MWA Hall of Shame

Monkeywrencher of the Month, January, 2012

 WildEarth Guardians

WildEarth Guardians earns the January 2012 Monkeywrencher of the Month Award in recognition of its unrelenting, courtroom-clogging, exorbitantly-costly efforts to use — some might say “abuse” — the U.S. court system in pursuit of an agenda that increases government regulation, limits public access to public lands, endangers property rights, worsens bureaucratic paralysis and undermines economic productivity, prosperity and opportunity for people in the American West.

The group, which the New York Times identified as one of the two most litigious green groups in the country, has been responsible for at least 145 lawsuits just since 2008, many of them aimed at harassing federal land agencies, rushing more plants and animals onto an unmanageable and ineffectual endangered species list, ousting ranchers from public lands, blocking mining and drilling projects (as well as the jobs and affordable access to energy they generate) and goading federal regulators into ever more expensive and extreme regulatory actions, placing burdens on energy producers and consumers that they can ill afford in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Just this month, for instance, which was a typical one for the group, WEG was involved in the following litigation-centered activities:

Guardians earns further recognition, and condemnation, for finding ingenious new ways to drag the taxpayers into bankrolling this agenda, through the collection of legal fee reimbursements and government grants, some of which come from the same agencies the group is constantly suing. In 2010 (the last year for which tax records are available), more than 40 percent of WEG’s budget was provided by taxpayers, many of whom undoubtedly disagree with its extremely litigious, militant, monkey-wrenching agenda. And that reliance on government support seems to be growing each year.

The economic, fiscal, judicial and human impacts of WEG’s unrelenting war on the American West are impossible to quantify, for reasons explained in our “Monkeywrenching the Courts” report, but they easily amount to tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars. What little hands-on conservation work the group does appears to serve as window-dressing, designed to put a benign, grassroots face on an agenda that most Americans, if they take a closer look, would find extreme, counterproductive, exploitative and too far out of the mainstream to merit their support.

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