Ron Arnold's Left Tracking Library

National
Environmental Trust


National Environmental Trust - originally Environmental Strategies, then Environmental Information Center

1200 18TH ST NW STE 500
WASHINGTON, DC 20036

Telephone: 202-887-8800   Fax (202) 887-8877.
Contact Person: Phil Clapp, president
Email: pclapp@environet.org    
Web site:
http://environet.policy.net/
EIN:
52-1863706
Founded: February 4, 1994
Exempt since: April 1994
President: Philip Clapp

Profile: Public relations firm created by large foundations including Pew Charitable Trusts, W. Alton Jones Foundation. Now a fixture in the green media supply business.

National Environmental Trust is profiled in Ron Arnold's book, Undue Influence.

Board of Directors

PHILIP CLAPP, PRESIDENT THOMAS WATHEN, SECRETARY
JOHN DEARDOURFF, TREASURER HUNTER LEWIS, CHAIRPERSON
DOUGLAS FOY, DIRECTOR ELLEN GLOBOKAR, DIRECTOR
DONALD ROSS, DIRECTOR RICHARD RUSSMAN, DIRECTOR

National Environmental Trust Executive:
Philip E. Clapp, president.
Salary $155,000, benefits $12,229.
P
resident since February 1994.
1992, Member of the steering committee of Environmentalists for the Clinton/Gore campaign.
Former employee of Senator Timothy Wirth


The public relations firm known today as the National Environmental Trust began very quietly in 1993 when Joshua Reichert, environmental director of Pew Charitable Trusts, circulated a proposal to other foundation leaders to join in funding a new venture called “Environmental Strategies.” Its foundationese mission statement was “to assist environmental organizations to conduct public education campaigns on priority national environmental issues.”

What that really meant was to help environmentalists split the wise use movement with wedge issues and smear wise users as being anti-environment rather than being anti-environmentalist.

Most of the people who received Reichert’s proposal had been at the 1992 Environmental Grantmakers Association retreat (click here to visit the Center’s archive of transcriptions from their sessions). They agreed with Chuck Clusen’s panel (click here for transcription) that no single Green Group had produced a full-spectrum power and pressure machine. Most agreed with Hooper Brooks that the foundations had to become prescriptive in order to force into existence the coalitions and alliances which could form that machine. The real job of the new public relations group would be to create synthetic coalitions. According to Mark Dowie’s book, Losing Ground, the concept paper for Environmental Strategies said: 

For considerable sums of money, public opinion can be molded, constituents mobilized, issues researched, and public officials button-holed, all in a symphonic arrangement. There are media spots, direct mail drops, phone banks, and old fashioned lobbying, tactics employed in specific target areas, all informed by opinion research. While business and industry has made extensive use of them, environmentalists have been slow to employ and, equally important, to coordinate these new political arts. As a result environmentalism has fallen behind in a political arms race that requires even higher levels of organized constituent involvement to influence officials and engender administrative or legislative action. 

When Ron Arnold read this quote into the congressional hearing on Undue Influence (click here for witness testimony), Pew Charitable Trusts went ballistic and Dowie, a multiple National Magazine Award winner, recanted the quote (click here for Dowie’s letter).

Regardless who wrote the quote, Environmental Strategies was very quietly incorporated in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 1994. The incorporators were: Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council; Donald K. Ross, Rockefeller Family Fund; Douglas Foy, Conservation Law Foundation; and Thomas Wathen, Pew Charitable Trusts (which gave $650,000 for startup through the Tides Foundation—another donor-advised fund). Wathen subsequently became an officer in the PR firm now known as the National Environmental Trust with a current salary of $135,000 and benefits of $22,797.

Who are these symphonic arrangers?

Donald K. Ross is profiled on the Rockefeller Family Fund page and the USPIRG page.

