By Kid Reporter ELIYA AHMAD, age 10
It wasn’t just the $26 million donation from Chesapeake Energy that started the Sierra Club’s problems. Nor that the Club started to say that natural gas was an Earth-friendly(er) “bridge” from dirtier fuels like oil and coal to more expensive ones like solar and wind power soon after the money started coming. Nor was it that the Club did not publicize this donation. But put all of this together, things started to smell fishy.
The Sierra Club, a nonprofit environmental organization, received $26 million from Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company, between 2007 and 2010. It was soon after the donations started that the Club started to promote natural gas.
Until the gift was revealed, it seemed like the Sierra Club really believed that natural gas drilling was okay for the environment. But once the gift was made public, it raised the suspicion of many Sierra Club members who were already wondering whether the Club’s relationships with corporations had anything to do with the positions they took.
Sierra Club officials maintain that their support of natural gas was unrelated to its corporate relationship. However, the Club’s Executive Director, Michael Brune, did admit to TIME Magazine that “the first rule of advocacy is that you shouldn’t take money from industries and companies you’re trying to change.” But $26 million funds a lot of environmental advocacy work. What would you have done?