In a Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking EPA's proposal to limit toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants, Willie Soon and Paul Driessen obscure the challenges posed by U.S. mercury emissions, which they say pose “minuscule risks.”
WSJ Op-Ed Argues “Mercury Has Always Existed Naturally”
Soon And Driessen Downplay Concerns About Mercury By Arguing That It “Has Always Existed Naturally. From the Wall Street Journal op-ed:
To build its case against mercury, the EPA systematically ignored evidence and clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is to punish hydrocarbon use.
Mercury has always existed naturally in Earth's environment. A 2009 study found mercury deposits in Antarctic ice across 650,000 years. Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants. [Wall Street Journal, 5/25/11]
But Humans Have Significantly Increased The Amount Of Mercury In The Atmosphere
CRS: “Roughly Three To Five Times As Much Mercury Is Mobilized Today As Was Mobile Before Industrialization.” From a January 2006 Congressional Research Service report on the sources and health risks of mercury in the environment:
During the past 500 years or so, human activities have released mercury from its relatively stable and water-insoluble form (cinnabar) in rocks and soil through mining, fossil fuel combustion, and other activities, and so have increased the portion of mercury that is actively cycling through the atmosphere, surface waters, plants, and animals as it changes chemical and physical form. Released mercury may enter the air, persist in the atmosphere and travel great distances or be deposited locally, dissolve in water droplets, settle back onto the land or water, re-enter the air (i.e., be re-emitted), be buried in lake or ocean sediments, or be taken into plants and animals. The generally accepted estimate is that roughly three to five times as much mercury is mobilized today as was mobile before industrialization. However, the author of one recent study argues that the mercury deposited from the atmosphere today is at least 10 times the amount of mercury that was being deposited 500 years ago.
In 1995, about 1,913 metric tons (roughly 2,104 U.S. tons) of mercury were newly emitted globally as a result of stationary combustion, metal production, cement production, and waste disposal. Roughly another 514 metric tons (565 U.S. tons) were emitted from other human sources, including chlor-alkali plants, gold production, and mercury uses. Thus, 2,427 metric tons (2,670 U.S. tons) of mercury were released due to human activities in 1995, according to recent estimates. These and other mercury emissions from human activities (past and present) account for at least 50% and perhaps as much as 75% of current, annual, global mercury emissions from all sources (including natural sources), but a large, unknown portion of those mercury emissions is due to past rather than current human activities, according to EPA estimates. [Congressional Research Service, 1/19/06, in-text citations deleted for clarity]
Thousands Of U.S. Waters Are “Impaired” By Mercury. According to data reported by the states, thousands of waters in the U.S. are listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act. Impaired waters are defined as “waters for which technology-based regulations and other required controls are not stringent enough to meet the water quality standards set by states.” [Environmental Protection Agency, accessed 5/26/11]
All 50 States Have Issued Fish Consumption Advisories Due To High Levels Of Mercury. From a December 2010 Greenwire report:
Toxic pollution limits have been set for many industries, but a generation after the last major change to the nation's air pollution laws, EPA still doesn't have standards for coal-fired power plants and other facilities that release most of the nation's mercury.
Meanwhile, the number of warnings about mercury in fish has multiplied. Fish-consumption advisories have been issued in all 50 states, aimed at recreational fishermen and people who rely on local catches as a staple of their diets. Seafood from the supermarket is also risky; the Food and Drug Administration has advised pregnant women to eat canned light tuna rather than pricier albacore, which contains, on average, about three times as much mercury.
Scientists know that coal-burning power plants, industrial boilers, cement kilns and other facilities produce much of the mercury in the environment. There's no question that eating mercury-tainted fish can cause brain damage and other health problems, especially in children.
