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Guest Post by Rafe Champion: Soviet Sabotage of our Energy Supply

There is talk about Soviet funding for green groups to block shale gas fracking and coal mining. This is not a new thing.

[Indeed Jo wrote last week: Russian-linked groups donated to anti-frakking Green groups because they love the planet right?]

In case you were wondering why we have no nuclear power and why the sensible old-time conservation movement turned into a radical green monster, the late John Grover told the story in his book Struggle for Power (1980). This is a summary of the chapter on the birth of the anti-nuclear program under the guise of “respectable” consumer advocacy in the US and also the worldwide network of communist agencies and their fronts.

To summarize the summary:

In 1971 Ralph Nader, bankrolled by the Rockefeller network, began to work with the “Union of Concerned Scientists” to combine the efforts of environmental groups and public interest lawyers against nuclear power (NP). They worked on several fronts: Legal action to delay projects; Lobbying Congress and Government agencies; Propagandising the churches; Advertising directed at the general public.

Exaggerated dangers and innuendos of industry incompetence were widely accepted and the industry had no strategy to respond.

“To cut a long story short, thanks to Ralph Nader’s initiative, there exists a well co-ordinated coalition of interest groups in the USA with all the attributes of a major corporation: well planned, influential, with strong political and financial support, well-tested strategies, professional communication expertise and tremendous legal punch. About 600 full-time “environmental lawyers” operated on a budget of at least 45 million dollars in 1977 and about one-third of this was spent purely on energy-stopping.”

The major agencies involved in this effort were Consolidated Intervenors, doing legal activities to impede developments; the Union of Concerned Scientists, mostly funded by Dr Henry Kendall of MIT; Business and Professional People for the Public Interest in Washington to front Government committees and inquiries; Friends of the Earth co-ordinating environmental groups and disseminating information by advertising, books and pamphlets; Environmental Action, National Intervenor and The Public Media Centre dealing with publications and presentations.

The role of the churches

“A division of the American National Council of Churches declared plutonium morally dubious and called for a moratorium on its use. This bizarre intrusion of theology into science was explained on the grounds that scientists were “split down the middle” and therefore  the theological community should have the casting vote”. That path was taken on advice from a committee of inquiry of 21 people (selected by the anthropologist Margaret Mead) consisting of 11 who had previously published papers opposing NP and 10 clergymen and lawyers. None of the 21 could claim expertise in the field of nuclear energy or plutonium. This advice, distributed through the network of churches, impressed a Southern Baptist, President Jimmy Carter and his advisors.

Church Anti-Nuclear Ads

According to Grover, in 1978 the political religious group based in New York, City Clergy and Laity Concerned (CALC) distributed packages of anti-nuclear materials to churches across the nation:  Prayers, liturgical aids, a pastoral letter and suggestions for organizing local churches under the anti-NP banner.

The CALC coordinators were Rick Boardman and Don Luce (a public supporter of the communist “re-education camps” in Vietnam). CALC’s leaders frequently met with the Vietnamese communists in Paris and Hanoi. CALC described its aims thus:

“What we’re about today is not simply and end to the war in Vietnam but a struggle against American imperialism in just about every corner of the world…and..to help liberate our own nation from its reactionary and exploitative policies.”

American Government Support – the debacle of Jimmy Carter

The protest movement started with dedicated volunteers, then became an occupation when funding came from wealthy backers and foundations to pay for professional and fulltime workers. Then it reached the pinnacle of achievement when Governments took on board activists to pursue their passions with public funding and the power of the State to back them.

This was first apparent with the killing of the Clinch River fast breeder reactor project by executive order from President Carter in 1977. A speaker at a conference in 1978 pointed out that the US Administration “had become a card carrying member of the anti-nuclear force”.

“Most remarkable of all has been the outcome of a campaign promise by President Carter that he hoped to challenge Ralph Nader for the role of top consumer advocate in the country”.

Many sub-cabinet posts went to former public interest lawyers, consumerists and environmental activists. Fourteen key White House assistants including the President’s chief speechwriter came from the public interest movement. Speechwriters with a gift for the telling turn of phrase can make a great impact on public perceptions. Carter turned out to be especially susceptible to half-baked ideas, as demonstrated by Amory Lovins, a leader of the no-growth movement, who worked for Friends of the Earth in London. Lovins was well known in some circles for a pamphlet that advocated the ‘soft energy path’ for the US, using calculations that overstated the cost of NP by a factor of 2 and understated the cost of solar power by a factor of 10.

“Nevertheless, just twenty hours after meeting with Mr Lovins and without the benefit of consulting with any of the many energy experts available to him, President Carter presented Lovins’ energy calculations verbatim and uncritically in a speech.

Who is Behind it?

