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Frances Beinecke, Former President of NRDC, New York City

Frances Beinecke
I had the privilege of serving from 2006-2014 as the president of NRDC. I started here in 1973, just a few years after John Adams and a handful of other wildly dedicated people founded this organization. Back then, there were about a dozen people in the country practicing environmental law, and most of them worked at NRDC. The whole concept of writing laws and public policy to protect the Earth was brand new, and it was thrilling to be a part of it at that early point.

I came to NRDC with a background in environmental studies and a strong desire to help protect the Northeastern forests and wild Western landscapes I loved so much. I started as an intern working to preserve forests through careful land use planning. But when the 1970s oil crisis unleashed a drive to open the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas drilling, I advocated for stronger safeguards for marine life. I left NRDC for a few years when my three daughters were young, and I came back as the group’s first executive director. In 2006, I became president, and was honored and awed to lead this remarkable institution.

I love that NRDC is all about finding solutions. I am a pragmatic person and an optimist, and I believe that most of the challenges facing the Earth can be solved with the right combination of passion, policy, and technology. I got to see many of those solutions firsthand--from wind farms off the coast of Denmark to marine reserves around California’s Channel Islands to green buildings in China--and work to bring them to more landscapes and more people.

Recent Posts

Lessons Learned from the Frontlines of the Climate Fight

Posted December 18, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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I started fighting climate change almost 20 years ago. Back then it was a topic largely for environmentalists and scientists. Today, seven in every ten Americans understand it’s a problem. Business leaders, social justice groups, farmers and ranchers, doctors and...continued

Governor Cuomo Protects New York State from Reckless Fracking

Posted December 17, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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In a major victory for people’s health and local communities, Governor Cuomo has banned fracking for oil and gas in New York State. The governor based this decision on sound science and thorough review, refusing to buckle under pressure from...continued

A Welcome Shift at UN Climate Talks in Lima: A Focus on Action Now

Posted December 14, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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Intense storms pounded communities from the Philippines to Northern California to Johannesburg over the past few weeks, threatening millions of people—the poor and vulnerable most of all. At the same time, the UN climate talks were underway in Lima, Peru. As...continued

8 Million Comments Filed in Support of EPA Limits on Climate Change Pollution

Posted December 1, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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In the past few months, Detroit got flooded by unusually heavy rains. Washington State wrapped up one of its most destructive fires seasons on record. And California remains in the grip of extreme drought, with major reservoirs holding just...continued

Senate Votes Down Effort to Rubber Stamp Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Posted November 20, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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We had a victory for climate action and clean water this week.  The Senate rejected an attempt to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for tar sands oil on Tuesday night. Keystone XL has sweeping implications for our health, our...continued

5 Reasons the Senate Must Protect Our Communities from the Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted November 17, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on a bill forcing President Obama to green light the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil. Keystone threatens our air and water and would intensify the climate change already pounding our...continued

Historic Announcement Shows US and China Are Serious about Fighting Climate Change

Posted November 12, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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President Obama and President Xi Jinping have announced ambitious new plans to reduce climate change pollution. This marks a turning point in the fight against global warming. The world’s two largest emitters of carbon pollution have come together to set...continued

China & US Making Progress on Climate Change, Now It's Time for More

Posted November 7, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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When President Obama travels to China to talk with President Xi Jinping, climate change is certain to be on the agenda. Both nations top the ranks of climate change polluters, and both nations are grappling with the consequences. California is...continued

Ignoring the Public, GOP Leadership Promises Worst Attack on Environmental Protection in Decades

Posted November 5, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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Concerns about the economy and heath care may have dominated the midterms, but the election results have unleashed a major threat to our children’s health and the environment. The Senate is now in the control of a handful of GOP...continued

Leading Scientists Say Cutting Climate Change Pollution Is Affordable -- and Essential

Posted November 4, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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The world’s leading scientists released their gravest warning yet about the threat of climate change, saying we will face “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” unless we act now. This report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that...continued

Make Your Voices Heard: Vote in the 2014 Elections

Posted October 27, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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Now is the time of year Americans can exercise our most powerful form of citizen activism. We get to cast our ballots for the leaders of our choice. This is an opportunity not to be squandered, and I urge you...continued

This Is How America Will Cut Dangerous Pollution and Stamp Out Our Carbon Footprint

Posted October 21, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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Millions of people in Southern California were under an excessive heat warning a few weeks ago. The Los Angeles Unified School District cancelled outdoor sporting events and more than 100 San Diego schools sent children home early to shield them...continued

The World We Create: My New Book and a Message of Hope for the Planet

Posted October 14, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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My work at NRDC has brought me to the front lines of the climate crisis. I have flown over the massive tar sands strip mines in the boreal forest. I have visited the homes of people coping with frack pads...continued

Obama Preserves San Gabriel Mountains in LA's Backyard

Posted October 10, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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America grew richer in natural heritage today. President Obama is declaring Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Mountains a national monument, ensuring this beautiful landscape will remain wild for generations to come. Now the 17 million people living in Greater Los Angeles—and...continued

Climate Action Happening at Every Level, from the Streets to the UN

Posted September 23, 2014 by Frances Beinecke

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Something extraordinary happened at the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday. One world leader after another took to the podium and described what his or her nation is already doing to reduce climate change pollution. Many also announced new measures...continued


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