Monday, January 22, 2007

Who can you trust? w/update

What does Baykeeper have to do with the Ecological Rights Foundation, a Garberville-based environmental group that was suing Sierra Pacific in 2002, who commissioned a toxicological study that found elevated levels of dioxin in mussels and crabs immediately adjacent to the Sierra Pacific Mill? (ncjournal 6/13/02)

The study was done by toxicologist Marc Lappe of the Center for Ethics and Toxics in Gualala, Calif

What's interesting is that The Center for Ethics and Toxics (CETOS), is a project of the Tides Center.

According to financial information compiled by activistcash.com, "The Tides Center is an offshoot of the Tides Foundation - the 800-pound gorilla of radical activist funding. Many environmental groups that now operate on their own got their start as a “project” of the Tides Center.

If an existing funder wants to pour money into a specific agenda for which no activist group exists, Tides will start one from scratch. At least 30 of the Tides Center’s current “projects” were created out of thin air in response to the needs of one foundation or another. (Tides Foundation is known to "routinely obscure the sources of its tax-exempt millions," and "makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used. In practice, “Tides” behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise."

"By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public. Drummond Pike has reinforced this view, telling The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.”


So the activist group ERF used an activist funded Lab (CETOS) to process their data - If you ask me the toxicology study has to be considered suspect as it cannot be seen as an objective and unbiased party.

Have I got this right? The State Water Board just used that data without knowing it was suspect. "...in making its determination to list Humboldt Bay as impaired for dioxin, the state relied exclusively on 14 out of 29 tissue samples taken from testing resulting from a lawsuit filed against Sierra Pacific Industries by the Ecological Rights Foundation in 2002 over contamination concerns."

The same samples taken by "Marc Lappe, a consulting toxicologist and former director of the Center for Ethics and Toxics who was hired by Ecological Rights Foundation..."

Which brings up the bigger question - What oversight exists for the orgs - EPIC (wildcalifornia.org), ERF (ecorights.org), Baykeeper (humboldtbaykeeper.org), Humboldt Watershed Council - how are people, the general public, and the people who end up in positions on water boards and other government positions to ensure that the information brought before them - information that is to be considered say, when deciding whether or not to list Humboldt Bay as "Toxic" - how are they to ensure that that information is unbiased, that the chain of command of the samples in question can be verified, that the samples haven't been tampered with, that the results have been accurately reported? How are they supposed to know when they are being played?

And how are they supposed to KNOW that the lab whose results they trust is funded by the very same activist network that funds many of the very same orgs that are propositioning them?

It's time to start a North Coast version of ActivistCash. Follow the money trails. See who is funding who. And why.

And then it is time for some legislation requiring oversight of the orgs - because they are not just made of of grassroots citizens anymore. ERF has "SEVENTEEN attorneys working together to achieve the Foundation’s mission."

***
UPDATE:
"...Humboldt Baykeepers also comes under the umbrella of the Ecological Rights Foundation, which last year settled a federal lawsuit against Sierra Pacific Industries over chemical pollution to the Mad River Slough and Humboldt Bay. The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office filed a twin suit, and Sierra Pacific agreed to pay the foundation and the people a total of $1.5 million to settle the suits.

Fred Evanson, a board member of the foundation, is also volunteering his time with the Baykeepers, which he helped forge.

...The Garberville-based foundation also bought the Baykeepers' new 25-foot Boston Whaler, which it intends to use as a patrol boat in the bay and along the coast from the Eel River to Trinidad.

..."We're not acting like we're here to save the day," Nichols said. "We're acting like another piece in the puzzle."

Who's the parent organization? Looks like one litigious group just spawned another.

60 comments:

  1. I see now that Humboldt County's number one cash crop is lawsuits. So what can we do with this information Rose?

    I'm thinking about going Edward Abbey on them myself and see how turnabout IS fair play.

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  2. Keep 'em busy, go for it. I copied and pasted your blog into an email to Tuck Vath at NCRWQCB this morning-however I may get back the same 'news release' that comments will be taken on the Dioxin listing at their next meeting-which is God knows when or where...

    Since I have absolutely no idea how the listing went down I can't comment (more info needed).

