NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL | 2017 ANNUAL REPORT
2017 ANNUAL REPORT
ON THE COVER
NRDC at the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., April 29, 2017 PHOTOGRAPH BY Bobby Bruderle for NRDC
FROM OUR CHAIR
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
NOT ON OUR WATCH
In a huge step for elephant conservation, China finalized its near-total ivory ban in December 2017, closing the worldâ€™s largest domestic ivory market. Here, a mother and baby elephant in Kenya. 1
“WE ARE MORE COMMITTED TODAY THAN WE HAVE EVER BEEN TO OUR MISSION OF SAFEGUARDING THE EARTH AND ALL LIFE UPON IT.”
The Walt Disney Company
FROM OUR CHAIR With gratitude, humility, and hopefulness, I recently stepped into the role of Chair of NRDC’s Board of Trustees. I am honored to have been asked to serve the organization in this way and to carry on the amazing legacy of my predecessor, Dan Tishman. Like Dan, and like you, I believe that the work we do— leading the charge against climate change, blocking polluters, protecting public health, and preserving wildlife and wild places—is beyond important: It’s absolutely critical to the future of our planet. This responsibility comes at a moment unlike any other in NRDC’s history. Never before has there been such a concerted and sustained effort by a presidential administration to roll back crucial protections, deny science, and thwart the public will. Thankfully, we’ve had nearly half a century to prepare for this moment. The scale of the current environmental and health crisis has galvanized us; the perseverance of our more than three million members has inspired us. We are more committed today than we have ever been to our mission of safeguarding the earth and all life upon it. Since I joined the Board in 1991, I’ve proudly watched NRDC adapt to meet new challenges and grow into the most effective environmental organization in the world. Our combination of legal acumen, scientific rigor, policy expertise, and tenacious advocacy is what has always equipped us to take on the critical challenges facing our natural world—and to win. Now, as we expand and intensify this fight under some of the most hostile conditions we’ve ever faced, I know we have what it takes to keep fighting, and to keep winning. I know this from more than 25 years of working with NRDC’s staff and my fellow trustees and witnessing their dedication firsthand. Since the organization’s founding, this dedication has resulted in many of the key victories that have come to define the modern environmental movement, from the passage of the Clean Water Act and the phaseout of leaded gasoline in the 1970s to more recent triumphs, such as curbing antibiotics use in livestock production, protecting our waterways from mercury pollution, and further weakening the illegal wildlife trade. As beneficial as these developments have been to the health of people and the planet, there are still those who would attempt to halt the progress we’ve made—taking us backward rather than forward. To keep our momentum, we’re going to have to reach out to new partners and communities and draw upon the unique strength that comes from solidarity. We need that added strength right now—the stakes have never been higher, but our resolve has never been greater. I look forward to working alongside all of you—and to the many impactful victories ahead. Sincerely,
Alan Horn Chair, NRDC Board of Trustees 3
FROM OUR PRESIDENT If you’re looking for signs of division in this coun try, you can certainly find them. But from where I sit, I see more signs indicating just the opposite: unity, hopefulness, and positive energy being channeled into action. I’m seeing these inspiring signs practically every where I turn. I’ve witnessed them as a participant in events like the Women’s March and the Peoples Climate March, which brought individuals together from all over the country—and from all walks of life—who stood up in solidarity for our democratic rights. The passion, diversity, and dedication of those who took part in these movements left no doubt in my mind that we’re in the midst of a national awakening, one that fully recognizes how the protection of people and the protection of the planet are inextricably linked. Since NRDC’s inception, all that we do—our legal work, our science, our organizing and public outreach—is geared toward underscoring the basic idea that environmental rights are human rights. Our ongoing fight is a fight for all, not just some.
Bobby Bruderle for NRDC
But the task before us right now is enormous. That’s why NRDC is growing—in both size and scope—to meet it. Since the 2016 election, we’ve welcomed more than 150,000 new members, people compelled to take action after seeing the threats to our nation’s environmental and public health policies. Your input will be absolutely critical as we move to implement a new strategic plan that reinforces our core values: averting the effects of climate change, strengthening communities by ensuring equal access to clean air and clean water, and protecting our wildlife and wild spaces.
And along with the rest of our members and activ ists, now more than three million strong, you will help guide us as we continue to take on powerful interests working against the public interest, including those at the highest rungs of government. Everywhere I go, NRDC’s members, friends, and partners tell me that you’re counting on us to block the current administration’s attempts to roll back environmental protections and withdraw from international accords like the Paris climate agreement. And I always let you know that your faith in us is well placed. For in stance, our Litigation team has grown by 30 percent since early 2017, as it has been suing the administra tion an average of once every 10 days. Some might look at the list of battles ahead and wonder if we have what it takes to win them. Preserving our most essential safeguards, pro tecting the vulnerable Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, stopping the U.S. Department of the Interior’s reckless plan to drill for oil and gas off every coast, protecting the Clean Power Plan— achieving these goals will take every ounce of energy and determination that we have at our disposal. But when I look ahead at these challenges and others like them, I remind myself of who and what we’re fighting for: our communities, our country, our planet, our children. I know that there’s no way we can lose, as long as we remain united.
Rhea Suh President, NRDC 5
CLIMAT ACTION Off Rhode Island’s coast, turbines are spinning at America’s first commercial offshore wind farm. The Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm came online in December 2016 and churns enough power for 17,000 homes, replacing the island’s old diesel generators.
The world cannot afford to waver on climate action and clean energy a moment longer. Regardless of President Trumpâ€™s attempts to thwart U.S. climate progressâ€”his shameless abandonment of the Paris climate agreement, repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and support for expanding reliance on fossil fuelsâ€”momentum is not on his side. Millions of citizens, thousands of businesses, and countless real leaders across the United States and around the globe are forging ahead, upholding their moral obligations to lower carbon pollution, and supporting local policies that build a better future for our children. Together, we are keeping the promise of Paris alive.
WE’RE STILL IN To say Americans are unhappy with Trump’s climate decisions is an understatement. The vast majority of us—70 percent—want our country to stay in the Paris Agreement, endorsed by the entire world. Moving ahead with clean energy makes sense for our health, communities, and bottom line, and NRDC will be working harder than ever to help states push smart climate policy and spur economic growth.
The Ivanpah Solar Project in Nipton, California, is one of many renewable energy facilities across the United States.
50% OF OREGON’S ELECTRICITY MARKET IN RENEWABLES BY 2040
3 MILLION MAYORS AMERICANS CURRENTLY EMPLOYED
IN THE CLEAN ENERGY SECTOR
68 MILLION AMERICANS
AND UPHOLD THE GOALS OF
PRODUCING CLEAN CAR TECHNOLOGIES 800% GROWTH IN STATE-SUPPORTED
SOLAR POWER IN NEW YORK OVER THE LAST 5 YEARS
$48 BILLION INJECTED INTO CALIFORNIA’S ECONOMY AND
500,000 JOBS CREATED THROUGH ITS
INNOVATIVE CLIMATE POLICIES
PLEDGING TO HONOR
THE PARIS AGREEMENT
500,000 ELECTRIC VEHICLES ON OUR ROADS
17,000 HOMES POWERED BY NATION’S FIRST
OFFSHORE WIND FARM
INSTALLED IN RHODE ISLAND IN 2016
14 GW 37% OF IOWA’S $1.5 BILLION IN UTILITY-BILL SAVINGS IN MARYLAND 9 NEW LAWS IN 2016 VIA ENERGY EFFICIENCY UPGRADES OF SOLAR CAPACITY ADDED IN
ELECTRICITY COMES FROM WIND TURBINES
STATES NEARLY DOUBLE THE
AMOUNT IN 2015
IN NEVADA SUPPORTING THE STATE’S RENEWABLE
IN LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS
BUILDING A CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE IN INDIA
solar panels, enabling them to save money while also supporting a more sustainable future. Some farmers are now able to send their children to school for the first time as a result of their savings. In the two years since the project began, Jaiswal has seen nearly 500 solar installations crop up across the salt flats.
