The New York Times carried a piece the other day headlined "Gulf Oil Spill Is Bad, but How Bad?" that quoted an official of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation thusly:
“The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.”
A "conservation group"? Someone at Pro Publica, in the absence of any further information from the Times, decided to dig a little. Here’s a little of what they found.
The group‘s website says it was “founded in 1990 by citizens concerned with the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico.” Its site shows it has sponsored conservation and educational programs and partnered with the likes of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The site also says the group represents a “wide range of interests,” including “agriculture, business, fisheries, industry, tourism, and the environment.”
But as it turns out, industry appears to be the most represented of those interests.
At least half of the 19-member board of directors have direct ties to the offshore drilling industry. One of them is currently an executive at Transocean, the company that owns the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last month, causing millions of gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.
Seven other board members are currently employed at oil companies, or at companies that provide products and services “primarily” to the offshore oil and gas industry. Those companies include Shell, ConocoPhillips, LLOG Exploration Company, Devon Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Company and Oceaneering International.
The Gulf of Mexico Foundation’s president is a retired senior vice president of Rowan Companies Inc., an offshore drilling contractor.
Two takeaways: The Times can be careless and when Pollyanna shows up, be suspicious.