In the United States, there are more consumption warnings for mercury than for all other contaminants combined. Experts aren't expecting new regulations to keep all mercury out of the water, but if the agency doesn't act, nothing will change, [Syracuse University's Charles] Driscoll said. [Greenwire, 12/8/10]
EPA: “It Is Estimated That More Than 300,000 Newborns Each Year May Have Increased Risk Of Learning Disabilities” From Mercury Exposure. From the EPA:
In U.S. EPA's Mercury Study Report to Congress (1997) EPA estimated that 7% of women of childbearing age would have blood mercury concentrations greater than those equivalent to the RfD [reference dose]. The estimate of 7% of women of childbearing age above the RfD was based on patterns of fish and shellfish consumption and methylmercury concentrations present in fish and shellfish. Blood mercury analyses in the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2000 NHANES) for 16-to-49 year old women showed that approximately 8% of women in the survey had blood mercury concentrations greater than 5.8 ug/L ( which is a blood mercury level equivalent to the current RfD). Based on this prevalence for the overall U.S. population of women of reproductive age and the number of U.S. births each year, it is estimated that more than 300,000 newborns each year may have increased risk of learning disabilities associated with in utero exposure to methylmercury. More recent data from the CDC support this general finding. [Environmental Protection Agency, accessed 5/26/11]
GAO: Coal Plants Are “Largest Unregulated Industrial Source Of Mercury.” From an October 2009 Government Accountability Office report:
The 491 U.S. coal-fired power plants are the largest unregulated industrial source of mercury emissions nationwide, annually emitting about 48 tons of mercury--a toxic element that poses health threats, including neurological disorders in children. In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that mercury emissions from these sources should be regulated, but the agency has not set a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard, as the Clean Air Act requires. Some power plants, however, must reduce mercury emissions to comply with state regulations or consent decrees. [Government Accountability Office, October 2009]
WSJ Op-Ed Claims U.S. Shouldn't Reduce Emissions Because Mercury Is Mixed Into Global System
Soon And Driessen Suggest All Mercury Emissions “Enter The Global Atmospheric System.” From the op-ed:
How do America's coal-burning power plants fit into the picture? They emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury per year. But U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons; Chinese power plants eject 400 tons; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year.
All these emissions enter the global atmospheric system and become part of the U.S. air mass. Since our power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in the air we breathe, eliminating every milligram of it will do nothing about the other 99.5% in our atmosphere.
In the face of these minuscule risks, the EPA nevertheless demands that utility companies spend billions every year retrofitting coal-fired power plants that produce half of all U.S. electricity. [Wall Street Journal, 5/25/11]
However, Studies Found Local And Regional Effects Of U.S. Emissions And Emissions Reductions
Mercury Emissions Reach Humans After Falling Back To The Surface And Contaminating Fish We Eat. As explained by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program:
Mercury reaches the surface water primarily through atmospheric deposition, both wet and dry. Wet deposition is pollution, washed out of the atmosphere by rain. Dry deposition is pollutants that are deposited to the ground, trees, etc. from the atmosphere. Wet deposition is deposited pollutants, but through washing out of the atmosphere by rain. Estimates suggest mercury wet deposition accounts for 50% to 90% of the mercury load to most inland water bodies and estuaries in the U.S. Elemental (Hg0), divalent (Hg+2), and particulate mercury (Hgp) are each important in both wet and dry deposition, most likely dominated by the Hgp and Hg2+ forms, since Hg0 is only slightly soluble in water and has very low deposition velocities. Wet deposition rates are variable, and tend to have summer maximums. Dry deposition rates to forest canopies may be higher than wet deposition rates in terrestrial ecosystems.
These variable pathways to water bodies, primarily depositing inorganic forms of mercury, lead to mercury in water bodies. And through conversion to Me-Hg [methyl mercury], and bioaccumulation, we have Me-Hg magnifying up the food chain. [National Atmospheric Deposition Program, accessed 5/27/11]
CRS: “Atmospheric Deposition Tends To Be Greater In Areas Closer To Emissions Sources.” The January 2006 Congressional Research Service report states that two forms of mercury, particulate and reactive gaseous mercury, “travel shorter distances from the point of emission and are more quickly deposited” back to land and water. The report further states that “Atmospheric deposition tends to be greater in areas closer to emission sources and in locations with more rainfall”:
Chemical form generally determines the ease with which mercury moves through the air, water, and soil and over distances. For example, elemental mercury emissions may remain airborne for more than a year, traveling around the world as part of the so-called “global pool” of atmospheric mercury. About 95% of atmospheric mercury is elemental. Particulate and reactive gaseous mercury (both organic and inorganic) are found in the atmosphere in smaller amounts, because they travel shorter distances from the point of emission and are more quickly deposited. Reactive gaseous mercury typically is deposited within about 100 kilometers of the point of emission. Coal-fired electric utility emissions vary depending on the technology and coal used at each plant, but are roughly 50% elemental mercury, according to EPA.
