A couple of days ago, I wrote about my discovery that Robert O. Anderson, a long time leader in the global petroleum business, had provided the seed money that David Brower used to fund Friends of the Earth, an organization that has been fighting against nuclear energy for more than 40 years.
I pointed out how Friends of the Earth managed to promote the work of a nearly unknown college dropout named Amory Lovins and to place his 10,000 word essay titled “The Soft Energy Path” in the October 1976 edition of Foreign Affairs, just in time to influence the outcome of the 1976 US presidential election. I noted that there is an historical connection between the Council on Foreign Relations, the group that continues to publish Foreign Affairs, and the global petroleum business.
Yesterday, a more detailed article about Robert Anderson’s involvement in Friends of the Earth was published on ANS Nuclear Cafe.
Not surprisingly, this information has generated a rather defensive reaction by people in the antinuclear movement, including Peter Bradford and Michael Marriott (At least I think Michael is the person who posts on Twitter as @nirsnet. As he frequently points out, NIRS runs a lean organization.)
Here is Peter’s initial comment:
Three cautions, all from memory so pehaps incorrect. Not too hard to check though:
1) The Robert Anderson whom Eisenhower dispatched to Saudi Arabia was not Arco’s Robert Anderson and therefore not the person who gave money to Freinds of the Earth. He also served for a time as Eisenhower’s Treasury Secretary.
2) ARCO had substantial investments in the nuclear fuel cycle – not much beside its oil investments, but enough so that Anderson may have been indulging his well-known penchant for contrarian philanthropy rather than pursuing a pro-oil agenda in financing both FOE and the Aspen Institute.
3) Lovins’ 1976 Foreign Affairs article was as negative toward oil and coal as it was toward nuclear. Entitled “The Road Not Taken”, it advocated “soft energy paths”, i.e. efficiency and renewables over hard paths, i.e. oil, coal and nuclear. It was not a piece likely to have been promoted by fossil fuel interests for business reasons.
I was glad that Peter pointed out that there is another Robert Anderson with a close association with President Eisenhower. Robert B. Anderson served in Eisenhower’s cabinet and even made a trip to Egypt (see section headed Travels of Anderson) to talk with Nasser in early 1956 as part of the effort to diffuse the conflicts arising over access to the Suez Canal.
It is not likely that he was the person that Yergin described as a “wealthy Texas oil man” sent to visit with King Saud in September 1956. Unlike Robert O. Anderson, Robert B. Anderson was a lawyer and politician who later had a rather unfortunate career as a banker. He was not an oil man and would not have been an appropriate envoy to King Saud. However, if anyone can provide definitive information about which Anderson threatened to disrupt oil markets by sharing nuclear technology with the Europeans, I would love to have it.
Update: (August 7, 2013 9:09 PM) Peter Bradford pointed out a letter from King Saud to President Eisenhower dated August 24, 1956 that indicates that Robert B. Anderson was sent to Saudi Arabia as a special envoy during August 1956. Since Robert B. Anderson was a Texan and is documented to have been in Saudi Arabia within one month of the episode documented in Yergin’s The Prize, he was most likely the Robert Anderson who threatened to disrupt oil markets in 1956 by sharing nuclear energy technology with the Europeans.
However, the man who gave $200,000 to David Brower to found Friends of the Earth in 1970 was definitely Robert O. Anderson, CEO of Atlantic Richfield, President of the Aspen Institute and founder of the John Muir Foundation. He is still (figuratively, speaking, since he passed away in 2007) holding a smoking gun as a well-placed member of the international petroleum industry who helped to establish the antinuclear movement with money and a political push. End Update.
The Twitter stream between @Atomicrod (me) and @nirsnet yesterday illustrates how sensitive the antinuclear industry has been taught to be about any implication that their actions may be influenced by the oil industry. Here is an example:
Quite a few commenters have offered additional supportive information and links, both on the Atomic Insights post and on the one on ANS Nuclear Cafe. The comment and twitter streams will be interesting to continue following. Perhaps they might even attract enough information to fill a quickie ebook on the topic. I’ll keep you posted here as well.
Not surprisingly, several people have already dismissed me as a “conspiracy theorist”, including @nirsnet. I expected that reaction, after all, powerful people NEVER plan, NEVER get together to create strategies, NEVER take mutually beneficial action, and ALWAYS play by the rules in a completely open and transparent manner. Listen to thoughts on the topic by the ever observant George Carlin.
