- Former president of the National Wildlife Federation
- Opposes U.S. oil drilling in Alaska
Mark Van Putten is the immediate past-president of the National Wildlife Federation. He joined NWF as the director of its Great Lakes Office in 1982, and in that capacity became founder of the University of Michigan's Environmental Law Project, virtually the legal enforcers for NWF's Great Lakes Natural Resource Center in Ann Arbor. He moved to Washington to take over the helm of NWF in 1996.
While heading the Great Lakes Office, Van Putten led the campaign for the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative. A 1996 report on the initiative, routinely overlooked or ignored by NWF, demonstrated serious concerns about the scientific validity of the water-quality measurements employed. Critics claimed that the measurements were overprotective and unnecessarily expensive; industry groups at the time estimated the cost and economic loss to the already suffering rust belt economies of the Great Lakes states at between $2.2 and $5 billion per annum.
NWF has used the Water Quality Initiative, the Clean Water Act, and similar legislation to demand greater federal controls over the states. The Water Quality Initiative also allowed NWF a foray into international law, since the Canadian province of Ontario borders four of the Great Lakes. An internationalist environmental agenda that would permit NWF to dictate policy to Canada as well as the U.S suits NWF very well.
During Van Putten's tenure as the head of NWF, he spearheaded the group's efforts to strengthen the Endangered Species Recovery Act by demanding, in Congressional testimony, that the government strengthen its stranglehold on environmental issues; he suggested that "all federal agencies" needed to be held accountable for the recovery of endangered species; and he sought to weaken the "fair exchange" practice that allowed landowners to develop their own lawfully acquired lands in return for building habitats at their own expense on federal land. In Van Putten's view, landowners should be forced to comply with community decisions (that is, the decisions of the environmentalist community) about how they could use their land.
In 2000, Van Putten met with President Vincente Fox of Mexico; his report on the meeting once again was an endorsement and indication of NWF's internationalist agenda, at the expense of U.S. fishing interests. Van Putten also approved of Fox's suggestion of a world without borders, thereby linking himself and NWF to opponents of immigration control.
Van Putten's other achievements include helping to block the development of Alaskan oil reserves, thus exacerbating the perils posed by the fact that America has insufficient oil resources at its disposal - making the U.S. vulnerable to the whims of dictators, terrorists, and even high-seas piracy. He also led the fight to expose the dangers of global warming and its effect on fish and migratory birds. Since global warming cannot be scientifically proven, the real object of NWF's attacks is the internal combustion engine.
Van Putten stepped down from NWF in 2003. He was succeeded by Lawrence Schweiger.