The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a nonprofit environmental group known for its advocacy for public policies concerning global warming and a left-wing political agenda.
Since the EDF was founded in 1966, it has grown into a behemoth $150 million per year environmental action organization with twelve offices across the United States, and international offices in China, Europe, and Mexico. 
EDF uses interdisciplinary communications and litigation programming to advance what they describe as a bipartisan climate agenda. In reality, the group supports a liberal expansion of environmentalist policies including a federally mandated 20 percent decrease in carbon emissions in less than a decade; a 40-50 percent reduction in methane emissions resulting from natural gas production; and mandated reductions in chemicals that the EDF argues impact human health. 
The EDF is a strong ally of former President Barack Obama, calling him “the most consequential of any president in our history.” It has since declared its intent to continue fighting to preserve his administration’s environmental agenda, including his Green Power Plan and opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. 
The EDF has pledged to fight against President Donald Trump’s environmental agenda. It has opposed his administration’s proposals, including cabinet nominations, attempts to roll back the Obama administration’s environmental regulations, and Trump’s decision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.  
The group’s massive budgets have been supported by a number of left-wing organizations, including the Joyce Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts. In turn, the EDF has been frequently criticized for allowing its donors to use the organization’s work to advance their agendas.
In 1965, a group of 10 scientists led by Dennis Puleston, Charles Wurster, and Victor Yannacone came together to support the findings contained in the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which argued that the use of the pesticide DDT was having deleterious effects on the environment. Wurster said the group was created to do more than write letters to Congress to fight against corporations.
In 1966, this group of scientists won their first action—a lawsuit against the Suffolk County Mosquito Commission for its use of the pesticide DDT. In 1967, the ten trustees gathered at Stony Brook University to formally incorporate the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the Environmental Defense Fund expanded nationwide. The organization now has 12 offices across the United States, and international offices in China, Europe, and Mexico.
The Environmental Defense Fund’s programming activities are comprised of lobbying, research, communications, litigation, and providing legal advisory to other organizations. Each program is comprised of economists, lawyers, and scientists who focus on crafting issue-narratives based on four core “strategies,” economics, partnerships, policy, and science.
The Environmental Defense Fund’s 2016 expenditures funded over $137 million worth of programs broken down across the following subjects:
- Climate and Energy ($75,453,948)
- Oceans ($24,768,350)
- Ecosystems ($20,985,800)
- Health ($8,766,028)
- Education ($7,040,201)
Currently the Environmental Defense Fund says that its main priority is to make sure that the EPA uses its authority to limit carbon emissions and is also focused on defending President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, expanding California’s strict state-wide greenhouse gas limits and seeking to further restrict natural gas production.
Environmental Defense Fund’s operations claim a bipartisan platform, purporting to work with allies “across the political spectrum.” However, the practiced agenda is not as bipartisan as portrayed, in fact the group readily admits, “most environmental issues are highly polarizing.
One notably liberal policy that Environmental Defense Fund advocates is a so-called “carbon pricing,” which can either be accomplished through a new tax on emissions or an emissions trading scheme known as “cap and trade.”
In 2014, the Environmental Defense Fund released a policy platform called BluePrint 2020. The blueprint lists a number of left-wing policies, which they label “high impact actions” that they hope to implement, including:
- A 20% decrease in American carbon emissions by 2025 utilizing the following policies:
- A federally mandated 30% cut in power-plant based emissions and support for President Obama’s EPA Clean Power Plan
- Expansion and extension of California’s cap and trade program, with proceeds going to “disadvantaged communities,”
- Work towards extending California’s program to a national cap and trade plan.
- State energy policies to increase green energy market share
- An approximate 40-50% reduction in methane emissions from natural gas production
- And mandated reductions in chemicals that the group feels impact human health, via:
- A Federally mandated reduction in the use of chemicals based on “emerging” scientific theories.
- Deep reductions in byproducts of the emissions from coal-fired power plants
- An 80% reduction in “groundwater pollution” from natural gas production.
Opposition to Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power plants produce no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions, and as of 2021 accounted for 20 percent of American electricity production—the largest source of zero carbon electricity in the United States.  An October 2018 proposal from The Nature Conservancy noted that zero-carbon nuclear plants produced 7.8 of total world energy output and recommended reducing carbon emissions by increasing nuclear capacity to 33 percent of total world energy output. 
In 2017 EDF advocated for the shutdown of a nuclear energy plant in New York.  In 2016 EDF promoted the shutdown of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California.  Environmental Progress accused EDF of “hypocrisy” because EDF advocated for taxpayer subsidies for wind and solar energy but opposed similar assistance for nuclear energy. 
