Non-profit

Environment California

Caelogo (link)
Website:

environmentcalifornia.org

Location:

SACRAMENTO, CA

Tax ID:

45-0493983

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $3,452,725
Expenses: $3,456,052
Assets: $11,616,247

Formation:

2003

Type:

Environmental Advocacy Group

Originally Part of:

California Public Interest Research Group

President:

Wendy Wendlandt

Environment California is a left-of-center 501(c)(4) nonprofit that lobbies for environmentalist legislation in California. [1] Its national counterpart is Environment America, and it is also affiliated with the Fund for the Public Interest, a major pass-through nonprofit in the Public Interest Network. [2] [3]

Environment California engages in efforts to mobilize the public on environmentalist priorities.[4] Environment California conducts door-to-door and public canvassing, government petitioning, phone banking, and various forms of media outreach. Additionally, the organization prioritizes the publication of research findings by engaging in news conferences, holding interviews with reporters, and publishing press releases.[5]

According to Environment California’s website, the organization centralizes its focus around five main issue areas: environmental defense, conservation, clean water and air, green and renewable energy, and combating global warming.[6] Environment California has advocated for greater electric vehicle production, more stringent clean water protections, and wind and solar power development.[7] [8] [9]

Background

Environment California was founded in 2003 by the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) — the California state affiliate of the United States Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) founded in the 1970s by community organizer Ralph Nader — to manage the group’s environmental work. The period also saw the creation of Environment America, which was formed as a separate group to manage the environmental advocacy for US-PIRG and with its various state affiliates. [10] Environment California recruits members to the Public Interest Network alongside the Fund for the Public Interest and runs lobbying campaigns across California through canvassing offices.[11] [12] [13]

Policy Campaigns

Electric Vehicles

Environment California promotes various policies supporting mandates for electric car production and adoption.[14] Throughout the late-2010s, Environment California led a “Clean Car Communities” campaign to call for all newly manufactured vehicles to be made electric by the year 2035 and to strengthen fuel efficiency and emission standards for cars. [15]

Renewable Energy

The group has also run a “100% renewable” campaign [16] to convince universities and cities to transition to environmentalist-approved energy sources and a campaign to ban the sale of foam cups and plastic take-out containers. [17]

Water

In 2019, Environment California campaigned against rollbacks for the Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule (known as the Waters of the United States rule due to its controversial expansion of classified “Waters of the United States” subject to invasive federal regulation[18]) proposed by the Trump administration. [19] Additionally, that same year Environment California lobbied for a “wave” of legislation against offshore drilling including the California Clean Coast Act 2019, the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act of 2019, and the Coastal Economies Protection Act of 2019. [20] The group also supports expanded funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that is used to preserve natural wildlife habitats, parks, and preserves across the country. [21]

Chemicals

Other notable environmentalist stances the organization have taken include support of a three-year plan to phase out the military’s use of a group of man-made chemical compounds manufactured and used in a variety of industries.[22] [23]

Election Endorsements

Environment California typically endorses candidates that are left-of-center whom they coin as “environmental defenders.” [24] During the 2016 presidential race, the organization endorsed Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president over Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. [25] Other politicians the organization have previously supported are U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and President Barack Obama. [26] [27]

Funding

Environment California’s latest annual IRS filing indicates that in 2016 the group had revenues and expenditures exceeding $3 million. In 2016, Environment California reported net assets of $9,982,111. [28]

Leadership

President and Board Chair

Wendy Wendlandt is president and board chair for Environment California. She is a senior officer in the Public Interest Network and has held or holds positions with some 16 Network affiliates. Wendlandt is also head of the Public Interest Network’s election programs. According to her staff biography on Environment California, as the head of the elections program she directs “nonpartisan efforts” to register people to vote. [29]

Wendlandt was previously treasurer of Fair Share Action, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, and executive director of its nonprofit arm Fair Share.[30]

Before Wendlandt, Public Interest Network vice president Faye Park was president of Environment California; Park is now president of US-PIRG. [31] [32] [33]

Other Staff

Dan Jacobson is state director for Environment California and has worked in various positions within both the CALPIRG and Environment California for over a decade. [34] As the California state director for the organization, he supported proposed laws on single-use plastics, banning smoking on state beaches, climate change protections, and wastewater recycling in 2019. [35]  Additionally, he opposed President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, calling it “a real gut punch.” [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]