If you’ve visited the Yale University campus, you know the name Beinecke seems to be everywhere, Beinceke Plaza, Beinecke Library. The NRDC’s deputy director at the time, Frances Beinecke (Yale Class of ’71), is the daughter of William S. Beinecke, retired CEO of Sperry & Hutchinson, who was the principal donor of the Beinecke Library. Frances is a trustee of the Yale Corporation (governing board of the university). She has since become the NRDC’s executive director (1998). She co-founded the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) in 1989 with Paul Elston (her husband), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Larry Rockefeller, a lawyer with NRDC. When she helped incorporate Environmental Strategies, she was earning $88,718 a year at NRDC, with a $10,284 benefit package, a nice frill to the family fortune. She’s rich and powerful and connected.

Who’s Douglas Foy? Aside from being the head of the Boston-based, foundation-nourished Conservation Law Foundation, he’s a Princeton man (Class of ’69) —the old school tie to Joshua Reichert. Foy received Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award in recognition of his achievements, which were cited as an example of Wilson’s vision for “Princeton in the nation’s service.” He’s very much the strategic thinker, as he showed himself in a lecture at his alma mater, stressing “that top-down regulation by government is an abject failure and that local involvement in environmental issues is essential since it fosters credibility and teaches what community means.”

Tom Wathen, last of the incorporators, had been an all-around Pew operative, Reichert’s front man in the field cultivating the grass roots.

Environmental Strategies received a good dose of start-up money ($125,000) from the W. Alton Jones Foundation, even though Jones didn’t sign on as a named incorporator. The Pew/Rockefeller/Jones cluster pressured other foundations to fund their effort: Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, and Bill Moyers’ Florence and John Schumann Foundation, among others, joined in. Environmental Strategies started with $2 million but no leader.

By the summer of 1994, Reichert had interviewed scores of candidates for the top jobs at Environmental Strategies before finding the right team.

The original staff is indicative: it was a virtual Who’s Who of Democratic Party politics. Philip E. Clapp, executive director (now president), was a member of the national steering committee of Environmentalists for Clinton-Gore. Mike Casey, media relations director, came directly from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Staffer Arlie Schardt served as press secretary for Al Gore’s first unsuccessful presidential bid. Schardt runs his own outfit, Environmental Media Services.

The media contracts were handled by Washington, D.C.-based Fenton Communications, long a favorite of the far left: During the 1980s, for example, Fenton Communications had contracts with the Christic Institute and the communist regimes of Angola and Nicaragua as a registered agent of a foreign government. Fenton Communications is best known for engineering the Alar scare that destroyed hundreds of family apple orchard businesses. David Fenton talked CBS’s “60 Minutes” into reporting as fact an unproven claim by Beinecke’s Natural Resources Defense Council that Alar, a root-applied chemical used to ripen apples, was a serious cancer risk to children. Horrified parents across the nation quit purchasing apples as a result of the report, which bankrupted whole communities of apple orchardists. In fact, the government was already phasing out Alar (which the NRDC knew) and not a single case of any disease at all was ever attributed to Alar. Shardt’s Environmental Media Services shares office space with Fenton Communications.

That original name, Environmental Strategies, was not very cuddly. Two months after incorporating, on April 3, 1994, the incorporators changed it to Environmental Information Center and went public in November. Even that wasn’t good enough, because it’s now called “the National Environmental Trust.”

From “Strategies” to “Trust” with “Information” in the middle.

The archetype of foundationese.

The PR outfit’s first task was to combat the emerging wise use movement, then to create a new grassroots movement for environmentalists who had lost their authentic supporters.

The Environmental Information Center’s original PR kit said it was “founded in November 1994 to combat environmental misinformation and help strengthen grassroots support for environmental protection.” (No mention of the February 1994 Environmental Strategies incarnation shown on the articles of incorporation.)

Then the adequately grant-driven Environmental Information Center launched a series of “Strategy Sessions” in a dozen cities across the country to get things moving. The sessions were for local environmental group leaders only, no reporters invited. The programs went like this:

After a hosted breakfast, EIC executive director Phil Clapp opened each session with a short pep talk about the goals of the meeting, how the Endangered Species Act debate was shaping up, and comments from a trusted (and already-funded) local leader.