When a country of 1.3 billion commits to moving away from dirty fuels, the impacts of its efforts ripple across the globe. But the work of fighting climate change, while simul taneously “building out an economy, increasing prosperity, and bringing millions of people out of poverty,” says Anjali Jaiswal, director of NRDC’s India Initiative, “isn’t easy.”
Jaiswal is proud to play a part in India’s transition toward a clean energy future. “When we started in India, the country was producing 17 megawatts of solar energy. That’s very little,” she says. “We’re talking gigawatts in terms of amounts now.” One gigawatt of energy can power 544,000 Indian homes a year. Over the past three years, India quadrupled its solar capacity to 12 gigawatts, and it was on track to add another 10 by the end of 2017. The country is also ramping up wind energy production as part of its ambitious commitment to renewable energy.
Jaiswal has been leading NRDC’s India Initiative since its founding in 2009. Her team of seven has worked with partners to launch several projects that address the country’s public health, energy, and climate challenges. One focus is to strengthen climate resilience among some of India’s most vulnerable populations, such as slum communities, outdoor workers, pregnant women, and children.
These efforts will be central to helping India reach its Paris climate agreement goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 33 to 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. “Paris showed us that we can develop an international structure that works for countries around the world—not just rich countries,” Jaiswal says. “In order for it to work, it has to be designed for everyone.”
Anjali Jaiswal Director of NRDC’s India Initiative
Problems in the country loom large—200 million Indians don’t have reliable electricity, and the devastating effects of climate change are already wreaking havoc across the country. The key, Jaiswal says, has been to focus on building relationships and creating realistic, humancentered, scalable solutions. For example, Jaiswal worked with local partners, including the Self Employed Women’s Association, on an innovative finance model to help nearly 43,000 saltpan farmers in India’s remote, scorching desert of Gujarat gain access to clean energy and improved living condi tions. With their guidance, many farmers have replaced expensive diesel-powered pumps and generators with
Thanks to the solar panels this local woman purchased through the Self Employed Women’s Association project, she’s able save enough money to send one of her children to private school. Opposite: A solar panel on the roof of a house in Halliberu village, Karnataka, India.
Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg. Opposite page, top left: Rebecca Greenfield for NRDC
“WHEN WE STARTED IN INDIA, THE COUNTRY WAS PRODUCING 17 MEGAWATTS OF SOLAR ENERGY. WE’RE TALKING GIGAWATTS NOW.”
SMART GROWTH AND STEADY PROGRESS IN CHINA Jingjing Qian Director of NRDC’s China program
The China that JingJing Qian knew as a child and the China she currently calls home aren’t one and the same. Qian, the director of NRDC’s China program, grew up in Beijing and has observed the country of her birth transform from an agro-economic society into an industrial powerhouse. And with her outsider’s perspective— Qian spent many years abroad studying or working in London, Cali fornia, and New York—she can attest to the fact that most of the country’s cities and many of its rural villages have modernized in terms of housing, roads, transportation, and basic services. Noting that the average per-capita income is an astounding 70 times what it was back in the late 1970s, Qian observes that “China has become a middle-income country.”
Clockwise from above: Photovoltaic power installations in Wudu village, in the Zhejiang Province; workers install solar panels in Wuhan, in the Hubei Province; a wind farm in Shaoyang city, in the Hunan Province.
From top: Giulia Marchi/The New York Times/Redux; Imagine China/Newscom. Opposite page, from top: Rebecca Greenfield for NRDC; Yu Zinhua/eyevine/Redux
But such rapid, explosive growth brings myriad challenges. Choking air pollution, water pollution, and toxic soil contamination are now a part of everyday life for tens of millions of Chinese citizens. In addition, the world’s most populous country is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, responsible for almost 30 percent of humanity’s global carbon footprint. These were some of the very issues that led to the formation of NRDC’s China program in the mid-1990s, and that continue to inform its mission. When Qian joined the program in 2002, she brought its tiny staff to a total of four; today more than 30 people work in NRDC’s China office.
At the top of today’s priorities list: finding a way to ramp up renewable energy while simultaneously reducing China’s dependence on coal. So far, progress has been slow and steady—coal’s power share was reduced from 64 percent to 62 percent between 2015 and 2016, and was expected to drop to 60 percent at the conclusion of 2017—which, Qian emphasizes, “is still too large.” But the fact that coal consumption has finally begun to level off in the last few years, after more than two decades of steep increase, is significant. What’s more, China now leads the world in clean energy jobs, having added 3.64 million jobs in 2016. The country also plans to spend more than $360 billion on clean energy in the next three years, creating an additional 12 million jobs. All this progress will go a long way toward helping China meet its goals for the Paris Agreement by its target date of 2030. As part of the accord, China pledged to increase the share of non–fossil fuels in its energy mix to around 20 percent. To get there will require concerted efforts across all energy-use sectors, from industry to transportation to urban development—and on a massive scale. “The good news is that China is emerging as a global leader in renewable energy production,” Qian says, and is well on its way to making good on these commitments.
“We started with one energy efficiency project that introduced green-building and demand-side management concepts to China,” Qian recalls. These days, she and her colleagues seek to address China’s unique environmental situation as the country adjusts to becoming a global superpower.
COMMO GROUND The Valley of the Gods in Utahâ€™s Bears Ears National Monument, which the Trump administration plans to shrink by 85 percent
Bears Ears National Monument, in southeastern Utah, protects 1.3 million acres of striking American landscape—and important artifacts that represent the country’s earliest history. The vast, awe-inspiring red-rock country has provided for indigenous groups for millennia. But the Trump administration has moved to illegally revoke this cultural treasure, replacing it with two token designations that leave more than 85 percent of the landscape unprotected. In response, NRDC and other groups have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration, as have the indigenous tribes that originally proposed the Bears Ears National Monument. Together—and with the support of the 225,000 Americans who originally petitioned for the monument’s creation—we aim to ensure their ancestral home remains intact.
Arlene Treiber Waller/Shutterstock
WORTH PROTECTING Congress created the Antiquities Act in 1906 to give presidents the power to protect places of natural and cultural heritage for future generations. Eight Republican and eight Democratic presidents have used the act to safeguard iconic areas, including the Statue of Liberty, Muir Woods, and the Grand Canyon. Yet, in spite of this proud legacy, the Trump administration is stripping protections from many of our cherished monuments. Why? To hand over millions of acres of American public lands and waters to the mining, development, and fossil fuel industries. But that’s illegal, and NRDC is holding the administration to account—both in the court of public opinion and in the court of law. There’s just too much at stake.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, located in northern Arizona along the Utah border
5,000-YEAR-OLD FORESTS LUSH NORTHERN
From top: Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management; Mark Picard. Opposite page: Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management
CORALS IN THE PACIFIC
A FORESTED VOLCANIC CONE
IN NEW MEXICO’S
RIO GRANDE DEL NORTE
ACROSS 87,500 ACRES OF MAINE’S
KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS
46% OF UTAH’S GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE
ACRES OF UTAH’S BEARS EARS
INCLUDING 100 BUTTERFLY SPECIES
IN OREGON’S CASCADE-SISKIYOU
AT NEVADA’S GOLD BUTTE
AND 4 UNDERWATER MOUNTAINS
FOSSIL TRACK SITES
CANYONS AT NORTHEAST CANYONS AND SEAMOUNTS
DESERT PEAKS HOME TO THOUSANDS OF
272 SPECIES OF REEF FISH
PLUS RARE CENTRAL PACIFIC SEABIRDS AND TURTLE SPECIES AT ROSE ATOLL
From top: John Villella/Flickr; Mike Connealy. Opposite page: Ian Shive/USFWS
Rose Atoll, in American Samoa, is one of the worldâ€™s smallest and most pristine atolls, designated as a marine national monument in 2009 by President George W. Bush.
