Saturday, April 26, 2008

Go Green Expo honors Riverkeeper

The New York Hilton was packed with hundreds of eco-chic dignitaries last night, affording the $500 a plate dinner prepared by famed TV chef Rachael Ray during the Go Green Expo Gala to benefit Riverkeeper and the Amazon Conservation Association.

Treehugger founder Graham Hill, vice president of Interactive Media for Planet Green, accepted an excellence in Environmental Awareness award on behalf David Zazlav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications.

Discovery is owned by NBC Universal Cable, which is 80 percent owned by General Electric. On June 4th, the Discovery Home channel will become Planet Green, a 24/7 environmental channel, available to 50 millions homes.

And there lies the irony… How can we possibly trust Riverkeeper to lead the fight to shut down Indian Point, the old leaky nuclear power plant on the Hudson river, when Riverkeeper is sleeping with the enemy? According the Nation, 59 percent of Treehugger readers are so desperate about climate change, they approve of nuclear power.

During the fashion show of Maggie Norris’s wonderful new eco-elegance collection, American’s Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker introduced a dozen conservationists walking down the runway. They were dressed the part, for the African bush, or neoprene diving suit, a couple branding machetes!

Yet, when it was Phillip Musegaas’s turn down the catwalk, the lawyer for Riverkeeper working on the Indian Point issue, he didn’t make much of an effort to celebrate the occasion. Phillip walked down the runway in his street clothes, not even holding a briefcase to look the part. Maybe it was last minute.

The audience cheered as Nigel Barker read Riverkeeper was stopping the relicensing of Indian Point. Nothing could be further from the truth. The work Riverkeeper has done to date hasn’t even made a dent in Entergy’s relicensing plans, because Riverkeeper is compromising at every turn, hording all the resources, and constantly dropping the ball.

Riverkeeper is receiving funds from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which also contributes to Exelon’s educational programs along with Indian Point poster boy Paul Newman! How can you possibly reconcile the two?

Alex Matthiessen of Riverkeeper, beneficiary for the evening, accepted an award from Go Green Expo. He spoke at length about issues facing the Hudson river as guests dug in their plates, conversations drowning out his speech. Alex mentioned Indian Point again, which got another rise out of the audience.

New Yorkers want to see Indian Point shut down… it’s a ticking time bomb. All this wonderful green work won’t amount to a hill of beans if something goes wrong at the plant. Are all the incidents worth the measly 2000 Mw of electrical power which could easily be replaced with a state funded door to door LED light bulb replacement program? Why hasn’t Riverkeeper embraced LEDs as an alternative to Indian Point, when Mayor Bloomberg is installing LEDs all over New York!

LEDs have been Rock The Reactors’s strategy ever since the organization came into existence in April of 2006, when model Betcee May posed in front of Indian Point, becoming the most downloaded model with nuclear power plant workers. Betcee is currently featured in GQ magazine this month licking Iron Man’s face! So what is Riverkeeper waiting for? What bigger cue does Riverkeeper need to understand the role the New York fashion community needs to play in the shut down of Indian Point?

Riverkeeper and Discovery had both Graham Hill and famous green super model Summer Rayne Oakes sitting at their table. And yet, the true architects of this fashion campaign to shut down Indian Point, Rock The Reactors and Green Nuclear Butterfly were not invited to the party.

Could it be because GE is stopping Chinese LED bulbs from being unloaded at the docks, claiming patent infringement? Could it be because shutting down Indian Point could spell an immediate end to GE’s plans for an all-nuclear Navy, something Congressman John Hall voted in favor?

John Hall and I made a deal prior to his election. He shook on it with me in front of witnesses. I would help his campaign by bringing Fairfield County attention to Indian Point. We did this when the Green Party endorsed Diane Farrell’s congressional bid against Chris Shays, in exchange for Diane’s support shutting down Indian Point. John Hall in turn, agreed that the day we shut down Indian Point, Betcee May would pull the plug, in a Marilyn Monroe moment.

Facts and figures will not shut down Indian Point. The time for debate is over. Either you want to see Betcee flip the switch, or you don’t. That’s the campaign, that’s Rock The Reactors. LEDs are where we get the replacement power, which is what the governor promised! We probably already made up for it with conservation by now, had Spitzer started the countdown clock the day he stepped into office.

