A Battle of David and Goliath Proportions

by Marita Noon on September 30, 2011

in Blog, Features

Post image for A Battle of David and Goliath Proportions

In the last few weeks a battle has been going on behind the scenes involving the sites who publish my work and those who wish to silence me and smother public debate.

The debate between the Center for Biological Diversity and me stems from an issue gaining increasing attention. Most recently, on September 28, according to an Associated Press article, the EPA cut corners. Referencing a report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general, the article states the “EPA should have followed a more extensive review process.” Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr said: “It is clear that EPA did not follow all the required steps.” Earlier this month, the Washington Examiner revealed a similar scandal: U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger “ripped” two Fish and Wildlife scientists for their “biological opinion” that was “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful.” Likewise, I drew attention to science behind the proposed endangered species listing for the Sand Dune Lizard. The CBD took offense. Instead of defending the science, exposing the techniques of professional environmentalism, they have opted to attack me and post videos of my presentations on their website.

How’d we get here?

American environmental law is upside down. It focuses on the bottom of The National Environmental Policy Act, not the top, not the entirety.  At the top of the Act’s “purpose” paragraph, it clearly states: “To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” In other words, the public policy underlying NEPA favors protecting the balance between humans and the environment.Since NEPA’s passage in 1969, opportunistic foundation elites realized the law offered them a chance to gain control and power over federal agencies and huge areas of American land. They realized that if they used the bottom part of the law, that requires environmental impact statements and invites lawsuits, they could find willing recipients to take their money and do their bidding. Among the first were the Environmental Defense Fund (assets $151,858,743) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (assets $232,304,192). Over time, these foundations helped create enough groups, such as Earthjustice (total assets $39,270,926), The Sierra Club (revenue $84,753,217), and the Center for Biological Diversity (revenue $7,446,541*) to give them free reign in federal agencies and in the courts—appointing themselves as the arbiters of the environment. The foundations created a multi-billion dollar industry that can cripple private industry.

These environmental groups now flood agencies with complicated opinions and data. An article in Nature News quotes Gary Frazer, assistant director for endangered species at the Fish and Wildlife Service: “What we have had in recent years is a very large volume of petitions that overwhelmed our capabilities. We missed deadlines. And we got sued.”

Intimidated by the mass of technicality, over time courts have abdicated their duty to judge the science that came from agencies—empowering environmental groups, destroying industry, and killing jobs. The “productive” part of NEPA has fallen by the wayside. The fact that “man” is even part of the act has been forgotten.

As a result, energy projects of all kinds are being stopped or stalled in the name of protecting the environment—when there can be a “productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” Whether it be the desert tortoise and a solar project, Indiana bats and wind turbines, or sand dune lizards and oil and gas development, lawsuits have been filed. With the history of the spotted owl and logging and the delta smelt and farming, public opinion is beginning to turn. People are becoming increasingly aware that protecting a critter is destroying human habitat and livelihood.

With the global economy in peril and persistently high unemployment continuing, people believe it is time to encourage the “productive” part of NEPA. Even if they’ve never read NEPA or never even heard of it, they want to “stimulate the health and welfare of man” not just “prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere.”

Nothing would please me more than having to look for a new job because my efforts on behalf of “productive” brought environmental groups back to the purpose of NEPA: “Encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” If we truly had that, there would be no need for advocates on either side. But as long as there are Goliaths defending the “environment,” the Davids need to throw stones to defend “man”—even though Goliath may not like getting hit now and then.

* All figures from Guidestar

Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, will be released in October.

Dr. Smith September 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Man and what is important to man is NOT missing from NEPA analyses. You are clearly missing the point here: you and I live in a pluralist democratic society. Meaning that competing human interests rule the political day. Protection of the environment and diversifying our energy economy for the sake of human beings are both valid and, are often cast as competing values. We are at a point in history where deference of choosing which of these goals that our human society values most (i.e., which wins out) is no longer possible. Tough choices must be made and NEPA provides an opportunity for the Federal government to take a moment and make an informed decision – with input from interest groups (large and small) and individual citizens and their respective communities – before investing the human public and the taxpayer $$ into a project, in this case, energy projects. Building large 550-MW electric generating facilities on undisturbed lands in areas where run-off/erosion, water quality/quantity, land subsistence, or potential interference with such necessities as Department of Defense radar systems or airport navigation systems can occur, may not make as much sense in terms of securing human freedom and the ability of individual human beings to thrive.

Perhaps installing rooftop solar systems on or colocating small wind turbines or geothermal systems at existing individual homes and buildings so that individual humans can supply their own energy for their own daily needs makes more sense (a result of many of these so-called flawed NEPA analyses). In such a world, humans would not be captive to an energy industry looking to make a buck and to eternally, unjustifiably enslave humans as ‘consumers’. Be honest – this is the ugly, human fact that you choose to ignore because it does not fit into YOUR value system of profiteering.

Bob Burger October 2, 2011 at 9:09 am

Keep up the good work, Marita. You’ve only made their hit list because you are having an effect.

Your logic is your strength, as in all conflicts waged by the pen.

Kieran Suckling October 3, 2011 at 7:03 pm

RESPONSE BY CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

Marita Noon asserts that the Center for Biological Diversity attacked her because we disagree with her efforts to block protection for the dunes sage brush lizard. While her lizard activism zig zags between exaggeration, incoherence and threats of violence (more on that later), Noon knows very well that we publicly took her to task for something else entirely.