OUR COASTS ARE NOT FOR SALE “The bottom line is this: Where you drill, you spill,” says Franz Matzner, NRDC’s deputy director for federal campaigns and one of the ocean protectors leading the battle against offshore drilling. “Even a smaller spill puts pollution in the ocean and in the air, degrades the environment, and affects communities. In short, the only real protection from offshore drilling is no drilling.” To that end, NRDC has been defending the United States’ outer continental shelf from offshore drilling since the organization’s founding in 1970. The team dedicated to safeguarding these vast areas of publicly owned coastal waters includes policy experts, attorneys, and marine scientists. In December 2016, a campaign conceived and led by NRDC secured a major victory with President Obama’s issuance of a permanent ban on drilling in 98 percent of
From left: Deer Isle, Maine, one of many American coastal communities that could be devastated by offshore drilling; a polar bear in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Opposite: An oil rig in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea.
U.S. Arctic waters and huge swaths of the U.S. Atlantic. “For those of us who were at the center of the fight, it was the most exciting and gratifying professional moment that any of us had ever known,” says Niel Lawrence, NRDC senior attorney and Alaska program director. Just four months later, however—and in a clear kowtowing to international oil conglomerates— President Trump announced his America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, an executive order attempting to put Atlantic and Arctic waters back on the drilling map. Then, this January, in response to Trump’s order, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled a five-year leasing proposal that would open nearly all our federal waters—more than 100 million acres combined in Alaska, the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico—to dangerous development. It was by far the most extreme plan ever proposed and coupled with news just days earlier that the administration wanted to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations adopted after the Deepwater Horizon blowout of 2010.
While the Trump administration seeks to give the oil industry the right to drill virtually every coast, cheaply and with inadequate safeguards, NRDC is long on experience when it comes to battling the industry and its lobbyists— and is not backing down. “From the outset, we argued for the permanent ban in part knowing that legally it should withstand any such rollback,” says Lawrence. “And we were prepared to challenge one in court if need be.” Indeed, in May 2017, NRDC and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of President Trump’s attempts to override the Obama administration’s Arctic and Atlantic protections. NRDC is now preparing to challenge the Interior Department’s disastrous new leasing plan—and will be ready to litigate as needed to defend our oceans and coasts from the Trump administration. NRDC’s mission continues to generate bipartisan support. Along the Atlantic coast, says Alexandra Adams, a legislative director in NRDC’s Nature program, “communities spoke out loudly against drilling during the last administration, and they’re not going to be deterred now. They do not want the pollution or the economic risk that offshore drilling brings. And they refuse to threaten their way of life to enrich the oil industry.”
Even inland, support on both sides of the political aisle remains strong. “We have senators from Wisconsin, Nevada, and Ohio standing up and saying, ‘Not on our watch. We’re going to respect these public waters because they belong to us just as much as they belong to people from New Jersey and California,’” Matzner adds. “There’s a recognition that the negative impact of drilling will fall on the shoulders of everyone. Just as oil spills don’t respect boundaries on an ocean map, neither do the impacts of climate change, economic disruption, and air pollution.” Perhaps most important, NRDC is continuing to stand with legislators, thousands of commun i ties, tens of thousands of businesses and organizations, and millions of people demanding that our public coasts be preserved. “This is a very potent moment for the administration,” says Matzner. “Just how far are they going to go in ignoring the public, the science, and even voices within their own party?”
Opposite page, from left: Mira/Alamy; Steven Kazlowski/Getty Images
WE WON ONE OF OUR FIRST VICTORIES AGAINST THE DESTRUCTIVE POLICIES OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.
PROTECTING POLLINATORS It’s been a roller-coaster year for Bombus affinis, aka the rusty patched bumblebee. On March 21, this small and mighty pollinator became the first-ever bumblebee species to receive Endangered Species Act protections. And with no time to waste. The bee has lost 90 percent of its habitat in the past 20 years and has seen its populations decline by 87 percent since the late 1990s. But adding to the bee’s troubled fate, the Trump team made a decision shortly after taking office to freeze the endangered species listing—part of the administration’s “immediate regulatory freeze.” Knowing this move was illegal and that it would almost certainly spell extinction for the rusty patched bumblebee, NRDC filed suit. And, thanks in no small part to the 130,000 people who petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), we won one of our first victories against the environmentally destructive policies of the Trump administration.
It was a small but important step in the fight to protect native bees—essential species to our food security and the health of our ecosystems— and a move that helped lay the groundwork to protect endangered bees and butterflies across 28 states from the soaring use of neonic pesticides that are killing pollinators. The numbers speak for themselves—some 33 percent of honeybee colonies collapsed between April 2016 and March 2017. With the chemical industry’s growing influence on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) agenda—several former industry executives now directly oversee the agency’s Toxics office—the problem has grown only worse.
By continuing to allow products containing toxic chemicals to enter the market and failing to consult with FWS on the insecticides’ impact on threatened or endangered species, the EPA is violating the federal Endangered Species Act. In response, NRDC filed a second pollinatortargeted federal lawsuit in October seeking to cancel the registrations of nearly 100 products containing three widely used neonic pesticides— acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid— until the EPA complies with the law. “The EPA ignored endangered bees, butterflies, and birds when it approved the widespread use of neonics,” says Rebecca Riley, a senior attorney in NRDC’s Nature program. “Massive pollinator die-offs across the country show that these pesticides cause serious harm.” Twenty-six species listed under the Endangered Species Act are at risk from neonic pesticides; in addition to the rusty patched bumblebee, they include the Karner blue butterfly, Hines’ emerald dragonfly, black-capped vireo, and pallid sturgeon, as well as the federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp. NRDC is urging swift action from the EPA, with added pressure from our three million members and activists. “It’s time for the agency to do its job and make sure our most vulnerable species are protected from the products it approves,” Riley says.
Y NITIES NRDC’s vision of healthy, thriving cities and towns everywhere drives our work to champion clean air and water, open and accessible outdoor spaces, safe chemical and household products, and access to healthy food for all. From Flint, Michigan, to Los Angeles, we’re partnering with on-the-ground activists and community leaders to build robust and vocal coalitions, and we’re providing scientific, legal, policy, and communications tools and guidance that help create real and lasting local change.
More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities and suburbs. Here, visitors enjoy New York City’s Central Park.
WE STAND IN SOLIDARITY
All across the country, NRDC works with communities to fulfill our responsibility to leave future generations a livable world. From the farmworkers of California’s Central Valley breathing in toxic pesticides daily to the residents of New York’s South Bronx surrounded by waste transfer stations, the American people too often find themselves impacted by unhealthful policy decisions made on behalf of polluter profits. But these communities on the front lines of environmental and health crises are not helpless victims. They are essential to the solutions.
SAFE DRINKING WATER IN FLINT
PCB CLEANUP ON THE HUDSON RIVER
LEAD-FREE WATER AND SOIL IN
ATLANTA SMART GROWTH
DELAWARE RIVER BASIN
Top left: Joe Brusky/Overpass Light Brigade. Bottom left: Ricardo Ardmengo/Getty Images. Opposite page, bottom right: Joshua Lott/Getty Images
FOR HOUSTON PESTICIDE-FREE
NO KXL IN NEBRASKA
A SUSTAINABLE, EQUITABLE
RECOVERY FOR PUERTO RICO FOOD RECOVERY 27
FLINT ACTIVISTS STAND UP FOR SAFE DRINKING WATER
Flint resident Melissa Mays speaking after testing results showed that the city’s water had high levels of lead. Opposite, from left: The city’s corroded pipes, exposed; a Flint mother washes her baby with bottled water; a water line replacement underway.
“The first time we heard that they were thinking of switching to the Flint River, we laughed,” says Melissa Mays, a resident of Flint, Michigan. “We thought it was a joke. Because there’s a ton of cars in there, shopping carts, and we knew that industry had dumped in the river for 100 years and didn’t clean it up.” In April 2014, immediately after their city decided to start supplying residents with water pumped from the polluted Flint River instead of continuing to buy municipal water from nearby Detroit, residents noticed dark, foul-tasting water flowing out of their taps. As Mays and fellow residents would later learn from independent tap water testing and the local Hurley Children’s Clinic, the water was highly corrosive and causing lead to leach from the city’s aging pipes directly into Flint families’ drinking glasses and into their bodies. These were incredibly troubling findings, as lead can cause long-lasting cognitive, behavioral, and health problems. A local pediatrician found that the percentage of Flint children with elevated blood lead levels had doubled—and, in some neighborhoods, tripled.