At the beginning of the paragraph about 2/3 of the way down the posting:
It is not likely that he was the person that Yergin described as a “wealthy Texas oil man” sent to visit with Kind Saud in September 1956.
That would be King Saud.
Rod Adams wrote:
Not surprisingly, several people have already dismissed me as a “conspiracy theorist”, including @nirsnet.
At root, conspiracy means breathing together. Let’s call this ‘group think’. I don’t think that having a group of people who think in similar ways is easily dismissed. Quite the contrary. There are many people who stand to make a lot of money from selling fossil fuels. Most of them can see that nuclear energy is a competitive threat to their livelihood. Making life difficult for your competitor is a normal part of business.
It is not necessary to put a bunch of people in a room for a planning session in order to have a conspiracy.
“It is not necessary to put a bunch of people in a room for a planning session in order to have a conspiracy.”
If they’re not communicating with each other, or have not planned together and cooperated then it is not a conspiracy.
However, what appears to be a conspiracy could easily be an emergent behavior arising out of the simple self-serving actions of many separate uncoordinated entities.
This type of apparent “cooperation” appears in nature all the time, but is actually made up of individuals acting out their very simple programs in a way, which in the aggregate appears coordinated and complex.
The reality regarding the anti-nuclear movement is probably some combination of emergent behavior and conspiracy. As Rod points out, it is almost absurd to assume that rich and powerful interests never communicate with an eye to cooperation on mutual interests. In general though, the antis are probably not coordinating, but they will certainly build on each other’s actions, and observe and copy things which may seem particularly effective.
Bah. I need to do a better proof before posting. The word “all” after “probably not” and before “coordinating” in the fifth paragraph would be closer to the meaning I intended.
As the NYT obituary you citedmakes pretty clear, Robert O. Anderson sounds to me to be an iconoclast, a person who’s ideas, activities, and interests cannot be easily categorized into neatly compartmentalized placeholders: “environmentalist,” “callous capitalist,” “climate-denier,” “anti-nuclear,” “oil barron,” “philanthropist,” etc. Environmentalism ended up being a major part of Prudhoe Bay history and Alaska oil pipeline development (some credit placing pipeline above ground to effectiveness of environmental opposition, and on good technical merits too). He argued for smaller government, and higher taxes on industry. “Mr. Anderson stood out as perceptive, unpredictable and outspoken.” I don’t see any earth shattering contradiction or incongruity between his wanting to see his business succeed, interest in environmental issues, and using his significant funds to bring greater awareness to issues that he felt were important matters of the public interest (presumably by funding organizations, not coordinating their policy actions and objectives, as a private citizen).
Is this really any different from someone like John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil for US operations, who now heads a NGO advocating for energy efficiency, sustainable environmental policies, and greater public awareness and education on energy issues. I’m not aware of him being opposed to nuclear (he typically argued for broad ranging and diverse energy investments to meet rising global demand), and he also held positions on companies significantly invested in enrichment and defense contracting (and stakes in nuclear power).
I don’t see where funding an independent organization with a Board and an activist leadership necessarily involves subversive policy coordination and ulterior motives. And yes, I feel to suggest as much does start to sound a great deal like conspiracy. As a humanist, why isn’t the answer much more simple: he’s a successful businessperson and a human being. Are these two things really all that irreconcilable?
I’m not implying subversion. I’m stating that commodity suppliers often work to restrict new supply and bad mouth their competitors. Clever ones who understand PR often use proxies. What’s controversial about those statements?
Of course, these concepts might be foreign to an inexperienced grad student.
That you imply cynical ulterior motives to someone who has an interest in environmental causes (FOE spans the gambit from environmental justice, sustainability, public health, education, climate change, food security, oil and gas development, social justice, etc.), and attribute this to a single cause (anti-nuclear self-interest).
I’m not sure what you mean by “inexperience.” Are you suggesting someone has to be involved with astroturfing (corporately funded “grassroots” media campaigns) in order to have the skill and experience to recognize them? FOE doesn’t seem to be one of these organizations, with significant share of public sector and foundation support, and neither does the work of David R. Brower (who was involved in many environmental, conservation, and social development causes). Most people who make these one time donations just want a little bit of notoriety and influence (and perhaps be invited to some of the same parties and social network opportunities as their friends). I hardly see any evidence for a coordinated corporately branded media campaign here funded by oil industry dollars. Are you suggesting as much, or agreeing that Anderson was a bit of a strange duck who liked to spread his money around (and enjoyed some of the unusual attention and notoriety for doing so)?