Then came a session called “Coalition-Building” where everyone said who they were, who they’d been working with, and how they built a winning coalition in their area of specialization.

A “Message” session produced a handout ballot for everyone to vote on which messages they found to work best with fellow activists, general public, legislators, and media.

Just before lunch came the guts of the spontaneous grassroots campaign. The schedule said, “Discussion of successful techniques including targeting, canvassing, literature drops, petitions, press conferences and stunts, direct mail, phone banking, sign-on letters, constituent visits, paid ads attacking foes and defending friends, radio and TV actualities and PSAs, talk shows, newspaper op-eds, letters to the editor; and editorial board briefings, and opposition research and debunking, opinion polls.”

Organizers from the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, and Alaska told the session what they’d found did and didn’t work in their campaigns.

After lunch, David Fenton of Fenton Communications told the group about the media, its role in politics, and how to use it better.

Fenton stressed, “Educating the media so as to educate the public,” and gave examples from actual news reports. The Seattle session featured a Post-Intelligencer story he had planted on how logging kills salmon.

Fenton also emphasized “reaching different audiences on the Endangered Species Act such as religious, scientific, health, and children’s constituencies.  How we avoid creating sympathy for the other side.”

John Hoyt of Pyramid Communications led a short panel discussion on what works to get on the radar screen of a member of Congress, followed by role playing on a visit to a reluctant congressman’s office, using the technique of showing news media results to members and staff for maximum payoff. 

Late in the day the group split into sections to discuss goals for the next 10 weeks, then worked backwards to set priorities, assess the people and resources needed, decide who does what, and write a timetable.

They ended the day trading phone, fax and email information, then retired to cocktails for an hour of “informal discussion and networking.”

At no time did anyone talk about doing anything directly on the ground in the environment, like planting trees or growing food.

Only a few invitees in the room had any idea of the magnitude of the campaign they had been invited into, and none knew who was paying for it.

As the EIC’s Strategy Sessions rolled across the country, environmental groups by the dozen put their hands out for large grants to “reinvigorate the grassroots,” an activity that hadn’t previously interested them. They got the money. And did what they had been taught.

Media outlets subsequently reported a large and spontaneous growth of grassroots environmentalism. Why did the media cooperate?

Public Media Center:$300,000 from Pew Charitable Trusts. “To design, coordinate and place series of issue and information bulletins in major newspapers to inform and educate policy makers, opinion leaders and American public about global stewardship issues.”

Foundation for American Communications: $75,000 from W. Alton Jones Foundation. “To train journalists to cover environmental issues in the context of major current events, and to put these issues into a local perspective.”

Center for Investigative Reporting: $100,000 from W. Alton Jones Foundation. “For reporting on current dynamics of national environmental organizing efforts.”
      $105,000 from Florence and John Schumann Foundation. “For research on environmental conflicts in the West.”

Center for Media in the Public Interest: $25,000 from Florence and John Schumann Foundation. “To train activists to effectively use advocacy media.”

Society of Environmental Journalists: $50,000 from W. Alton Jones Foundation. “To improve the quality and visibility of responsible reporting on key environmental policy issues.”

World Media Foundation: $250,000 from W. Alton Jones Foundation. “For a weekly environmental news and information program, LIVING ON EARTH.”

Environmental Media Association: $25,000 from Heinz Family Foundation. “Toward creating public service announcements (PSAs) on the environment.”

Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate: $100,000 from W. Alton Jones Foundation. “Ecotoons: A project to syndicate and publish collections of political cartoons with environmental themes.”

The National Environmental Trust sounds like it’s a great repository of environmental treasures, like the national park system or something. In fact, it’s just a public relations firm in the service of wealthy foundations with social and political agendas.