Complaints by community members were initially ignored by the city and state, but Flint residents did not stay silent. Pastor Allen Overton, of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and other community activists formed a group called the Coalition for Clean Water. Mays—a mother of three—confirmed that her family’s water was contaminated with lead through independent testing, hauled jugs of brown water to local civil gatherings, and continued to press city leaders for action. Yet for more than a year, city officials continued to dismiss the concerns of local parents, pastors, scientists, and
journalists, calling the water-quality problems a mere bump in the road. The community’s trust in their government frayed. “I can’t even count the number of homes I went into to install filters,” says Overton. “We were in crisis mode. It was a real tough time.” Finally, in the summer of 2015, government officials began to take the problem seriously. Investigations by the ACLU of Michigan uncovered widespread water issues, and at the group’s invitation, NRDC stepped in to help. “They reached out to NRDC because they knew that we have expertise and a deep knowledge of safe drinking water laws and how to bring these types of environmental citizens’ suits,” says Dimple Chaudhary, NRDC’s lead counsel on the Flint case. Joining Chaudhary were NRDC attorneys Anjali Waikar, Sarah Tallman, and Jared Knicley, and legal fellow Evan Feinauer.
From top: Todd McInturf/The Detroit News/AP; U.S. EPA Region 5. Opposite page: Jake May/The Flint Journal/AP
The lawyers were fiercely committed to the case from day one, united in their devotion to the community they were serving. “This was about them,” says Waikar, “not about us.”
In January 2016, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Melissa Mays, the ACLU of Michigan, and NRDC together filed a federal lawsuit seeking to require the city of Flint and the state of Michigan to replace the lead pipes and to follow federal regulations for treating and testing the water. Two months later, NRDC’s legal team filed a preliminary injunction motion, supported by 1,200 pages of evidence and resident testimonies NRDC had collected, asking the court to require delivery of bottled water to people’s homes while their tap water remained unsafe. The court granted the request—an important step in the fight on behalf of Flint’s residents. “It was not fair just to expect people to go out and track down their own water, day in and day out,” says Tallman. Meanwhile, our lawyers kept up their fight outside the courthouse, too. “This kind of case really requires multiple tools in the toolbox to litigate,” says Waikar, who emphasizes the importance of building local trust. “It requires boots on the ground, especially when the relief you’re seeking has the potential to impact an entire community.” In March 2017, just a little over a year after the suit was filed, the state of Michigan and the city of Flint agreed to replace the lead pipes and to put an effective lead-monitoring system in place. As part of the $97 million settlement, authorities have three years to examine water service lines for at least 18,000 homes and replace those made of lead or galvanized steel. The settlement also guaranteed continued funding for health recovery programs, the extension of bottled water distribution programs, and expansion of a home filter installation program. There’s still a lot of work to be done in Flint—not the least of which is ensuring that city and state officials follow through on their obligations to the people they serve. Yet for the city’s courageous residents and community activists, the court victory has provided a ray of hope. “The state of Michigan didn’t expect what happened, which was for all of us to stand up, become educated and organized, and fight back,” says Mays. 29
A LATINO-LED PUSH FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN CALIFORNIA Like the Brady Bunch kids, Michael Anthony Mendez grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley. But unlike the Bradys, Mendez, who is Mexican-American, didn’t live in a roomy split-level on a tree-lined block. His neighborhood, the North Valley section of Los Angeles, housed two landfills but had no parks for the people—mostly immigrants—who lived there. Even its air quality was noticeably poorer than that of the wealthier parts of the valley. Today Mendez is an associate research scientist and the Pinchot Faculty Fellow at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. His early lessons about social inequity inspired him to pursue a career studying and advancing environmental justice and climate change action at the state and city levels. After earning a master’s degree in environmental policy and economic development from MIT, he served as a senior legislative aide in the office of California State Assembly member Cindy Montañez from 2003 to 2006. There, he primarily tackled brownfields, the contaminated former industrial sites that often sit idle due to the expense of remediating them. Mendez helped make it easier to redevelop brownfields and to do so in a way that would be beneficial to the local community. He also helped draft a law to ban the use of experimental pesticides—chemicals whose health effects are unknown—on K–12 public school grounds. That ban is still in effect today. Currently Mendez teaches graduate students about the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by communities of color and low-income communities—from sharing their neighborhoods with power plants and
Mendez consults with Sacramento school board president Jay Hansen on plans to renew vacant land. Opposite, from top: The Sacramento Railyards brownfield project; teens at work on an urban farm.
incinerators to drinking contaminated water. He also aims to show his students how residents can help effect positive local change, such as by lobbying for parks or improved access to clean beaches. Adrianna Quintero, an NRDC senior attorney and the founder of Voces Verdes, a group that encourages Latino leadership on environmental issues, says that having Mendez and other Latino environmentalists involved in academia is crucial. “The more we can have leaders excited and talking about this type of work to students who are eager to learn, the more likely we are to have a thriving and truly diverse and representative movement,” she says. Mendez’s colleagues at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication recently released a national survey conducted for a report titled “Climate Change in the Latino Mind.”
Further, Mendez’s own research highlights how, in California and elsewhere, people of color and Latinos in particular have played a central role in adapting and transforming neighborhoods to promote sustainable urban development.
It shows Latinos in the United States are now more convinced than non-Latinos that global warming is happening and that it is the result of human actions. It also shows they are ready to act on this growing awareness, finding that “nearly three in four Latinos want industry, citizens, President Trump, and the U.S. Congress to do more to address global warming.”
“Almost all of California’s environmental bills are authored by people of color,” Mendez says. He also emphasizes that legislators of color tend to hold more empathy for issues of environmental justice. Just look at last year’s environmental justice wins in California: Of 25 related bills taken up by the state legislature—from the Planning for Healthy Communities Act to the Equity and Transparency in Climate Act—the vast majority were authored by people of color, including many Latinos. “There may be a false perception that Latinos don’t care enough about the environment, but that’s not the case,” Mendez says.
From top: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr; David Hanks/Ella Baker Center. Opposite page: Courtesy Jay Hansen
NEBRASKA’S KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE RESISTERS KEEP THE FAITH Not long after Art and Helen Tanderup retired, Trans Canada began trying to claim areas of the couple’s 160-acre Nebraska farm so the energy company could run its Key stone XL pipeline a mere 600 feet from their house. The company was negotiating easements with local landowners in order to secure a route for its multibillion-dollar project, a 1,179-mile-long pipeline that would transport a minimum of 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil per day from Canada’s boreal forest across the U.S. border and down through this midwestern state. Owned by Helen’s family for more than a century, the Tanderups’ home sits in Nebraska’s eastern sand hills and directly over the Ogallala aquifer, a primary source
of water for a vast stretch of the country’s agricultural heartland. “We have two kids, and we hope to pass this farm on to them and our grandchildren,” Art says. “If this pipeline’s here, we don’t know what we’ll do.” Although TransCanada had some early takers, many Nebraskans along the proposed Keystone XL route questioned the pipeline’s safety, the risks to their water supply, and the legality of the oil company’s tactics. With the help of an organizer named Jane Kleeb, Republicans and Democrats, ranchers and native tribes, country folk and city dwellers banded together with the organization Bold Nebraska to forge a unified resistance to Keystone XL. Part of the battle cry for the pipeline-fighting Tanderups and others has been to “leave tar sands in the ground” and invest instead in renewable energy sources as a means to address global climate change. It’s a fight that NRDC has been championing for more than a decade, in partnership with other environmental groups and First Nations communities that have inhabited Canada’s boreal forest for thousands of years. When the tar sands oil industry began working to exploit the forest in the mid-1990s, members of these communities spoke out, detailing the risks of the oil operation to their water, their fishing and hunting traditions, and their health. In 2005, they invited Canadian activist groups and NRDC to Alberta to talk about tar sands, and they asked for help in stopping the devastation of the boreal. Shortly thereafter, NRDC launched the first campaign by a U.S. organization against the expanding tar sands industry. “We had to show people that the United States was a driver for what was happening up there,” says Danielle Droitsch, senior policy analyst for NRDC’s Canada Project. “It was the United States that had the solution and ability to effect change.”
