A View From the Cheap Seats

August 29, 2007

The Problem With Big Green

Filed under: BP,Environment,Global Warming,National,State — trzupek @ 1:26 pm


The Problem With Big Green
By Rich Trzupek
When I wrote about the BP-Amoco controversy, as has been the case when I have been on the industry-side of an issue before, some people speculated that I had been paid by BP for my opinion. And that’s fine. Not true, but there are people who think solely in those terms and nobody’s going to change their mind.

Yet, for those who wonder why this kind of issue troubles me so, the answer is simple: because my dad was a steelworker.

Walter Trzupek worked at the mills in Northwest Indiana for over 30 years, sweating and straining to pay for the health and schooling of six rambunctious kids. He sacrificed a lot, and I saw it every time he dragged himself home in the morning after pulling a midnight shift, beat to hell, covered with the grime of the mills.

His is not a unique story. There are millions of men and women doing the same thing, every day, in the nation’s steel mills, food plants, automobile factories, refineries and hundreds of other places that produce not just a product, not just profit, but a living for the people who depend on them.

When I look at an issue like BP-Amoco, I don’t see a big oil company. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about how much money a multi-billion dollar conglomerate makes or doesn’t make. It’s not about the board room, it’s about the factory floor and all of those Walter Trzupeks out there, trying to make a living.

They are the people who wrestle with this monster that we have created called environmental regulation. It’s the plant engineer, the EHS specialist and the shift supervisor, who scratch their heads and try to figure out exactly how to comply with each and every part of the rules. It’s a maddening task. They want to do the right thing – they’re desperately trying to do the right thing – if only they could figure out what the right thing is.

Those are the people I work with, and I have enormous respect for them. They’re not cigar-smoking robber barons, gleefully polluting the world. They’re ordinary Joes and Josephines. If they smoke a cigar, it’s down at the local pub on dollar draft night.

When they manage to figure out the right thing, when they get through that dizzying maze of regulations and design a project that will comply with all of them, they should be applauded, not vilified. Yet, somehow, politicians like Rahm Emanuel and Mark Kirk can turned a blind eye to their efforts and say that complying with the rules isn’t good enough. And why isn’t it good enough? Because they work for Big Oil? What happened to equal application of the law?

We shouldn’t be nearly as concerned about Big Oil these days as we should be about Big Green. Who is Big Green? It’s the multi-million dollar environmental corporations that traffic in fear, hysteria and distortion. It’s the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. These organizations have grown into monsters as large as many a corporation, and they are far more dangerous, for – as cases like BP’s clearly demonstrate – they are rarely put under the media’s microscope.

Does Big Green do some good? Sure. But the damage they do far outweighs that good. One can, and should, admire many a small, grass roots environmental group. We see them in our communities all the time, cleaning up the parks, removing debris from the creek, protecting green space. Those are wonderful things, the kind of activity that we used to call “conservation”.

Big Green is something different. Big Green is about much more than grass-roots conservation. Big Green operates huge propaganda factories, and their product is panic. Panic has enormous value. It’s a product that sells and ensures that donations keep rolling in.

Think about it. We have made enormous strides at cleaning up our air and waterways for over 35 years. Have you ever heard Big Green talk about those massive reductions? Have they ever taken a moment to say: “good job everybody, look at all the progress we’ve made together!” They can’t say that. They won’t say that. It would devalue their product too much. Everyone must be kept in a constant state of fear.

That’s all the BP project is about. In reality, nobody’s life is in danger. Nobody’s drinking water is threatened. Hell, last Thursday the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District discharged over 1.6 million pounds of solids and ammonia into Lake Michigan, based on their own data, and Big Green didn’t say a word. They shouldn’t have – for it’s really no big deal – but doesn’t that make you wonder why they attack the BP project so vicously? BP discharges the same stuff, but their couple thousand pounds a day is somehow “dangerous”.

There would be no profit for Big Green in raising the alarm bell over a massive discharge that was ultimately fueled by mother nature. To do so would make Big Green look silly. But there’s enormous profit to made out of attacking BP. So they crank up the assembly line and churn out the panic as fast as they can make it, whenever BP is mentioned.

And, in the end, the people who get hurt the most are all the men and women who work their butts off to try to make a living and comply with the law while they do it.

I see my father in everyone of them, and I think to myself: Big Green, you owe a lot of people one hell of an apology.