In several blog posts, including one posted on this site, Noon falsely accused the Center of “extorting” money from a solar energy company when in fact, the Center received no money at all from the company. When informed of this, numerous websites (including this one) removed her false attack.

Noon’s failure to reveal the actual dispute and its outcome is not surprising given how regularly she plays fast and loose with the facts.

Her attack on the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, for example, was pulled down by its publishers and replaced with: “This commentary has been removed in its entirety because of factual inaccuracies.”

Noon continues the trend in her post here. In her dark conspiracy tale, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council are “opportunistic foundation elites” who created a “multi-billion dollar industry” including the Sierra Club, EarthJustice, and the Center for Biological Diversity. Every single facet of this story is false:

1. EDF and NRDC are not foundations
2. Neither EDF nor NRDC created the Sierra
Club, EarthJustice or the Center for
Biological Diversity
3. Environmental groups which uphold federal
laws do not singely or in combination have
multi-billion dollars in revenue.

And consider her assertions regarding the dunes sage brush lizard. In the link provided above, Noon asserts that a “group of independent scientists” has called into question the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to list the lizard as an endangered species. Who are these “scientists”? Noon conveniently doesn’t reveal that. I’ll tell you who they are: a politician (Rep. Dennis Kintigh), a rancher, two petroleum geologists, a dinosaur fossil geologist, and a curator at the Cowboy Hall of Fame who once studied lizards as an undergraduate student four decades ago. To call this a group of “scientists” is an extraordinary exaggeration.

Nor are they least bit “independent” as every one of them is tied to either the oil or ranching industry.

What about the real university scientists who did provide a scientific peer review of the federal proposal? Noon dismisses them as having a conflict of interest because their scientific studies were cited in the government proposal. So in Noon’s world, if you actually study and publish scientific papers about the sand dunes lizard, you are disqualified from scientific review. But if you are a politician, a rancher, or a curator at the Cowboy Hall of Fame, you’re a full-on scientist of the highest caliber.

Here’s the bottom line: Noon is not being attacked; she’s being held accountable for publishing false assertions and wild exaggerations. She is not being silenced; her publishers (including this site) simply have enough integrity to not publish false statements. And if she repeatedly exhorts people at rallies to “smash the watermelons” (i.e. environmentalists), she can expect videos of her threats to appear all over the internet.

Adrian Foley October 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

Hey, Marita

Don’t lose heart. Just remember who won the David/Goliath scrap !

Aido

Steve October 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Living in the Southwest, I see Noon’s materials promoting oil drilling and attacking those she thinks oppose drilling fairly often. There is no question that she regularly gets busted for making false statements. Her web posts get taken down (and I’m talking about those on conservative websites) and those that survive are shown to be objectively incorrect. In one case, a newspaper reporter called her plagiarist and accused her of making false statements.

The Center for Biological Diversity has lodged some pretty damning complaints above. But they are all factual, thus Noon should be able to refute them very easily if they are false. So tell us Ms. Noon if the following charges are false:

- You accused the Center of taking money from a solar company, but both the company and the Center say it never happened? And conservative websites took down your post?

- Your attack on the New Mexico Wildlife Federation was taken down and replaced with statement that it included false statements?

- The Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Counsel are not foundations, did not create the Sierra Club, EarthJustice or the Center for Biological Diversity?

- The “independent science panel” you tout has no lizard biologists on it and is completely made of people with ties to the oil industry?

If you can’t refute these charges, then I’ll have to conclude that they are true. They certainly look true right now.

Jeremy Benway October 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

Noon’s woe-is-me, I’m-being-attacked-by-environmentalists routine, doesn’t add up. While the media has been exposing Noon’s false statements for some time, environmentalists did not attack her until AFTER she publicly called for violence against them (i.e. her “smash the watermelons” speeches, bumper stickers, pens and website). The Center for Biological Diversity didn’t attack her until AFTER she falsely accused them of extortion. It was Noon that turned the policy debate nasty and aggressive, not the environmentalists.

And she’s David against their Goliath? The last time I checked, the oil & gas industry she represents is one of the largest industries in the world.

News flash for Marita Noon, if you threaten violence against people, they will call you out on it. If you lie about people to smear their reputation, they will call you out.

Michael October 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Noon’s dislike of NEPA’s focus on “complicated data” has everything to do with the fact that the data are not on her side. NEPA benefits those who best know the science and are able to show its relevance to management decisions. Not good news for Noon whose specialty is printing “smash the watermelons” bumper stickers and attacking environmentalists in internet opeds that keep getting taken down because they get the facts wrong. That is not the kind of stuff that translates well into influencing scientific decision-making processes.

Consider Noon’s claim that her group of ranchers, politicians and oil geologists is an “independent scientific panel.” It is good theater. It might have made some political impact had the enviros not got out ahead of her and discredited the “panel” before it published its report. But it is scientific nonsense and thus will have no impact on the federal decision-making process.

Ditto for her dismissal of the real university scientists who peer reviewed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard. These people actually study lizards and don’t have any economic ties to ranching, oil development, or conservation groups. The supported the science and conclusions of the agency proposal, while suggesting edits and additions to make it more rigorous. Noon’s complaint that they aren’t independent because they conduct research on the species is so absurd it won’t have any impact on final decision.

Rather than decrying “complicated data,” attacking scientists and whining that environmentalists win lawsuits, Noon should gather a little data herself. I just might make her more effective.

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