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  3. I believe that the "14 out of 29 tissue samples data" that you are specifically referring to were collected and analyzed by consultants hired by SPI. Correct me if this is wrong.

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  4. To get started I'm sorry I have to do this-

    The State Water Board just used that data without knowing it was suspect. "...in making its determination to list Humboldt Bay as impaired for dioxin, the state relied exclusively on 14 out of 29 tissue samples taken from testing resulting from a lawsuit filed against Sierra Pacific Industries by the Ecological Rights Foundation in 2002 over contamination concerns."

    No you didn't get that right.

    Quality Control for testing including the chain of custody, temperature and time frame among other things were met by the samples accepted.

    Don't forget that the State Water Board is a regulatory agency full of scientists-they are not known for taking samples or allowing test results without strict adherance to a standard protocol. Period.

    Testing the Dioxin samples wasn't cheap. $1,000 a piece.

    (Maybe that's why ERF only took what they could afford, or only took samples where it wouldn't be a waste of time)

    Is the documentation available? Why only 14 of 29 samples? What was the reason given for rejecting the other 15 samples?

    If I am to take this information at face value...52% of the samples were not accepted? Why.

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  5. mrsb814, now are those paper logs?

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  6. 300 dioxin tests or a shinny boat? Go figure.

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  7. Don't be sorry, Mary. The question is intended to look for answers. Some will add up. Some won't. Some will be people trying to cover their a__, others won't.

    The overarching question remains - how do you determine if the entity presenting the information is factual and reliable, that the orgs are honest and ethical?

    I'm not a big fan of regulation, but there needs to be some legislation passed that regulates the orgs - such as the financial reporting requirements the FPPC requires of candidates. In order to ensure an open and transparent process, and protect from abuse, all funding sources should be open and accounted for.

    The innocent days of real grassroots groups appear to have passed, and the slick con men and snake oil salesmen have been drawn to the easy riches that come from being able to hide under the cloak of 'the citizen public.'

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  8. Good question, anon.r.mous. I agree.

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  9. "...in making its determination to list Humboldt Bay as impaired for dioxin, the state relied exclusively on 14 out of 29 tissue samples taken from testing resulting from a lawsuit filed against Sierra Pacific Industries by the Ecological Rights Foundation in 2002 over contamination concerns."

    Testing was a result of the lawsuit, but was done by SPI's consultants.

    Please clarify who did the sampling and analysis as apposed to who interpreted the data.

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  10. Rose said:

    "The overarching question remains - how do you determine if the entity presenting the information is factual and reliable, that the orgs are honest and ethical?"

    Wait... isn't that the crux of the County's lawsuit against PL? Maybe we do need more regulation.

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  11. I have more information, but I will wait until you have had a chance to answer the 8:40 question.

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  12. Perhaps Mike Thompson will take up the legislation again to make it more difficult to sue municipalities over technicalities.

    The NCRWQCB tackles 'theme problems' like dioxin on a watershed basis. In round numbers: if a whole river gets 100 units of a contaminant and the population is 25-each member 'gets' a 4 unit piece of the polluting pie. This may be the kindergarten version but simplified is better than losing 99%.

    Search TDML at epa.us.gov

    The problem with calling out the alarm for dioxon contamination is that it doesn't fix anything. There is a lot more to consider.

    When removing dioxin and one of the ways to do this is through dredging...where do you put the dredge spoils? If you don't wish to put this near people because they are the 'most important consideration' you are leaving out a multitude of other species.

    And what about the benthic community? Are you going to dig them up to get down to the level of contamination which is below them? Or do you resuspend contaminants into the water column? There are so many choices that groups pushing lawsuits don't have to consider-but the regulators and cleanup operators most certainly have to.

    Its easy to be a whistle blower but the pandoras box is yet to open.

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  13. "Why only 14 of 29 samples? What was the reason given for rejecting the other 15 samples?"

    Its that 14 of 29 were positve for dioxin above a certian level. No samples were "rejected".

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  14. So 52% were not above a certain level then? 15 divided by 29=.5172

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  15. To test the entire Humboldt Bay fr dioxin contaminantion instead of just near Sierra Pacific where wood treatment chemicals are known to exist-that's thousands of samples at $1,000 each...mind boggling.

