Extremist, Liberal Think Tank Attacks More Than It Defends


June 2003



“The NRDC is known for its extreme positions and alarmist rhetoric.”  (“Think Tanks Wrap-Up II,” United Press International, 3/12/03)




Lawyers Created NRDC In 1970.  Group Litigates And Lobbies.  (William Symonds, “Washington In The Grip Of The Green Giant,” Fortune, 10/4/82)


NRDC Has Been Described As A “Liberal Washington Think Tank.”  (Nicholas M. Horrock, “Feature: Bush Seeks Nuclear Rebuild,” United Press International, 3/25/02)


NRDC Does Not Endorse Candidates.  (Samuel Goldreich, “Inhofe To See If Environmental Groups Using EPA Grants For Plants Or Pols,” Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor, 3/12/03)


But NRDC Executives, Attorneys And Employees Gave More Than $1 Million To Democrat Campaigns and Party Organizations Over Past Four Election Cycles.  (Political Moneyline,, Accessed 6/23/03)


During The Last Four Years Of Clinton’s Presidency, The NRDC Was Given $4.6 Million In EPA Grants.  (“Think Tanks Wrap-Up II,” United Press International, 3/12/03)


According To John H. Adams, NRDC Founder And President, Economy And Jobs Not As Important As Environment.  Adams: “People often throw back questions at me about losing jobs, or changing local economies. We try to answer those criticisms and talk about the value of a growing forest or a fishery that maintains itself. And we point out that real economics takes into account a living forest and a self-maintaining fishery and a clean air standard that provides a healthy environment for people. We see that as not only making good sense, but as making good economic sense, too. … Q: “What do you say to a CEO who says, ‘I've got an economic responsibility to my shareholders.’?” Adams: “I know the CEO has a responsibility to his shareholders. But that responsibility goes well beyond a couple of bucks. And NRDC will challenge him -- and every corporation-- if their system intrudes on our system. There will be a clash of values, to be sure: environmental values versus economic consumption of those values. And that is exactly where the fight is going to take place.”  (Natural Resources Defense Council Website,, Accessed 6/23/03)




Last February, The NRDC Hosted A Rolling Stones Concert To Call Attention To Global Warming.  Bill Clinton Spoke During The Concert, Which Was Paid For With A Contribution From Producer Steve Bing, “A Democratic Fund-Raiser.”  (Laura Mecoy, “Stones, Clinton Roll Out Anti-Warming Drive,” Sacramento Bee, 2/7/03)


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Is A Senior Attorney For The NRDC.  (Stephen Leahy, “U.S.-Politics Kennedy Faults Bush For ‘Secret War On Environment,” Inter Press Service, 4/10/03)




This Year, The NRDC Harshly Criticiced President Bush’s New Source Review Improvements, Despite Bipartisan Calls For Reform.  “‘The Bush administration decided to allow corporate polluters to spew even more toxic chemicals into our air, regardless of the fact that it will harm millions of Americans,’ said John Walke, director of NRDC’s Clean Air Program. ‘More than 30,000 Americans die every year from power plant air pollution alone, and crippling the standards will only make things worse.’” (“Stakeholders Offer Reaction To Nsr Rule Revisions,” Octane Week, 12/2/02)


P      But, Last Year, Bipartisan Group Of 26 Senators Called For NSR Reform.  The NSR program needs to be clarified to adequately define the concept of ‘routine maintenance’ to avoid the regulatory uncertainty currently facing industry.  Such clarification would allow companies to repair their facilities and maintain reliable and safe electric service for consumers and workers without being subject to the threat of federal government lawsuits for allegedly violating vague NSR requirements.”  (Senators Kent Conrad, George Voinovich, Mark Dayton, Byron Dorgan, Jean Carnahan, Zell Miller, Chuck Hagel, Kit Bond, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Sam Brownback, Mary Landrieu, John Warner, Tim Johnson, Richard Lugar, Arlen Specter, Thad Cochran, Evan Bayh, Jim Bunning, Craig Thomas, Pete Domenici, Nelson, Mike Enzi, Richard Shelby, Larry Craig, Mike DeWine And Mitch McConnell, “Letter To EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman,” 5/13/02) 


