Environmental Defense Fund

New York City

Angelina Freeman

Angelina Freeman examines oil after the BP disaster     Photo: Yuki Kokubo/Environmental Defense Fund

BY THE NUMBERS: Four million acres of private land are now protected under the group’s Safe Harbor program, which helps landowners preserve endangered-species habitat on their property.
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Fred Krupp, 57, former head of the Connecticut Fund for the ­Environment
WHAT IT DOES: In the 1960s, widespread use of the pesticide DDT threatened the survival of countless American bird species, and a small group came up with a solution that, back then, was strikingly novel: sue the government. The result was a landmark court case that led to statewide and nationwide bans of DDT and, in 1967, to the establishment of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The nonprofit continues to pursue unusual tactics, hiring not only scientists and lawyers but also economists and political strategists to devise market-based solutions to broad environmental issues, including climate, oceans, ecosystems, and human health. In the nineties, EDF pioneered corporate partnerships, and their consulting resulted in major corporate changes, such as reducing McDonald’s waste stream by 30 percent and introducing hybrid trucks to FedEx’s fleet. Last year, EDF spent more than $83.5 million on programs like Climate Corps, a summer fellowship that trains MBA students to consult with large businesses on energy efficiency.
EXTRA CREDIT: EDF’s willingness to work with corporate giants like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart has earned them a reputation for cooperative results.
LOOKING AHEAD: EDF is growing a campaign to pass clean-air legislation at the state and municipal levels, since Congress appears stuck. The organization is also working to quantify the economic benefits afforded by natural systems—for example, runoff filtration by wetlands—so decision makers can consider the positive impact in dollars.

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