Lily-white enviro groups: Snail darters > minorities

March 26, 2013

sierra-club1By Chris Reed

So the Washington Post has a 1,500-word-plus analysis of why leaders and members of environmental groups — starting with the biggest of all, the San Francisco-based Sierra Club — are “more like that of the Republican Party they so often criticize for its positions on the environment than that of the multiethnic Democratic Party they have thrown their support behind.”

But reporter Darryl Fears‘ analysis is, well, vanilla. He focuses initially on the angle that outreach is lacking and that having diverse leaders and members is not a priority of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeepers, etc.

What about the angle that cleaning up polluted minority communites in industrial areas is infinitely less of a priority for white enviros than protecting coastal view planes, gnatcatchers, snail darters, etc?

Greens pushed polluters into minority communities

That’s referenced, but only in paragraphs that offer telling detail but superficial insight:

“’We essentially have a racially segregated environmental movement,’ said Van Jones, co-founder of the nonprofit Rebuild the Dream and a former adviser on green jobs to the Obama administration. ‘We’re too polite to say that. Instead, we say we have an environmental justice movement and a mainstream movement.’

“The Sierra Club, billed as the nation’s oldest and largest grass-roots environmental organization with 1.3 million members, was founded in 1892. Like groups that followed, such as the Nature Conservancy in 1915 and the National Wildlife Federation in 1936, they were largely white, upper- and middle-class, and focused on the protection of wilderness areas.

“Two decades later, Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, ‘Silent Spring,’ alerted Americans to the impact of pesticides and toxic pollution on the environment.

“Acting on Carson’s revelations, the mainstream environmental groups helped to push chemical warehouses, pesticide companies and coal-fired power plants from rural and exurban areas, and many polluters migrated to low-income urban areas where people of color live.

“In the 1980s, the Government Accountability Office, the United Church of Christ and the Commission for Racial Justice each issued reports that established a direct link between race and the location of toxic-waste sites, according to a study on power plants and their proximity to minorities released in December by the NAACP. …

“Robert Bullard of Texas Southern University said that in 1980 all five of Houston’s landfills were in minority communities, as were six of the city’s eight incinerators. He said mainstream environmental groups he approached for help did not seem concerned.”

‘Environmental justice’ for plants and birds, not people

And why would that be? Why would those holding “mainstream environmental values” be so unconcerned about “environmental justice”? How could the suffering of humans seem less crucial than the suffering of flora and fauna?

Maybe because some humans don’t exactly trigger empathy among enviros.

Fears doesn’t go near the incendiary topic. But as I noted in a Dec. 31 article for Cal Watchdog, the fact is white environmental groups’ indifference to the interests of minorities used to be a lot worse than indifference:

“The environmental movement for decades called for zero population growth — seen as code for making minorities have fewer kids and for curbing illegal immigration. Now the rhetoric has shifted, but the history isn’t going away. Check out this Southern Poverty Law Center dossier on John Tanton, a Sierra Club activist who led’s the club’s population committee in the early 1970s before it was revealed that he was a white nationalist.”

This matters. Greens pine for the way things used to be — in many, many ways.

I think that by any objective measure, “environmental justice” — fighting the history of sticking heavy polluters in minority communities — is more important than fretting about declining numbers of gnatcatchers and snail darters. But Democratic leaders defer to environmentalists, and enviros don’t agree. Save the obscure fishies! Bugs are people too!

As for poor minorities, well, let them eat cake.


Write a comment
  1. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 26 March, 2013, 11:32

    “How could the suffering of humans seem less crucial than the suffering of flora and fauna?”

    I believe the word your looking for is MISANTHROPIC.

    “Check out this Southern Poverty Law Center dossier on John Tanton”

    Chris, I understand the point your trying to make, but you really should think twice about quoting the race hustling, granny swindling frauds at the Supremely Pernicious Lie Center. Do you really want to be associated with a slimy and cynical operator like Morris Dees?

    Reply this comment
  2. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 March, 2013, 14:35

    thank you Dys.

    Misanthropic. Of course. The word I was searching for yesterday as well (see Mc Clintock – Zetland yesterday. And Coastal Commission 3-8-13.

    Same theme.

    Silence from the Ted-ster.

    Reply this comment
  3. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 26 March, 2013, 14:35

    Dyspeptic, you make a great point. The SPLC is a money-making enterprise.

    But Tanton was the extremist the SPLC claims.

    — Chris Reed

    Reply this comment
  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 March, 2013, 14:45

    and a bit off the California theme, but tip-‘o-the hat for the mention of the ridiculous SPLC. Does anyone take them seriously anymore (apart from MSNBC)? Talk about “fighting the last war”…….The battle was won long ago (And to their credit they probably had a hand in the victory). But now? SPLC is an anachronism frozen in time. They resort to bottom-fishing for a reason to get up in the morning. I bet their wall calendars still have “1965” printed on them, just for motivation.

    Reply this comment
  5. us citizen
    us citizen 26 March, 2013, 14:59

    Oh, the SPLC is a joke! Years a go they took ‘part’ of a blog I had written and put it on their pathetic web site…………not giving any back ground or information. They took what I said and several other people and spun it into a story that was not anywhere near the point, that they were trying to make. I take everything they say with a grain of salt.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 26 March, 2013, 21:15

    Pack and Ship!

    Reply this comment
  7. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 26 March, 2013, 23:33

    Uhaul, your back! When did state mental hospitals start early release?

    Reply this comment
  8. Hondo
    Hondo 27 March, 2013, 08:02

    The subtle, and bitch slap in your face racism, of the demoncratic party is out of control. The party of Bull Conner has turned Detroit and Chicago into genocidal slaughter houses for young black males. The Hitler white enviro groups push the pollution out of their beach front homes and weekend retreats in the mountains into the poor immigrant neighborhood areas. And the Coastal commission makes sure there are no brown people polluting Malibu and Santa Barbara gene pools by stopping all building anywhere near their precious High schools where their Malibu Barbie-doll daughters prance. ” Hey you, Juan, out of the gene pool!!!!!”

    Reply this comment

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