Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a United States-based 501(c)(3) non-profit international environmental advocacy group, with its headquarters in New York City and offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Delhi, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing.[1] Founded in 1970, the NRDC has over 3 million members, with online activities nationwide, and a staff of about 600 lawyers, scientists and other policy experts.[3][4]

Natural Resources Defense Council
MottoThe Earth's Best Defense
Established1970 (1970)
PurposeEnvironmental activism
HeadquartersNew York, New York, US
Area served
MethodAdvocacy, education, litigation
Membership (2015)
2.4 million[2]
Mitchell Bernard (interim)
Budget (2015)
US$151.6 million[2]
Staff (2015)

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 and transparency.[5]


The NRDC was founded in 1970.[6][7] The NRDC's establishment was partially an outgrowth of the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. Federal Power Commission, the Storm King case.[6] The case centered on Con Ed's plan to build the world's largest hydroelectric facility at Storm King Mountain. The proposed facility would pump vast amounts of water from the Hudson River to a reservoir, and release it through turbines to generate electricity at peak demand.[8] A dozen concerned citizens organized the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference in opposition to the project, citing its environmental impact, and the group, represented by Whitney North Seymour Jr., his law partner Stephen Duggan, and David Sive, sued the Federal Power Commission and successfully achieved a ruling that groups such as Scenic Hudson and other environmentalist groups had the standing to challenge the FPC's administrative rulings.[8] Realizing that continued environmentalist litigation would require a nationally organized, professionalized group of lawyers and scientists, Duggan, Seymour, and Sive obtained funding from the Ford Foundation[6][8] and joined forces with Gus Speth and three other recent Yale Law School graduates of the class of 1969: Richard Ayres, Edward Strohbehn Jr. and John Bryson.[9][10] John H. Adams was the group's first staff member and Duggan its founding chairman[11]; Seymour, Laurance Rockefeller, and others served as members of the board.[6]

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.[12]

NRDC became involved with community activists in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.[13]

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 petroleum dependence of the US.[14]


NRDC runs a number of environmental programs:[15]

  • 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.[16]
  • Save the Bees Initiative appealing to the President to take urgent action necessary to save the bee populations from further decline by banning bee-toxic neonics.
  • 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 opposes nuclear weapons. Blocks spent nuclear fuel (SNF) reprocessing, supports SNF disposal in safe geological repositories, works to strengthen standards in uranium mining and nuclear power plant safety[17]
  • 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.[18]
  • 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 was a quarterly publication of the NRDC dealing with environmental challenges. The magazine was founded in 1979 as The Amicus Journal.[19] As Amicus, the magazine won the George Polk Award in 1983 for special interest reporting.[20] OnEarth magazine can be accessed online at The magazine has transitioned to an all-digital publication but it continues to illuminate the most critical challenges facing our world.[21]


On November 5, 2019, NRDC announced Gina McCarthy, 13th Administrator to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, as its new CEO and President starting January 6, 2020.[22] Mitchell Bernard is the current interim president, after the departure of Rhea Suh on February 4, 2019.[23] 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.[24]


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".[25]


NRDC opposed the Water Rights Protection Act, 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.[26][27] According to opponents, the bill is too broad.[27][28] 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."[27]

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.[29]

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.[30][31] 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."[32]

Effect on administrative law

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

See also

Further reading

  • John H. Adams & Patricia Adams, A Force for Nature: The Story of NRDC and Its Fight to Save Our Planet (Chronicle Books: 2010)


  1. "Our Offices". NRDC. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  2. "NRDC 2015 Annual Report" (PDF). Natural Resources Defense Council. December 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  3. "NRDC FY2015 Consolidated Financial Statements" (PDF). Natural Resources Defense Council. 30 June 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  4. "About Us". NRDC. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
  5. "Charity Navigator Rating – Natural Resources Defense Council". Charity Navigator.
  6. Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (revised ed.: Island Press, 2005), pp. 193–94.
  7. Jon Bowermaster, "Green Giants: On the Front Lines with Two Rival Guardians," New York (April 16, 1990).
  8. McGee Young, "The Price of Advocacy: Mobilization and Maintenance in Advocacy Organizations" in Advocacy Organizations and Collective Action (eds. Aseem Prakash & Mary Kay Gugerty), pp. 40-42.
  9. James Gustave Speth, Angels by the River: A Memoir (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014), pp. 96, 127.
  10. Law School Honors Four Alumni Who Helped Create the Natural Resources Defense Council, Yale Law School (May 7, 2010).
  11. Saxon, Wolfgang (1998-11-13). "Stephen Duggan, Environmentalist, Dies at 89". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
  12. "The Environmental Impacts of the World Trade Center Attacks: A Preliminary Assessment." Natural Resources Defense Council.
  13. "NRDC: New Orleans Environmental Quality Test Results".
  14. "Green Day News Archive".
  15. NRDC.NRDC's Programs
  16. Miles, Donna. "Database Helps Identify Renewable Energy Sites.", American Forces Press Service, 15 November 2011.
  17. Minimize Harm and Security Risks of Nuclear Energy. Retrieved on 2016-06-25.
  18. La Onda Verde de NRDC: Página principal. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  19. "About Us - OnEarth Magazine".
  20. "George Polk Award Winners". Archived from the original on September 24, 2014.
  21. "About onEarth". NRDC. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
  22. November 05; 2019. "NRDC Announces Gina McCarthy as President & CEO". NRDC. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  23. February 04; York, 2019 New. "NRDC Announces Leadership Transition". NRDC. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  24. President Obama Announces Members of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission | The White House Archived 2010-07-03 at the Wayback Machine. (2010-06-14). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  25. About the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  26. "H.R. 3189 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  27. Nathan Fey; Matt Rice (20 December 2013). "'Water Rights Protection Act' puts rivers at risk". Post Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  28. Fey, Nathan (12 November 2013). "The Water Rights Protection Act is Bad For Rivers - Take Action!". American Whitewater. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  29. Hastings, Doc (14 March 2014). "Water Rights Protection Act". Committee on Natural Resources, US House of Representatives. p. 1. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  30. "CBO - H.R. 5057". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  31. 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.
  32. "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.
  33. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 435 U.S. 519 (1978).
  34. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984).
  35. Stephen G. Breyer et al., Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy 289 (Aspen 2002)
  36. Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 462 U.S. 78 (1983).
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.