Friends of the Earth
President Erich Pica (since September)
2008 Revenue $4,067,907
The SouthWest Organizing Project "didn't realize we are a global organization with a fundamental emphasis on social justice," says Brent Blackwelder, retired president. "Every single program we do is viewed with that lens.
"We need more national groups that combine social justice and environmental linkage. … If you do not have a healthy government structure with a healthy society, you will not have a healthy planet."
FOE takes positions unlike other organizations, Blackwelder says. "For example, we do not support the current climate bill because it perpetuates toxic hot spots and allows people to buy indulgences. These offset credits may or may not be credible. We think the bill sets the bar too low, and we don't necessarily need one gigantic piece of legislation. Obama could use the Clean Air Act to take robust action to deal with energy and climate issues. Obama's people could be as aggressive in protecting the environment as Bush was in destroying it."
National Wildlife Federation
President Larry J. Schweiger
2008 Revenue $88,102,000
When the letter arrived, NWF was working with Native communities on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. "I think we saw diversity as fundamental to our institution," says President Larry Schweiger. "More recently, our membership is more of a Wal-Mart membership -- with the Ranger Rick magazine … reaching out to everyone to the extent that we can.
"In the West, we're focusing on various tribal communities. We recently sponsored a conference in Arizona attended by 150 tribal leaders representing 100 tribes, examining what we can do together to advance solutions on climate change," says Felice Stadler, director of operations for NWF's Global Warming Program. "We continue to work with the Wind River to properly stock and re-establish river systems. That's turned out to be a success story, and we've continued to work with a number of other tribes on a range of wildlife and natural resource issues."
The group is working on a new campaign against extraction in the Powder River Basin. Schweiger and Stadler note that the tribes are involved in framing what's at stake. "One of our priorities is to create the linkage between tribal lands and global warming.
"We do what we can to build a large tent -- it's the only way we'll win," says Schweiger.
Founded 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, name changed to Earthjustice in 1997
President Trip Van Noppen
Staff About 150
2008 Revenue $34,598,044
"Whatever's happened over the last 20 years is due to a lot of forces," President Trip Van Noppen says. "The SWOP letter was a flashpoint but there are related drivers." Van Noppen says Earthjustice has always been interested in "the people impacts."
In California's Central Valley, "one of the most polluted places in the country," the group has worked for years with the local population, which suffers huge health effects from air pollution. "We know that to do that work effectively means not just representing the Sierra Club, but having a real coalition. That way of working has become much more the way we do things."
Local involvement is "much more effective in terms of the advocacy, political and media aspects of the work. Whether it's air pollution, or pesticides and farm workers, cleaning up a dirty river or working with a Native community in the Arctic, working with those affected will make the work more powerful and effective."
Not included The Isaak Walton League did not respond to our query.