However, the chemical form of mercury emissions can and does change in the atmosphere, making it difficult to predict the fate of particular emissions, including utility emissions. Elemental mercury emitted to the atmosphere can attach to particles or change to a water-soluble form (i.e., a reactive gas) that more easily combines with other chemicals and deposits relatively quickly. Reactive, gaseous mercury is more likely to form (and to be deposited) in the presence of sunlight. This explains why measured concentrations of atmospheric mercury generally are lower during the day than they are at night.
Atmospheric deposition tends to be greater in areas closer to emission sources and in locations with more rainfall. Thus, EPA has estimated that about 60% of mercury deposited in the United States is from local or regional U.S. sources, and deposition increases from west to east. Local or even regional deposition can result in areas of relatively high deposition, or “hot spots.” Deposition of mercury in particular cases varies, however, depending on many factors, including regional and local climate and weather patterns, soil types, topography, vegetation, and local or regional sources of mercury emissions. Thus, mercury may be deposited near to or far from an emission source. [Congressional Research Service, 1/19/06, in-text citations deleted for clarity]
Study: “A Significant Portion Of The Hg Deposited In The Immediate Vicinity Of Coal Fired Utilities Can Be Directly Attributed To That Local Point Source.” In a 2009 study, Emily Mae White of the University of Michigan concluded that “a significant portion of the Hg deposited in the immediate vicinity of coal fired utilities can be directly attributed to that local point source” and “it has become evident that near-field impact of coal fired utility boilers on Hg deposition is significant and underestimated by the models that have been utilized in previous policy decision making.” The study further stated:
The importance of local and regional influences on near-field wet deposition has been previously reported with significant Hg deposition gradients near industrial and urbanized areas. Wet deposition data collected throughout the Great Lakes over the past decade has demonstrated distinct regional variability and a robust north-south gradient in Hg concentration and deposition. In south Florida the spatial and temporal patterns of wet deposited mercury were strongly influenced by local anthropogenic sources. The Chicago/Gary urban area has been shown to have substantial 39 influence over Hg concentrations in precipitation when multiple wet deposition sites were examined concurrently; sites less than 100 km apart differed in yearly volume weighted mean Hg concentration by over 30%. Precipitation samples collected in southeastern Michigan revealed 25-35% enhancement in the VWM Hg concentration between urban sites in Detroit and a rural site (Dexter, MI) ~60 km east. In November 2002, an enhanced air monitoring site was established in Steubenville, OH to investigate source-receptor relationships for Hg deposition in Eastern Ohio. The site overlooking the Ohio River was in close proximity to several anthropogenic point sources including numerous CFUBs. It was determined that ~70% of the Hg in wet deposition was due to CFUBs and it was suggested that local sources played a significant role. [University of Michigan, 2009, in-text citations deleted for clarity]
CRS: When Emissions Were Reduced In Sensitive Areas, “Deposition Decreased Proportionately, And Levels Of Methylmercury In Freshwater Fish Dropped Quickly.” From the CRS report:
Scientists studying the Florida Everglades have estimated that at least half of the mercury deposited in the Everglades is emitted locally, while between 5% and 29% is emitted regionally (from within the southeastern United States). The remainder derives from sources outside the United States. EPA has estimated that 80% of deposition to Pines Lakes, New Jersey, comes from U.S. sources. In contrast, almost all of the mercury found in remote regions of the Arctic is believed to have traveled from distant sources.
