Don Eichelberger, Bohemian Grove Action Network Research Collective
We are always vigilant, looking for lessons on what we believe is the pivotal role played by the Bohemian Club and its annual party at the Grove encampment: to keep the controlling shares of the world’s economic and political wealth in the hands of a group of men able to fit easily in to its outdoor dining circle. Here is another exhibit. Can mere proximity breed conspiracy? You decide.
A recent issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspective reports that since hydraulic fracturing (fracking) began in Pennsylvania around 2005, “the same areas of the state as the fracking operations generally showed higher readings of radon” (Washington Post, 4/9/15). Radon is a colorless, odorless gas, known to be carcinogenic that exists naturally in hard rock formations just like many being fracked to get at their natural gas. The study was quickly rebuked by the non-profit Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) through their front group, Energy in Depth.
A follow-up report by the watchdog group PR Watch looked at IPAA’s supporters and turned up some interesting bedfellows from Bohemia. Of the eleven corporate sponsors of IPAA named in the article, five of them had seven Bohemian connections, among them an Iraqi Oil Ministry advisor and a notorious set of brothers, can you guess who? Supporters of IPAA connected to Bohemian Club membership include Shell Oil, Chevron, XTO Energy, Halliburton and, yes, Koch Industries.
First is one of the largest fracking companies in the country, XTO Energy. A subsidiary of ExxonMobil they are a gas driller and developer in Texas with major developments in the Rockies and New England. William H. Adams III, Meyerling Camp, has been a director of XTO Energy since 2001. He is Executive Regional President of Texas Bank in Fort Worth and previously worked at Frost Bank in Texas as President of the South Arlington branch in charge of Commercial/Energy Lending. His banking experience has been centered primarily in the oil and gas industry with significant experience in risk management (Equilar, Bloomberg).
Another Bohemian oil insider is Philip J. Carroll, Jr., Wild Oats camp. He has been CEO of Shell Oil, Fluor Corp., BAE Systems and is an American Petroleum Institute Lifetime Member. Mr. Carroll joined Shell as a petroleum engineer and over 37 years worked his way to the top. He participated in meetings in 2002-2003 where US State Department and former oil executives planned for Iraq’s post-invasion oil industry. He served two years at the pleasure of fellow Bohemian, George W. Bush, as the first Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil at the United States Department of Defense starting in 2003 (Harper’s, 4/2005).
Chevron Corp is also a big player in fracking, boasts four Bohemians, starting with the many connections of Samuel Armacost. Armacost has held lead positions for Chevron Corporation, BankAmerica Corporation Merrill Lynch Capital Markets, and Weiss, Peck & Greer L.L.C.(corporate buy-outs). From 1998 to 2010 he was the chairman of SRI International, formerly Stanford Research Institute, an independent research, technology development and commercialization organization, a member of the board of directors since 1981 (Bloomberg).
In 2009 Armacost was sued by a coalition of Amazon groups for conflict of interest after it was revealed that while heading Chevron, he was the majority shareholder in Exponent Inc., “a pro-industry scientific consulting firm that was paid by Chevron to perform the study of cancer rates in Ecuador’s Amazon region where Texaco (now Chevron) was the exclusive operator of an oil concession from 1964 to 1990” (Reuters). Chevron lost the suit and it is still under appeal (Huffington Post).
Kenneth T. Derr, a member of the prestigious Mandalay camp, joined the Chevron Corporation in 1960 and served a number of executive positions, including President, until 1999. Derr also served until 2008 as the Chief Executive Officer of Calpine Corp, the largest natural gas fueled power producer in North America (calpine.com), and is or has been a director of AT&T Corp., Citigroup Inc., Citigroup Finance Canada Inc. and CitiCorp (Bloomberg Business).
Derr served as Director of Halliburton Company, another fracking profiteer, from 2001 to May, 2009. Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company, renamed Halliburton Company in 1961, patented a fracking process in 1949 that earned Halliburton an exclusive license for the process in Texas and Oklahoma (Montgomery, et al). Mr. Derr has been in a position to effectively promote the fracking technology during its recent spike, both as a producer and one of the largest gas consumers.
Succeeding Derr in 2000 as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Chevron, then Chevron/Texaco after their 2001 merger was David O´Reilly also, conveniently, a Mandalay campmate.
Before taking over as CEO, O’Reilly held a number of executive positions, culminating in Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Chevron Chemical Company. He retired from Chevron end of 2009 (Bloomberg).
Besides Bohemian Club, Derr and O’Reilly both serve as Directors of the American Petroleum Institute, and between them hold membership in some fourteen business associations, including The Business Council, The Business Roundtable, Council on Foreign Relations, Hoover Institution, Institute for International Economics, JPMorgan International Council, World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, and the Trilateral Commission.
