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Palin, polar bears, Shell Oil and The Nature Conservancy

Palin, polar bears, Shell Oil and The Nature Conservancy

Posted by David Beard, Boston.com Staff September 26, 2008 10:29 AM

The following is a guest column by Christine MacDonald, author of the just-published “Green Inc: An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone Bad” (Lyons Press):

What do Shell Oil, Sarah Palin and The Nature Conservancy have in common?

They’ve all sold out the polar bear.

Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin staunchly opposed listing the polar bear as an endangered species, arguing that the federal designation could hurt drilling such as Shell’s plans to extract oil from the Chukchi Sea, where polar bears have lived for millennia.

The Nature Conservancy, one of the largest and best-funded environmental groups in the country, has taken millions of dollars from Shell. And, the environmental group has chosen to remain on the sidelines of the debate despite concerns that the offshore drilling will diminish the polar bear’s chances of survival.

Meanwhile, the Conservancy and several prominent nature groups – which also take cash from the world’s largest oil companies – have refused to comment on Palin’s and the oil company’s fight to open the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to drilling or the battle to maintain the ban on more offshore drilling on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, which House Democrats ceded on Wednesday.

Even the US Department of Energy’s own experts say sinking wells in ANWR and expanded offshore drilling would save only pennies a gallon on gas prices and it would take years to realize those price reductions. But the drilling could put at risk the already vulnerable ocean ecosystems and caribou herds, migratory birds, wolves and polar bears that call the Arctic refuge home.

Why won’t these influential nonprofits speak out against drilling? Could the millions of dollars in oil industry donations be the reason?

Palin, polar bears, Shell Oil and The Nature Conservancy

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