Larry Schweiger assumed the presidency of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in 2004 upon the resignation of his predecessor, Mark Van Putten. Schweiger had been senior vice-president of NWF from 1981-1995 and was the publisher of the group's four magazines. From 1995-2004, Schweiger headed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He has also worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Founded in 1935, NWF bills itself as the oldest and largest group dedicated to the protection of wildlife in the United States. NWF's zeal to preserve the wilderness led to its efforts to block 150 million acres of Alaska from energy exploration. NWF also maintains a permanent interest in the Clean Air Act as well as other environmental programs, some of extreme cost and doubtful efficacy (e.g., its ongoing efforts to scare people about mercury contamination, long since disregarded as a threat by serious scientists). It supports a variety of "family-planning" initiatives as part of its Population and the Environment program and its support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The organization is also a fierce defender of the Endangered Species Act, a legislated, codified, and continuing excuse to allow radical environmentalist groups to block any rational development policies by identifying one species of lichen or snail possibly at risk from a dam, a well, or a drill bit.
Born in 1950, Schweiger was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania . He claims that his passion for environmental issues began when he witnessed the extinction of the blue pike fish in a lake close to his parents' home. He thereafter vowed to himself that he would work in the environmental field. He attended a community college and then transferred to Penn State, where he majored in forestry and was an activist for clean air and water campaigns. After graduating from college, he spent ten years in the Pennsylvania legislature as an environmental advocate.