J. Dennis Bonney, a Caveman, “served Chevron Corporation in various capacities from 1960 to 1987, including Vice President with responsibilities for worldwide logistics and trading, international production, corporate planning, European refining and marketing, Indonesian oil exploration and production and diversified investments. Mr. Bonney retired from Chevron Corporation in 1995” (Bloomberg).
The Koch brothers, Charles and David of Midway camp are major frackmasters. The brothers made their billions after inheriting a great deal from their industrialist father, who used his patented oil processing method to set up Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union oil infrastructure. According to a recent family biography, Sons of Wichita by Daniel Schulman, Koch, Sr., struggled to make his sons “real men”, not pampered trust fund babies; favored the use of boxing to inflame his sons’ competitiveness.
The brothers, led by second born Charles, increased their inherited wealth 2000 fold maximizing profits from drilling and refining oil and gas, tar-sands development, fracking, pipeline development, chemicals production, ranching, chemical fertilizer production, forest products, commodity speculations and oil derivatives.
The Kochs have built a formidable empire of private oil, gas and chemical companies that help fund a network of right-wing think tanks, institutions of higher learning, political action committees, and non-profit front organizations to support their political take over (Schulman, Kochtopus).
Fracking for dollars has skyrocketed since George W. Bush exempted it from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 (EEC Environment). How Bohemian Club or other individual members also aided the growth of fracking, uncluttered by regulatory roadblocks is, of course, speculation. Ten years ago, fracking and tar sands development were mere gleams in the eyes of men like Chuck and Dave Koch, Bill Adams, Ken Derr or Sam Armacost. While sociologist Dr. G. William Domhoff wonders in his “Study of Ruling Class Cohesiveness” if “Texas oilmen and Wall Street bankers might well need a little fraternizing to come to trust each other”, he concludes that accusations of the Grove being used to seal deals are overblown (Domhoff).
We can only surmise a cohesion among the ruling elite, already bonded in their pursuit of profit above all else, by the ever widening gap between haves and have-nots, and the plight of the natural world in the current epoch. Such a cohesive culture of rulers comes closest to being realized at Bohemian Grove’s annual secretive encampment. Sonoma State University Sociology professor, Dr. Peter Phillips concludes in his 1995 doctoral dissertation, “A Relative Advantage: Sociology of the San Francisco Bohemian Club” that, while general parameters of major policy “can and have evolved”, the process is not deliberate, but “occurs through normal social intercourse”.
The upper class in this country can, in other words, build general consensus around important public policies as an incidental consequence of spending time together. The richest patriarchs get to get drunk and play together, off-the-record, year after year for over 100 years for two weeks in cabins and tents, around the campfires, beneath the redwood grove’s protective canopy. At minimum, it is hard to believe more calls don’t get returned once outside. And among men of this power and wealth, a phone call returned by someone who can help solve a problem is gold.
Bloomberg Business bio of J. Dennis Bonney, 5/5/15 http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=783513&ticker=CBI&previousCapId=330169&previousTitle=Alumax%252C%2520Inc.
Bloomberg Business bio of Kenneth Derr. Web. 5/5/15
Bloomberg Business bio of Philip J. Carroll, Jr. Web. 5/5/15
Bloomberg Business, Weiss, Peck and Greer LLP. Website. 5/5/15
Domhoff, G. William, The Bohemian Grove and other retreats—a Study of Ruling-class Cohesiveness. Harper and Rowe Publishers. New York. Print. 1974.
Domhoff, G. William, “Who Rules America?” Website. 5/5/15
EEC Environment, history of fracking. Web. 5/18/15
Energy In Depth radon critique, 5/5/15.
Equilar Atlas, William H. Adams III bio. Website. 5/11/15. http://people.equilar.com/bio/william-adams-xto-energy/salary/47126#.VVFxmpOTVX8
Forbes Magazine, “(Armacost) Breaking Up a Great Bank”. Web. 5/11/15 http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1988/06/06/70620/index.htm
History Commons, Iraq post invasion oil ministry. Web. 5/11/15
Huffington Post, Chevron vs. Ecuador Lawsuit. Web. 5/8/15
Kochtopus, http://kochcash.org/the-kochtopus/. Web. 4/25/15
Montgomery, Carl T.; Smith, Michael B. (December 2010). “Hydraulic fracturing. History of an enduring technology” (PDF). JPT Online (Society of Petroleum Engineers): 26–41. Web. 5/11/15
Phillips, Peter, “A Relative Advantage—Sociology of the San Francisco Bohemian Club”. http://library.sonoma.edu/specialcollections/bohemianclub/. Web. 5/25/15
PR Watch EID critique, 5/5/15
Reuters, “Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron Board Member Armacost Tied to Conflict of Interest over Cancer Study in Ecuador`s Amazon”. 5/19/09. Web. 5/5/15
Schulman, Daniel, Sons if Wichita. Grand Central Publishing. New York. 2014. Print
Washington Post, “Rise of Deadly Radon Gas in Pennsylvania”, 4/9/15. Web
XTO Energy. Web. 5/6/15