    Then where do you put the contaminated soils?

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  16. "So 52% were not above a certain level then? 15 divided by 29=.5172"

    Yup. Of the 29 samples refered to.

    "that's thousands of samples at $1,000 each...mind boggling"

    Why would you need thousands of samples?

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  17. "On June 4, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a letter to Sierra Pacific requesting that the company perform a "human health and ecological risk assessment" of the slough. The letter, which has not been made public until now, notes that in June of last year water board staff took sediment samples from two locations in the slough near the plant and found dioxin. The letter says dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals known, was also found in sediment in a ditch on the mill site. "The available information indicates that discharges from the facility have impacted the slough sediments near the facility and (that) additional work is necessary to determine the extent of the contamination and the associated risks to human health and the aquatic life in the Mad River Slough."

    The letter also makes reference to a recent toxicological study that found elevated levels of dioxin in mussels and crabs immediately adjacent to the Sierra Pacific mill. The study, which has also not been made public before, was commissioned by the Ecological Rights Foundation, a Garberville-based environmental group that is suing Sierra Pacific for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. In addition to looking at shellfish near the mill, the study also collected and tested shellfish in Hookton Slough, located at the relatively pristine southern tip of Humboldt Bay. Mussels there had no detectable dioxin contamination and the levels for a species of crab were extremely low, according to the study.

    The study, done by toxicologist Marc Lappe of the Center for Ethics and Toxics in Gualala, Calif., adds that "any increase in body burdens of (dioxin and related) chemicals increases the human risk of several toxic end points including cancer, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and possibly immunotoxicity."

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  18. Source please?

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  19. source for 10:24 quote - (ncjournal 6/13/02) link is in the post

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  20. So are the "14 of 29 samples" part of the ERF study or not? Please confrim.

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  21. CETOS is not a lab.

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  22. When I posted 1,000s of samples would be needed (to test the entire Humboldt Bay region)I was thinking that would be necessary to give a more accurate picture of the health of our bay. Samples from a variety of depths and in many different (scattered) locations. If you look at overlay charts of the testing done on the Balloon Track over the years (for example)-boxes and boxes of tests for every variety of toxins. A much more accurate picture of what is there and a cleanup plan is being developed over time and will take more shape as the final plans are submitted.

    Where Humboldt Bay is concerned-a variety of uses have caused dioxin contamination so its pretty easy to pin point areas where testing would produce predictable results. But keep in mind that dioxin contamination is caused by incineration: of waste, garbage, wood, treated wood, forest fires as well as production of treated wood. It isn't just nasty chemicals creating dioxin-people with burn barrels and fireplaces create dioxin too.

    There is a lot of information the public can trust and should look up for themselves if this is a topic of interest. Check out the EPA website: epa.us.gov searchword TMDL

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  23. So are you saying that people who dump their fireplaces ashes in the garden or over the hill are to blame for dioxin contamination too????

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  24. mrsb814

    Are you suggesting that a comprehensive dioxin study needs to be done?

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  25. * Coal fired utilities
    * Metal smelting
    * Diesel trucks
    * Land application of sewage sludge
    * Burning treated wood
    * Trash burn barrels


    These sources together account for nearly 80% of dioxin emissions.


    Well, we can strike the first two off the list. The sewage sludge question brings up Arcata's waste water treatment system, and let's not forget the Arcata Bottoms with the miles of cows and geese and the such.