People who have spent little or no time making payroll, meeting sales targets, speaking to investors, making sales calls, or any of the hundreds of tasks associated with building a successful enterprise (or empire) cannot fathom what people will do to increase sales.
Anderson was no oddball. He was the CEO of one of the largest oil companies in the world for a couple of decades. He was the president and later the Chairman of the Aspen Institute. He founded the John Muir Foundation.
His support of FOE as a focused antinuclear organization that later diversified its product line was obviously related to his desire to operate an increasingly profitable business by ensuring sufficient demand and lucrative prices. Nothing wrong with that focus – other than the fact that his prosperity harmed billions of other people.
“…he’s a successful businessperson and a human being. Are these two things really all that irreconcilable?”
In the eyes of anti-nuclear activists, these two things are irreconcilable only when the business person is a pro-nuclear human being.
Such profound truth in so few words. Bravo!
Of conspiracy. The NRC chairnan has Fukushima high on her worry list. The évacuation zones are being lifted but you need an excuse to make sure that no COL for new nukes will be issued during her tenure.
Did you notice that new nuclear plant licensing did not even make her list?
Makes me wonder if the other commissionners have given up. Fukushima ? Really !
Well… Fukushima is “Spewing” (as the media likes to say) Water into the Pacific at a rate about twice that of a Garden hose. One report I read said it was an Olympic Sized Pool a week going in to the ocean.. but no reports on how much radioactive material is actually in the leaking water.
Apparently either none, or about none.
In this recent Tepco document,
we see on page 6 that the radiations just in front of the buildings in the space that is tightly separated from the sea are stable in the 10-100 Bq/l range, and on page 7 that the level in the open sea, near the entrance of the port are barely detectable, between 1 and 10 Bq/l.The notification level shown on the graph is 60 Bq/l.
Also even in the tight space where the radiation are detectable, the level is stable, not raising, despite some random oscillation without any specific pattern, and much lower than it was in 2011.
Rod – If conspiracies are the products of fevered imaginations, why to prosecutors always throw in the charge? It seems to me that most crimes are committed by two or more people working together and not informing others of their plans. Isn’t this the very definition of conspiracy? The “conspiracy theorist” label is too often used by those that don’t want to confront uncomfortable contradictions to their world views. Yes, there are crazy, unsupported conspiracy theories but many historical events were undisputed conspiracies:
– Assassination of Ceasar
– Assassination of Lincoln (other simultaneous coordinated targets)
– Assassination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand (multiple coordinated attempts that same day)
The Council on Foreign Relations has been funded by oil and banking interests since its inception. Its current headquarters in NYC is known as the Harold Pratt house after the oil executive who donated it to the council. Without getting into the details of the goals of the CFR (both the Right and the Left have done good work on this issue) it is my opinion that the CFR is generally hostile to nuclear power since it would enable nations to be more energy independent as well as have a rudimentary infrastructure for developing an independent nuclear weapons capability. One thing the CFR does not like is independence. If people are slaves to energy scarcity, they are easier to control.
If people are slaves to energy scarcity, they are easier to control.
That is one more reason why freedom loving leftists and environmentalists should be natural nuclear advocates, especially for smaller systems that may one day be truly “backyard nukes.”
I am a freedom loving rightist and a believer in environmental stewardship, and I am a natural nuclear power advocate. It’s the one industry that demands personal accountability and individual accountability through and through.
We both agree that freedom loving people are the natural allies of nuclear energy. It is the most amazing gift given to us by our creator – or by Nature for the people who are uncomfortable with the word God.
Humans can choose to be free or slaves; we are enabled by all of the tools we need.
This is T Shirt material !!!
If God Didn’t Want Nuclear Power
He Wouldn’t Have Invented Delayed Neutrons
Very funny, but very geeky; I doubt that one in a thousand would get it.
I think that goes:
“If God didn’t want nuclear energy, She wouldn’t have allowed neutrons to be moderated”. Think that’s more precise.
You can have nuclear power without slow neutrons, as in all fast reactors – but without the delayed fraction you would only have bombs.
As far as the He/She, both are right (and wrong).