How did the New York Post, a newspaper which supports the relicensing of Indian Point, agree to a 28 page center pull-out section for Planet Green and Go Green Expo? This writer is baffled by the hypocrisy of the situation. What kinds of unholy alliance could possibly be going on, that would make for the Go Green Expo gala to both, advocate the shut down of Indian Point, while at the same time be in business with companies perpetuating its operation. This same evening, another receptacle of the Go Green award was no other than Con Edison CEO Kevin Burke!

The Go Green Expo has created awfully strange dynamics, by finally bringing the fight to shut down Indian Point to the New York fashion community, but at the same time, bring it to them in care of the same people who want to keep the plant open! How much were the people in that room really aware of the dangers that loom only 25 miles North up river, the tireless networking, the years put in by volunteers… all to no avail.

To the audience at the Go Green ceremony, Indian Point was but a tiny fraction of the proceedings. “Good issue” to quote Robert Kennedy Jr. who was not in attendance that evening. In the room, many people working both side of the fence, trying to have their cake and eat it to, wanting a green future for New York and its surrounding communities, while at the same time continue to live in the shadow of an environmental time bomb.

There is no compromise. You cannot promote a green life style, while at the same time stay idle, and do nothing, or make believe you are doing something, in regard to the presence of Indian Point on the Hudson.

Summer Rayne Oakes writes about the questionable sense for building new nuclear power plants on Treehugger, yet now she sits on the board of advisors of a GE owned company, Discovery's Planet Green. She has been all too silent about what should concern her most, the nuclear power plant 25 miles from where she lives.

How is raising money for Riverkeeper, which stole the grassroots from Rock The Reactors and Green Nuclear Butterfly, helping all those who did the heavy lifting with barely enough resources to get by. Does the Hudson river belongs to the Rockefellers, the Hearsts, and the Kennedys? They feel Indian Point is their business, and win or lose, they don’t appreciate outsiders coming in telling them what to do or what to think.

Riverkeeper is the caretaker of the river. So as long as Alex at Riverkeeper keeps telling the public they’re trying to shut down Indian Point, we have it all under control, we’ll take care of it… nothing happens, and the plant will get its brand new license, go on operating for another 20 years, maybe 40 years, spewing radioactive waste in the air, the ground water… or God forbid, something worse.

It’s hard to celebrate the greening of New York at a Go Green Expo knowing it’s making deals with companies on both sides of this issue, giving awards to environmentalists working for good companies owned by bad companies… what possible future can these strange bedfellows bring, other than the self-perpetuating error of our ways, which has resulted in the near collapse of our biosphere.

Sure organic cotton and natural cosmetics are all the rage on 7th avenue. I should know, I helped bring it all about. But it’s not enough, that’s just fashion… fashion can save the world, if you let it. That’s what GE is terrified of, a world where emotion and doing the right thing threatens their bottom line. A world where an environmental nightclub, home away from home for Earth First! can give birth to an Eco-Saloon which in turn gives birth to Green Order, which developed the GE Ecomagination campaign.

In a few days, Planet Green launches, benefiting from the work of so many who have wished for such a channel on TV. There have been dozens of failed attempts over the years to bring a 24/7 environmental network into existence, millions squandered. The powers that be did not want it. Yet now, the powers that be seem to have embraced the green message, rich or poor we breathe the same air.

How can we possibly entrust those families who for over a century have caused and perpetuated environmental devastation only now to make entertainment out of it? How can we possibly entrust Planet Green to General Electric, when so much of their profits come from the sale of nuclear technology?

I wonder if Summer Rayne Oakes, Graham Hill, and all the good folks at Treehugger, think about this… ponder it… wonder how they are possibly going to be able to grow the message, grow the green revolution, while cradled in the hands of the nuclear dragon.

There might be a key to all this, and it might be traveling around in a green bio-diesel eco-salon spa bus on the streets of Los Angeles… a feature story about the Earth Liberation Front… ELLE magazine getting punked… and a little farm called Camp Hill, a few miles down wind from Indian Point.

To quote Annie Wilson, energy committee chair of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic chapter: “You can’t shut down Indian Point without shutting down the entire nuclear power industry. They have it rigged that way.”

1 comment:

Royce Penstinger said...

Funny...Annie's quote came from her conversations on the phone with me...she should learn to CREDIT HER SOURCES.