There's legislation being considered in both the House and Senate to address the BP Gulf Oil disaster that could fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund every year at $900 million annually for land conservation – including funding for national wildlife refuges. On Facebook and Twitter, petitions and letters to support this funding on behalf of taxpayers has been begging for our support. I'll admit up front, that I tend to fall on the side of wanting more money for habitat. I'd much rather my tax dollars go to managing our public refuge system than say a baseball stadium. I'm not opposed to more money for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But, do you know who else is really excited about this legislation? BP!
Corey Finger had mentioned a few weeks ago that there was a suspicious looking environmental group called America's Wetland Foundation which has great ambiguous phrases on their website "Climate Energy and the Coast for a Sustainable Future." It also has some interesting sponsors which includes Shell, Chevron and BP. One of its partner organizations called Women of the Gulf has jumped on board to help support this legislation and created a petition and a YouTube video including such trustworthy celebrities as Sandra Bullock, Harry Shearer, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz just to name of few to get you to sign.
Last night, Huffington Post released this story about America's Wetland Foundation and Women of the Gulf. Here's an excerpt:
According to the Washington Post: "Shell Oil, worried about its offshore drilling platforms, put up several million dollars for a PR campaign to rebrand Louisiana's marshes as 'America's Wetland.'"
Now Women of the Gulf was founded in January 2006 in response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Women of the Storm. Here's what HP found out:
"Anne Milling, founder of Women of the Storm, said in a phone interview that the organization has never received a penny directly from BP or any other major oil company, although she did acknowledge Women of the Storm received advisory assistance from some of these entities when originally launching the project after Hurricane Katrina.
Mrs. Milling was unapologetic when asked about the prominent placement of the America's Wetland Foundation banner on the group's website and its various partnerships with the oil-backed group. She sees nothing wrong with AWF's cozy relationship with the same oil and gas giants that are partly responsible for the coastal wetlands degradation that is the focus of her group's concern.
Why? Perhaps because she is married to R. King Milling, the chairman of America's Wetland Foundation, Mrs. Milling sees nothing wrong with the oil connections."
In the wake of this news, I see that Sandra Bullock has asked to have her part of the video pulled as she tries to sort out who she's actually helping here: wetlands get future funding or BP trying to get out of paying some money to help Gulf clean up of the spill they created.
For myself, I'm torn. I'm generally good with sending money to save public lands that I enjoy birding, digiscoping, hiking, canoeing and now fishing in. However, I'm not a fan of helping BP avoid some of the massive payouts they must do.
Also, I don't blame Ms. Bullock for her involvement. No woman makes good decisions after a bad breakup.
Let this be a reminder to all of us that we need to be careful about what we sign and who we send money to in the name of "saving the Gulf."