If it looks like a fish, and swims like a fish, and smells like a fish...
It's probably an award which has not been scrutinized properly and Susan Nickerson will get a new fig leaf from it
By Walter Brooks
The Waterkeeper Alliance worked hard for its reputation. It was held in esteem elsewhere in America and in many countries beyond our own for its grassroots level work to protect the earth's water and environment.
Then along came Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Susan Nickerson to sully its name not once, but twice.
MS. Nickerson left the Association to Protect Cape Cod with a fine personal reputation as an environmentalist to work for a man whose company is one of the largest privately held coal and Petroleum Coke suppliers in America. Petroleum coke is high in sulfur and low in volatile content which poses environmental and technical problems with its combustion.
Oxbow Energy Chairman Bill Koch is the co-chairman of The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound where MS. Nickerson worked to stop America's first offshore wind farm, and she received over $100,000 a year to do that. The Alliance was founded by the late Doug Yearley who was chairman of Phelps-Dodge when the EPA named it as the No. 1 polluter in Arizona.
Was she gulled?
Was she duped? Was she "used" by the fossil fuel fat cats and waterfront homeowners who have raised over $20 million dollars to stop the renewable energy project which might interfere with their ocean view for the few weeks a year they spent here among us ordinary folk?
Probably, and maybe for a week or three.
But Susan Nickerson is a very savvy woman, heck her original relative in these parts "bought" Chatham from the Nauset Indians for an old rowboat. She certainly figured out pretty quickly what the Alliance was really about. It is an "environmental group" in the same manner that a fox is a chicken-protector.
But she stayed on... at $100,000+ a year. She held rallies at the statehouse protesting the wind farm, she spoke at the many hearing in opposition, she welcomed Mitt Romney here to protest the wind farm on Craigsville Beach, and pretty soon many Cape Codders began to doubt her sincerity. And this is the person Waterkeepers thought would make an appropriate Soundkeeper?
Vetting for Dummies
But the Waterkeeper Alliance didn't doubt anything about her or her masters. They bestowed their once-honored license as a Soundkeeper on her organization in 2005 by which time everyone else had figured out what the Alliance's mission really was.
Did the Waterkeeper Alliance examine the credentials of the Alliance? Several calls to the Waterkeeper headquarters with that question have gone unanswered.
Because of Robert Kennedy Jr.'s position on its board, and his well publicized opposition to Cape Wind, the less naive among us understand how these things work. RFK, Jr. is a name which helps raise donations for a non-profit like Waterkeepers, and RFK, Jr. wants his board to give a license to his friends at the Alliance.
Do you doubt for a minute that something like that happened in 2005? And when Susan Nickerson decided to jump ship in January, this time to a commercial group to whom over-fishing is probably as crazy a claim as global warming.
The cover-up is always worse than the crime
I spent a large part of today trying to get someone at the Waterkeeper Alliance to answer a few simple questions. I was lectured by a Riverkeeper who is a board member about my responsibility as a journalist to not harm this group's reputation.
I tried to suggest to him that as a board member it should be his concern rather than mine to find out how their license is awarded when it is done in this tawdry a manner.
So doesn't it stretch your credulity that the Waterkeepers examined the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Association any better than they did the Alliance's four years ago before handing over their license, and along with it, their reputation?
There are, after all, several more appropriate candidates for the Waterkeeper license here on Cape Cod, including one in the adjacent water which is already a Waterkeeper - the Coalition for Buzzards Bay whose credentials are impeccable.
Want to bet they weren't even asked to extend their Soundkeeper-hood to the other side of the Elisabeth Islands, or does the Waterkeeper board really think that the water in Nantucket Sound isn't the same water in Buzzards Bay? Want to bet they never considered MS. Nickerson's old group the APCC, or the 11,300 member Clean Power Now organization which has fought for years to clean our environment?
MS. Nickerson needs more than a new fig leaf to cover her ravished résumé.