Members of Bold Nebraska erect a solar panel in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline. Opposite: Helen and Art Tanderup on their farm, which falls along TranCanada’s proposed pipeline route through the state’s eastern sand hills.
Alex Matzke/BOLD Nebraska. Opposite: Marty Steinhausen/BOLD Nebraska
Meanwhile, the people of the Cornhusker State have continued their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Anthony Swift, director of the Canada Project, says, “There’s no question that Nebraskans know more than most people how high the stakes are.” They’ve kept up their fight through years of protest and courtroom battles, a rigorous U.S. State Department environmental review that echoed the concerns of pipeline resisters, and the conflicting decisions of the Obama administration to reject Keystone XL and the Trump administration to later authorize it. Many Bold Nebraska members testified during public hearings before the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) in the spring of 2017, and some returned to the podium as registered interveners a few months later, when five days of formal arguments led the PSC to issue an official decision denying the company’s preferred route through the state.
Outside Nebraska, the battle is simultaneously playing out in federal court in Montana, where NRDC, Bold Alliance, and partner groups Northern Plains Resource Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Sierra Club have sued the Trump administration for unlawfully issuing a cross-border permit for the project. Though the administration and TransCanada pushed to have the lawsuit thrown out, a federal judge denied that request—further bolstering the efforts of NRDC, Bold Nebraska, and other groups working to stop Keystone XL once and for all. Currently, Bold Nebraska is hosting meetings to bring together concerned landowners and other community members in the counties newly affected by Keystone XL’s revised route. Their fight has been long, but Kleeb and her community keep the faith. How do they do it? “We fundamentally see this as such a wrong project that for us there’s no other way to look at it,” she says without hesitation. “We have no option but to think that our work will stop this pipeline again.” 332
NOT ON WATCH
NRDC marchers pause for the human heartbeat demonstration at Washington, D.C.’s Peoples Climate March in April 2017.
We were built for this moment. Over the past year, a record-setting three million activists have come together to stand with NRDC as we defend decades of progress that have strengthened our country’s environmental protection and transformed American life for the better. On Capitol Hill and in cities across the country— through town hall meetings and public hearings, petitions and protests—we’ve channeled our collective passion and outrage into meaningful actions to block the Trump administration’s attacks on our planet and our health.
Bobby Bruderle for NRDC
NRDC GOES TO COURT In the courts, there is no such thing as “alternative facts.” Over the past half century, NRDC attorneys have prevailed time and time again when suing government agencies and powerful corporations to protect America’s air, land, water, and wildlife. For every unlawful move the Trump administration makes to put corporate interests ahead of our environment and public health, our tenacious—and expanding— legal team will meet them in court. In fact, in Trump’s first year in office, NRDC filed a lawsuit against the administration roughly every 10 days.
WEâ€™RE SUING TO
PROTECT ENDANGERED SMOG STANDARDS SAVE
REDUCE METHANE POLLUTION
CARS KEEP MERCURY OUT OF
PROTECT CLEAN DRINKING
OUR WATERWAYS POLLUTION
IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS
PREVENT DIRTY ENERGY PROJECTS 37
AT THE HELM OF THE LEGAL RESISTANCE Mitch Bernard NRDC Chief Counsel
In the course of his daily work, NRDC Chief Counsel Mitch Bernard takes on big polluters, climate deniers, and their powerful allies. In his 30 years with NRDC, he’s racked up victories that have had—and continue to have—a major impact on America’s environmental policy.
The legal team that worked on the Flint drinking water case with NRDC’s chief counsel, Mitch Bernard (center); the Flint case attorneys roll stacks of legal paperwork through the streets.
Bernard and his fellow attorneys have con sistently shown how litigating on behalf of the environment is, in fact, litigating on behalf of people. In a recent lawsuit, a contingent of the team, led by senior attorney Dimple Chaudhary, represented the citizens of Flint, Michigan, in their battle for clean water and environmental justice. As a direct result of the suit, the govern ment will spend $97 million to replace thousands of lead-bearing water service lines in Flint by 2020—a major step forward toward ending the city’s water crisis.
Elsewhere, a long-running case, first filed in 2000, has pitted Bernard and his colleagues Aaron Colangelo, a codirector of the Litigation team, and attorney Jared Thompson against Mallinckrodt, a chemical company that dumped up to 12 tons of mercury into Maine’s Penobscot River. But for the pres sure brought to bear by citizen-inspired litigation, Bernard says, people in the Penobscot region would still be eating
Top left: Rebecca Greenfield for NRDC
Now, after decades of progress in the fight to defend the health of the planet, NRDC must grapple with an American president who, as Bernard puts it, is “hell-bent on dismantling our environmental and human health protections— and at a pace that’s unprecedented.” To keep up with the onslaught of assaults, the legal team that Bernard oversees grew by almost 30 percent in the year following Trump’s inauguration and will continue to expand further.
contaminated fish and shellfish, including Maine’s iconic lobster. State and federal governments were prepared to just leave the issue alone. But data generated by a court order in the case caused the state of Maine to close a 12.5-squaremile portion of the river, protecting the public. NRDC and its local client, the Maine People’s Alliance, are now seeking a comprehensive cleanup effort. The Penobscot mercury case reinforced one of NRDC’s founding principles. “Polluters, no matter how powerful and no matter how well they’ve managed to escape government enforcement in the past, have to comply with the law,” says Bernard. “They must clean up the messes they make.”
LITIGATING ON BEHALF OF THE ENVIRONMENT IS, IN FACT, LITIGATING ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE.
When he began his career, “the mainstream environmental movement was dominated by concerns for land and resources by themselves,” says Bernard. And while those original values persist, environmentalists have broadened their sense of what’s at stake and what deserves protection—such as our cultural heritage, our health, and universal access to clean water, clean air, and green space. In other words, advocates like Bernard believe the movement must defend not only our varied habitats but all their inhabitants, too. “The Trump administration, during its first year, has exited rapidly from [the executive’s] role as the primary enforcer of environmental laws,” Bernard says. “Citizens are going to have to fill that space.” Fortunately, a host of federal stat utes exist to empower citizens to sue polluters directly when the government fails to act.
The Flint case attorneys talk with residents while observing the replacement of the city’s water service lines; NRDC attorneys Dimple Chaudhary and Sarah Tallman speak to a Flint resident at a town hall meeting (top right).
Bernard notes that NRDC has added nearly 150,000 new members since Election Day 2016—a testament to their faith in the organization to head up the legal resistance against the administration and its harmful environmental policies. “Their outpouring of support for the work we’re doing is enormous,” he says, “and enormously gratifying.” 39
PUSHING BOUNDARIES WITH ALL IN In his fateful announcement in the Rose Garden with drawing the United States from the Paris climate agree ment, President Trump worked his populist rhetoric into one of the speech’s most infamous blunders: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” On Twitter, Pittsburgh’s mayor, Bill Peduto, whose Rust Belt city voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, wasted no time in firing back: “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.” Meanwhile, the citizens of Pittsburgh were organizing. In August, following a wave of intense heat and air-quality warnings, they joined their state representative for a citizens’ hearing to discuss their concerns about local climate impacts and to learn from a local resilience officer about how to push for a clean energy future. Many of the attendees had found out about the event through All In (allin.nrdc.org), NRDC’s new grassroots advocacy platform, which rallies citizens across the country to show up for marches, town hall meetings, and public hearings in support of environmental action. All In allows NRDC to home in on members in places where they can swing into action and make an on-the-ground difference at the right moment. NRDC launched All In to build on the outpouring of support for our mission following Election Day, which yielded a record-breaking 25 percent growth in our member and activist base, uniting three million individuals. In addition to informing members of local events in their area, All In shares petitions, offers updates (via email and text alerts) on key environmental battles that NRDC is engaged in, and encourages members to make phone calls to decision makers. Through the platform, we also coach activists on how to host outreach events in their own communities, such as volunteer phone-bank meetups—even providing tips for hosting such gatherings.