Grants: The Foundation Center database contains records of 55 grants to the National Environmental Trust. In their records:

Pew Charitable Trusts gave a total of $21,000,000.

Turner Foundation gave a total of $12,290,000.

The Energy Foundation gave a total of $1,659,600.

W. Alton Jones Foundation gave a total of $1,350,000.

John Merck Fund gave a total of $730,000.

Bauman Family Foundation gave a total of $350,000.

The Scherman Foundation gave a total of $250,000.

  1. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For general operating support
    Amount: $3,000,000             Year Authorized: 2002  

  2. Foundation Name: The Ford Foundation
    Abstract: To develop national trade policy campaign
    Amount: $50,000             Year Authorized: 2002
    Duration: 2-year grant 

  3. Foundation Name: Wyss Foundation
    Foundation State: PA     Geographic Focus: N (National)
    Amount: $200,000             Year Authorized: 2001  

  4. Foundation Name: The Scherman Foundation, Inc.
    Foundation State: NY     Geographic Focus: NY
    Abstract: For Global Warming Public Education Campaign
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2001
    Duration: 2-year grant

  5. Foundation Name: Beldon Fund
    Abstract: For general support for public education campaign expertise and communications services on national environmental issues
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2001

  6. Foundation Name: Bauman Family Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For general support
    Amount: $150,000             Year Authorized: 2001

  7. Foundation Name: Bauman Family Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For children's environment health
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2001

  8. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: To continue with Media and Education Campaign Tour and launch Local Media Energy Tour, which work to educate public, policymakers, and members of media about Bush energy plan
    Amount: $300,000             Year Authorized: 2001

  9. Foundation Name: Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc.
    Abstract: For Global Warming Public Education Campaign
    Amount: $400,000             Year Authorized: 2001
    Duration: 2-year grant

  10. Foundation Name: The New York Community Trust
    Abstract: To mobilize public support for international greenhouse gas emissions agreements
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2001

  11. Foundation Name: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
    Abstract: For Wise Choice Seafood Initiative
    Amount: $500,000             Year Authorized: 2001
    Duration: 2-year grant

  12. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: To develop effective communications strategies for countering and defeating serious attacks on federal environmental protections
    Amount: $150,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  13. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: To conduct media, public education, and advocacy campaigns that heighten understanding of climate change as serious environmental problem and impress on policymakers and citizens importance of taking action to abate it
    Amount: $150,000             Year Authorized: 2000 

  14. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For general operating support
    Amount: $2,500,000             Year Authorized: 2001

  15. Foundation Name: Turner Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For media outreach and public education on issues relating to climate change
    Amount: $150,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  16. Foundation Name: V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  17. Foundation Name: Turner Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For national education campaign on global climate change, with focus on educating policymakers, media and general public about opportunities stemming from Kyoto agreement
    Amount: $10,940,000             Year Authorized: 1999

  18. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: For second year of Business-Climate Change Media Awareness Project
    Amount: $300,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  19. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: To continue education and media work focused on benefits of power sector emissions reductions, energy efficiency, and renewable energy within federal utility restructuring policy
    Amount: $200,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  20. Foundation Name: W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: To encourage public awareness of risks of climate disruption through media outreach, local grassroots organizing, national constituency development, and international coordination with foreign NGOs
    Amount: $300,000             Year Authorized: 1999

  21. Foundation Name: The New York Community Trust
    Abstract: To mobilize public support for international greenhouse gas emissions agreements
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  22. Foundation Name: Bauman Family Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For general support of citizen right-to-know programs
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  23. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For continued general operating support
    Amount: $3,000,000             Year Authorized: 2000
    Duration: 1.50-year grant

  24. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For general operating support
    Amount: $3,000,000             Year Authorized: 2000

  25. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: For continued support for Climate Change Campaign, to educate policymakers, business leaders, media and public about Kyoto climate change protocol and benefits of implementation in the U.S
    Amount: $150,000             Year Authorized: 1999

