Hey, PennFuture: Return Your BP Money

In today’s Washington Times, the husband-and-wife team of David and Amy Ridenour at the National Center for Public Policy Research make the case that nonprofit organizations and politicians should return the millions of dollars they’ve received from BP:


If estimates hold, BP’s present liability already has reached as much as $56 billion. Another $50 billion in liability is not unrealistic, and a few analysts are giving a high estimate of as much as $398 billion.

It is imperative that policy-oriented organizations and politicians that received contributions from BP or its affiliated foundation in recent years immediately return the donations they received or contribute them to a reputable, independent Gulf cleanup fund. Returning BP’s money to assist cleanup efforts and help those harmed by the leak would respect both the moral imperative and the environmental imperative….

As many of the policy organizations receiving BP donations have been environmental groups, the moral and environmental imperatives of returning the gifts is obvious. According to published reports, major environmental advocacy organizations that accepted major gifts from BP in recent years include the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, various branches of the Audubon Society, the Wildlife Habitat Council and others.

And in the Commonwealth, you can add PennFuture’s name to that list of beneficiaries. According to their tax returns, the group received a total of $40,000 between the 2005 and 2007 fiscal years from the Big Oil giant (in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars from other alternative energy companies). 

Even PennFuture itself admits the need for BP to be able to address the clean-up:

Words are inadequate to say exactly how bad things are in the Gulf of Mexico, but the pictures of oil drenched pelicans, dead dolphins, and the once-pristine beaches now oil soaked are heartbreaking. The other major economies of the Gulf Coast – fishing and tourism – are now in tatters. BP will suffer as a company as it pays billions of dollars in clean up costs and compensation, but the rest of the industry will continue to enjoy business as usual since the real costs of producing and using fossil fuels will not be reflected in the companies’ bottom lines. Taxpayers are footing the bill for the federal and state responses, for now, and may not recover full compensation from BP for the cleanup efforts, which will continue for many years.

And if other Pennsylvania-focused environmental groups received funds from BP, they too should return it — for the good of the nation and in the interest of maintaining their eco-credibility. As the National Legal and Policy Center’s Peter Flaherty writes:

It’s revealing that the “greenest” of the big international oil companies is now responsible for one of the worst ecological disasters in history. Maybe BP should have concentrated on its core mission of efficiently and safely producing oil instead of trying to make us believe that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum.”