Rob Sargent is senior director of Environment California’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. Sargent argues against the use of oil and natural gas, claiming they “threaten the future of the planet.” Sargent has authored a number of articles on the left-leaning website The Medium in which he expressed support for a 2018 “Senate Bill 100” that committed the state of California to obtain 60 percent of its electricity from environmentalist-approved sources such as wind and solar power by 2030. Sargent also praised former President Obama’s administration as a “renewable energy legacy” which laid a foundation for a “renewable energy boom.” [41] [42]

Susan Rakov is the senior vice president for Environment California and the Public Interest Network and founding director of the Frontier Group—a left-of-center think tank  operated by the Center for Public Interest Research, a Public Interest Network member. Rakov mainly engages environmentalist work. [43] In particular, Rakov has called for society to “quit its addiction to throwaway plastics” which she claims will fill oceans with plastic unless both the government and legislator take the issue seriously. [44] Climate change protections are a top priority for Rakov. During the 2020 presidential primaries she “demanded” a debate on climate change claiming that the Democratic Party was “trying to downplay it.”[45]

Board of Directors

Besides Environment California president Wendy Wendlandt, the group’s board of directors consists of Luke Metzger, Elizabeth Ouzts, Emily Figdor, and Doug Phelps. [46]

Doug Phelps, in particular, holds a number of prominent titles within the left-progressive movement. In addition to his position on the Environment California Board of Directors, he is the president and executive director of the Public Interest Network; president of the National Association of Organizations in the Public Interest; US-PIRG president; board chairman of CALPIRG; and president and board chairman of Environment America among other positions. [47] In 2019, Phelps expressed support for the Green New Deal—a far-left global warming bill—saying it was “a great vehicle to bring more attention to the need for bold action on climate.”[48]

