Natural Resources Defense Council

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Natural Resources Defense Council
Founded 1970
Type 501(c)3
Focus Environmentalism
Area served
United States
Method Litigation, education, advocacy
2.4 million[1]
$119.1 million USD (2011)[2]
Approx. 350[3]
Slogan "The Earth's Best Defense"

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a New York City-based, non-profit international environmental advocacy group, with offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Beijing. Founded in 1970, NRDC today has 2.4 million members and online activities nationwide and a staff of more than 400 lawyers, scientists and other policy experts.

The charity monitoring group Charity Navigator gave the Natural Resources Defense Council four out of four stars in its three rating categories: overall, financial practices, and accountability & transparency.[4]


The NRDC was co-founded in 1970 by John Adams, Richard Ayres, John Bryson, Edward Strohbehn, and Gus Speth. Together with a board of scientists and attorneys the NRDC is at the forefront of the environmental movement.[5] The organization states that it seeks sustainable policies from federal, state and local government and industrial corporations. It seeks to influence federal and state environmental and other agencies, the Congress and state legislatures, and the courts to reduce global warming, limit pollution, and generally conserve energy and increase sustainability of commerce and manufacturing. NRDC participates in litigation in federal and state courts to influence implementation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other federal and state laws protecting the environment. The Council also supports an environmental science program that involves NRDC staff and associated scientists, including a program seeking transformation of manufacturing industries to more sustainable production. In addition, the organization states that it educates the public.

In 2001, NRDC launched the BioGems Initiative to mobilize concerned individuals in defense of exceptional and imperiled ecosystems. The initiative matches NRDC's legal and institutional assets with the work of citizen activists.

It has issued a report on the health effects arising from the September 11, 2001 attacks.[6]

NRDC became involved with community activists in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.[7]

NRDC has published a number of studies on nuclear weapon stockpiles around the world, both as monographs and as individual studies in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In December 2006, Green Day and NRDC jointly launched a website to raise awareness on the U.S.'s petroleum dependence.[8][9]

There are reports of the NRDC receiving funding from groups with ties with Russia's state owned oil company.[10]


NRDC runs a number of environmental programs:[11]

  • The Climate and Clean Air Program focuses on clean air, global warming, transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric-industry restructuring. This includes the Renewable Energy and Defense Database project with the Pentagon.[12]
  • The Health Program works on issues involving drinking water, chemical harm to the environment, and other environmental health threats with the goal of reducing the amount of toxins released into the environment.
  • The International Program works worldwide on rainforests, biodiversity, habitat preservation, oceans, marine life, nuclear weapons and global warming, often in conjunction with other programs.
  • The Land Program works on issues related to national forests, parks, other public lands, and private forest lands, and works to reduce consumption of wood products.
  • The Nuclear Program analyzes developments on a variety of nuclear weapon issues.
  • The Urban Program focuses on environmental issues in urban centers and surrounding areas. Issues include air and water quality, garbage and recycling, transportation, sprawl, and environmental justice.
  • The Water and Oceans Program works on issues related to the nation's water quality, fish populations, wetlands and oceans. It also operates regional initiatives such as the Everglades, San Francisco Bay, the San Joaquin River, the Channel Islands of California, and the New York/New Jersey Harbor-Bight.
  • The Latino Outreach Program or La Onda Verde de NRDC works to inform and involve Spanish-speaking Latinos in the environmental issues on which NRDC works.[13]
  • In July 2008, the NRDC and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. launched a direct mail campaign to encourage citizens to voice opposition to Shell Oil's exploration for oil off the Alaska coast.

OnEarth Magazine

OnEarth magazine is a quarterly publication of the NRDC dealing with environmental challenges. The magazine was founded in 1979 as The Amicus Journal.[14] As Amicus, the magazine won the George Polk Award in 1983 for special interest reporting.[15] OnEarth magazine can be accessed online at


Rhea Suh is the current president. Peter Lehner is the executive director. On June 14, 2010, former NRDC President Frances Beinecke was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[16]


NRDC's stated priorities include curbing global warming, "reviving the world's oceans," defending endangered wildlife and wild places, protecting the public health by preventing pollution, ensuring "safe and sufficient water," and fostering "sustainable communities"[17]


NRDC opposed the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 3189; 113th Congress), a bill that would prevent federal agencies from requiring certain entities to relinquish their water rights to the United States in order to use public lands.[18][19] According to opponents, the bill is too broad.[19][20] They believe the bill "could also block federal fisheries agencies like the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from requiring flows that help salmon find fish ladders and safely pass over dams."[19]

Proponents of the bill disagree with NRDC's stance on the bill, arguing that the current Federal policy defended by NRDC seeks to make users of public lands turn over water rights which in many cases they have paid state or local governments for. Operators of ski areas, ranchers, and farmers, and other users of public land say that the Federal policy defended by NRDC denies them rights to use water for which they have already paid, effectively denying them use of the land. The Water Rights Protection Act is supported by national ski area groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Conservation Districts, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, the Colorado River Conservation District, the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, and other interests threatened by existing Federal water policy in the West which the NRDC is defending.[21]

NRDC supported the EPS Service Parts Act of 2014 (H.R. 5057; 113th Congress), a bill that would exempt certain external power supplies from complying with standards set forth in a final rule published by the United States Department of Energy in February 2014.[22][23] The United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce describes the bill as a bill that "provides regulatory relief by making a simple technical correction to the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act to exempt certain power supply (EPS) service and spare parts from federal efficiency standards."[24]

Effect on administrative law

The NRDC has been involved in the following Supreme Court cases interpreting United States administrative law.

See also


  1. [1]
  2. NRDC Finances
  3. NRDC Staff
  4. Charity Navigator
  5. About NRDC: Who We Are. NRDC. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  6. "The Environmental Impacts of the World Trade Center Attacks: A Preliminary Assessment." Natural Resources Defense Council.
  7. NRDC's N.O. Environmental Quality Test Results
  8. Green Day Authority
  9. Green Day + NRDC
  10. "Foreign Firm Funding U.S. Green Groups Tied to State-Owned Russian Oil Company". The Washington Free Beacon. January 27, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. NRDC.NRDC's Programs
  12. Miles, Donna. "Database Helps Identify Renewable Energy Sites.", American Forces Press Service, 15 November 2011.
  13. La Onda Verde de NRDC: Página principal. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  14. About OnEarth Magazine
  15. George Polk Award Winners
  16. President Obama Announces Members of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission | The White House. (2010-06-14). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  17. About the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  18. "H.R. 3189 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Nathan Fey; Matt Rice (20 December 2013). "'Water Rights Protection Act' puts rivers at risk". Post Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Fey, Nathan (12 November 2013). "The Water Rights Protection Act is Bad For Rivers - Take Action!". American Whitewater. Retrieved 12 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Hastings, Doc (14 March 2014). "Water Rights Protection Act". Committee on Natural Resources, US House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved 10 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "CBO - H.R. 5057". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 9 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Hankin, Christopher (15 July 2014). "House Energy & Commerce Committee passes bipartisan regulatory relief for external power supplies". Information Technology Industry Council. Retrieved 10 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Committee to Build on #RecordOfSuccess with Nine Bills On the House Floor This Week". House Energy and Commerce Committee. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Stephen G. Breyer et al., Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy 289 (Aspen 2002)
  26. Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 441 U.S. 87 (1983).

External links