Environment America is a left-of-center 501(c)(4) advocacy group comprised of multiple state organizations across the country. Environment America researches environmental issues and advocates for policies by lobbying and mobilizing the public. It also engages in interviews, op-ed pieces, and letters to the editor to raise awareness about the cause. Environment America has groups of canvassers who go door to door to recruit support and ask for donations.
Environment America and its state affiliates separated from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) and the various PIRG state affiliates (the network of left-of-center grassroots advocacy organizations founded by Ralph Nader) in 2007 and announced its intent to run the organization’s national environmental advocacy program. Environment America joined with several other environmental state-based groups that had previously separated from U.S .PIRG. Both the PIRG organizations and the Environment America affiliates are parts of the Public Interest Network.
Environment America Research & Policy Center is the sister organization of Environment America. The Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, aimed at “protecting our air, water, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates.” Presently, Environment America is focusing efforts on 6 issue areas: bee protection, protection of national parks, solar energy, global warming solutions, America’s next top polluter, and 100% renewable energy. It also researches wind power, fracking, ocean conservation, offshore drilling, the Keystone XL pipeline, and oil.
Environment America is operated under the aegis of the National Association of Organizations in the Public Interest (NAOPI), a for-profit corporation which has been described as “the ultimate umbrella organization controlled by Doug Phelps,” president of the Public Interest Network. Both groups are part of the Public Interest Network.
According to Environment America’s founding documents, it is required to share two board directors with NAOPI. In addition, its board “may be expanded, vacancies on the [b]oard may be filled, and [d]irectors may be removed from office with or without cause
by a majority vote of the [d]irectors then in office” only by consent of NAOPI. NAOPI reserves the power to elect or remove Environment America’s board members “with or without any action on the part of the Board of Environment America.” (See full document here.) 
President and Chairman
George “Ed” Johnson was president of Environment America before passing away in 2020.
Doug Phelps is chairman of Environment America.
Marjorie “Margie” Alt is the executive director of Environment America and the Environment America Research & Policy Center. Under Alt’s leadership the organization grew to almost 100 staff members and more than 1 million members, donors and activists. Alt led the organization’s efforts to get a commitment from President Barack Obama to cut emissions from power plants, push the EPA to protect drinking water, and designate national monuments in the San Juan Islands, Washington, Colorado, and New Mexico. Margie was the chair of the Green Group, a group of environmental organizations from across the country. Before Environment America, Alt helped build U.S. PIRG and the state PIRGs.
Environment America publishes an annual scorecard of members of the U.S. Congress based on how each member voted on environmental issues throughout the year’s session. In the Second Session of the 114th Congress, Democrats were rated substantially more favorably than Republicans.
Environment America supported the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act in 2007 and opposed amendments to the Climate Security Act in 2008, also known as the cap and trade bill; supported the EPA’s proposal for a fuel economy label; supported the National Ocean Policy in 2010, stating that Federal agencies should ensure the protection, maintenance and restoration of oceans and lakes; and opposed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011, which would prohibit U.S. air carriers from participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The ETS is a regulation related to greenhouse emissions.
Environment America currently has 29 state-level affiliate organizations, including California, Oregon, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Environment California has supported a number of statewide campaigns, including the proposed ban on plastic bags, reduction of energy inefficient appliances, and the expansion of the state’s solar metering program and solar energy production. Environment Texas filed lawsuits against Chevron Phillips for alleged violations of pollution limits and Shell Oil Company for alleged illegal air pollution emissions. Environment Texas also filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil for alleged violation of the Clean Air Act by releasing emissions from refineries and chemical plants in the Texas Gulf Coast.
Questions of Fact
A 2013 article published by Energy in Depth called into question some of the claims made by Environment America in a report on mineral resources. One claim made in the report was that “nationally, fracking released 450,000 tons of pollutants into the air that can have immediate health impacts.” However, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, over 500,000 tons of air emissions have been eliminated from the air. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection all released reports reflecting the findings from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
A more recent article published in 2016 by Energy in Depth introduced more false claims that Environment America made about the negative impacts of fracking. Environment America falsely claimed that the identities of many chemicals used in fracking are unknown to the public because they are intentionally kept secret. However, Energy in Depth claims that all pertinent information about chemicals is given to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency. The EPA is in charge of deciding whether a chemical is too dangerous to be used. The same chemical information is also given to health and emergency officials in the case of any issue. Additionally, each state with significant oil and gas production is mandated to disclose fracking chemicals to FracFocus, a national database. FracFocus protects companies’ intellectual property while still disclosing important information to the public. Environment America also claimed that fracking threatens drinking water supplies. However, an EPA study found that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.” This claim has been reaffirmed by a number of other studies.
Environment America Research & Policy Center
The Research & Policy Center is Environment America’s sister organization focuses on researching and investigating issues related to the environment. The Research & Policy Center is also headed by Alt.