  26. Foundation Name: The Scherman Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For Climate Change Public Education Campaign
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 1999

  27. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: To conduct Climate Change Campaign, designed to educate policymakers, business leaders, media and public about Kyoto climate change protocol, benefits and ways in which it can be successfully and readily implemented in U.S.
    Amount: $150,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  28. Foundation Name: Wallace Global Fund
    Abstract: For republic education campaign on climate change
    Amount: $400,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  29. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: To support Business-Climate Change Awareness Project to build awareness of climate solutions in business community
    Amount: $234,600             Year Authorized: 1999

  30. Foundation Name: Howard Heinz Endowment
    Abstract: For Clean and Affordable Energy Campaign
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  31. Foundation Name: Howard Heinz Endowment
    Abstract: For Clean and Affordable Energy Campaign
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  32. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For matching grant for general operating support
    Amount: $3,000,000             Year Authorized: 1999

  33. Foundation Name: V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
    Abstract: For Climate Change campaign
    Amount: $100,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  34. Foundation Name: Turner Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For national education campaign on global climate change, with focus on educating policymakers, media and general public about opportunities presented as result of international climate change negotiations stemming from Kyoto agreement
    Amount: $1,200,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  35. Foundation Name: W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: To build public awareness of special vulnerability of children to environmental contamination
    Amount: $500,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  36. Foundation Name: W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: To educate policymakers, media, businesses and general public about causes and impacts of climate disruption and economically sound options to avert it
    Amount: $300,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  37. Foundation Name: Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc.
    Abstract: For efforts to build U.S. constituency for mitigating climate change
    Amount: $400,000             Year Authorized: 1999
    Duration: 2-year grant

  38. Foundation Name: Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation
    Abstract: For Clean and Affordable Energy Campaign
    Amount: $125,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  39. Foundation Name: The Scherman Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: For general support
    Amount: $50,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  40. Foundation Name: Wallace Global Fund
    Abstract: For public education campaign on climate change
    Amount: $300,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  41. Foundation Name: Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: Toward environmental education programs
    Amount: $20,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  42. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: To continue support for Clean and Affordable Energy Public Education Campaign
    Amount: $250,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  43. Foundation Name: W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: To educate media, public and policymakers on impacts of climate change and climate-change mitigation strategies
    Amount: $250,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  44. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For matching grant for core program support
    Amount: $3,000,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  45. Foundation Name: The Ford Foundation
    Abstract: Toward educational campaign on climate change and public policy on greenhouse gas emissions in relation to international economic development
    Amount: $200,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  46. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: For continued support to advocate for national policy reducing climate change
    Amount: $75,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  47. Foundation Name: Rockefeller Brothers Fund
    Abstract: To continue public and media education efforts to build U.S. public support for climate protection
    Amount: $200,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  48. Foundation Name: V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
    Abstract: For Climate Change Campaign
    Amount: $250,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  49. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: To educate public about hormone disrupting chemicals as part of Right-to-Know Project
    Amount: $20,000             Year Authorized: 1996

  50. Foundation Name: The John Merck Fund
    Abstract: To build public support for serious U.S. policy to abate climate change by increasing awareness about its onset and how human activities cause it
    Amount: $35,000             Year Authorized: 1996

  51. Foundation Name: Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, Inc.
    Abstract: Toward environmental education programs
    Amount: $20,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  52. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: For public outreach regarding benefits of public investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy policies as means to cut U.S. carbon emissions and to help mitigate global warming
    Amount: $125,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  53. Foundation Name: Energy Foundation
    Abstract: For Clean and Affordable Energy Public Education Campaign
    Amount: $250,000             Year Authorized: 1997

  54. Foundation Name: The New York Community Trust
    Abstract: For national public education campaign on global climate change
    Amount: $250,000             Year Authorized: 1998

  55. Foundation Name: The Pew Charitable Trusts
    Abstract: For matching grant to educate public on national environmental issues
    Amount: $3,500,000             Year Authorized: 1997

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