Local and regional emissions from various sources have caused mercury deposition to increase as much as tenfold in some locations, indicating that there is a possibility that local “hot spots” of mercury contamination might persist, despite overall reductions in mercury emissions. In sensitive experimental lakes and wetlands, when local and regional mercury emissions decreased, deposition decreased proportionately, and levels of methylmercury in freshwater fish dropped quickly. This indicates that controls on mercury emissions from electric power plants (particularly those plants with emissions that tend to be deposited locally) could lead to substantial reductions in deposition at some nearby hot spots. [Congressional Research Service, 1/19/06, in-text citations deleted for clarity]
NRC: Reductions In Mercury Concentrations “On A Regional Scale Have Been Reported For Areas Where Anthropogenic Emissions Have Been Reduced.” From a 2009 pollution report by the National Research Council's Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate:
An NRC committee (NRC, 2000) concluded that the risk of adverse effects from current methyl Hg exposures to the majority of the U.S. population is relatively low. However, since the developing human nervous system is sensitive to methyl Hg, young children and children of women who consume fish during pregnancy are at risk (IPCS-WHO, 1990; NRC, 2000; Clarkson et al., 2003). The NRC committee recommended, as have others (Sakamoto et al., 2005; Mozaffarian and Rimm, 2006), that since fish are an important food resource benefiting human health, the long-term goal should be reduction of methyl Hg concentrations in fish rather than replacement of fish in the diet by other foods.
The ubiquitous nature of Hg in the atmosphere results in this reservoir being described as a “global pool” that is a mixture of Hg emitted from all sources (Lindberg et al., 2007). Higher atmospheric Hg concentrations are reported for areas directly affected by anthropogenic and natural sources (Ebinghaus, 2008 and references therein). Reductions in air Hg concentrations on a regional scale have been reported for areas where anthropogenic emissions have been reduced (Kellerhals et al., 2003; Wängberg et al., 2007). However there are limited long-term air concentration datasets and significant gaps in the spatial and temporal coverage (Keeler et al., 2009). Since Hg is a global pollutant, understanding Hg is critical for assessing potential sources to the United States.
As part of the recent UNEP initiative (Pirrone and Mason, 2009a), four global models were used to assess the impact of a 20 percent anthropogenic emission reduction in four source regions: South Asia, East Asia, Europe, and North America. In all regions, the greatest effects of the emissions reductions occurred within the region itself, largely because of the significant contribution of RGM and Hgp was associated with point sources. [National Research Council, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, 9/29/09]
USGS: Ecosystems Expected To Respond To Emission Cuts. From the U.S. Geological Survey's Toxic Substances Hydrology Program:
An international team of scientists investigating mercury cycling in an experimental watershed in Ontario, Canada, conclusively demonstrated at the ecosystem scale that changes in mercury loadings are expected to result in proportional or near proportional changes in mercury bioaccumulation in fish. Policies to reduce atmospheric emissions of mercury are intended to reduce mercury bioaccumulation in fish, and thus the exposure of humans and fish-eating wildlife. Effective policies will require a robust and accurate scientific understanding of the anticipated ecosystem response to reduced mercury loading; specifically, whether reduced mercury emissions will in turn reduce mercury concentrations in fish consumed by people and wildlife. [U.S. Geological Survey, accessed 5/26/11]
140 Nations Have Agreed To Negotiate Global Mercury Reductions. The Guardian reported in February 2009:
Environment ministers overcame seven years of obstacles today and committed to reducing the world's mercury pollution.
In a sign of America's return to a global leadership role, United Nations environment ministers meeting in Nairobi agreed to take immediate steps to limit exposure to mercury.
The strong push from the US side in Nairobi this week evidently helped wear down resistance from governments such as China and India. China is heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants, while Indian manufacturers still use many processes that depend on the metal.
The eight-point plan agreed on Friday calls for reduction in mercury emissions from power plants, and in its use in thermometers and other household products, as well as in plastics production and paper-making. It would cut down on the use of mercury in gold panning, a process that results in huge quantities of the heavy metal being washed into streams.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but pollution has caused levels to rise sharply in many fish species, increasing the danger to humans that eat them. [Guardian, 2/20/09]
- According to EPA, “Negotiations commenced in 2010 and are taking place through an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) process, which will develop a set of approaches to strengthen global action on mercury. From 2010-2013, a total of five negotiating sessions will take place."[Environmental Protection Agency, accessed 5/26/11]
WSJ Op-Ed Misrepresents EPA Analysis Of Health Benefits Of Air Toxics Rule
Soon And Driessen Suggest EPA Claimed Mercury Emission Reductions Would Save 17,000 Lives. From the op-ed, titled “The Myth of Killer Mercury”:
The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued 946 pages of new rules requiring that U.S. power plants sharply reduce their (already low) emissions of mercury and other air pollutants. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they will save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.