NRDC Also Attacked Military This Year In Trying To Force Soldiers To Alter Training Regimens To Accommodate Strict Environmental Regulatory Guidelines In Authorized Training Areas, Negatively Impacting Military Readiness.  (Demetri Sevastopulos, “Battle Of The Environment Breaks Out As Pentagon Urges Fewer Limits On Military: Rules On Marine Mammals, Toxic Waste And Air Quality Are Seen As Obstacle To Training,” Financial Times [London], 4/15/03)


2002 NRDC Report Said Bush Administration’s Policies Are Harming The Environment And Used Inflammatory Language Against The Administration:

ü      “. . . subvert the federal agency rules that . . . [give] life to environmental laws.” 

ü      “. . . undermine longstanding environmental protections . . .” 

ü      “. . . changes that would benefit industry at the expense of public health and the environment.”

ü      “. . . gravest challenge since the assaults of the Newt Gingrich Congress of 1995, and perhaps ever.” 

ü      “. . . shift its budgetary emphasis toward defense and security spending at the expense of other priorities like the environment.” 

ü      “. . . develop a ‘hit list’ of environmental safeguards they plan to weaken.”

(NRDC Report: Rewriting The Rules, 1/02)


NRDC Launched Attack Ad In 2002 Mocking President Bush On Earth Day.  “The Natural Resources Defense Council is running an advertisement on Earth Day mocking what it suggests is the president’s one-day-a-year homage to things green.  ‘The ad marks a significant departure from our post-attack posture of talking more about the wishes of big, polluting corporations than about President Bush’s own involvement in an unprecedented attack on 30 years of successful environmental protections,’ said Alan Metrick, the group’s spokesman.”  (Katharine Q. Seelye, “President To Use Earth Day To Sell Environmental Plan,” The New York Times, 4/22/02)




Wasteful Salmon Campaign Waged Despite Lack Of Purpose.  “A good example of NRDC’s tactics is its ‘Give Swordfish a Break!’ campaign, launched to protect the Atlantic Swordfish from over-fishing and extinction. NRDC raised a good deal of money and generated a great deal of publicity with this campaign, despite the fact that the National Marine Fisheries Service had made it very clear the Atlantic Swordfish was not in jeopardy.”  (“Think Tanks Wrap-Up II,” United Press International, 3/12/03)


NRDC Humiliated By Alar Scare.  “Supporters of this nannyism-run-amok include the usual passel of environmental extremists such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, best known for the nationwide panic it sparked a few years ago when it convinced all of America that a chemical called Alar, which is sprayed on apples, caused cancer in children. The story wasn’t true, but hey, who’s keeping score?”  (“Flushers Of The World Unite,” The New York Post, 1/5/98)




The NRDC Fought Against Ratification Of President Bush’s Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty With Russia, With A Representative Saying, “This Treaty Doesn’t Do Anything.”  (James Dao, “U.S.-Russia Atomic Arms Pact Wins Senate Panel’s Backing,” The New York Times, 2/6/03)




Judges Appointed By Republicans Are Branded As Anti-Environmental Activists.  “‘These judges [appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush],’ reads the Executive Summary [of the NRDC’s “Hostile Environment: How Activist Judges Threaten Our Air, Water, and Land” report], ‘are engaged in anti-environmental judicial activism. They read into the Constitution powers of judicial oversight that courts have never previously exercised...They do this despite the widespread support our environmenal [sic] laws enjoy among our elected representatives and the American people.’”  (K. Lauren de Boer, “NRDC Reports Hostile Judicial Environment,” EarthLight Magazine, Summer 2002)