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Peter Lehner, Executive Director, New York City

Peter Lehner

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.

Recent Posts

Three Reasons Why New Flood Protection Standards Are a Good Idea

Posted April 29, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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President Obama recently updated federal flood protection standards. These are the criteria government agencies use when building their own facilities, as well as when they decide whether to finance large public projects, such as train or bus terminals, electric transfer...continued

What's on Your Plate Affects the Planet

Posted April 27, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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The tradition of Meatless Mondays started during World War I, and was revived again during World War II, as a way to conserve resources for our troops. Recognizing the impacts of a meat-based diet is by no means a new...continued

Keeping Dangerous Chemicals Out of the Office

Posted April 2, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council is considered the green building industry standard. More than 75,000 projects, from houses and schools to office space and data centers, have been built to LEED standards, saving energy, money and water...continued

The Burden: New Documentary Illustrates Impacts of Fossil Fuels on the U.S. Military

Posted March 30, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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For the men and women who serve in the military, fossil fuels are a liability. In The Burden, a 40-minute documentary that recently premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., veterans and fighters from every stratum of the...continued

The Night I Ate Garbage: Dinner at Chef Dan Barber's New Restaurant, WastED

Posted March 26, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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When food is wasted--not just leftovers on plates, but edible food from farms, in grocery stores, and kitchens--it gets dumped into landfills, where it becomes a source of air pollution, water pollution, and even global warming pollution. A few nights...continued

Big Win: Oregon Moves Ahead on Clean Fuel Standard, Building Momentum for West Coast Clean Fuel Corridor

Posted March 12, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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Oregon just clinched a spot in the clean energy future by becoming the second state, after California, to reduce carbon pollution from cars, trucks and buses through a new standard for clean, low-carbon fuel. Under Oregon's clean fuels program, carbon...continued

Bad Carbon Math is Hurting our Forests

Posted February 16, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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Western Europe has already lost about 97 percent of its original forests. But European power companies, under pressure to clean up their climate pollution and switch to renewable sources of energy, are increasingly looking to burn wood fuel instead of...continued

Divestment Outperforms Conventional Portfolios for Past 5 Years

Posted February 13, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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The Independent Petroleum Association of America recently commissioned and funded a study, covered in the New York Times and elsewhere, which claimed that university endowments would suffer without fossil fuels in their portfolios. The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed...continued

Illinois Tollways to Become Flyways for Monarchs

Posted February 10, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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An unlikely hero just stepped up for monarch butterflies: the Illinois Tollway Board. The authority, which controls 286 miles of Illinois interstate, recently announced it would explore planting milkweed along three major highways to help support dwindling populations of monarchs,...continued

Fast Food Trash Nation? Time to Cut Down on Packaging Waste.

Posted February 6, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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Every spring, my wife and I pick up garbage along the road near the house where she grew up. We aim to do this after the snow melts and before the poison ivy comes out. It's not clean or fun...continued

Protecting Workers and Communities During the Clean Energy Transition

Posted February 5, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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When I worked at the New York Attorney General's Office, we sued coal-fired power plants because their air pollution was making people sick. But in some towns, I saw that the reliance on coal really had people in a bind....continued

New Drilling Plan Puts Jersey Shore to Miami Beach and Wild Arctic at Risk

Posted January 27, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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The Obama administration just released its draft proposal for a five-year offshore oil and gas drilling plan. The plan would open, for the first time since 1983, the southeast Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Georgia to offshore oil and gas...continued

Top 5 Food Trends to Watch in 2015

Posted January 9, 2015 by Peter Lehner

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Last year, the movement toward a cleaner, more sustainable food supply gained traction, from school lunches with antibiotic-free chicken to a new rating system for produce that goes beyond organics to take energy, water use, and other sustainability factors into...continued

The Year in Sustainable Food: Much Progress, and More Work to Be Done

Posted December 24, 2014 by Peter Lehner

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The movement for a clean, sustainable food supply built up quite a head of steam in 2014. Many of this year’s happenings had me and my colleagues at NRDC cheering; some had us shaking our heads—and rolling up our sleeves....continued

The Year in Climate Action

Posted December 19, 2014 by Peter Lehner

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Climate change continued to hit home this year in communities across the country. Record-breaking drought, fires and storms threatened people from California to Florida. And reports from the world’s leading scientists confirmed once again that fossil fuel pollution is...continued

About

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.

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