Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Dissecting the Incoherence from the Sierra Club

The chairwoman of the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, Yvonne Cather, wrote a letter to the editor in the Wichita Eagle that is divorced from reality.  The misinformation begins in the first sentence, praising a small demonstration that she recently organized:

Occupy Koch Town recently attracted about 40 organizations and more than 350 people from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Oregon and Washington, D.C. We were all non-millionaires.

We could take Ms. Cather at her word, or we could rely on news accounts and photographs of the event that indicate there were several dozen participants at Koch headquarters, not hundreds.

We felt the media did not report on the issues the marchers represented, instead slanting their coverage to reflect the unfounded view expressed by the Koch brothers that such a public display of citizen rights to free speech was somehow illegitimate and dangerous.

Local broadcast affiliates put Ms. Cather on the air to explain her position and she has been quoted accurately, so far as we can tell.  If her views are incoherent, there is no one at fault but her.  Also, Koch has never objected to Ms. Cather’s right to speak, as she falsely claims.  Quite the contrary – Koch has long advocated for the first amendment rights of all American citizens as well as the other rights enumerated in the Constitution. Given the death threats and other security risks we have faced in the past few years, we do object to the hateful rhetoric, threats of violence, and lawless conduct that often characterize Occupy gatherings. In addition, the Sierra Club was one of the organizers of a protest outside a Koch meeting in Palm Springs last year that led to violent and racist comments by participants and the subsequent arrest of many protesters.

Little was mentioned about the action’s success, peacefully raising public consciousness about pollution and corporate influence.

Ms. Cather seems to believe that the right to be heard also includes the right to be taken seriously.  It is bizarre at best to fault the news media for failing to measure the degree to which public consciousness was peacefully raised, whatever that even means.

The Alberta pipeline system…carries diluted bitumen, the same product planned for Keystone XL [pipeline].

Ms. Cather’s attempt to connect the Keystone XL Pipeline to Koch is entirely fabricated.  As we have said repeatedly, Koch has no involvement whatsoever with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  It also is worth noting that it was recently revealed that the Sierra Club secretly took $26 million dollars in recent years from the natural gas industry to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline and other fuel sources that compete with the natural gas industry.

. . . the Koch-owned Pine Bend Refinery in Minnesota, . . .  is listed as a “high priority violator” by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This charge is false. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, officials there made a mistake when setting emissions limits for Pine Bend facility’s permit in 2006.  These issues have been resolved. To our knowledge, our Pine Bend facility is not subject to any outstanding enforcement actions that might explain placement on the HPV list.

Finally, Ms. Cather and the Sierra Club have nothing to say about the financial and political influence of her own members, as well as public employee unions and other top donors to left-wing elected officials.  And it’s no small irony, and we think hypocritical, that Ms. Cather called on activists to fly and drive to Wichita from throughout “Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Oregon and Washington, D.C.” in order to protest fossil fuels.  So even by their own standards, everyone would have been better off had they just stayed home.

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