Kathleen Rogers

individual

Overview

  • Environmental lawyer
  • President of Earth Day Network
  • Established the “One Million New Voters” campaign in 2003

Kathleen Rogers, who served a stint as editor-in-chief of the University of California at Davis Law Review and clerked for Judge John Pratt at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has worked as an environmental attorney and advocate since the early 1990s. Among her employers have been Garth Associates (in New York City) and the Beveridge & Diamond law firm in Washington, D.C., where she developed a white-collar environmental crime defense practice. Moreover, Rogers has held senior positions with the Environmental Law Institute, the National Audubon Society (NAS), the Piedmont Environmental Council, the United Nations Conference on Women, and two U.S. Olympic Organizing Committees.[1]

Since 2001 Rogers has served as president of the Earth Day Network (EDN), which was co-founded by Paul EhrlichDenis Hayes, and Gaylord Nelson, among others. Describing her organization’s mission, Rogers says: “It’s really about voting … Commit to the greenest candidate you can. Period. For any office. Board of supervisors. School boards. Mayors. City Councils. Tweet at candidates. It’s all about politics…. It’s about voting.”

In February 2002 Rogers joined a number of fellow environmentalists— including Brent Blackwelder, Denis Hayes, Randall Hayes, Fred Krupp, Carl Pope, Mark Van Putten, and Mark Ritchie — in signing an urgent “Call for Action” which cited “deep concerns about the uneven distribution of … economic gains among and within countries, the growing pressure on natural resources, and increasing pollution.” Most importantly, the document demanded a reduction of American “global warming pollutants,” the development and deployment of “renewable energy technologies,” and “increase[d] U.S. assistance to developing countries to protect their environments and the global environment.”

The following year, Rogers led EDN in launching its “One Million New Voters” campaign, an aggressive voter-registration initiative whose motto was: “If you want to do one thing for the environment, register to vote!” Though EDN denied that it was endorsing any particular candidate for the upcoming 2004 presidential election, Rogers, for her part, publicly thanked Democratic hopeful John Kerry at an Earth Day event in Boston for his “leadership in environmental stewardship.”

In Rogers’s estimation, the greenhouse-gas emissions that result from fossil-fuel combustion contribute heavily to the potentially cataclysmic phenomenon of global warming. “For too long people have not faced up to their [oil] addiction,” says Rogers, “and the consequences are now obvious. Your oil addiction not only ruins your life and the life of your families, but the lives of most of the world’s inhabitants.”

Drawing parallels between environmentalist and feminist agendas, Rogers laments “the stunning and negative consequences to the global environment resulting from an absence of women” among Fortune 500 executive officers and governing board members. By Rogers’s reckoning, female executives are not only more environmentally responsible than their male counterparts, but they also — despite the daunting obstacles posed by the so-called “gender gap” and the “glass ceiling” — are “turning out to be equal or better financial managers” as compared to men.

Given that nonwhite minorities tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic political candidates who support left-wing environmentalism and other radical causes, Rogers says it is vital for environmental organizations to “invest more heavily in Latino-focused outreach and initiatives and [to] bring Latinos into the conversation about the green economy, climate change and other environmental issues.” Moreover, she lauds Latinos for their purportedly exceptional commitment to purchasing products that are “environmentally friendly,” even if they are costlier. In an April 2015 interview with Greenbiz.com, Rogers said that because “the environmental movement … is increasingly old and white,” her “goal … for the organization … was to take on a lens for low-income [communities] and of work with demographics other than those [old and white]…. That’s how we became partners with the NAACP and hundreds of Latino organizations.”

In that same interview, Rogers said that EDN’s Green Schools Campaign, whose purpose was to inject the Network’s environmental message into school curricula, was “central to our mission” of “building generations of kids who know what they’re talking about.” “The other half of the equation,” sheadded, “… is that we really care about green schools…. Data … shows when you put kids in healthy green schools — meaning good indoor air quality, good lighting, good food — you see remarkable differences in the kids. You’ll see kids that are more optimistic. That is so badly needed in our low-income community schools where we work. We see them eating healthier foods. We have higher test scores. We have higher teacher retention, fewer sick days. The list of benefits of green schools goes on and on and on.… It really bothers me that we don’t have equality in our buildings, our textbooks, our teachers. It’s really about equality. And environment is a huge part of that.”

In a 2017 interview, Rogers said: “If I was ruler of the world I would ban coal for good and get rid of nuclear [power].”

In April 2019, Rogers co-authored an article titled “Earth Day 2019: We Don’t Have Time,” which stated: “[T]he world’s annual carbon emissions reached an all-time high last year; a year that was the fourth hottest on record and saw massive wildfires, continued Antarctic ice mass loss, astonishing accelerating species losses … The slow burning climate crisis has turned into its own massive inferno. The quantifiable impacts of climate change’s environmental destruction are orders of magnitude greater that any single storm, fire, flood…. [But] some government leaders are backing away from commitments and will be remembered for centuries in the future [as] Nero-like puppets, playing fiddles built with fossil fuel money.”

Rogers has occasionally written opinion pieces on environmental issues for the Huffington Post. When asked who her “most inspirational mentor” has been, she names the environmentalist Denis Hayes.

Further Reading: “Kathleen Rogers” (EarthDay.org, BeyondOrganic.com); “Earth Day 2006 Launches Climate Change Awareness Campaign” (ENS, 4-22-2006, re: “oil addiction”); “Fixing the Green Economy Gender Gap” (by Kathleen Rogers, 6-7-2013, re: female executives); “Enviros: Invest in Latinos” (Huffington Post, 2-29-2012); “How She Leads: Kathleen Rogers” (interview in Greenbiz.com, 4-21-2015); “Greenhouse Pioneer: Kathleen Rogers” (interview in Greenhousepr.co.uk, 4-20-2017); “Earth Day 2019: We Don’t Have Time” (by Kathleen Rogers, CommonDreams, 4-21-2019).

Footnotes

  1. During her tenure as chief wildlife counsel for NAS, Rogers directed the organization’s international-trade, migratory-species, and biodiversity-policy initiatives. She also served as the environmental representative on the U.S. Delegation to the Free Trade Area of the Americas. And she was responsible for bringing the first citizen complaint before the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the tri-national agency formed to oversee North American environmental issues.

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