  1. Hmmm… Would I rather that Cheap Seat’s dad keep his steel mill job, or stop poisoning my grandchildren’s air and water? I can’t decide.

    The choices the ever-smug Cheap Seat offers are emotionally manipulative, phony and completely dishonest – as always.

    Of course Cheapie’s supreme scientific expertise on global warming and the environment is vastly superior to the thousands and thousands of real scientists who have actually studied the subject.

    Comment by Poindexter — September 28, 2007 @ 7:59 am | Reply

  2. Unfortunately, the cheap seats are often obstructed view seats, as is the case here, and is almost always the case with Mr. Trzupek’s rantings.

    “When I look at an issue like BP-Amoco, I don’t see a big oil company. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about how much money a multi-billion dollar conglomerate makes or doesn’t make. It’s not about the board room, it’s about the factory floor and all of those Walter Trzupeks out there, trying to make a living.”

    You could care less how much a multi-billion dollar company makes (about $285.1 billion in revenues in 2005 for BP, by the way – and which were higher last year – over $23 billion in profits alone in 2006), yet you are scared silly by “multi-million” dollar environmental corporations like the NRDC, whose 2005 revenues, not profits, were in the area of $85 million (or over 3,350 times lower than BP’s). If you factor in the revenues and profits from the other players in the oil industry and compare them to the other players in the “environmental industry,” the disconnect rises dramatically.

    A similar disconnect occurs between Walter Trzupek sweating his nads off to provide his kids with a roof, food and an education. That part is great – but how does it equate to policies put forth by the employer? Did some refinery worker make the determination that the refinery would import oil from Canada that necessitated the additional discharge? Was it an auto assembly line worker’s decision to continue to build SUVs, despite soaring gas prices? Of course not – these decisions are made, or ratified, in the board room.

    The fact that you fail to recognize the monumental disconnect between the two, and compare them with a straight face, as if the comparision were possible or had any meaning, merely shows your utter disregard for anything resembling a rational argument, and reveals you for the twit you are. Which is not to say that twits always get it wrong.

    So, you were not paid for your opinion? Well, maybe not directly. Have you earned any money professionally from consulting with BP? Would you like to?

    Comment by joe blow — September 28, 2007 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  3. As a rule, I try to simply let the readers have there say. (Seeing as how I generally get mine). But, I will answer the two questions posed:

    Q. Have you earned any money professionally from consulting with BP?

    A. Not a penny.

    Q. Would you like to?

    A. I’m never one to turn down business, but the backlog of work is pretty darn full at the moment. Thanks for asking though.

    I would also point out that the rate of return that oil companies realize is a little over 7%, which places them in the middle of the pack as far as industry sectors go. For example, railroads, printers, the food service industry and the entertainment industry make higher percentages – in case you’re looking for investment opportunities.

    So who makes the most money on the sale of a gallon of gas? That would be government, of course.



    Comment by trzupek — September 28, 2007 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  4. Well, at a minimum, the scientific expertise on global warming and the environment of “Cheap Seats” is
    certainly vastly superior to the arguments advanced by Poindexter in comment 1, which are largely ad
    hominem in nature.

    If Mr. P. wants to present some actual scientific arguments (presumably he knows of
    thousands and thousands which are out there) as a basis for the sort of discussion by which
    science is actually carried out, he might try to do so.  From the evidence presented,
    however, it doesn’t appear that he’s capable of that.

    As regards his grandchildren, the record of environmental quality in this country over the
    past fifty years suggests they have less to worry about in terms of poison in their environment
    (steel mills or no steel mills) than they do as regards their heritage in the gene pool.

    David Johansen

    Comment by David Johansen — September 30, 2007 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  5. Mr. Cheap Seats is an environmental engineer. What area of expertise do you have Poindexter and JB, besides carrying buckets of water for the daily Kos?

    Comment by Wild Bill — January 15, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  6. Assuming Trzupek actually has experience working as an “environmental engineer” does not mean he’s telling the truth about anything related to his vocation. Trzupek has been poisoning the Examiner with editorials designed to appeal to right wing fascists for years and seldom have anything to do with any truths.

    Comment by Scott Casper — January 21, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  7. I suppose he should write one for “Commie-pinko liberals,” on April 1, right?

    If you have any evidence that Mr. Trzupek is lying, then by all means, post it. If you’re only spewing Kos talking points because you can’t support your argument, then please leave and play a nice game of “Dungeos and Dragons” with your posse.

    Comment by Wild Bill — January 21, 2008 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

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