Environmental Defense Fund

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Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), run by Fred Krupp, is a US-based Environmental organization and is considered a Big Green environmental group, one of the largest and most prominent in the world. It describes itself as being "dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people, including future generations. Among these rights are clean air and water, healthy and nourishing food, and a flourishing ecosystem. Guided by science, Environmental Defense evaluates environmental problems and works to create and advocate solutions that win lasting political, economic and social support because they are nonpartisan, cost-efficient and fair." EDF prides itself on the formal corporate partnerships it forms with companies such as McDonald's, Walmart, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and most recently The Carlyle Group, home of Synagro the sewage sludge giant.

Sharon Beder notes that: "The influence of neoliberal think tanks on environmental policy has been pervasive. Yet their efforts to replace legislative solutions with free market programs have been accepted largely without scrutiny of the ideological agenda behind them. Many environmentalists have been persuaded by the rhetoric of free market environmentalism. For example the Environmental Defense Fund has been at the forefront of the push for tradeable pollution rights and the Natural Resources Defense Council has also supported them." [1]

Greenwashing Corporations and Raising Money via Partnerships

According to its own guidelines [1], EDF does NOT accept direct funding from corporations that are engaged "in any significant activities that are in direct conflict with EDF’s environmental protection objectives or activities."

However, this is extremely misleading, since EDF does aggressively seek funding from employees, board members and investors in corporations including (and probably especially) its formal corporate partners. EDF also considers on a case by case basis whether to accept major donations from foundations set up by corporations.

Thus, corporate partnerships are extremely lucrative for EDF since it aggressively fundraises among the individuals on the Boards of Directors, in management, and who are investors in its partners. Meanwhile, the corporate partners such as Carlyle Group and Wal-Mart can greenwash themselves by pointing to a forma partnership with one of the world's most established Big Green environmental groups.

EDF Partners with Synagro, The World's Leader in Dumping Sewage Sludge on Farms and Gardens

EDF creates formal corporate partnerships between itself and major corporations, such as the Carlyle Group with which it partnered in March, 2010. [2] The Carlyle Group, a private investment corporation, owns Synagro, the world's largest company producing sewage sludge "compost" and "fertilizer," often called "biosolids," that is dumped on farms and gardens.

It would seem that by partnering with Synagro EDF is in fact endorsing the practices of Synagro in dumping sludge on farms and gardens, and in misleading millions of people by selling its sewage sludge products as "compost" and "natural organic fertilizer."

According to its own guidelines [3], EDF does accept direct funding from corporations that are engaged "in any significant activities that are in direct conflict with EDF’s environmental protection objectives or activities." This is misleading, since EDF does aggressively seek funding from employees, board members and investors in such corporations, including its formal corporate partners such as Carlyle Group. And EDF also considers on a case by case basis donations from foundations set up by such corporations.

Such partnerships are extremely lucrative for EDF since it aggressively fundraises among the individuals on the Boards of Directors, in management, and who are investors in its partners. Meanwhile, the corporate partner such as Carlyle Group can greenwash itself by pointing to its partnership with one of the world's best funded Big Green environmental groups.

In the 1970s and 1980s EDF and other major environmental groups including Natural Resources Defense Council worked closely with the sewage industry and endorsed moves by the Environmental Protection Agency to rename toxic sewage sludge as "biosolids" and dump the waste onto farmland. Until May, 2011, when EDF requested it be removed, the following quote appeared on a sludge industry website showing endorsement of this practice.

"EDF and NRDC have been steadfast proponents of reusing biosolids of appropriate quality as the best biosolids management alternative. Biosolids can be a valuable natural resource."
FRED KRUP, Executive Director - JOHN ADAMS Executive Director
Environmental Defense Fund - Natural Resources Defense Fund"[4]

EDF's Sean Crowley had the quote taken down, and he points out that there is no date or citation for the quote, which likely came from a consent decree among major environmental groups and the sewage sludge industry. While it is partnered with the world's largest sewage sludge company, Synagro of Carlyle Group, Crowley claims that EDF has no position what so ever on the practice of using agricultural farms and gardens as waste dumps for sewage sludge.

NRDC, on the other hand, became a critic of sludge dumping in 2002 and 2003, based on the dioxin contaminants in sewage sludge.


