Company Profile

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Company Overview

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is one of the nation's most effective environmental action organizations. We use law, science and the support of 1.4 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. NRDC was founded in 1970, and our staff helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations; our water enforcement cases played a major role shaping current water policy throughout the country. Today, our staff of more than 500 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy and communications experts, and others, work out of offices in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, MT and Beijing.

Company History

In 1969, John Adams and four other well-established New York lawyers gathered to start an environmental law firm, partly in response to the Con-Ed plan proposal in the Hudson River Valley on Storm King Mountain. About the same time, six Yale Law School students submitted a proposal to the Ford Foundation to create a public interest environmental law organization based on the model of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union. The foundation viewed the students as exceptionally bright and motivated but required them to merge with a group of more senior and experienced attorneys. The two groups met and combined and NRDC was born.

One of its first challenges was a legal battle involving the IRS and the establishment of NRDC’s tax exempt status and its right to litigate. Winning that battle established NRDC and its credentials. In 1971, the NRDC won powerful legislation that today enables US citizens to sue polluters directly for the damages they cause. During the 1970s, NRDC contributed to the passage of the Clean Air Act and actions that sought alternatives to offshore drilling, improved mass transit, phased-out the use of leaded gasoline, removed ozone-depleting CFCs from aerosol cans, and fought acid rain. The list of the NRDC's accomplishments continued to blossom during the 1980s and 1990s. The organization helped to win federal protection for 100 million acres of land in Alaska, worked to improve the Endangered Species Act, helped pass legislation that requires the Pentagon to report on the environmental consequences of nuclear war, forged an international treaty to save the ozone layer, and much more.

Notable Accomplishments / Recognition

Demanding Strong Climate Action:
The December 2015 COP21 conference in Paris culminated with a momentous breakthrough: an ambitious global agreement to tackle climate change and accelerate the shift to clean energy.

Safe Drinking Water in Flint:
NRDC has stepped in to advocate on behalf of Flint residents. In January 2016 NRDC joined the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the city and state governments for failing to protect residents under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Winning the Food Fight :
A staggering 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock, not people. NRDC scored a big win in April 2016, when the restaurant chain Taco Bell responded to our pressure by making a commitment to eliminate antibiotics from its meat supply. Similar pledges from fast-food giants Subway and McDonald’s followed in 2015.

Keystone XL Rejected:
In 2008, when TransCanada filed a permit application for its Keystone XL tars sands oil pipeline, NRDC was the first environmental group to stand up against its construction.

Court Protects Marine Mammals:
NRDC took the U.S. Navy to court over its sonar and explosives training off the coasts of California and Hawaii, which threatened the well-being of more than 60 whale, dolphin, seal, and sea lion populations.

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