The following organizations were listed in connection with public agitation urging the US to make unilateral concessions at the US-Soviet Union strategic arms limitations talks. The US Peace Council, the National Council for American-Soviet FriendshipAmerican Friends Service Committee (far left Quakers), Clergy and Laity ConcernedWomen’s International League for Peace and Freedom. All of those organizations worked closely with the World Peace Council and that body spawned Mobilization for Survival as an anti-nuclear arm of the communist “peace” movement. The four slogans of Mobilization for Survival were: – zero nuclear weapons – ban nuclear power (even for peaceful purposes) – stop the arms race – fund human needs

The Rockefeller group backed Ralph Nader and the Ford Foundation supported anti-nuclear environmental groups to the tune of $5.8M over eight years from 1970. A million dollars was real money 50 years ago:)

International Scene 1978-79

A 1978 report by Stockton and Janke of the Institute for the Study of Violence found that “The key organizations behind the anti-nuclear propaganda drive have at last surfaced through the mire of a hundred groups, many with titles that don’t quite relate to what they are doing.”

The US provided the leadership in personnel, tactics, organization and communications for the worldwide Western anti-nuclear movement. Amsterdam was a key centre for outreach from the US. The Institute of Policy Studies (the Washington one) set up the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam which in turn set up agencies in South Africa and the Phillipines. Amazingly, The Australian Solidarity Collective was established in Amsterdam in 1978 in association with the Greenpeace Movement in London. The Collective was presumably transient and references cannot be found on the net. Another offshoot was the Transnational Cooperative, established in Sydney with Laurie Carmichael (Communist Party of Australia) and Tom Uren as the directors.

World Coordinators of Misinformation

The International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace (ICDP) in London appeared to be the anti-nuclear world coordinating link. A major presence was Peggy Duff, also instrumental in establishing Mobilization for Survival. The ICDP handles World Peace Council activities where the parent body wants to remain out of sight.

The ICDP has/had two Australian connections.

Grover printed a list of 26 Australian groups that were prominent in the cause, including Friends of the Earth, Uranium Moratorium, Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Teachers Federation, Doctors for a delay in uranium mining, Shareholders for Social Responsibility, Women Against Nuclear Energy and the World Council of Churches.

He regarded that list as the tip of the iceberg because some of those groups sponsor others which are not obviously committed on the issue of nuclear power. Church groups were especially likely to be recruited, as revealed at a March 1979 Aboriginal Land Rights “Teach In” at the University of Sydney. The role of Aboriginal Land Rights as a vehicle to impede the nuclear industry is explained in another section of the book.

“The most remarkable feature of this event was the almost total absence of Aborigines. One participant was told that Aborigines were scared to walk in the streets for fear of abuse or attack by whites”. That would have been news to residents of Surry Hills and Redfern where I lived at the time.

The list of 32 sponsors included the Catholic Missions Office, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, De La Salle Brothers, Little Sisters of Jesus, Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Loreto House, Good Shepherd Sisters, Marcia Langton, Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, Australian Council of Churches and the National Missionary Council.

First Growth in Australia

The movement officially hit Australia at the Academy of Science conference in Canberra in 1972. This was billed as a discussion of technology and energy planning and turned into an anti-nuclear platform and a forum for low-energy lifestyle advocacy.

The Australian Conservation Foundation took a strong political line and urged newly formed environmental groups to focus on uranium. Journalists played their usual role in reporting the dangers.

“Scientifically out of their depth, the Australian media became prone, for a period, to presenting scenarios of nuclear disaster. Two headlines come to mind: ‘Radioactive Time Bomb Ticks Away at Port Pirie’ and ‘Our First Atom Death: Victim of Radiation’. The former, it transpired, referred to the natural remnants of a beach sands mining operation and the latter to the unfortunate death by leukemia of an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission who had not been subjected to radiation in connection with his job “.

Friends of the Earth

The FOE arrived from the US and started work in Adelaide by 1970. They extended nationwide and became the leading distributors of foreign-inspired arguments. Especially impressive was a slide show with beautiful outback photos, focused on the Aboriginal way of life and the threat of mining the Kakadu National Park.

FOE moved to Castlereagh Street in Sydney and shared a building with a radical bookshop, Campaign Against Racial Exploitation, Chile Committee, Free Zimbabwe [still functioning I hope], No Ties with Apartheid, the Vietnam Society and others.

Other Groups

At the time of writing FOE had been recently upstaged by the Movement Against Uranium Mining (MAUM). Grover became aware as he debated at various meetings that there were several groups with overlapping membership and the basic message remained the same while the front group that hosted the meeting, the specific topic and method of approach were adjusted to suit the audience and the shifting focus of the campaign. For example the MUAM was actually an arm of the AIDC.

