How Sierra Club Misled Its Members about the $25 Million from Chesapeake Energy
26 Corporate Crime Reporter 7, February 3, 2012

Lisa Wright was on the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s Finger Lakes chapter in upstate New York.

But she soon got fed up with the national organization’s coziness with the natural gas industry and Chesapeake Energy.

Wright wanted Sierra Club to take a position against fracking – similar to a position the Club took on coalbed methane – it’s too dangerous to regulate – you have to prohibit it.

But Sierra Club wouldn’t budge.

Sierra Club’s position was to regulate, not prohibit.

So, on May 3, 2011, in an e-mail to Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune, Wright withdrew her membership.

“National Sierra Club has handled its affairs in regards to shale-gas in such an egregiously arrogant, ill-informed and out-of -touch manner that I simply cannot continue to pretend that my grassroots efforts in association with Sierra Club will in any way help the movement,” Wright wrote to Brune. “The high level associations of the gas industry with NGOs – evident in the Aspen Energy Summit – is like an infection that cannot be cured with sophisticated PR campaigns that obfuscate the underlying problem of your corporate associations.”

“It is my hope that you will reconsider your views on America's shale-gas future, and provide the forward-thinking leadership that the Sierra Club brand once promised.”

On May 11, Brune wrote back, thanking Wright “for her thoughtful response.”

But then he added:

“Before I sign off, I do want to be clear about one thing: we do not receive any money from Aubrey McClendon, nor his company Chesapeake,” Brune wrote. “For that matter, we do not receive any contributions from the natural gas industry. Hopefully this will alleviate some concerns. Thank you for all your work.”

So, when Wright heard yesterday that in fact Sierra Club had taken $25 million from Chesapeake Energy between 2007 and 2010, she went back and dug up her e-mail correspondence with Brune.

“I took his response to mean that he had not taken any money from Chesapeake or the gas industry,” Wright told Corporate Crime Reporter. “It was misleading.”

Brune’s position is that his “do not and will not” position was not misleading – because he didn’t address the past.

But Brune is going to be facing an angry grassroots this weekend when he holds a conference call for members to address the issue.

He might want to consider a different answer.




Corporate Crime Reporter 
1209 National Press Bldg. 
Washington, D.C. 20045