Americans consume more processed and packaged food than just about anyone else in the world. Processed foods, many of which contain added sugar, preservatives, and chemical additives, are hard-wired into our food system, and make up the majority of the...continued→
Peter Lehner, Executive Director, New York City
I am the Executive Director of NRDC. The position is my second at NRDC. Beginning in 1994, I led the Clean Water Program for five years, before leaving in 1999 to serve as the head of the Environmental Protection Bureau for the Attorney General of the State of New York.
My first experience with NRDC dates back to 1980, when I worked on environmental issues in Washington, DC. President Reagan had just been elected and environmentalists needed to strengthen their efforts. After law school, I worked for the New York City Law Department. NRDC was working hard to protect the city's drinking water supply, so I joined forces with NRDC and, on behalf of the city, sued polluters. I also joined with NRDC in suing President Reagan's Department of Transportation for rolling back fuel economy standards. This was the very first lawsuit brought on the grounds of global warming. I knew then that NRDC was thinking big, and committed to solving complex problems over the long haul.
Cases like this underscore why I became an environmental lawyer in the first place: if you are right on the law, you can make tremendous progress. NRDC has distinguished itself by a history of groundbreaking environmental work. Through our lawyers, lobbyists, scientists and media experts, we're able not only to find solutions, but to do the hard work of putting them into place. This is part of why NRDC is, in my opinion, the leading environmental organization in the nation. And it's why I'm honored to be back.
Before I gained any of this professional experience, my dedication to protecting the environment began as I suspect it does for many people -- by spending a lot of time in the outdoors. I spent most of my youth mucking around in the woods near where I grew up, and then as I grew older I spent a lot of time hiking and climbing and canoeing and kayaking. I still try to get out every weekend and, when I do, I'm reminded of how quickly the planet is changing, and how much it needs our protection.
The latest report by the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounds a piercing alarm about the dangers every nation faces from runaway climate change. Climate change, the IPCC scientists tell us, is already jeopardizing food supplies, water resources, even...continued→
Just last month, sitting in a small, low-lying fishing boat in pristine Laguna San Ignacio, Mexico, I came face-to-face with a 30-ton gray whale—one of the most magnificent creatures on Earth. These pristine waters, off the coast of Baja California,...continued→
Spring is here at last, bringing relief from a seemingly endless winter and the painfully high energy bills that went along with it. Not needing to turn on the heat due to warmer weather is a surefire way to bring...continued→
Like millions of Americans, I love the water. I love to swim, boat and fish, as do many of my family and friends. We all recall swimming in dirty water; it wasn’t all that uncommon a few decades ago. I...continued→
Winter storm Titan dumped snow and ice over a wide swath of the country over the weekend. Federal government offices in Virginia and Maryland shut down on Monday as residents dug out from under 6 to 9 inches of snow. Hundreds...continued→
When I worked for the City of New York, I often asked people what they felt was the worst environmental problem. Many said tailpipe pollution. Emissions from the tailpipes of cars and trucks seemed particularly insulting because – as we all walked...continued→
Last week, at a coffee farm in Costa Rica, I stumbled on hundreds of butterflies, probably some kind of Heliconius species, all fluttering around a particular spot. At first it was hard to tell if they were coming or going....continued→
Standing in a Safeway distribution center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, with an 80,000–pound fuel-efficient tractor-trailer in the background, President Obama today announced plans to continue his fuel-efficiency success with a second round of efficiency standards for heavy and medium-duty trucks....continued→
In Alaska, when politicians talk about building “Roads to Resources”-- new roads through pristine areas to get access to fossil fuels and minerals--the road often appears as a thin line on a map. No big deal. In reality, a road...continued→
A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says the renewable energy industry is responsible for 615,000 jobs in the United States. That’s hundreds of thousands of Americans working to provide this country with clean energy from wind,...continued→
In our cities, big buildings often run 24/7. Offices are continuously heated or cooled, elevators are running, lights, computers and equipment are on, continuously humming. Because they’re constantly in operation—you can’t really unplug a building—our buildings use enormous amounts of...continued→
Scientists at Rutgers University recently published a startling projection about sea level rise for anyone considering buying or rebuilding on the Jersey Shore. In the time it would take a homeowner to pay off a 30-year mortgage, sea levels on...continued→
Last week, a processing plant owned by poultry giant Foster Farms was closed after food inspectors found cockroaches crawling in and around production equipment. This closure, due to “egregious insanitary conditions,” came on the heels of a CDC report linking...continued→
Renewable energy isn’t just about cutting pollution. It also helps keep our homes heated and the lights on during extreme weather. When frigid temperatures last week caused the unexpected shutdown of two power plants in Texas, wind energy stepped in...continued→
Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.