More Green for the Green

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

San Francisco      Ray Ring, a senior editor writing in a recent number of High Country News, pulled together some interesting numbers in a piece that argued essentially that environmental groups have prospered and in many cases filled their coffers thanks to the recognition that the draconian policies of the Bush II Administration had to be stopped. Ring looked at a wide spectrum of both national and regional groups and found that in many cases the money had improved, though he noted that in his review between 2000 and 2006 (the best available data) the money had to improve by at least 17% just to keep up with inflation over that period, which adds a more sobering dimension to the overview.

From the perspective of a membership organization the numbers are pretty fascinating, and they are not small! At the top of the scale is the Nature Conservancy which is drafts everything else with its scale: they jumped from $784+M to over a billion — $1.01+.

Others pulled down some big bucks as well as I can extrapolate from Ring’s bar graphs:

* Trust for Public Land $120+ to $155+M
* National Wildlife Federation $100M to a shade less than $100M — must be a story there!
* Sierra Club $70M to 80M (with a membership group from 650000 to 800000 now!
* Wilderness Society $25M to $40M
* Defenders of Wildlife $15+M to $32M
* Earthjustice $28M down to $25M — hmmmm, but still big bucks!

Those six national outfits combine for almost a Billion and a quarter in spending!

Regional organizations that are closer to the ground also showed significant increases:

* Sonoran Institute $1.8M to 3.9M
* Western Resource Advocates $1.5M to $3.9M
* Greater Yellowstone Coalition $2.5M to $3M
* Grand Canyon Trust $4M down to $3M
* Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance $2M to 2.5M
* Save Our Wild Salmon $1.5M to $2M
* Northern Plains Resource Council $600K to $1.5M (good to see our buddies doing so well!)
* Wyoming Outdoor Council $500K to $1M
* Western Colorado Congress $500K to $700K
* Powder River Basin Resource Council $200K to $500K

NPRC, WCC, and PRBRC are all part of the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) network that has been an ally of ACORN’s for more than 30 years, so theirs is a case where a constituency based organization of ranchers, farmers and others have parlayed the environmental fear and their issues into significant capacity increases.

Ring unfortunately notes that the increases in resources have not been matched by increases in success, but that’s the nature of the battle in the West particularly. He also notes that the coming recession could mean some quick decreases in resources even as these groups are increasing capacity.

Importantly, the opposition groups like the famous Pacific Legal Foundation and the Mountain States Legal Foundation that have waged the “wise use” efforts and a lot of the anti-environmental fights in the West from Ring’s figures seem to have not experienced anywhere near the group the progressives have seen. There’s comfort there, so let’s hope the tables don’t turn on us.