SPECIAL REPORT: "Parkland Student Activists Sofie Whitney and Ryan Deitsch Speak at Yale Campus"

Parkland student activists Sofie Whitney and Ryan Deitsch visit Yale campus to speak about community organizing around the broader issue of a "culture of violence". Interview with Richard Hill, WPKN Radio producer (6:12) April 24, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "MIT Students' 'Day of Action': Understanding and Resisting Attacks on Immigrants"

Three-part excerpts from Avi Chomsky's presentations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Day of Action on April 17. Includes a historical perspective as well as a question and answer session with immigrants. Recorded and produced by Chuck Rosina, long-time public affairs and news producer at WMBR FM, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's radio station in Cambridge, Massachusetts. April 17, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "MIT Students' 'Day of Action' Takes On Today's Political, Economic Challenges"

Chuck Rosina's report on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Day of Action on April 17, where members of the MIT and broader local community were given an opportunity to devote the day to engaging with the political, economic, environmental and social challenges facing us today, through learning, discussion, reflection and planning for action. Includes comments from Avi Chomsky, daughter of the renowned professor Noam Chomsky (12:58) April 17, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "Response to chemical attack in Syria – The priority must be the people"

The Resistance Roundtable panel discusses the U.S. missile strikes on Damascus and interviews Stan Heller from Promoting Enduring Peace ( the situation in Syria and the broader Middle East. Panel: Ruthanne Baumgartner, Scott Harris and Richard Hill. April 14, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "What's next for the youth movement against gun violence?"

Tyler Suarez, lead organizer of the March for Our Lives demo in Hartford, CT on March 24, assesses the event attended by 10,000 and discusses the agenda for the youth movement going forward. Interviewed by Richard Hill.

SPECIAL REPORT: "March for Our Lives - Hartford, Connecticut" March 24, 2018

Selected speeches from the March for Our Lives in Hartford, Connecticut, recorded and produced by Scott Harris

Panel Discussion: Privatization v. Public Good and the Upcoming March for Our Lives on March 24

SPECIAL REPORT: Organized Labor: Resurgent or On the Ropes?

SPECIAL REPORT: Neoliberalism Comes Home: Connecticut's Water Under Privatization Threat

SPECIAL REPORT: Can There Be Food Justice Under Capitalism?

SPECIAL REPORT: Resistance Round Table – Feb. 10, 2018

Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

Thank you for donating

If you've made a donation and wish to receive thank you gifts for your donation, be sure to send us your mailing address via our Contact form.

See our thank you gifts for your donation.

The Resistance Starts Now!

Between The Lines' coverage and resource compilation of the Resistance Movement

SPECIAL REPORT: "The Resistance - Women's March 2018 - Hartford, Connecticut" Jan. 20, 2018

Selected speeches from the Women's March in Hartford, Connecticut 2018, recorded and produced by Scott Harris

SPECIAL REPORT: "No Fracking Waste in CT!" Jan. 14, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "Resistance Round Table: The Unraveling Continues..." Jan. 13, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "Capitalism to the ash heap?" Richard Wolff, Jan. 2, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: Maryn McKenna, author of "Big Chicken", Dec. 7, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Nina Turner's address, Working Families Party Awards Banquet, Dec. 14, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Mic Check, Dec. 12, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Resistance Roundtable, Dec. 9, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: On Tyranny - one year later, Nov. 28, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Mic Check, Nov. 12, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Resistance Roundtable, Nov. 11, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Rainy Day Radio, Nov. 7, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Rainy Day Radio, Nov. 7, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Resisting U.S. JeJu Island military base in South Korea, Oct. 24, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: John Allen, Out in New Haven

2017 Gandhi Peace Awards

Promoting Enduring Peace presented its Gandhi Peace Award jointly to renowned consumer advocate Ralph Nader and BDS founder Omar Barghouti on April 23, 2017.

Subscribe to our Weekly Summary & receive our FREE Resist Trump window cling

resist (Car window cling)

Email us with your mailing address at to receive our "Resist Trump/Resist Hate" car window cling!


who helped make our 25th anniversary with Jeremy Scahill a success!

For those who missed the event, or were there and really wanted to fully absorb its import, here it is in video

Jeremy Scahill keynote speech, part 1 from PROUDEYEMEDIA on Vimeo.

Jeremy Scahill keynote speech, part 2 from PROUDEYEMEDIA on Vimeo.