There is no factual basis for these assertions. To build its case against mercury, the EPA systematically ignored evidence and clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is to punish hydrocarbon use. [Wall Street Journal, 5/25/11]
In Fact, EPA Estimated That Reductions In Particle Pollution Will Prevent Premature Deaths. EPA estimated that the proposed air toxics rule -- which doesn't just limit mercury emissions but also emissions of arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases -- would prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths in 2016 by also reducing concentrations of fine particles that damage the respiratory system. [Environmental Protection Agency, Regulatory Impact Analysis, March 2011]
Wall Street Journal Identifies Soon As “An Expert On Mercury And Public Health Issues.” At the bottom of the Wall Street Journal op-ed, Soon is identified as “a natural scientist at Harvard” and “an expert on mercury and public health issues.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/25/11]
- Dr. Phillipe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of Environmental Health at Harvard, who has extensively researched the health effects of mercury exposure, said via email: “As far as I know Willie Soon is an astrophysicist. He has no science background in environmental mercury pollution or mercury toxicology that I'm aware of (and I am probably one of the researchers most familiar with the literature.)” [Email correspondence, 5/26/11]
- In 2003 Congressional testimony, Soon identified himself as “an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge Massachusetts. My training is in atmospheric and space physics and my sustained research interests for the past 10 years include changes in the Sun and their possible impact on climate.” Soon did not respond to an email requesting that he list any peer-reviewed publications about mercury and public health.
Soon Claims Man-Made Global Warming Isn't Happening. In a May 2010 interview with Examiner.com, Soon stated that anthropogenic global warming has “never been about the science - even from the very beginning. It's based on confusion and a mixture of ideology.” Soon also stated that “the AGW movement is killing science” and that Al Gore “needs to just shut-up.” [Examiner.com, 5/11/10]
Soon's Climate Research Has Been Funded In Part By The American Petroleum Institute. From A September 2003 Harvard Crimson article:
The study, co-authored by two scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, concluded that the 20th century has been neither the warmest century of the past millennium nor the one with the most extreme weather.
But a large number of scientists have criticized the study's methods and pointed to ties between the oil industry and the study's authors, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas.
Approximately 5 percent of the study's funding--about $53,000 in all--came from the American Petroleum Institute, the gas and oil industry's main trade organization.
Both Soon and Baliunas are paid consultants for the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington non-profit organization that opposes limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
Four editors have resigned from Climate Research, the small journal that initially published the study. According to The New York Times, even the publisher of the journal, Otto Kinne, has criticized the study.
“I have not stood behind the paper by Soon and Baliunas,” Kinne said, according to the Times. “Indeed: the reviewers failed to detect methodological flaws.” [Harvard Crimson, 9/12/03]
Soon Worked With PR Group Created By Western Fuels Association. According to an archived version of the now-defunct Greening Earth Society's website, Soon was listed as a member of “the panel of scientific advisors for the Greening Earth Society.” [Greening Earth Society, 10/21/01]
- A February 5 Congressional Quarterly article reported that the Greening Earth Society was “set up by the Western Fuels Association Inc., a consortium of coal-burning utilities and electric cooperatives” and “preaches that fossil-fuel emissions provide a jolt of extra plant food that is good for the environment.” [Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 2/4/05, accessed via Nexis]
Soon Served As “Senior Scientist” At The George Marshall Institute. A 2003 document identified Willie Soon as “a Senior Scientist of the George Marshall Institute.” [George C. Marshall Institute, April 2003]
- National Journal reported in 2005 that Jeff Kueter, president of the George C. Marshall Institute admitted that his organization's climate change program received money from Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute. The report said Kueter “complains that the mainstream media does not respect climate-change research conducted by industry-funded groups, such as his Washington think tank.” [National Journal, 4/2/05]
CQ: Soon Wrote For Web Site “Run By A Mostly Republican Lobbying And Grass-Roots Organizing Firm.” From a March 2004 Congressional Quarterly article:
Soon is not in the mainstream of scientific thought on global warming, and his study -- actually a reappraisal of earlier research papers -- promptly came under fire from climate experts who disputed his conclusions and questioned his methods and his objectivity.