References

  1. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  2. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  3. Fund for Public Interest. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://fundforthepublicinterest.org. ^
  4. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  5. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  6. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  7. “Clean Car Communities.” Environment California Campaign Page. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/feature/cae/clean-car-communities. ^
  8. “Clean Water & Air.” Environment California Program Page. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/feature/cae/clean-water-air. ^
  9. “100% Renewable.” Environment California Campaign Page. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/feature/cae/100-renewable. ^
  10. Newton, David. “Fracking: A Reference Handbook.” Los Angeles Times. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://books.google.com/books?id=v78oBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA186&lpg=PA186&dq=environment+america+separates+PIRG&source=bl&ots=JyT_LcMWRY&sig=OJOg7XK9aMSpWJ6Bp3kYygIrQH0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjwstXYwefaAhVB44MKHU5wAgMQ6AEIeDAH#v=onepage&q=environment%20america%20separates%20PIRG&f=false. ^
  11. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  12. Fund for Public Interest. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://fundforthepublicinterest.org. ^
  13. The Public Interest Network. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://publicinterestnetwork.org/network.html. ^
  14. Environment California “About Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/cae/about. ^
  15. “Clean Car Communities.” Environment California Campaign Page. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/feature/cae/clean-car-communities. ^
  16. “100% Renewable.” Environment California Campaign Page. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/feature/cae/100-renewable. ^
  17. “Wildlife Over Waste.” Environment California Campaign Page. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/feature/cae/wildlife-over-waste. ^
  18. Noon, Marita. ““Waters of the United States,” including Creeks and Ditches.” Green Watch. October 2015. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/GW1510-final-for-posting-151005.pdf. ^
  19. “U.S. States Fight Trump Revision of Clean Water Rule.” Environment News Service. Accessed June 23, 2019. http://ens-newswire.com/2019/04/15/u-s-states-fight-trump-revision-of-clean-water-rule. ^
  20. Lamp, Kelsey. “A new wave of legislation against offshore drilling.” Environment America Blog. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcaliforniacenter.org/blogs/environment-america-blog/ame/new-wave-legislation-against-offshore-drilling. ^
  21. Gallego, Ruben. “Congress must pass permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.” The Hill. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/448372-congress-must-pass-permanent-funding-for-the-land-and. ^
  22. “Basic Information on PFAS.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas. ^
  23. “Basic Information on PFAS.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas. ^
  24. “Environment California Announces Pro-Environment Endorsements for 2012 Elections.” Environment California News Release. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/news/cae/environment-california-announces-pro-environment-endorsements-2012-elections. ^
  25. Environment California’s 2016 Endorsements. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/page/cae/environment-californias-2016-endorsements. ^
  26. “Environment California Announces Pro-Environment Endorsements for 2012 Elections.” Environment California News Release. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/news/cae/environment-california-announces-pro-environment-endorsements-2012-elections. ^
  27. Environment California’s 2016 Endorsements. Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/page/cae/environment-californias-2016-endorsements. ^
  28. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Environment California. 2017. Schedule A, Part I, Lines 12, 18, 22. ^
  29. Ludwig, Hayden, and Michael Watson. “Secrets of the Public Interest Pyramid.” Capital Research Center. February 21, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/secrets-of-the-public-interest-pyramid-part-4/. ^
  30. “About Fair Share Action.” Fair Share Action. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://fairshareaction.org/. ^
  31. Environment California “Staff Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/staff. ^
  32. “About Fair Share Action.” Fair Share Action. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://fairshareaction.org/. ^
  33. Zuvich, Cady. “Mystery donors pumped millions into liberal ‘dark money’ group.” The Center for Public Integrity. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/mystery-donors-pumped-millions-into-liberal-dark-money-group. ^
  34. Environment California “Staff Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/staff. ^
  35. Wisckol, Martin. “California considers sweeping environmental laws on single-use plastics, green jobs, receipts, and more. The Mercury News. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://www.ocregister.com/2019/02/25/state-lawmakers-weigh-sweeping-environmental-laws-hitting-plastics-climate-change-wastewater-reuse-and-more. ^
  36. Environment California “Staff Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/staff. ^
  37. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Environment California. 2017. Schedule A, Part I, Lines 12, 18, 22. ^
  38. Luery, Mike. “California fights against Trump decision to ditch Paris Accord.” KCRA News. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://www.kcra.com/article/california-fights-against-trump-decision-to-ditch-paris-accord/9965434. ^
  39. Wisckol, Martin. “California considers sweeping environmental laws on single-use plastics, green jobs, receipts, and more. The Mercury News. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://www.ocregister.com/2019/02/25/state-lawmakers-weigh-sweeping-environmental-laws-hitting-plastics-climate-change-wastewater-reuse-and-more. ^
  40. LinkedIn “Dan Jacobson Profile.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-jacobson-6b9929. ^
  41. Environment California “Staff Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/staff. ^
  42. Sargent, Rob. “Medium Byline.” The Medium. Accessed June 24, 2019. https://medium.com/@rob_sargent. ^
  43. LinkedIn “Susan Rakov Profile.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-rakov-32736929. ^
  44. Rakov, Susan. “Letter to the Editor.” LA Times. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-ol-le-plastic-bags-recycling-20180222-story.html. ^
  45. Twitter “Susan Rakov Tweet.” Twitter Inc. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://twitter.com/SusanRakov/status/1137144832160174080. ^
  46. Environment California “Staff Page.” Accessed June 23, 2019. https://environmentcalifornia.org/staff. ^
  47. “Doug Phelps”. Public Interest Primer. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://publicinterestprimer.wordpress.com/doug-phelps. ^
  48. Phelps, Doug. “Environment America Chairman Doug Phelps’ statement on the Green New Deal Vote.” Common Dreams Inc. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2019/03/26/environment-america-chairman-doug-phelps-statement-green-new-deal-vote. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Susan Rakov
    Board Member
  2. Faye Park
    Chairman

Coalition Memberships

  1. Public Interest Network (PIN)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 2004

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Aug Form 990 $3,452,725 $3,456,052 $11,616,247 $2,598,783 N $3,338,524 $0 $114,201 $33,901
    2015 Aug Form 990 $3,761,771 $2,145,854 $10,264,555 $1,243,764 N $3,517,627 $167,834 $76,310 $33,641 PDF
    2014 Aug Form 990 $3,834,612 $3,613,575 $7,518,696 $113,822 N $3,682,413 $147,541 $4,658 $41,930 PDF
    2013 Aug Form 990 $4,569,933 $4,064,010 $8,419,860 $1,236,023 N $4,022,878 $542,340 $4,623 $36,846 PDF
    2012 Aug Form 990 $4,619,443 $3,308,420 $8,984,970 $2,307,056 N $4,314,031 $297,671 $7,741 $41,925 PDF
    2011 Aug Form 990 $4,533,206 $3,299,442 $6,672,971 $1,306,080 N $4,351,605 $181,564 $37 $39,747 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Environment California

    1107 9TH ST STE 601
    SACRAMENTO, CA 95814-3611