Between The Lines on Stitcher


Between The Lines Presentation at the Left Forum 2016

"How Do We Build A Mass Movement to Reverse Runaway Inequality?" with Les Leopold, author of "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice,"May 22, 2016, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 860 11th Ave. (Between 58th and 59th), New York City. Between The Lines' Scott Harris and Richard Hill moderated this workshop. Listen to the audio/slideshows and more from this workshop.

Listen to audio of the plenary sessions from the weekend.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker "Dirty Wars"

Listen to the full interview (30:33) with Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning investigative journalist with the Nation Magazine, correspondent for Democracy Now! and author of the bestselling book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," about America's outsourcing of its military. In an exclusive interview with Counterpoint's Scott Harris on Sept. 16, 2013, Scahill talks about his latest book, "Dirty Wars, The World is a Battlefield," also made into a documentary film under the same title, and was nominated Dec. 5, 2013 for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category.

Listen to Scott Harris Live on WPKN Radio

Between The Lines' Executive Producer Scott Harris hosts a live, weekly talk show, Counterpoint, from which some of Between The Lines' interviews are excerpted. Listen every Monday evening from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT at (Follows the 5-7 minute White Rose Calendar.)

Counterpoint in its entirety is archived after midnight ET Monday nights, and is available for at least a year following broadcast in WPKN Radio's Archives.

You can also listen to full unedited interview segments from Counterpoint, which are generally available some time the day following broadcast.

Subscribe to Counterpoint bulletins via our subscriptions page.

Between The Lines Blog  BTL Blog

"The Rogue World Order: Connecting the Dots Between Trump, Flynn, Bannon, Spencer, Dugin Putin," by Anna Manzo (GlobalHealing), Daily Kos, Feb. 13, 2017

"Widespread Resistance Begins to Trump's Muslim Travel Ban at U.S. Airports," by Anna Manzo (GlobalHealing), Daily Kos, Jan. 28, 2017

"MSNBC Editor: Women's March is a Revival of the Progressive Movement," by Anna Manzo (GlobalHealing), Daily Kos, Jan. 24, 2017

"Cornering Trump," by Reginald Johnson, Jan. 19, 2017

"Free Leonard Peltier," by Reginald Johnson, Jan. 6, 2016

"For Natives, a "Day of Mourning"by Reginald Johnson, November 23, 2016

"A Bitter Harvest" by Reginald Johnson, Nov. 15, 2016

Special Programming Special Programming

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Between The Lines Progressive Resources

A compilation of activist and news sites with a progressive point of view

Share this content:


Podcasts Subscribe to BTL

Podcasts:  direct  or  via iTunes

Subscribe to Program Summaries, Interview Transcripts or Counterpoint via email or RSS feed

If you have other questions regarding subscriptions, feeds or podcasts/mp3s go to our Audio Help page.

Between The Lines Blog

Stay connected to BTL

RSS feed  twitter  facebook

donate  Learn how to support our efforts!

Sierra Club Secretly Took $26 million from Natural Gas Industry for Campaign Against Coal-Fired Power Plants

Real Audio  RealAudio MP3  MP3

Posted Feb. 8, 2012

Interview with Bruce Hamilton, deputy executive director of the Sierra Club, conducted by Melinda Tuhus


A blogger for Time magazine revealed on Feb. 2 that from 2007 to 2010, the Sierra Club, under former Executive Director Carl Pope, had accepted $26 million in donations from individuals and subsidiaries linked with Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest gas drilling companies in the U.S. heavily involved in the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The funds were donated for the express purpose of funding the environmental group’s Beyond Coal campaign. The Sierra campaign has succeeded in stopping the construction of 160 proposed coal-fired power plants and is now targeting existing coal-fired plants for closure.

For years, coal has been considered the world's dirtiest fossil fuel, and natural gas was touted as a cleaner alternative to produce electricity and power transportation. However, more recent scientific studies have exposed the dirty side of natural gas, including serious pollution problems associated with fracking, of gas wells drilled in many states.

When Michael Brune was hired in March 2010 to succeed Pope as the Sierra Club’s executive director, he ended the payments from the natural gas industry. Brune, formerly with the more militant Rainforest Action Network, declared that the secrecy surrounding Chesapeake’s millions of dollars in contributions to Sierra had jeopardized the group’s integrity and relationship with supporters. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Bruce Hamilton, who's been with the Sierra Club since the 1970s and is now the group’s deputy executive director. Hamilton discusses what the natural gas industry money was used for, the evolving view about natural gas, and the legacy of Carl Pope, who became the Sierra Club’s chairman of the board when Brune was hired, but has since left the organization.