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  26. The answere is not in punitive restrictions,fines or law suits. Even the testing and if needed clean-ups is only after the fact bandaids.
    Its all about an educated,responsible,envolved community. Even that hope is being f___ed-up by the self serving nature of the current enviromental protaginests.(plese forgive my spelling). You can't continue to feed off of precieved deep pockets,lie to our school kids about your motives and instill a fear of every resource producer and recreational activity. Beach restoration and plover propoganda is prime example of the one sided sales pitch our kids are getting. As of yet no one has been allowed to give the other side of these self serving agendas. Responsible public uses including fishing,surfing,ohv use,horesback riding ,kite flying,picinic fires,and on and on have no affect on plovers. None. Irresponsible activities can have a negitive effect----but there are reasons and levels of reasons.Our kids don't get all the info. This goes back to the 2nd sentence.(an educated ,responsible community. Not a punitve,and restrictive community. Did you know that every enviro group and player in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties were asked to help support the Surf Fishermen at Gold Bluffs Beach and they all turned us down. Even the holy of holy Friends of the Dunes. Look you can believe any information you want,but the reality of beaches and beach systems is change. Dynamic change----so whats the deal with all the college educated crowd hell bent on keeping our local beaches and dunes systems static or stranger yet,(pre-european).Any chance for dilouge or a difference of opinion in our schools so far seems to be taboo. How does this all add up in the Dioxin issue. Its the same we know it all and your ignorate presentation. How about changing our packaging of consumer products.So if the packaging is improperly burned or dumped they won't cause possible pollutants. Why do we need 5lbs,of plastic wrapped crap when we buy a tiny flash light? Why do we put a ton of crap im the air from oil fired turbines so the hip crowd can plug in the electric car? But they won't even consider nuclear energy even as a stop gap? If you who feel you are on a rightous mission for the enviroment would put your efforts into tangible changes in the producer?consumer fields you'd find us right beside you to get the results that are meaningful. As I've said before and again,as it stands now your motives are suspect as are your tactics. This us aganist them deal just doesn't cut it. I remember a class I had in college about the insurance industry that's always on my mind as this insanity continues. "Figures lie and liers figure" I think with some compassion for the bay,our school kids.and the wage earner we can do better. Being associated with the new flavor of the month enviro gruop is very inticing and cool. Being on the payroll is even more seductive. Remember what Jesus said to the rich man? Dennis Mayo

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  27. mrsb814

    Are you suggesting that a comprehensive dioxin study needs to be done?


    Glad you asked.

    No, I am not. And before you get excited and think of the many tangents this thread can take---
    please remember that its a $1,000 price tag on each of those tests. Who would pay for it? What would it gain?

    There is place for ERF and Baykeeper and I'm not stating it facetiously. Lawsuits however are counterproductive to the stated goals of cleaning up our waterways and remediating contaminants. As previosly stated in another way-calling attention to problems is just the tip of the iceberg.

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  28. 4:42 Are you saying we should get rid of cows and geese?

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  29. And what's the price if we do nothing about it?

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  30. there is the dumb question of the day. Nothing will happen if"you" do nothing. The sky isn't falling.

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  31. There is no place for predatory litigious groups like Baykeeper, ERF and EPIC, the environmental version of Jason Singleton.

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  32. Have to disagree again Rose...

    ERF spent about $26,000 doing tests for dioxin. Who else was going to do that? The property owner-probably not. Water Quality-not likely.

    Having the information now isn't a bad thing. Its what are we going to do about it?

    I'm only guessing but sites like Sierra Pacific were already in the crosshairs. KC Ashley *must* have some idea of the historical, industrial uses of Humboldt Bay area properties-its her territory, that's what she does.

    But as a regulator-she can only do so much.

    By taking a watershed approach and here again, I am just an ordinary citizen not a scientist-to know what the problems are is a baby step in a big long process.

    I don't think anyone would argue that Humboldt Bay is impaired by Dioxin or that we have to limit dioxins to the bay.

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  33. And what did ERF MAKE off their lawsuit?

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  34. and BTW, I agree that legislation is needed to regulate the orgs if necessary-yet it would be better to put a stop to suing municipalities on technicalities. It drives up the insurance rates-the cities and counties are already struggling with continual budget cuts and they can't live on promises they will get their property taxes back some day.

    The problems identified need more than a watershed approach IMHO. *We* need a Big Picture approach that's way biger than a single watershed.

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  35. If ERF spent 26,000 on tests it was with the hope of finding a fatten calf to slaughter. So lets see the full results of all those tests.

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  36. And now you get back to the cherry picking of information. What is the intent? Is it pure maliciousness-probably not. Is it geared toward activism for activism's sake without a thought to consequences? Uh, More than likely. And this is a power play with the only goal to stir passion...and pens on checkbooks.

    Can this be regulated?
    It doesn't cost anything to ask.

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  37. More cows Less geese More jobs less freeloaders

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  38. And what did ERF MAKE off their lawsuit?

