Energy Sovereignty

Archives from the Stop the PSU Pipeline Campaign and the early days of CITY-GREEN

Power Pecking Order at Penn State

Interesting article by Adam Ramsay at OpenDemocracy – “My Environmentalism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”

“There is no such thing as neutrality. If you are neutral in situations of oppression, you have chosen to side with the powerful…

What does this mean in practice? First, it’s important to see the link between power and responsibility. Those who have power are those who are almost by definition more responsible for causing the problems of the world, but they shirk this duty by forever shifting blame onto those with less power or onto the population in general. They rarely do this explicitly – almost never pointing a finger and crying “witch.” Instead, they do it subliminally. They tell the first half of a story, and let us infer its corrupted moral. We’re used to this outside the environmental context: “there’s a big deficit and that person’s cheating on their benefits” they say, or “there’s no jobs and lots of migrants”.

These narratives dominate because of the psychological power of blame, and because the individual elements of them are, to a limited extent, true: the odd person does break the social security rules, there is currently more immigration into the UK than emigration out of it. It’s just that the complexities of causation and correlation are swept aside, and by focussing on the ways that people without power can be blamed, and excluding the ways those with power can be seen as responsible, the public understanding is bent towards the interests of our rulers, and the true causes of these problems therefore become harder to solve. It’s not through lying that spin doctors deceive, but by selecting the truths they tell with care…”

Here’s my ranking of individual Penn State decision-makers in order of their relative power, responsibility and professional status for shaping institutional energy production and consumption. These are the people who select agenda items in decision-making contexts, the people who set budgetary priorities, and the people who decide which stakes and stakeholders are – and are not – considered relevant to energy decisions.

Please note: elected and appointed Borough leaders and volunteer community activists are not located anywhere in the pecking order. We are not currently decision-makers and we are not currently considered relevant stakeholders.

Also note that those higher up the pecking order have the power to demote, fire, suspend or expel underlings who violate behavioral expectations around energy decisions; everyone below Keith Masser is vulnerable to potential reprisals, so their “neutral” public positions are held and expressed within a context of short-term self-preservation.

Additions, deletions, suggested rank changes, corrections and clarifications are, as always, welcome.

  1. Keith Masser, President, Board of Trustees
  2. Eric Barron, University President-elect
  3. Steve Maruszewski, Vice-President for Physical Plant
  4. Ford Stryker, Associate Vice-President for Physical Plant
  5. Rob Cooper, OPP Energy & Engineering Director
  6. Michael Mann, Climatologist, Earth System Science Center Director
  7. Richard Alley, Geologist, Professor of Geosciences
  8. Denice Wardrop, Wetlands Ecologist, Sustainability Institute Director
  9. Ian Salada, OPP Engineering Services Manager
  10. Paul Moser, OPP Steam Services Superintendent
  11. David Riley, Architectural Engineering Professor, Sustainability Institute Resident Scholar
  12. Shelley McKeague, OPP Environmental Compliance Analyst
  13. Erik Foley, Sustainability Institute Director of Strategy and Sustainable Operations
  14. Evan McTague, President, Student Sustainability Advisory Council
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