America’s largest environmental group just admitted to earning millions of dollars each year from oil.
The Nature Conservancy routinely guilt trips Americans about using fossil fuels. Yet its Texas prairie preserve is home to an oil well. And it has almost $23 million invested in the energy industry.
This revelation is an example of a real “inconvenient truth” sweeping through environmental outfits. Many of the green groups that attack fossil fuels secretly benefit from oil and gas. These activists aren’t as green as they pretend to be – or as they expect others to be.
The Sierra Club, for example, demands that universities divest from fossil fuels. Yet according to an audit by the accounting firm Grant Thornton, the Club’s pension invests in index funds that include a number of oil and gas companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron.
The National Resources Defense Council loudly opposes “dirty fuels.” Yet the group sees no reason to pull fossil fuel companies from its portfolio. Despite calling on the United States to stop using fossil fuels completely by 2050, the World Wildlife Fund has apparently not yet stopped earning money off of investments in oil and natural gas. When asked by The Nation whether the organization applies environmental screens to any of its $75 million in investments in publicly traded securities, the World Wildlife Fund refused to answer.
Then there’s the Ocean Conservancy, which preaches against Arctic drilling and blames fossil fuels for ocean acidification.
The Conservancy’s investment portfolio has stakes in “energy” and “utilities.” In other words, the group privately profits from the activities it publicly condemns.
This hypocrisy would be amusing if the madness spewing from these groups weren’t so damaging. Their rhetoric informs public perceptions and translates into concrete public policy, which undermines job creation and economic growth.
The oil and natural gas industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, generating roughly $240 billion in economic activity every year. In North Dakota alone, state GDP grew by nearly 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, thanks largely to development of the Bakken Shale.
Oil and gas is also a major job creator. The industry directly supports over 9 million jobs – and most of these positions pay handsomely. For instance, well workers typically earn close to $100,000 annually, even though the position typically doesn’t require a college degree.
Left unencumbered, domestic energy operations are expected to get even bigger in coming years. By 2035, shale development alone could boost GDP by $70 billion a year and grow to support as many as 1.6 million jobs.
The economic power of the energy industry is so great that even green activist groups want a piece. Despite their public criticisms of oil and gas development, they’re more than happy to share in its bounty in private.
Their hypocrisy needs to cease. Environmentalists need to quit their baseless condemnations of American energy.
Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to a smaller, more responsible government.
An inconvenient truth: Environmentalists love oil