“When you say something that is slightly contrary to what others believe, they react very strongly,” Soon said. “There was an all-out attack on me.”
The reaction should not have surprised him. Neither Soon nor his co-author Baliunas are political neutrals.
Their research paper was partially underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute. Both have been associated with the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington-based think tank supported by industry and conservative foundations that focuses primarily on trying to debunk global warming as a threat. Both write regular columns for a Web site, Tech Central Station, run by a mostly Republican lobbying and grass-roots organizing firm in Washington, the DCI Group LLC. [Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 3/19/04, accessed via Nexis]
- Tech Central Station Was Funded By ExxonMobil. Washington Monthly reported in December 2003 that ExxonMobil was listed as a sponsor of TCS. The article further stated: “After ExxonMobil became a sponsor ... the site published a flurry of content attacking both the Kyoto accord to limit greenhouse gasses and the science of global warming--which happen to be among Exxon-Mobil's chief policy concerns in Washington.” [Washington Monthly, December 2003]
Who Is Paul Driessen?
Driessen's Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow Has Been Funded By Exxon Mobil. Driessen is identified as a “senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow” on the CFACT website. [Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, accessed 5/26/11]
- According to a 2007 Union of Concerned Scientists report, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow received $472,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2005. [Union of Concerned Scientists, January 2007]
CFACT Funds Marc Morano's Climate Change Denial Website. From an April 2009 New York Times article:
As a spokesman for Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Mr. Morano was for years a ceaseless purveyor of the dissenting view on climate change, sending out a blizzard of e-mail to journalists covering the issue. Now, with Congress debating legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions, Mr. Morano is hoping to have an even greater impact. He has left his job with Mr. Inhofe to start his own Web site, ClimateDepot.com.
The site, scheduled to debut this week, will be a ''one-stop shop'' for anyone following climate change, Mr. Morano says. He will post research he thinks the public should see, as well as reported video segments and ratings of environmental journalists.
Mr. Morano's new Web site is being financed by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues.
Craig Rucker, a co-founder of the organization, said the committee got about a third of its money from other foundations. But Mr. Rucker would not identify them or say how much his foundation would pay Mr. Morano. (Mr. Morano says it will be more than the $134,000 he earned annually in the Senate.)
Public tax filings for 2003-7 -- the last five years for which documents are available -- show that the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the ExxonMobil Foundation and from foundations associated with the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a longtime financer of conservative causes best known for its efforts to have President Bill Clinton impeached. Mr. Rucker said Exxon had not contributed anything last year. [New York Times, 4/9/09]
Driessen Also Works With CORE. Driessen's biography states that he is a policy adviser for the Congress of Racial Equality. [Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, accessed 5/26/11]
- CORE Has Also Been Funded By ExxonMobil. From a November 2009 Mother Jones article about the film Not Evil, Just Wrong:
While the filmmakers may be sincere in their concern for low-income people, their film is populated by a cast of discredited characters, some of them familiar from recent corporate astroturf efforts. Case in point: Roy Innis, the head of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), whose group participated in a “Stop the War on the Poor” campaign launched by a lobbying firm connected to Alaskan oil interests in order to push for more oil drilling in the US.
Not Evil presents Innis as the leader of a historic civil rights group fighting to reinstate use of the pesticide DDT, whose ban the film blames for the daily malaria deaths of more than 300 African children. But CORE is better known among real civil rights groups for renting out its historic name to any corporation in need of a black front person. The group has taken money from the payday-lending industry, chemical giant (and original DDT manufacturer) Monsanto, and ExxonMobil. Last year, Mother Jones reported that oil and gas interests recruited Innis to serve as the lead plaintiff in a legal challenge to listing the polar bear as a threatened species. [Mother Jones, 11/10/09]
Driessen Pits Environmentalism Against The World's Poor. The Amazon.com description of Driessen's book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death says the book “Reveals a dark secret of the ideological environmental movement. The movement imposes the views of mostly wealthy, comfortable Americans and Europeans on mostly poor, desperate Africans, Asians and Latin Americans. It violates these people's most basic human rights, denying them economic opportunities, the chance for better lives, the right to rid their countries of diseases that were vanquished long ago in Europe and the United States.” The cover features an image of a starving child:
[Amazon.com, accessed 5/26/11]