    $700,000 in attorneys' fees, costs and oversight expenses... I guess ERF's SEVENTEEN attorneys are well paid.

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  39. "Can this be regulated?"

    Can what be regulated? Free speech? The right to lobby decision makers?

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  40. "$700,000 in attorneys' fees, costs and oversight expenses"

    Source please.

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  41. Dig deeper.Add 3M with SP =3million.* the dollars from donations,and who knows what from Kennedy. Then did deeper again.

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  42. Thank you.

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  43. Rose-I can't fathom how you can work this hard and not get paid for it.

    Thanks for the digging, I'd like to see it go mainstream more often.

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  44. Maybe there needs some oversight on Rose. Who pays her to do this?

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  45. No one. Nor would I accept it if it were offered. This is about right and wrong.

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  46. Just for the fun of it - does anyone know who ERF's 17 lawyers are? Where they are based? Whether or not any of them have made any recent campaign donations?

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  47. Be nice if you'd tell us and kill the suspense?

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  48. I don't know the answer yet.

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  49. "No one. Nor would I accept it if it were offered. This is about right and wrong"

    Without oversight how can we know if you are telling the truth?

    Guess we need some investigating...

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  50. Have I struck another nerve?

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  51. Well, we have
    Frederick Evenson
    Litigation Coordinator
    Ecological Rights Foundation
    (what a title!)

    and then - 1:
    Christopher Sproul
    Attorney for Ecological Rights Foundation
    1004 O'Reilly Avenue
    San Francisco, California 94129
    Tel: (415) 561-2222, Fax: (415) 561-2223
    email: ____ @ sbcglobal.net

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  52. http://www.ecorights.org/about.htm
    Special thanks to the following people for their generous contributions to ecorights.org: Julie Francis, Kathy Glass, John Rogers, Alison Sterling Nichols, and Luis Sonino.

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  53. Law Office of Fredric Evenson and Fredric Evenson for Ecological Rights Foundation

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  54. "...Humboldt Baykeepers also comes under the umbrella of the Ecological Rights Foundation, which last year settled a federal lawsuit against Sierra Pacific Industries over chemical pollution to the Mad River Slough and Humboldt Bay. The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office filed a twin suit, and Sierra Pacific agreed to pay the foundation and the people a total of $1.5 million to settle the suits.

    Fred Evanson, a board member of the foundation, is also volunteering his time with the Baykeepers, which he helped forge.

    ...The Garberville-based foundation also bought the Baykeepers' new 25-foot Boston Whaler, which it intends to use as a patrol boat in the bay and along the coast from the Eel River to Trinidad.

    ..."We're not acting like we're here to save the day," Nichols said. "We're acting like another piece in the puzzle."


    Who's the parent organization? Looks like one litigious group just spawned another.

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  55. Dioxin the worst Evil to our bay. Not true says Baykeepers web site. "Grazing of cattle and sheep is the most common farming activity in most of the agricultural areas around the bay" " Bacterial and chemical problems stem from the agricultural use of these areas" " this has been identified by the National Researce Councile as the most serious pollution problem facing estuaries in the United States. Lets hope the nearly 200,000 geese pooping around the bay don't have Bird Flu.

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  56. "Anonymous said...2:36 PM
    CETOS is not a lab."


    Thank you 2:36. Wow! CETOS is looking for NEW MEMBERS!!

    How much did its generous benefactor ERF "donate," anyway? More than $5,000?

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  57. It's nice Baykeepers has enough income to pay for their nice new office. That's got to go for at least $1500/mo.

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  58. What's the difference between Palco's phone booth office and Humboldt Baykeepers (I mean Moneykeepers) unmanned office?

    OH - one is defending itself against lawsuits, the other is into filing lawsuits.

    What's the difference between the Madaket and the Moneykeeper's boat? One really is to take real people around the bay, the other is more of that sheep's clothing.

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  59. Anon.R.mous said...
    I see now that Humboldt County's number one cash crop is lawsuits. So what can we do with this information Rose?
    I'm thinking about going Edward Abbey on them myself and see how turnabout IS fair play.
    1/23/2007 8:53 AM


    Anon.R, if you have any idea how to go about that, I would gladly help out. It's time to put a stop to this bullshit.

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