An article in In These Times described the beginnings of Environmental Defense:

"Created in 1967 by a small band of lawyers seeking to ban DDT, Environmental Defense Fund evolved into George Bush's favorite environmental group. The group is the premier advocate of market-oriented solutions to environmental problems. EDF was a cheerleader for NAFTA, and gets excited about pollution credits, emissions trading systems and user fees for recreational use of public lands. It hosts the Barbra Streisand Chair of Environmental Studies, the perch of scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who advocates buying up development rights in the Third World as a solution to global climate change. EDF convinced McDonalds in 1991 to reform its solid-waste disposal practices and to move from Styrofoam to paper packaging (but remained mum on quality of food, ecologically destructive ranching practices and abusive treatment of animals and workers.) In cooperation with major timber companies, the group developed a 'paper-use task force,' whose recommendations discreetly ignored sustainable alternatives to paper such as industrial hemp and kenaf. Inc. magazine praised president Fred Krupp for his ability to 'speak capitalism.' "[5]

TXU Deal

As part of the estimated US$45 billion buyout, Texas utility TXU (now Luminant) settled a series of lawsuits with Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council and agreed to cancel 8 of its planned 11 new Texas coal-fired power plants as well as several new coal-fired plants in Pennsylvania and Virginia, back federal legislation to create a cap-and-trade system regulating CO2 emissions, and double spending on energy efficiency. In return, Environmental Defense and NRDC agreed not to campaign against TXU’s remaining three Texas coal-fired plants.[6] In March 2007, TXU announced its official withdrawal of the air permit applications for the eight cancelled plants.[7]

The following proposed Texas coal plants were cancelled in TXU deal:

The following plants were allowed to proceed:

EDF OKs Tenaska Coal Plant

In April 2010, EDF announced, alongside Tenaska Energy, that the group would not oppose the issuance of air quality permits for Tenaska's proposed plant east of Sweetwater, TX, in light of the plant's "advanced environmental features." Tenaska and the Environmental Defense Fund signed an agreement under which the company agreed that the plant, which could open as early as 2015, will contain equipment designed to capture "at least 85 percent" of the carbon dioxide produced by the plant. Tenaska plans to sell the gas to Denbury Resources for "enhanced oil recovery" in west Texas oil fields.[8] The company also agreed to limit water usage at the plant to an average of 1 to 2 million gallons daily - to do this they will use fans run off electricity, which will require more coal burning.[9]

According to Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the Texas office of Public Citizen, "While this deal may reduce some concerns about CO2, it doesn't mean that this still isn't a dirty old coal plant."[9]

EDF board member Stanley Druckenmiller invests in Massey Energy

EDF board member Stanley Druckenmiller is a billionaire hedge fund manager that has invested roughly $200 million into Massey Energy, a company that is a leading practitioner of mountaintop removal mining, has little regard for Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations leading to the the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, and has a CEO, Don Blankenship, who is an outspoken climate change denier.[10] Massey has a 6% stake in Duquesne Capital Management[11] which is controlled by Stanley Druckenmiller.[10]

Corporate Partners

Contact details

257 Park Avenue South,
New York, NY 10010
Phone (Media Contact): 1-212-505-2100
Donations/Membership 1-800-684-3322
Fax: (212) 505-2375
Email: media AT environmentaldefense.org
Email : general members AT environmentaldefense.org
Web: http://www.environmentaldefense.org

Board of Trustees

  • Arthur P. Cooley, Secretary, Naturalist and former Expedition Leader, Lindblad Expeditions
  • Ruth DeFries, Ph.D., Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University
  • Roger Enrico, Chairman, DreamWorks Animation, SKG; former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Frank Loy, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
  • Signe Ostby, Advisor, Center for Brand and Product Management, University of Wisconsin at Madison; Director, The Intuit Scholarship Foundation
  • Stephen W. Pacala, Ph.D., Petrie Professor of Biology in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, Princeton University; Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute
  • Peggy M. Shepard, Co-founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
  • Charles F. Wurster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, Marine Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook


National Council

Advisory Trustees

Executive Staff


  1. EDF Corporate Funding Guidelines, 2011
  2. Carlyle Group Teams Up With EDF, The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2010.
  3. EDF Corporate Funding Guidelines, 2011
  4. Bio Solids - Notable Quotes, Accessed May 6, 2011.
  5. Jeffrey St. Clair and Bernardo Issel, [http://www.lightparty.com/Economic/EnvMovement.html "A Field Guide to the Environmental Movement," In These Times, Jul. 28, 1997.
  6. A Buyout Deal That Has Many Shades of Green, New York Times, February 26, 2007.
  7. "TXU Halts Efforts To Obtain Permits for Eight Coal-Fueled Units", press release, March 1, 2007.
  8. "Company ties 2 planned power plants to emissions bill, financing" EE News, April 21, 2009.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Proposal for West Texas coal plant gets environmental group's praise" Star telegram, April 19, 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "How Bubble Barons Protected Their Influence While the Economy Tanked" AlterNet, April 16, 2010.
  11. "Duquesne Capital Management" Littlesis.org],

Other SourceWatch resources

External links