A January 2018 people’s hearing on the Clean Power Plan in New York City (top), where attendees showed support for NRDC with lapel pins. Opposite: Supporters of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante rally against President Trump’s reduction of the two national monuments in Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP. Opposite page, from top: Rick Gershon for NRDC (2)
NRDC’s approach of fostering city- and state-level action in the face of federal inaction is already seeing success. The hearing in Pittsburgh teed up an update to the city’s Climate Action Plan, which lists Pittsburgh’s strategies and goals to curb emissions, including the com plete transition to renewable energy sources for municipal operations by 2030. Event organizers also filmed the discussion and sent the recording directly to the White House and to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt.
mining and the importance of supporting renewable energy. Scott noted that she spoke in the third hearing room at the West Virginia Capitol Complex—not only did the event require multiple rooms to accommodate the crowd, but the EPA also added a second hearing day. After that event, the agency eventually scheduled three more hearings in San Francisco; Kansas City, Missouri; and Gillette, Wyoming, in response to public demand.
Amplifying local voices to influence decision makers even within the Trump administration is one of NRDC’s chief goals in mobilizing grassroots action—and it appears to be working. In November, a group of All In members came together at a Clean Power Plan hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, which, at the time, was the EPA’s only scheduled public hearing on the administration’s proposed repeal of the plan. Though NRDC has supporters in every state, for this hearing, NRDC focused on rallying its members specifically from West Virginia.
The devotion and enthusiasm NRDC’s superactivists have shown through their response to the All In calls to action are inspiring. Across the country, they are standing at the ready to defend our climate, public lands, waters, and health wherever and whenever they are at risk—for example, rallying in Salt Lake City in support of protecting the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments on the same week that President Trump announced plans to shrink their size.
“We felt that those individuals—their presence, their words—would make the biggest difference,” says NRDC senior campaign manager Claire Morgenstern. In response to the outreach, NRDC activist Amy Scott, a native West Virginian, testified, focusing on the dirty legacy of coal
“With All In, we asked ourselves how far our members will go to take actions on issues they care about,” Morgenstern says. “The answer is, pretty far.” 41
From offshore drilling to ocean pollution, whales and other marine mammals are increasingly at risk. Here, a humpback whale swims in the bays of TromsĂ¸, Norway.
THANK YOU Our supporters at all levels are key to ensuring that we at NRDC have the resources to deploy our strategies in the most effective way possible. We truly couldnâ€™t defend the earth without your friendship and support.
& ACTIVISTS 800 FOUNDATIONS
Through budget riders, the GOP-led Congress is trying to block efforts to protect gray wolves, which are currently listed as endangered in most of the Lower 48 states. Here, a gray wolf and her pup in Minnesota.
JOIN US JOIN A LEADERSHIP CIRCLE
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Join the Friends of NRDC with a gift of $500–$999 and receive a complimentary copy of War of the Whales by Joshua Horwitz, the gripping story of NRDC’s fight to protect whales from deadly U.S. Navy sonar, a subscription to Nature’s Voice, and more.
NRDC takes on big fights every year, championing new issues as we learn more about where our expertise is needed from our grassroots partners and environmental scientists. It is critical that we be able to leap when new policies threaten bedrock environmental laws. Significant gifts to NRDC make it possible for us to pick up that baton and do what we do best: Defend the earth.
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If you would like to learn more about how to become a major donor or to join our Global Leadership Council with a gift of $25,000 or more, please contact us at 212-727-4436.
MAKE THE EARTH YOUR HEIR You can make a lasting commitment to the environment when you include NRDC in your estate plans. A gift through your will, trust, or retirement or life insurance plan will help preserve our magnificent natural heritage and protect the planet for generations to come. For more information on how to include NRDC in your estate plans, or if you have already done so, please contact Michelle Mulia-Howell, director of gift planning, at 212-727-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GIVE THROUGH YOUR WORKPLACE Donating with an automatic payroll deduction is a simple way to support NRDC. To find out if your company participates in EarthShare, or to add an environmental option to your company’s workplace giving campaign, please call NRDC at 212-727-2700.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT THE NRDC MEMBERSHIP DEPARTMENT Membership@NRDC.org | 212-727-4600 | NRDC.org/JoinGive 45
EVENTS NRDCâ€™S NIGHT OF COMEDY NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 9, 2016
NRDCâ€™s second Night of Comedy took place in New York on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at the 583 Park Avenue event space. This benefit, which raised $1.4 million, featured an amazing lineup of comedians, including John Oliver, Mike Birbiglia, Hasan Minhaj, and George Lopez. Seth Meyers hosted the event and provided guests with a much-needed evening of laughter. Clockwise from top: Comedian Hasan Minhaj; NRDC chief development officer Anders Yang (far left) and NRDC president Rhea Suh (second from left) with NRDC Trustee Sheryl Tishman and Chair Emeritus Dan Tishman; comedian David Steinberg (left) with former Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter; comedian George Lopez; comedian Mike Birbiglia.
Clockwise from top left: Event host comedian Seth Meyers; comedian John Oliver; NRDC Founding Director John Adams with NRDC Trustees Anna Carter (left) and Kelly Meyer; NRDC president Rhea Suh.
A very special thanks to NRDC Trustee Anna Carter for her vision and leadership in spearheading this event for the second time. We would also like to thank Graydon Carter, Lisa and Richard Plepler, Robyn Todd Steinberg, David Steinberg, and David and Pam Zaslav for their efforts and contributions. A special thanks to Discovery Communications for generously underwriting this event. We would also like to thank our other co-chairs Betsy and Andy Lack, Lorne Michaels, Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann, Ronald Perelman, and Anna Chapman. Thank you to our terrific NRDC Trustees Anita Bekenstein, Dan Tishman, Mary Moran, and Shelly Malkin for their generous support, and Sara Marks, Jennifer Button, and Arielle Geller for being such wonderful friends to NRDC. 47
STANDUP! FOR THE PLANET LOS ANGELES, APRIL 25, 2017
A few months into the Trump administration, NRDC’s supporters and staff were treated to more laughs on April 25, 2017, at STANDUP! for the Planet, the L.A. counterpart to NRDC’s Night of Comedy in New York City. The event featured all-star performances from Martin Short, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Tig Notaro, Jerrod Carmichael, and Pete Davidson at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. The event raised more than $1.5 million to support NRDC’s Litigation Fund.
Clockwise from top right: Comedian Jerrod Carmichael; actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus with comedian Tony Hale; NBCUniversal chairman Ron Meyer (left) with musician Jimmy Buffett; comedian Martin Short; comedian Tig Notaro.
The star-studded crowd included Pierce Brosnan, Albert Brooks, Rob Reiner, Jordana Brewster, Moby, Amanda Peet, Marcia Cross, Nina Dobrev, Christopher Meloni, and many other entertainers, as well as top entertainment executives, from Disney’s Alan Horn (NRDC’s new Board Chair) to NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer. A very special thanks to NRDC Trustee Laurie David for her tireless efforts to spearhead this event.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for NRDC
Clockwise from top left: Actor Pierce Brosnan and his wife, Keely Shaye Smith; actress Cazzie David and comedian Pete Davidson; NRDC president Rhea Suh with NRDC’s Board Chair, Alan Horn; comedian Larry David; NRDC Trustee Laurie David with Suh.
We would also like to thank our event chairs and host committee members for their generous support, especially our L.A.–based Trustees Peter Morton and Kelly Meyer, as well as our new Chair, Alan Horn. A special thanks again to Robyn Todd Steinberg and David Steinberg for providing sage advice throughout the planning process.