Has Finrod converted you to paganism, David? 😉
Rod, I heartily concur. I have come to dislike describing myself in political terms of right versus left, or libertarian versus statist, or conservative versus liberal, or republican versus democrat. My views don’t fit into a nice box tied off with a bow string. But one thing is certain: constraining the energy supply by over-regulating nuclear energy into non-profitability makes people dependent in the long run on politicians and the corporate executives who support them on doling out the resources – including energy – necessary to live. This is the end result of corporate socialism (it’s NOT and has never been the free market), and both political parties in these United States have been equally guilty thereof.
As for delayed neutrons and moderation, they are an inevitable result of the mathematical laws inherent in the design of the cosmos – an intelligent design to be sure (and I use that phrase without the baggage of my Christian fundamentalist friends to whose views with all due respect I do not subscribe). We humans are responsible for using the things of nature (such as uranium and thorium, as well as coal, oil and gas) with responsibility and accountability. We have been given brains and supposedly we are sentient. We should act as such instead of dumping (like wild, irresponsible baboons) fossil fuel toxins willy-nilly into the environment, and expecting the laws of physics will somehow become suspended so that solar and wind energy can actually work for a large scale technological civilization. Magical thinking and believing always results in disappointment. God doesn’t do miracles when we’re the ones responsible to act intelligently.
As for the Higher Power (as we say in 12 Step Programs), technically “He” is without gender, being outside of space and time, and independent of matter and energy. I no longer worry about weighty questions such as that because I have enough to take care of: my two children, my job in nuclear energy, and what my Bishop tells me to do at Church. I think I’ll leave the theology to those better equipped to handle it than me (e.g., Sts. John Chrysostom, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas), and focus on “neutrons ‘R us” instead. 😉
@ Rod – agreed. I am not going to get excited about politics or theology any longer.
Paul – Thank you for being not only one of the one-in-thousand that can understand the physics behind my little bumper sticker, but one of the one-in-a-million that can expound the teleology of it! 😉
Well, finally, FermiAged spills into the open what should be obvious.
Its not about competitive energy pricing or “clean” energy or..its about getting rid of those bleeping deadbeat bankers and restoring sovereignty. Nuclear enables such…solar panels and windmills do not. The reams of various parasites (leftists, enviros, politicos, etc) in our so-called society selling out couldn’t care less if one city after another declares bankruptcy. That was the plan all along. Hello debt slave, are you listening?
On a similar basis, how much is the opposition to GM food driven by people who want to ensure that third-world countries remain dependent on imported food (and are thus easier to control)?
The most disturbing thing to me is not that oil and gas are fueling Green Group anti-nuclear activities as is their right, but that these groups are vehemently not coming clean that this is happening. It would change the whole PR and public nuclear receptiveness were this marriage widely know. That it’s hushed up so even by the most unorthodox and “renegade” mass media creates the conspiracy that the public ought wonder about. The willful psycho-engineering of public opinion and political policy by manipulating — or omitting — facts by the organs of the media should be a major concern in any venue.
Circa 1950. TO THE END OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM by James A. Dewar
I think what Rod is touching on is the continuation of battle royal between technologies and the industries they’ve built and huge Gov’t subsidies both enjoyed in the day:
Electrical/nukes -vs- petro/chemical/gas giants influencing the ‘Dr.Strangelove’ movie like era that was the ICBM propulsion competition between nuclear propulsion and the inferior performing chemical propulsion for ICBMs & submarines . Many national labs, companies, States and even politicians lined up on different trenches of this battle.
This ‘energy source’ battle between petrochem and nuclearelectric cast a long shadow, it still survives to this day in N. America.
The outgrowth of this wasteful battle has restricted space exploration and newer commercial nuke demonstrations in the US. I’ve always sided with Rod Adams on the issue of Oil Money used in subterfuge against the nuclear industry this is legend.
Russia the other empire choses a different strategy & to play a balancing act between the two competing energy sources. It needs nukes to build-out communities to spread out it’s population base and economy since Hydrocarbon is always dependent on the continuous movement of fuel to power manufacturing/processing energy transfers. Nuclear on the other hand can go years with re-fuel and is an independent energy transfer source. Recently Russia has invested in mobile barge SMR’s to power remote areas w/ power for raw resource processing. I would say their mixed energy use is a better strategy for economy, baseload energy use & shows less pressure on environment.
I’m fascinated by the apparent contents of Dewar’s book. I just read some reviews and then started searching to find a copy. They are few and far between, with used books in “acceptable” condition selling for $299.00.
If you or anyone else has a copy that they would be willing to let me borrow, please use the contact button at the bottom of the page to get in touch with me so we can make arrangements.
You can get the sequel for $12:
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