for so long.
But of course, minimizing angler effort in the future would fit in nicely with many of Pews plans. Limited number of anglers meshes nicely with the preservationist view of the fisheries resource in terms of protecting the sea kittens, while bioprospectors and marine share-croppers would benefit greatly, as David Lincoln put it, in removing obstacles to leasing which could accelerate permit approvals.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
The Pew Charitable Trust has invested billions in the environmental movement, and their relatively new Pew Environment Group has been highly effective in getting media play throughout the United States, in turn, gaining influence within the sportfishing community. The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (IndyMedia) recently charged Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with calling itself an environmentalist organization, but conversely is created by oil money and awash in Pew Charitable Trust funds, the NRDC brings big oils agenda wherever it operates.
On Californias North Coast, the NRDC is working in tandem with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to make sure the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) gets the Foundation-preferred alternatives enacted on tight schedule, IndyMedia reported. Those preferred alternatives would almost certainly shut down public access to the oceans on a permanent basis.
In the North coast, the NRDC and another foundation-funded corporation, the Ocean Conservancy, have hired field agents from the community to promote and advance the MLPAI agenda, the IndyMedia report claimed, saying that its his belief that there is an obvious conflict of interest for those NRDC employees to participate in any of the community external array processes now in progress.
According to IndyMedia, NRDC was founded through grant funding from the Tides Foundation, the first money-laundering foundation, doing donor-advised giving, open about where the money goes, but not where it comes from. Other sources show that the Pew Charitable Trusts has poured over $40 million into Tides.
The Tides Foundation and Tides Center also maintains an interesting relationship with the multi-billion-dollar Pew Charitable Trusts.
Since 1993 Pew has used the Tides Foundation and/or Tides Center to manage three high-profile journalism initiatives: the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism, the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, and the Pew Center for the People and the Press. These Pew Centers are set up as for-profit media companies, which means that Pew, as a private foundation, is legally prohibited from funding them directly. Tides has no such hurdle, so it has gladly raked in over $95 million from Pew since 1990 taking the standard eight percent as pure profit.
In practice, the social reformers at the helm of the Pew Charitable Trusts use these media entities to run public opinion polling; to indoctrinate young reporters in reporting techniques that are consistent with Pews social goals; and to promote (read: subsidize) actual reporting and story preparation that meets Pews definition of civic journalism. Civic journalism, by the way, is defined as reporting that mobilizes Americans behind issues that Pew considers important.
Three years ago, Nils Stolpe, a consultant to the commercial fishing industry and columnist for SavingSeafood.org wrote how Pew Charitable Trusts had paid out roughly $40 million to the Tides Center over a 10-year timeframe starting from 1996, funds which were then disseminated to other recipients in a trickle down process. Through his research, Stolpe uncovered where Pew had also issued grants of $15 million to various public broadcasting outfits, and approximately $25 million to Columbia University. According to Stolpe, Columbia University professor Cornelia Dean is also Science Editor for the New York Times, and was identified as a session Presenter/Trainer at a Pew Fellows meeting in the resort island of Bonaire in 2002, where one of the key workshop sessions for scientists was titled Communicating For Results, a workshop where attendees would learn how to navigate the stormy waters of the media.
As Science Editor of the Times, Dean followed up with a 2003 column in which she noted I was a panelist at a meeting of the Pew marine fellows, eminent fisheries and ocean scientists whose work is supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Nancy Baron, a zoologist and science writer who works with the fellows, organized the panel as part of her longstanding effort to help scientists better communicate their work and its importance to the wider world. Most striking to any journalism major, Dean wrote the tell-tale lead, Last summer, the pollster Daniel Yankelovich reported what might seem a strange finding: scientists are distressed by the medias insistence on presenting both sides.
One year later, Stolpe said Dean was present at another meeting of the Pew Fellows at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo where she was listed as one of the participants in a workshop titled Bridging the Worlds of Science and Journalism, in addition to participating in a panel discussion called Oceans in the Balance: Is Science or Politics Tipping the Scales?
Perhaps one of the most insidious and egregious examples of Pews level of arrogance came to me earlier this winter via email during the final month leading up to the February 24th rally at the Capitol in Washington DC. The Recreational Fishing Alliance and our allies had spent months planning a public rally to call for reform of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and as expected, Pew and their preservationist allies were active behind the scenes in trying to undermine the effort. A hardcore fishing teenager I know on Long Island whos become a bit of a media sensation in the northeast copied me on an email solicitation he received on January 28 from a guy named Jamie Pollack, the New York Field Representative for Pews U.S. fisheries arm.
At the urging of the Networks Brooks Mountcastle, Pollack contacted the 15-year-old directly in an email that said, We have a campaign that we are working on to oppose flexibility in the Magnuson Act. I am seeking one or two fisherman that could go with me when I go to DC Feb 9-11 and participate in my meetings with congressional staffers. We will be speaking about staying the course with the MSA, opposing the Rebuilding in Americas Fisheries Act and to introduce a new piece of legislation called Keep Fishermen Working Bill. Pew would pay for hotel and transportation. Would you or would you know of any fishermen that would be interested and who could take some time off of work to go with me to Washington?
Pew has spent untold millions on influencing the media, pollsters, legislators, non-profit leaders, civic associations, trade groups, and now, yes, even our children. At a Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting back in 2007, Lee Crockett warned that Pew and the Network would continue to radically oppose any efforts to work with Congress to fix the federal fisheries law, stating matter-of-factly I want to tell you that my group and other groups in the conservation community are going to fight like heck against that.
Fight like heck is one thing, but the ideologies at the Pew Charitable Trusts have proven theyll stop at absolutely nothing in their war to advance their preservationist agenda.
Here at the RFA, were hoping there are enough American fishermen out there willing to fight back!
Read more about the Pewgate campaign finance reform scandal at www.ryansager.com.