COUNCILS GLOBAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
NRDC’s Global Leadership Council (GLC), which launched in 2008 with NRDC Founding Director John Adams at the helm, is a group of leading supporters and advocates from across the country. They serve as ambassadors for NRDC and help draw attention to not only the most pressing environmental and health threats facing the planet but also to the solutions at hand. GLC members help defend and advance meaningful protections at the regional, federal, and international levels; they join NRDC staff on expeditions to vulnerable lands and communities to witness what’s at stake and to inform their advocacy. Throughout 2017, GLC members have been a critical force in fighting President Trump’s anti-environment agenda.
GLC and Los Angeles Leadership Council (LALC) members gathered in Washington, D.C., for the GLC Annual Meeting, planned in partnership with the LALC, to learn about NRDC’s defensive, offensive, and mobilization strategies in a hostile federal political climate (top right). GLC members and NRDC friends also traveled to South Florida to meet with NRDC experts and on-the-ground partners (top left), where they learned about climate resilience efforts in Miami and South Beach, Everglades restoration, and our legal battle to protect the Big Cypress National Preserve from oil exploration. Brave trip-goers also explored the beautiful Everglades (bottom right) and Big Cypress by foot, plane, kayak, and airboat, wary of alligators lurking below!
LOS ANGELES LEADERSHIP COUNCIL Founded in 2001, NRDC’s Los Angeles Leadership Council (LALC) is a volunteer group comprised of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and professions who leverage their exceptional environmental commitment and financial means in support of NRDC’s mission: to safeguard the earth, its people, plants, animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. Members are engaged in NRDC’s work at the local, national, and international levels, with an emphasis on fact-based advocacy and media outreach. The LALC met with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León while lobbying in Sacramento in March (bottom, from left: Jo Ann Kaplan, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Judy Fishman, Ira Ziering, Elyssa Elbaz). The group also gathered for its annual visit to Los Angeles City Hall (top) for a meeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti.
NEW YORK COUNCIL
Founded in 2003, NRDC’s New York Council is a volunteer group made up of New Yorkers from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. They share a strong commitment to the environment and are dedicated to furthering NRDC’s mission, with a special focus on creating a cleaner, healthier New York. To this end, members join in exclusive educational opportunities led by NRDC staff; participate in advocacy campaigns to advance NRDC’s policy goals; work to build awareness of critical environmental and health issues facing New Yorkers; and help raise funds for NRDC’s programs through events and other initiatives.
In June, the New York Council partnered with Friends of Brook Park Community Garden in the South Bronx for the 2017 Farm-to-Table dinner. The Brook Park Garden serves as both a hub of engagement for the community and an environmental education center focusing on the importance of conservation. The garden also plays a key role in environmental justice education and features an award-winning Youth Farm, which has successfully incorporated an Alternatives-to-Incarceration/Workforce Development/Entrepreneurial Training program for formerly incarcerated and currently court-adjudicated youth.
SAN FRANCISCO COUNCIL NRDC’s San Francisco Council, which was founded in 2006, is a volunteer group of individuals from the Bay Area. Coming from a variety of backgrounds and professions, these members share a strong commitment to the environment and are dedicated to furthering NRDC’s mission, with a special focus on creating a cleaner, healthier California. San Francisco Council members join in exclusive educational opportunities led by NRDC scientists, attorneys, and policy experts to stay informed on and build awareness of California’s critical environmental and health issues. Additionally, members help raise funds for NRDC programs through educational and social activities, as well as for other initiatives.
The San Francisco Council introduces young professionals in the Bay Area to NRDC, raises awareness for environmental issues, and facilitates a network for community engagement and networking. Highlights of the 2017 calendar included meeting with decisionmakers in the California State Senate (top); the annual kick-off gathering (above); several Meet the Experts happy hours on topics ranging from the California drought to Trump’s first 100 days; a composting 101 workshop; and an Investing for Positive Change panel discussion (left). 53
Council members join in exclusive educational opportunities led by NRDC senior leadership, staff scientists, attorneys, and policy and communications experts to stay informed on critical environmental issues. They utilize this knowledge to help secure resources for NRDC’s programs in the Midwest region, assist in meeting NRDC’s fundraising goals, provide access to key decision-makers, raise awareness of NRDC’s efforts, and help with shaping and implementing programs in the region.
Earth Day concert photos: Clayton Hauck
Founded in 2009, NRDC’s Midwest Council brings together a diverse group of business, civic, philanthropic, and academic leaders to support our organization’s mission. Council members help shape and implement NRDC’s programs in the Midwest while securing resources and raising awareness of our efforts in the region.
Among the gatherings this year, the Midwest Council participated in NRDC’s Earth Day concert and fundraiser at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago (right, top and bottom). The event, which focused on climate change, was a partnership between NRDC, the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, and the Land and Sea Department. The group also came together for other events, such as a town hall discussion (bottom left) with NRDC President Rhea Suh and a Save the Food event (top left) with Abra Berens, the chef at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan, and cofounder of Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, Michigan.
2017 FINANCIAL STATEMENT NRDC finished FY17 in a strong financial position. Revenue for the year was higher than ever at $184 million, while expenses totaled $138 million. Net assets closed FY17 at $308 million, or $69 million higher than prior year-end. This robust financial picture led to a $28 million operating surplus and allowed NRDC to help secure crucial environmental protections. Most of NRDC’s FY17 revenue came from members, individual major donors, and foundations.
The generosity and continued dedication to our work on the part of these critical supporters is deeply appreciated. NRDC also received income from awarded attorneys fees, as well as drawdowns of the endowment, reserves, and special funds. NRDC devoted 82.7 percent of overall operating expenses to programs that work toward a clean energy future, protect public health, foster sustainable communities, and preserve natural systems. We applied the remaining
17.3 percent to management and general activities, fundraising, and recruitment of new members. Thanks to the tremendous financial success realized in FY17, NRDC has been able to increase resources where needed across the institution, with a focused investment in our Litigation, Policy Advocacy, and Communications departments in order to battle the urgent threats we face and build a better future.
Canada’s boreal forest, which is under threat by logging, mining, oil and gas activities, stores 36 years’ worth of carbon emissions. 55
HOW WE USE OUR FUNDS
Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures
$114 MILLION ON PROGRAMS Clean Energy Future
Revive Our Oceans
Protect Our Health
Wildlife & Wildlands
Safe and Sufficient Water
$13 MILLION ON FUNDRAISING EFFORTS TO SUPPORT ONGOING OPERATIONS AND MEMBERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
$11 MILLION ON MANAGEMENT AND GENERAL OPERATIONS 57
SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL OUR COUNCILS FOR THEIR HARD WORK AND SUPPORT DURING THE PAST FISCAL YEAR.
GLOBAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL NRDCâ€™s Global Leadership Council is a group of informed and engaged supporters and advocates who serve as ambassadors for NRDC in our battles to protect the environment and human health.
John H. Adams, Co-Chair
William Kistler III
Ira Ziering, Co-Chair
Mr. D. Roger B. Liddell and Mrs. Florence W. Liddell
Christopher and Patricia Jen Arndt
Jacob Scherr Liana Schwarz
Robert C. Graham, Jr. and Julie Graham
Timon and Lori Malloy Leigh Merinoff
Ms. Kyra Sedgwick and Mr. Kevin Bacon
John and Nancy Bellett
Kelly Chapman Meyer
Douglas L. Hammer and Patricia Durham
Elizabeth and Steven Weinstein
Ms. Joanna Pozen
Eleanor Phipps Price
Mr. Robert O. Blake, Jr. Andrew Blank Dayna Bochco Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye-Smith Andrea Nadosy Bunt Jim Cabot Katie Carpenter Anna Scott Carter Dr. Peter Danzig Liam Donohue Christopher Elliman John Esposito
Amanda Hanley Barbarina Heyerdahl Jill Tate Higgins and James P. Higgins Fred Hipp Cindy Horn Susan Ing Jesse and Mary Johnson Jo Ann Kaplan Nathan and Cynthia Kellogg Jena King
Susan Cohn Rockefeller Wendy Rockefeller Marcie Rothman
LOS ANGELES LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
NEW YORK COUNCIL
Founded in 2001, NRDC’s Los Angeles Leadership Council is a volunteer group comprised of individuals form a variety backgrounds and professions who leverage their exceptional environmental commitment and financial means in support of NRDC’s mission: to safeguard the earth, its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. Members are engaged in NRDC’s work at the local, national, and international levels, with an emphasis on fact-based advocacy and media outreach.
