Environmental Defense Fund

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Environmental Defense Fund
Founded1967; 56 years ago (1967)
Area served
MethodScience, economic incentives, partnerships, nonpartisan police
Membership (2016)
Revenue (2015)
Staff (2016)

Environmental Defense Fund or EDF (formerly known as Environmental Defense) is a United States-based nonprofit environmental advocacy group. The group is known for its work on issues including global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health, and advocates using sound science, economics and law to find environmental solutions that work. It is nonpartisan, and its work often advocates market-based solutions to environmental problems.

The group's headquarters are in New York City, with offices across the US, with scientists and policy specialists working worldwide. US regional offices include Austin, Texas; Boston; Boulder, Colorado; Los Angeles; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. The group has a growing international presence, with offices in London, Brussels, Mumbai and Beijing.

Fred Krupp has served as its president since 1984.[4] In May 2011 Krupp was among a group of experts named by US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to a subcommittee of the Energy Advisory Board that was charged with making recommendations to improve the safety and environmental performance of natural gas hydraulic fracturing from shale formations.[5][6] The subcommittee issued an interim report in August and its final report in November of the same year.[7]

In 1991, The Economist called EDF "America's most economically literate green campaigners."[8] The organization was ranked first among environmental groups in a 2007 Financial Times global study of 850 business-nonprofit partnerships.[9] Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator, has given EDF a four-out-of-four stars rating overall since June 1, 2012.[10]


The organization's founders, including Art Cooley,[11] Robert Burnap,[12][13] George Woodwell, Charles Wurster,[14][15] Dennis Puleston, Victor Yannacone and Robert Smolker, discovered in the mid-1960s that the osprey and other large raptors were rapidly disappearing. Their research uncovered a link between the spraying of DDT to kill mosquitos and thinning egg shells of large birds. Their research was most likely based on the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson about the dangers of DDT and the effects that it had on birds, published in 1962.[citation needed] Carson, who died in 1964, is noted as the scientist who inspired the environmental movement. The founders of EDF successfully sought a ban on DDT in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Next, they succeeded in banning DDT statewide, then took their efforts nationally.[16][17][18]

In looking back at passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, top EPA officials responsible for implementing the law recall that EDF published a statistical study that supported a link between organic contaminants and cancer rates in the City of New Orleans, a study that received a tremendous amount of media attention and certainly contributed to the enactment of the law.[19]

On April 11, 2018, the group announced plans for MethaneSAT, a satellite to help identify global methane emissions, concentrating on the 50 major oil and gas regions responsible for 80% of methane production. Plans are for the satellite to launch in 2024[20] and EDF says it will make the data public.[21][22] The goal is to help reduce methane emissions by 45% by 2025.[23] Funding for the project comes from The Audacious Project, an initiative of the worldwide TED conference group.[24] MethaneSAT will provide data on methane emissions that can be combined with other satellite data sources including Tropomi, GHGSat and the CarbonMapper program.[25]

Areas of work[edit]

Key accomplishments[edit]

Key accomplishments of Environmental Defense Fund include:

  • 1967 - A group of scientists forms the organization and sets out to ban DDT (succeeding in 1972).[17] (See DDT ban.)
  • 1970 - Efforts to ban whale hunting.[40][41]
  • 1974 - An Environmental Defense Fund report on potential health risks of Mississippi River water[42] based on EPA analytical studies[43] helps pass the Safe Drinking Water Act,[44] establishing the first comprehensive health standards for water nationwide.
  • 1985 - Helped convince federal regulators to phase out lead from gasoline,[45][46] leading to a dramatic decline in childhood lead poisoning.[47]
  • 1986 - Pushed McDonald's to institute biodegradable food-packaging containers.[48]
  • 1987 - Played a key role in the treaty to phase out the use of CFCs, chemicals that many researchers believe damage the Earth's ozone layer, although CFC-22 was continued to be allowed, renamed H-CFC-22 to avoid banning.[49][50]
  • 1990 - Designed Title IV of the Clean Air Act, which incorporates market-based methods to cut air pollution and acid rain.[33] The measures reduced sulfur dioxide pollution faster than expected, and at a fraction of the cost.[51]
  • 1990 - Improved McDonald's packaging, reducing solid waste in a groundbreaking corporate partnership, which came after dozens of other groups had protested McDonald's use of styrofoam packaging and the corporation was looking for a way to "save face" by claiming EDF's advocacy was the reason for the shift. The Citizens Clearinghouse on Hazardous Waste, founded by Lois Gibbs, helped coordinate the protests of McDonald's.[52][53]
  • 1993 - EDF was one of seven foundation-funded environmental groups to endorse the NAFTA Treaty.
  • 1995 - Designed the Safe Harbor plan[54][55] that gives landowners new incentives to help endangered species on their property.
  • 2000 - Seven of the world's largest corporations join Environmental Defense in a partnership to address global warming, setting firm targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.[56][57]
  • 2001, 2004, 2008 - Won measures resulting in cleaner vehicle exhaust from trucks, ships and other vehicles[58]
  • 2002 - Initiated the campaign to remove the O'Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park[59][60]
  • 2004 - Culmination of 4-year partnership with FedEx to develop and deploy hybrid electric trucks. The new vehicles cut smog-forming pollution by 65%, reduce soot by 96%, and move 57% farther on a gallon of fuel.
  • 2006 - Co-authored the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 with Natural Resources Defense Council.[61][62]
  • 2006 - Led adoption of catch shares, a science-based method to manage fishing and control fish population decline.[63][64]
  • 2007 - Co-founded United States Climate Action Partnership (US-CAP), a coalition of major corporations and environmental groups supporting action on global warming, including a market-based carbon emissions cap. Corporate participants include GE, DuPont and Duke Energy; non-profit groups involved are Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute, a co-founder.[65][66]
  • 2007 - Helped negotiate an environmental codicil as part of Texas Pacific's buyout of TXU.[67][68]
  • 2008-2011 - Founded and developed the Climate Corps program, which matches organizations with MBA and MPA students to uncover energy savings.[69][70]
  • 2011 - Successful campaign to clean up highly-polluting heating oil in New York City.[71][72]
  • 2011 - Built coalition to defeat Proposition 23, an industry-backed ballot initiative that would have blocked California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).[73]


EDF has drawn criticism for its ties to large corporations including McDonald's, FedEx, Walmart,[74] and the Texas energy company TXU, with which the organization has negotiated to reduce emissions and develop more environmentally friendly business practices. EDF's philosophy is that it is willing to talk with big business and try new approaches in order to get environmental results.[75][76]

Fisheries conservation[edit]

A 2009 op-ed piece by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Association in the trade journal Fishermen's News argues that EDF's approach to fisheries policy in the Pacific Northwest is likely to damage smaller, local operators who have an interest in protecting fisheries and limiting by-catch. Many fishermen fear that the approach gives a competitive advantage to larger, non-local operations, jeopardizing independent operators, including boats, fisheries, and ports.[77]

EDF argues that the way we manage our fisheries needs to change if we want to protect fishermen, fish, and coastal communities. In a report suggesting economic waste in some of the world's commercial fisheries,[78] EDF advocates an approach:[64] catch shares, which sets a scientifically based limit on the total amount of fish that can be caught; that amount is then divided among individuals or groups, who can sell their shares or lease them to fishermen. EDF suggests that concern about consolidation or corporate ownership of fisheries is unwarranted.[79]

EDF has been accused of funding and disseminating studies [80] that utilize questionable science and economics[81] in their promotion of catch share fishery management. Also, they have employed substantial political lobbying [82][83] to promote fisheries policies that tend to force out smaller fishing businesses in favor of consolidated, corporate owned fleets,[84] while denying any adverse effects these programs have on fishing families and communities.[85]

EDF has held meetings with private investors [86] where their West Coast vice president, David Festa, promoted the purchase of fishing rights as an investment that can yield 400% profits, and "options value" despite its claims[85] that these rights are designed to provide financial incentives for the fishermen themselves. Multiple non-profit organizations have expressed repeated frustrations [87][88] with EDF and its promotion of these management policies. Recent studies [89][90][91] show that despite EDF's claims, catch shares do not end overfishing and typically result in no long term environmental gains.

The Environmental Defense Fund supports the Rigs-to-Reefs program in the Gulf of Mexico, in which former offshore oil production platforms are converted to permanent artificial reefs. The EDF sees the program as a way to preserve the existing reef habitat of the oil platforms.[92]

Natural gas[edit]

EDF sees natural gas as a way to quickly replace coal, with the idea that gas in time will be replaced by renewable energy.[93] The organization presses for stricter environmental controls on gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, without banning them.[94] In November 2013, after negotiations with the oil industry, EDF representatives joined spokesmen for Anadarko Petroleum, Noble Energy, and Encana, to endorse Colorado governor John Hickenlooper's proposed tighter regulation of emissions of volatile organic compounds by oil and gas production.[95] EDF has funded studies jointly with the petroleum industry on the environmental effects of natural gas production. The policy has been criticized by some environmentalists.[96] EDF counsel and blogger Mark Brownstein answered:[97]

Demand for natural gas is not going away, and neither is hydraulic fracturing. We must be clear-eyed about this, and fight to protect public health and the environment from unacceptable impacts. We must also work hard to put policies in place that ensure that natural gas serves as an enabler of renewable power generation, not an impediment to it. We fear that those who oppose all natural gas production everywhere are, in effect, making it harder for the U.S. economy to wean itself from dirty coal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About EDF
  2. ^ EDF Finances
  3. ^ EDF People
  4. ^ Hoover's Company Records – Basic and In-depth Records: Hoover ID: 130102. April 10, 2007
  5. ^ "Secretary Chu Tasks Environmental, Industry and State Leaders to Recommend Best Practices for Safe, Responsible Development of America's Onshore Natural Gas Resources". U.S. Department of Energy. Energy.gov. May 5, 2011.
  6. ^ Kirkland, Joel (July 26, 2011). "U.S. Department of Energy Prepares to Take the Floor in the Nation's 'Fracking' Debate". New York Times. nytimes.com. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  7. ^ Shale Gas Production Subcommittee Second Ninety Day Report (final report). Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Shale Gas Production Subcommittee. November 18, 2011. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  8. ^ "Cool it: Cleaning up the old act". The Economist. August 31, 1991. Via Environmental Defense Fund. edf.org.
  9. ^ "Trend to partnerships is positive," Financial Times, July 5, 2007, p. 14.
  10. ^ "Charity Navigator - Historical Ratings for Environmental Defense Fund". Retrieved 2019-12-16.
  11. ^ "Memories and More: Saving a species" (year-end obituary for Dennis Puleston). The New York Times, December 30, 2001. Retrieved 2017-0716.
  12. ^ "DDT Wars: Rescuing Our National Bird, Preventing Cancer, and Creating the Environmental Defense Fund" Charles F. Wurster, June 1, 2015 Oxford University Press
  13. ^ "DDT: Scientists, Citizens, and Public Policy" Thomas Dunlap 1981 Princeton University Press ISBN 9780691613901
  14. ^ "Fostering Clean Air through Environmental Law," The New York Times, May 14, 1995
  15. ^ "Environmental Defense Fund member Dr. York Times, Page 11, Column 1, January 14, 1969
  16. ^ Bryant, Nelson (February 3, 1970). "Wood, Field and Stream: Environmental Defense Fund Warns Pollution From Pesticides Still Exists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  17. ^ a b "DDT Ban Takes Effect" [EPA press release - December 31, 1972], site accessed 4/12/2007 http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/ddt/01.htm
  18. ^ "DDT Regulatory History: A Brief Survey (to 1975)" (July 1975). Environmental Protection Agency. Excerpt from DDT, A Review of Scientific and Economic Aspects of the Decision To Ban Its Use as a Pesticide, prepared for the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives by EPA, July 1975, EPA-540/1-75-022. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  19. ^ EPA Alumni Association: Senior EPA officials discuss early implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, Video, Transcript (see p4).
  20. ^ Powell, Alvin (2023-03-24). "Buying crucial time in climate change fight". The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  21. ^ Foust, Jeff (2018-04-13). "Environmental group plans satellite to track greenhouse gas emissions - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  22. ^ "How MethaneSAT is different from other satellites". Environmental Defense Fund. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  23. ^ Krupp, Fred (13 April 2018). "Transcript of "Let's launch a satellite to track a threatening greenhouse gas"". Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  24. ^ Schwartz, Ariel (2018-04-12). "Oil and gas operations release a powerful pollutant that threatens humanity — and a new satellite will have unprecedented abilities to track it". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  25. ^ "Carbon Mapper launches satellite program to pinpoint methaneand CO2 super emitters | California Air Resources Board". ww2.arb.ca.gov. Retrieved 2022-03-12.
  26. ^ "Walton Family Foundation". Archived from the original on 2013-01-11.
  27. ^ EDF's Approach: Markets
  28. ^ EDF's Approach: Markets: Acid Rain
  29. ^ "A Debate: Are Enough Data in Hand to Act Against Acid Rain?", Week in Review Desk, The New York Times, November 14, 1982
  30. ^ "An Acid Test for Acid Rain," Editorial Desk, The New York Times, December 26, 1984
  31. ^ "Consensus Is Seen To Curb Acid Rain," by Philip Sabecoff, The New York Times, October 18, 1985
  32. ^ "Acid Rain Is Called Peril for Sea Life on Atlantic Coast," by Philip Sabecoff, The New York Times, April 25, 1988
  33. ^ a b "The Nation: An Emergence of Political Will on Acid Rain," by Philip Sabecoff, The New York Times, February 19, 1989
  34. ^ "Economic Watch: Sale of Air Pollution Permits Is Part of Bush Acid-Rain Plan," by Peter Passell, The New York Times, May 17, 1989
  35. ^ "Under Bush's Plan, Clean Air Becomes Profitable," by Peter Passell, Newsday, November 29, 1989
  36. ^ "EPA Administrator Reilly Hails Signing of New Clean Air Act" [EPA press release – November 15, 1990], site accessed 4/16/2007 "EPA History - EPA Administrator Reilly Hails Signing of New Clean Air Act". Archived from the original on 2006-04-18. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
  37. ^ "Clean Air Act Ahead of Schedule: Market Forces Quicken Emissions Reductions," by Casey Bukro, Chicago Tribune, March 27, 1996
  38. ^ "The Environment: Ignore all doomsayers on EPA laws," by Gregg Easterbrook, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1996
  39. ^ "Clean Air Sale," by Boyce Rensberger, The Washington Post, August 9, 1999
  40. ^ List of Marine Mammal Species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), web site accessed 4/12/2007: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/esa/mammals.htm
  41. ^ "S. McVay, chmn Com on Whales, Environmental Defense Fund, hails NY Times for backing efforts to conserve whales…", The New York Times, Page 34, Column 5 – September 1, 1970
  42. ^ "EPA and Environmental Defense Fund studies revealing carcinogenic chem in drinking water… ", The New York Times, Page 32, Column 2, by Harold M. Schmeck, Jr. – November 17, 1974
  43. ^ Joseph Cotruvo, Victor Kimm, Arden Calvert. “Drinking Water: A Half Century of Progress.” EPA Alumni Association. March 1, 2016.
  44. ^ "HR passes Safe Drinking Water Act authorizing EPA to set minimum Fed standards for drinking water … ", The New York Times, Page 21, Column 1, by Richard D. Lyons. – November 20, 1974
  45. ^ "EPA Scraps Plan To Ease Standards On Lead in Gasoline," by Sandra Sugawara, The Washington Post, August 2, 1982
  46. ^ "EPA Orders 90% of Lead Cut From Gasoline by Jan. 1," by Zack Nauth, The Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1985
  47. ^ "EPA Takes Final Step in Phaseout of Leaded Gasoline" [EPA press release – January 29, 1996], site accessed 4/16/2007 http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/lead/02.htm
  48. ^ "The Nation: Environmentalists Try To Move the Markets," by John Holusha, The New York Times, August 22, 1993
  49. ^ "Business Forum: Saving the Earth's Ozone Layer; Industry Needs Incentives Not To Pollute" by Daniel J. Dudek, The New York Times, November 16, 1986
  50. ^ "The Hole at the Bottom of the World," Editorial Desk, The New York Times, September 19, 1987
  51. ^ "Report on Acid Rain Finds Good News and Bad News," by Carol Kaesuk Yoon, The New York Times, October 7, 1999
  52. ^ "Packaging and Public Image: McDonald's Fills a Big Order," New York Times, November 2, 1990. [1]
  53. ^ McDonald's: The first corporate partnership
  54. ^ "Deal Gives Woodpeckers Golf Habitat," by Tom Kenworthy, The Washington Post, March 2, 1995.
  55. ^ "Giving animals 'safe harbor,' op-ed by Robert Bonnie, economist at Environmental Defense Fund, The Washington Times, October 15, 1996.
  56. ^ Big firms Join to Share Greenhouse-Gas Cuts," by Peter Behr, Washington Post, October 18, 2000.
  57. ^ "7 Companies Agree to Cut Gas Emissions," by Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, October 18, 2000
  58. ^ EDF: Cleaning up dirty diesel exhaust Archived 2012-08-31 at the Wayback Machine
  59. ^ "Dam Dispute Losses a Flood of Emotions," by John M. Glionna, The Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2007.
  60. ^ "An Effort to Undo an Old Reservoir," by Dean E. Murphy, The New York Times, October 15, 2002. "Bring Back Hetch Hetchy?" The New York Times, October 19, 2002.
  61. ^ Barringer, Felicity (2006-08-31). "Officials Reach California Deal to Cut Emissions". New York Times. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  62. ^ Barringer, Felicity (2006-09-15). "California, Taking Big Gamble, Tries to Curb Greenhouse Gases". New York Times. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  63. ^ "Report: Guaranteed fish shares may prevent overfishing," USA Today, Updated 9/18/2008.[2]
  64. ^ a b Costello, Christopher; Steven D. Gaines; John Lynham (19 September 2008). "Can Catch Shares Prevent Fisheries Collapse?". Science. 321 (5896): 1678–1681. Bibcode:2008Sci...321.1678C. doi:10.1126/science.1159478. PMID 18801999. S2CID 24879449.
  65. ^ "A Coalition for Firm Limit on Emissions," by Felicity Barringer, The New York Times, January 19, 2007.
  66. ^ "The Executive: David Yarnold," Environmental Defense Fund website, posted 2008-02-02, retrieved 2012-02-07 http://apps.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=7656[permanent dead link]
  67. ^ "Energy Firm Accepts $45 Billion Takeover; Buyers Made Environmental Pledge," by Steven Mufson and David Cho, The Washington Post, February 26, 2007.
  68. ^ "A $45 Billion Buyout With Many Shades of Green," by Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times, February 26, 2007.
  69. ^ EDF: Climate Corps saving cash and Earth
  70. ^ "Climate Corps interns help businesses save energy," San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 2011 [3]
  72. ^ "New York City Finances Switch to Cleaner Heating Oils," The New York Times "Green" blog, June 13, 2012 [5]
  73. ^ "Voters Reject 2-Sided Assault on Climate Law," The New York Times, November 3, 2010 [6]
  74. ^ "CorpWatch: Greenwashing Walmart".
  75. ^ "The Nation: For the Environment, Compassion Fatigue," by Keith Schneider, The New York Times, November 6, 1994
  76. ^ "Climate shift: some environmental groups are sitting down with big business. But others say the fate of the planet is non-negotiable," by Daniels Brook, The Boston Globe, March 18, 2007
  77. ^ AND THE BIG FOOL SAID "MARCH ON" Groundfish Ratz and the Fate of Coastal Fishing Communities "PCFFA Fishermen's News Column, August 2009: Crab Rationalization and the Fate of Coastal Fishing Communities". Archived from the original on 2010-07-13. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  78. ^ "Fisheries waste costs billions". BBC News. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  79. ^ "Sustaining America's Fisheries and Fishing Communities: An Evaluation of Incentive-Based Management" (PDF). Environmental Defense Fund.
  80. ^ "System turns US fishing rights into commodity, squeezes small fishermen". Archived from the original on 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  81. ^ Bromley, Daniel W. (2009). "Abdicating Responsibility: The Deceits of Fisheries Policy" (PDF). Fisheries. 34 (6): 280–290. CiteSeerX doi:10.1577/1548-8446-34.6.280. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-03-17.
  82. ^ "Environmental Defense Fund". 2012. D000033473.
  83. ^ "U.S. Senate KOs bid to stop catch shares". Gloucester Times.
  84. ^ Brewer, J. F. (2011). "J. F. Brewer, Paper Fish and Policy Conflict: Catch Shares and Ecosystem-Based". Ecology and Society. 16 (1). doi:10.5751/ES-03765-160115.
  85. ^ a b Grimm, Dietmar (2011). "Assessing catch shares' effects evidence from Federal United States". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  86. ^ "Milken Institute Global Conference" (PDF).
  87. ^ "A cautionary Tale".
  88. ^ "Distorting Catch Share Criticism". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11.
  89. ^ Essington, Timothy (2012). "Catch shares, fisheries, and ecological stewardship: a comparative analysis of resource responses to a rights-based policy instrument". Seattle School of Aquatic Fisheries Science.
  90. ^ Essington, T. E. (2012). "Catch Shares Improve Consistency, not Health, of Fisheries". Lenfest Ocean Program.
  91. ^ "Catch Shares: A Useful Tool with Limits" (PDF).
  92. ^ Jack Sterne, "EDF stands with fishermen in calling for suspension of rig removal policy", EDF Oceans, 24 Apr. 2012.
  93. ^ EDF, Why natural gas is important, accessed 4 Oct. 2013.
  94. ^ EDF, Natural gas policy Archived 2013-10-05 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 4 Oct. 2013.
  95. ^ Cathy Proctor, "Colorado unveils proposed oil and gas air quality rules" (Video), Denver Business Journal, 18 Nov. 2013.
  96. ^ Larry Bernstein, Environmental Defense Fund scolded by other green organizations on 'fracking' Archived 2013-11-09 at the Wayback Machine, Washington Post, 22 May 2013.
  97. ^ Mark Brownstein, Why EDF is working on natural gas, 10 Sept. 2012

External links[edit]