A particularly interesting group appeared in Sydney in December 1978, called The People’s Commission [not the ABC!] with the brief

“…to investigate the role of the media, the educational system and other social processes including State and Federal Government, in withholding information on the arms race and minimising the dangers of nuclear technology. The Commission will also examine the ‘language’ of TV and journalism, and the countless ways in which it pacifies, manipulates and misrepresents.”

In addition to the People’s Commission there is an Educational Research Group which “…will cover essentially the same area as the media group, but will deal with the NSW educational system, exploring the knowledge and feelings of children throughout the state on the nuclear issue”.

On the PR front, many public libraries were well supplied with anti-nuclear propaganda, to the extent that many people would not have encountered any other material, while being warned  against the “lies” of the mining companies.

National TV and Radio

Grover wrote that some ABC staff uncritically passed on the mostly negative nuclear news from overseas and from the local groups.

“Some of the success of the anti-uranium campaign is due to the manner in which the Commission has been “used” by activists. The misinformation being broadcast almost daily at one time by Radio 2JJ has shown no respect for the truth and has had a major impact on schoolchildren.”


A great success in the anti-uranium campaign was the literature distributed to schools in NSW in July 1978. “Two dozen broadsheets destined for schoolchildren were such that many teachers and secondary students were shocked. Material from the US was laid out and made to look like a teaching study. With few exceptions the cartoons were on the political level, some skillfully done.”

“Videotapes, sound tapes and other audiovisuals were listed, referring to the overseas ‘information’. The emotional speeches of pediatrician Helen Caldicott, and those of plausible Paul Ehrlich (with the magnificent voice) featured prominently, with taped sessions from the ABC’s ‘Broadband’, ‘City Extra’ and other sessions which contributed prominently to the anti-uranium case. Activities sheets followed explaining how the concepts could be best implanted in children’s minds.”

Among the materials were powerful and emotional pieces including “Aboriginals” (depicted in chains) and “Hiroshima” (easy to depict in a shocking manner).

“Teenagers could be deeply affected by the emotional impact. Many teachers resented this but the rules of the NSW Teachers Federation and the open support of the Labor Minister for Education ensured the silence of the majority. One must wonder at the Federation statement concerning ‘inundation of pro-uranium propaganda’. Nobody knew of any.”

A small grass-roots group of concerned parents and teachers tried to achieve some professionalism or balance in the system. They pointed out that conscientious or dissenting teachers could be silenced by the Federation rule which permitted suspension from membership and imposition of a fine on teachers acting contrary to any decision of the Council.

At least two schools known to Grover organised a speaker from each side of the argument and some teachers attempted to provide balance. One used her own money in an attempt to inform students of the other side of the case but the material that she included in the “resource kit” was removed because it was contrary to the union policy and the kit was being distributed to “redress the balance” of propaganda!

Political Propaganda

The anti-uranium movement captured the new minority party – the Australia Party – formed by dissident Liberals following the businessman Gordon Barton because they could not accept the Liberal line on the Vietnam war. Grover described a 10-page question and answer document on uranium as “shockingly dishonest” and much the same applied to statements from the other minority party, the Australian Democrats.

Read the summary of John Grover’s story, on line here.

The movement had two evil effects:

  1. A significant cohort of the population and the left-wing political classes turned against nuclear power.
  2. The movement was the trojan horse that enabled radical greens to penetrate and take over the conservation movement.

Alan Carlin observed the green capture of environmentalism when he was an office-bearer in the early days of the Sierra Club in the US. He wrote Environmentalism Gone Mad to document the process and he also described how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) turned into a predator against conventional energy providers.

The ALAN CARLIN story 

Dr. Alan Carlin has been carrying out or supervising economic and scientific research on public policy issues for more than 40 years, first at The RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and from 1971 to 2009 at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington DC.

Dr. Carlin has an extensive background of working with and in environmental organizations as a volunteer.  In the late 1960s he worked very closely with the Sierra Club to present economic arguments against the construction of two proposed dams in the Grand Canyon of Arizona.  This campaign was ultimately successful and the dams were not built. In 1970–71 he served as chairman of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, then the Club’s second largest chapter.  He received the Chapter’s Weldon Heald award for conservation work.

Dr. Carlin, now retired, was a 37-year career environmental economist and scientist at EPA when, in June 2009, the Competitive Enterprise Institute broke the story of his negative 100-page report reviewing the agency’s draft Endangerment Finding. As a result, Dr. Carlin’s supervisor ordered him not to discuss climate change with anyone outside his group and to stop working on the issue.

EPA’s attempt to silence Dr. Carlin became a highly publicized embarrassment to the agency, especially given Administrator Lisa Jackson’s and President Barack Obama’s announced commitment to transparency and scientific integrity.

— John Grover wrote several  books including an account of the Fabians titled The Hellmakers and Struggle For Cargo” (1983) on the anti-mining movements that had a devastating impact on the industry in the 1970s. His books can be sourced on line.


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