NRDC’s New York Council is a varied group of New Yorkers who share a strong commitment to protecting the environment and are dedicated to furthering the mission of NRDC on the regional and national levels. Council members work to develop their knowledge of NRDC’s programs; contribute their time and engage their social and professional networks to increase awareness of environmental issues; and raise funds for NRDC.
Gina Abramo Elena Alonso Lorine Bamberg Warren Berger Alison Besunder
Janet Friesen, Co-Chair
Kelly Meyer, Co-Chair
Mari Snyder Johnson
Jo Ann Kaplan
Scott Z. Burns
Shira and Adam McKay
Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
Laurie David Lauren Shuler Donner
Isabelle L. Duvivier
Ellen Bronfman Hauptman
Dr. Tara Bishop Elizabeth Braswell Jasanna Britton Nancy Bynum Andrew Chua Anjana Das Jacob Eliosoff James Fawcett
Susan Forsyth and Mark Van Wyk
Dr. Daniel Pinkel
Laura Gould Morakis Matt Greenberg Alexandra Johnson Charlotte Kingham Jennifer Klein Lauren Kurtz Tomi Maxted George Moran Siv Paumgarten
Katherine Rollins Abigail Scheuer Matthew Shucker Cynthia Stewart Sara Thorson Sofia Von Hauske Ethan Waxman Candace Worth Cynthia Young and George Eberstadt
Julia Pershan Olivier Pincon
SAN FRANCISCO COUNCIL
Founded in 2006, NRDC’s San Francisco Council is a volunteer group of individuals in the Bay Area who share a strong commitment to the environment and are dedicated to furthering NRDC’s mission. The San Francisco Council introduces its members to NRDC, raises awareness for environmental issues through exclusive educational opportunities, and facilitates a network for community engagement and networking.
NRDC’s Midwest Council brings together a diverse group of business, civic, philanthropic, and academic leaders to support NRDC’s mission. Council members help shape and implement NRDC’s programs in the Midwest while securing resources and raising awareness of NRDC’s efforts in the region.
Lindsay Hayes, Co-Chair
Nick Weber, Co-Chair
Amanda Hanley, Chair
David W. Rhoads
Jamie Beck Alexander
Suzanne BookerCanfield, Ph.D.
Heather Loomis Tighe
Jeanne Gang and Mark Schendel
Natalie and Barry Slotnick
Becky and Brad Holden
Jennifer and Jeff Spitz
Kelly R. Welsh
Stephanie Comer George Covington Alex Darragh Eric Dayton Doug Doetsch Lisa Fremont
Clare Muñana Judy Neisser Kay and Geoff Nixon Mike and Bobbi Ortiz Clarisse Perrette Diana Rauner, Ph.D. Debbie Ross Rebecca and Stephen Sheldon Rebecca Sive Anne Slichter
Carla and Bill Young
WORKPLACE CONTRIBUTIONS NRDC thanks those individuals who have supported our work through payroll-deduction plans offered by EarthShare. To participate, see information on page 45.
NRDC BOARD OF TRUSTEES
CHAIR ALAN F. HORN Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios
SARAH E. COGAN Partner, Simpson Thacher and Bartlett, LLP, New York office
CHAIR EMERITUS FREDERICK A.O. SCHWARZ, JR. Chief Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School; Senior Counsel, Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP
LAURIE DAVID Author, producer, advocate; Co-Founder, NRDC Los Angeles Leadership Council
CHAIR EMERITUS DANIEL R. TISHMAN Principal and Vice Chairman, Tishman Realty Partners; Vice Chairman, AECOM
LEONARDO DICAPRIO Actor; environmentalist; Founder, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
LAURANCE ROCKEFELLER Conservationist TOM ROUSH, M.D. Private investor; environmental activist WILLIAM H. SCHLESINGER President Emeritus, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies MAX STONE Managing Director, The D. E. Shaw Group
JOHN E. ECHOHAWK Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund
JAMES TAYLOR Singer/songwriter GERALD TORRES Jane M.G. Foster Professor, Cornell University Law School
JOHN H. ADAMS Founding Director, NRDC; Chair, Open Space Institute
NICOLE E. LEDERER Chair and Co-Founder, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) SHELLY B. MALKIN Artist; conservationist
DAVID C. VLADECK Professor, Georgetown Law
HON. ANNE SLAUGHTER ANDREW Advisor, Sustainable Energy Investments
JOSEPHINE A. MERCK Artist; Founder, Ocean View Foundation
DAVID F. WELCH, PH.D. President, Infinera Corporation
RICHARD E. AYRES The Ayres Law Group
KELLY CHAPMAN MEYER Co-Founder, American Heart Association Teaching Gardens
KATHLEEN A. WELCH Principal, Corridor Partners
TREASURER MARY P. MORAN Environmentalist; foundation director
PATRICIA BAUMAN President, Bauman Foundation; Chair, NRDC Action Fund; Co-Chair, Brennan Center for Justice ANITA BEKENSTEIN Environmentalist; foundation director CLAIRE BERNARD President, Mariposa Foundation ANNA SCOTT CARTER Environmentalist; Co-Founder, Clean by Design initiative
PETER MORTON Chairman and Founder, 510 Development Corp. WENDY K. NEU Chairman and CEO, Hugo Neu Corporation; grassroots community organizer and activist FREDERICA P. PERERA, DR.P.H., PH.D. Professor, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Director, Columbia Center for Childrenâ€™s Environmental Health
ERIC WEPSIC Managing Director, The D. E. Shaw Group GEORGE M. WOODWELL, PH.D. Founder, Director Emeritus, Woods Hole Research Center ALI ZAIDI Senior Advisor, Morrison & Foerster; Precourt Energy Scholar, Stanford University; Nonresident Fellow, Columbia University
ROBERT REDFORD Actor; director; conservationist
DEAN ABRAHAMSON, M.D., PH.D. Professor Emeritus, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota HENRY R. BRECK Partner, Heronetta Management, L.P. JOAN K. DAVIDSON President, Furthermore Grants in Publishing; Former NY State Parks Commissioner; President Emerita, J.M. Kaplan Fund SYLVIA A. EARLE, PH.D. Chair, Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc.
CRUZ REYNOSO Professor of Law, UC Davis
CHAIR Alan Horn
JOHN R. ROBINSON Attorney
TREASURER Mary Moran
JONATHAN F. P. ROSE President, Jonathan Rose Companies LLC
PRESIDENT Rhea S. Suh
CHRISTINE H. RUSSELL, PH.D. Environmentalist; foundation director
CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER Joseph A. Jackson
JOHN SHEEHAN** United Steelworkers of America (retired)
ROBERT J. FISHER Director, Gap Inc.
JAMES GUSTAVE SPETH Professor of Law, Vermont Law School; Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos
CHARLES E. KOOB Partner, Simpson Thacher and Bartlett, LLP
FREDERICK A. TERRY, JR. Senior Counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell
PHILIP B. KORSANT Member, Long Light Capital, LLC
THOMAS A. TROYER Member, Caplin and Drysdale
RUBEN KRAIEM Partner, Covington and Burling, LLP
KIRBY WALKER Independent film/video producer
BURKS B. LAPHAM Environmentalist
ELIZABETH WIATT Environmentalist; Co-Founder, NRDC Los Angeles Leadership Council
MAYA LIN Artist/designer DANIEL PAULY, PH.D Professor of Fisheries and Zoology NATHANIEL P. REED Businessman; conservationist
**passed away December 2017
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Published on Mar 12, 2018