BRUCE HAMILTON: The gifts were restricted to the Beyond Coal Campaign, so in that sense there are strings – you can't go and spend it on wilderness protection. So they weren't unrestricted gifts to the Sierra Club to spend on whatever we wanted. But the Beyond Coal Campaign proposal that they funded basically said this is money to stop the expansion of coal-fired power and ultimately reduce our dependence on it and promote renewable energy, so it has to be spent on that, and it was spent on that. But there was nothing in the gift agreement that even mentioned natural gas.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Even though Carl Pope kept it very quiet, do you think the Sierra Club could have justified accepting natural gas money to attack coal because until recently most environmental groups, including yours, thought of natural gas as a bridge fuel from coal and oil to renewable energy?

BRUCE HAMILTON: So you know, as a result, whenever you could switch from a gasoline-powered car to a natural gas car or a diesel bus to a natural gas bus or a power plant shifting over from coal to natural gas, that was generally seen as an environmental plus from a clean air standpoint, because if you look at the burn point, natural gas is in fact cleaner than coal, but if you look at the entire life cycle, now we know, it's much dirtier [than we thought]. So Michael Brune, when he took over the reins in March 2010, in his first call with the staff as a whole, he said, "I have a number of priorities and one of them is to make sure we hold natural gas accountable and to make sure that it is not risking communities and causing major environmental degradation."

BETWEEN THE LINES: Is it common practice that the organization could accept $26 million from any source and the executive director would be the only one to know about it?

BRUCE HAMILTON: It's very uncommon for this amount of money to ever come into the Sierra Club (laughs.) What can I say? We don't get very, very large gifts. When the (NYC Mayor Michael) Bloomberg gift came in ($50 million), obviously, it was widely known throughout the Sierra Club. But this particular case, I was not privy to it, and a couple of board members had a limited knowledge – they didn't know the extent of the gifts or the identities of the donors, and most of the board of directors didn't know at all. And it turns out that's a major hole in our corporate gift acceptance policy and our anonymous donor policy and our notify the board policy, so the other thing Michael Brune did once he arrived was to work with the board of directors to change all those policies, so that now there is far greater transparency, and any anonymous donation coming in needs to be shared with the board, with the size and the strings and everything else.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Bruce Hamilton, what's your opinion about the club taking this money from a major fossil fuel producer?

BRUCE HAMILTON: I believe it was a mistake and it needs to be corrected, and I was very proud of the fact that Mike (Brune) ultimately made the decision and the board unanimously supported him to go forward and not accept any more gas money and leave $30 million on the table. That was the subsequent gift that was pledged, but he and the board decided to walk away from. It's difficult just because it was such a large portion of the Sierra Club's financial backing and it was funding a very large proportion of our Beyond Coal Campaign, which was doing very important work to save the climate of the earth.

BETWEEN THE LINES: So, Carl Pope stepped down from any staff role in the club last month. Was that related to this whole issue?

BRUCE HAMILTON: I know there were some concerns about Carl, but whether or not that led to this transition or other things led to this transition, that's something that was between the board and Carl, and all I know is the press releases that went out applauding Carl for his service and his career.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Now that he's gone, how would you evaluate his leadership of the Sierra Club for almost 20 years, because you worked under him for about 15?

BRUCE HAMILTON: He's a brilliant man who has done great things for the Sierra Club and the environmental movement, and he's really transformed the Sierra Club in a number of ways into a broader organization that is more committed to working in communities, to grassroots empowerment, to promoting environmental justice, to having outreach and partnership with labor and communities of color, and hunters and anglers and others. He kind of transformed it from being a Sierra CLUB, where we talked primarily to ourselves and organized ourselves, into something that was more a leader of the movement, and I have great admiration for that, but in building the "big tent" where he was trying to reach out to all these different constituencies, he also was struggling with trying to figure out how to have adequate resources to fight bigger and bigger battles and challenges, like climate change. And at the same time, there were shrinking resources available to the Sierra Club from membership dollars.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Do you think this whole episode will sour members and prospective members and cause an even greater fall-off in contributions?

BRUCE HAMILTON: I am certain that a number of individuals will decide they either don't want to join the Sierra Club or they want to resign their Sierra Club membership; we've already seen a couple of emails to that effect. Now, whether it's a significant order of magnitude, I don't know.

For more information about the Sierra Club, visit .

Related Links: