Profiles > Philanthropy > Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund or EDF is a US-based non-profit 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 non-partisan, and its work often advocates market-based solutions to environmental problems.The group's headquarters are in New York City, with offices nationwide, and scientists and policy specialists working worldwide. Regional offices more focused on local issues and policies are located in: Austin, TX; Boulder, CO; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Sacramento, CA; Washington, District of Columbia;Raleigh, NC; and Boston, MA.Fred Krupp has served as its president since 1984. In 2011, Krupp was named by USEnergy Secretary (Steven Chu) to join a group of experts who will make recommendations to improve the safety and environmental performance of natural gas hydraulic fracturing from shale formations. In 1991, The Economist called EDF America's most economically literate green campaigner. The organization was ranked first among environmental groups in a 2007 Financial Times global study of 850 business / non-profit partnerships, and received a four star-rating from Charity Navigator, the independent charity evaluator.The organization's founders, including Art Cooley, George Woodwell, Charles Wurster, 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. They successfully sought a ban on DDT in Suffolk County, New York. They then succeeded in banning DDT statewide before taking their efforts nationally.
Founded 1967
Headquarters New York City
Type International
Recent Year Revenue $111,915,000(2012)
Charity Navigator 62.03/ 70.00 (four stars)
BBB Accredited 20/20
Guide Star Silver 7/7
Executive Compensation $433,510
Areas of Work
Climate and energy -- aims to reduce pollution and curtail global warming, with strategies including overhauling US energy systems, protecting US Environmental Protection Agency limits on pollution, training new climate/energy leaders, and slowing deforestation in Brazil and the Amazon rainforest.
Oceans -- works to protect marine ecosystems by creating sustainable fisheries, promoting the use of catch shares, and preserving fragile habitats such as coral reefs. The geographical focus of Oceans include Belize, Cuba, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of California, and the South Atlantic.
Health programs -- focuses on cutting air pollution from utilities and transportation systems, reforming US toxic chemicals policy, and working with corporations to make safer products.
Ecosystems -- EDF works to promote ecosystem-friendly policies, helping land-owners benefit from healthier land,water and wildlife. They work to restore river flows and native river bank habitats, broker agreements with land-owners to protect endangered species, and partner with farmers and ranchers to improve habitat and water quality.
Corporate partnerships -- EDF has a long history of partnerships with corporations, fund managers, land-owners, farmers, fishermen, and other groups. The organization receives no funding directly from its corporate partners, however it does receive millions in funding from organizations with strong (indirect) corporate ties.
Environmental economics -- EDF promotes the use of markets and incentives to help solve environmental problems. Examples of this approach at work include cap-and-trade plan written into the (US) Clean Air Act.
Environmental Concerns -- In a recent report, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s top scientists, broke down the tangible impacts of climate change now, and what it could look like in the future if we don’t reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. To say the least, the world’s top scientists are concerned.Contrast this concern with that of the general public’s as shared in a recent Gallup poll. The poll asked Americans about their top worries, and found that while more than 75% of Americans said they worry a “great deal” or a “fair amount” about the economy, the federal deficit, and healthcare availability -- climate change was near the bottom with less than 50% reporting similar levels of worry.This isn’t surprising, considering research shows people tend to worry about things that feel closer to home, are imminent, and easy to understand, such as the economy and healthcare. That being said -- before jumping to the conclusion that Americans don’t care about climate change and its impacts, as some news stories suggest, we should consider the real problem is setting up a false dichotomy by asking about climate change independently when in reality it impacts all of these priorities.
As the international sporting world shifts its sights from Sochi (host of the 2014 Winter Olympics) to balmy Brazil (host of the June 2014 soccer World Cup), a recent European Commission report shows that the EU has its eyes fixed on taking the lead in another global contest of sorts: The race for a more competitive, secure, and sustainable energy economy.At stake are neither medals nor trophies, but long-term economic strength. As Europe – and, indeed, the rest of the world – play energy hardball, what does it mean for US global energy competitiveness?
In a provocative series on GreenBiz, sustainability expert Dave Witzel praises the partnerships that EDF and other advocates have forged with corporations, but rightly concludes that these partnerships are not sufficient. Building on an op-ed that EDF President Fred Krupp wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 1986, laying out the then-novel argument in favor of partnerships between corporations and environmental NGOs, Dave’s series calls for a new era in which it is not the responsibility of outside advocates to identify and address environmental threats, but where business itself internalizes and assumes responsibility. Business is expected to be sustainable as a social obligation and, failing to meet this obligation, risks loss of its license to operate.Witzel says that this transformation will take a generation, and adds that although there are certain to be legislative components -- it is ultimately a social issue. The transformation is already underway. We can’t underestimate the important role of government in driving environmental progress and building a civic atmosphere in which corporate leadership is expected.
More than 25 years of working with business has convinced EDF that partnerships are an indispensable tool, but they are not the only tool. EDF never said that green business partnerships would do it all by themselves – and the organization never stopped advocating for smart regulations designed to drive corporate innovation in service of sustainability. At the time President Krupp wrote his op-ed, EDF was hard at work on the problem of acid rain – work that led to the bipartisan Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which ushered in a cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide that gave industry tough pollution limits and market-based tools with which to meet them. It worked – cutting SO2 ahead of schedule and below estimated cost. As a result, according to the EPA,ambient SO2 concentrations fell 72% in the US between 1990 and 2012. To help save the lakes and forests of the Northeast, utility executives needed to change their thinking. EDF helped put in place smart rules (with the support of a few enlightened industry leaders, and over the opposition of many others) that changed the incentives for the industry. Suddenly they could get paid not just for polluting, but also for cutting pollution.
In the same way, right now we need firm limits and a price on carbon to help incentivize businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late. Clean energy is accelerating, but not fast enough. It was the failure of Congress to enact a comprehensive climate and energy bill in 2009-2010 that, along with the Great Recession,led some companies to relax their sustainability goals. Many kept pushing, because they understand that environmental sustainability is business sustainability -- and the truth of that view is becoming increasingly clear with reports of extreme weather impact related to climate change. As the latest IPCC report tells us -- the combined cost of crop losses, rising sea levels, higher temperatures and fresh water shortages could approach $100 billion a year, estimates that do not account for catastrophic scenarios, which researchers said tend to have the most devastating effect.
EDF has drawn criticism for its ties to large corporations including McDonald’s, FedEx, Walmart 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.
Fisheries conservation
A 2009 op-ed piece by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman (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 fisherman fear that the approach gives a competitive advantage to larger, non-local operations, jeopardizing independent operators, including boats, fisheries, and ports. In a report suggesting economic waste in some of the world's commercial fisheries, EDF argues that the way we manage our fisheries needs to change if we want to protect fishermen, fish, and coastal communities. EDF advocates an approach– 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. EDF has been accused of funding and disseminating studies that utilize questionable science and economics in their promotion of catch share fishery management. Multiple non-profit organizations have expressed repeated frustrations with EDF and their promotion of these management policies. Recent studies 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.
Natural Gas
EDF sees natural gas as a way to quickly replace coal, with the idea that gas in time will be replaced by renewable energy. The organization presses for stricter environmental controls on gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, without banning them. In November 2013, after negotiations with the oil industry, EDF representatives joined spokesmen for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, 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. 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.
  • 1985 -- Helped convince federal regulators to phase out lead from gasoline, leading to a dramatic decline in childhood lead poisoning.
  • 1986 -- Pushed McDonald’s to institute bio-degradable food-packaging containers.
  • 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 use of CFC-22 was allowed to continue, under a different name.
  • 1990 -- Designed Title IV of the Clean Air Act, which incorporates market-based methods to cut air pollution and acid rain. The measures reduced sulfur dioxide pollution faster than expected, and at a fraction of the cost.
  • 1990 -- Improved McDonald's packaging, reducing solid waste in a groundbreaking corporate partnership. This 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.
  • 1993 -- EDF was one of seven foundation-funded environmental groups to endorse the NAFTA Treaty.
  • 1995 -- Designed the Safe Harbor plan that gives land-owners 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 and setting firm targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 2001, 2004, and 2008 -- Won measures resulting in cleaner vehicle exhaust from trucks, ships and other vehicles.
  • 2002 -- Initiated the recent campaign to remove the O'Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite National Park.
  • 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.
  • 2006 -- Led adoption of catch shares, a science-based method to manage fishing and control fish population decline.
  • 2007 -- Co-founded United States Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of major corporations and environmental groups supporting action on global warming, including a market-based carbon emissions cap. Corporate participants include GE, DuPontand 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.
  • 2007 -- Helped negotiate an environmental codicil as part of Texas Pacific's buyout of TXU.
  • 2008-2011 -- Founded and developed the Climate Corps program, which matches organizations with MBA and MPA students to uncover energy savings.
  • 2011 -- Successful campaign to clean up highly-polluting heating oil in New York City.
  • 2011 -- Built coalition to defeat Proposition 23, an industry-backed ballot initiative that would have blocked California’s Global Warming Solutions Act.
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