Ties to the Obama Administration
The Environmental Defense Fund claimed that President Barack Obama was “committed to clean energy, climate progress, and protecting our natural heritage.” In 2011, Nat Keohane, an enviro-economist from Environmental Defense Fund joined the Obama administration as a White House special advisor on energy and environmental issues, and over the course of Obama’s presidency the group praised and endorsed many of his environmental initiatives.
Environmental Defense Fund glowingly described President Obama’s environmental legacy as equivalent to that of President Richard Nixon (under whose administration the Environmental Protection Agency was founded) as “the most consequential of any president in our history.”
The Environment Defense Fund supported the Obama administration on at least ten major environmental areas, including his Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Accords, mandates for automobile fuel economy standards, green energy production subsidies, the creation of “climate hubs” to combat climate change, and the designation of more national monuments than any other president restricting the economic use of 260 million acres of land, mostly in the Western United States.
The Environmental Defense Fund joined with other environmental groups to write a letter to President Obama urging the President to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, stating, “There is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone XL pipeline, and those of the protesters being arrested daily.” In 2015, the Obama administration blocked the construction of Keystone pipeline.
Opposition to the Trump Administration
The Environmental Defense Fund has fought against Trump’s EPA action that sought to rollback environmentalist prerogatives. The Environmental Defense Fund opposed “efforts to eliminate other climate rules and programs” and has pushed for stricter carbon regulations.
The Environmental Defense Fund has also worked to continue President Obama’s environmentalist agenda in the face of President Trump’s attempts to roll much of it back. As of April 2018, the EDF is a party in the current lawsuit that is trying to save the Clean Power Plan. 
The Environmental Defense Fund also blasted Trump’s decision to approve the Keystone Pipeline and called on the courts to block his action.
In 2016, the Environmental Defense Fund was “deeply engaged in lobbying” for multiple federal bills that expand the scope of the federal bureaucracy including:
- The passage of the Lautenberg Chemicals Safety Act, which gives the EPA wide-ranging authority and means to potentially ban ingredients used in everyday products such as shampoo, carpets, flooring, clothing and bedding. 
- The reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which allowed for expanded fishing limitations in areas that are not proven to be an essential fish habitat.
Additionally, the EDF has lobbied state legislatures in California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania on legislation regarding pollution and carbon emissions. These bills were intended to implement the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in Pennsylvania, expand renewable energy mandates in Ohio, and cause a “sharp” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in California.
Environmental Defense Fund has often partner with other environmental groups to advance their environmental agenda. In 2011, the group partnered with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Audubon Society to increase funding for wetland protections. In 2012, they teamed with the Nature Conservancy, the Public Lands Council and other environmentalist groups to support the Farm Bill.
Environmental Defense Action Fund
Also see Environmental Defense Action Fund (Nonprofit)
The Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDAF) is the EDF’s 501(c)(4) advocacy affiliate and operates as “the lobbying arm of the Environmental Defense Fund.” The EDAF is described by the Environmental Defense Fund as its “Political Action Partner and Affiliated 501(c)(4) Organization of EDF.”
In 2016, the Environmental Defense Fund gave $1.2 million to the EDAF to “provide general support and for the educational lobbying activities of EDAF…in furtherance of (EDAF’s) mission.”
During the 2016 election cycle, the EDAF spent a total $4.29 million on independent expenditures, with over $3.7 million, (82%) supporting Democrats or opposing Republicans, and only $781,000 (18%) in support of Republicans.
In 2017, the EDAF spent $1 million to oppose Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Since 1990, 86.7 percent of campaign contributions from employees of the Environmental Defense Fund have gone to Democratic candidates and organizations, while only 9.5 percent have gone to Republican candidates.
The largest aggregate donations from EDF employees were given to Democrats Hillary Clinton ($38,402), Katie McGinty ($17,165), and Chis Van Hollen ($6,750), or 66.1 percent of total contributions given out by EDF employees during the 2016 campaign cycle.
The top Republican candidate who received EDF employee donations was former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who only received $5,000.
The EDF originated as a nonprofit organization with less than a $3 million operating budget. Currently, Environmental Defense Fund is one the world’s largest environmental organizations, ranking with the likes of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club Foundation, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund). At the end of fiscal year 2016, Environmental Defense Fund’s net assets stood at $209 million.
Over recent years the Environmental Defense Fund’s budgets have grown rapidly, in 2016, the Environmental Defense Fund’s revenues increased by 13.5 percent year over year from fiscal year 2015.
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Meanwhile between fiscal year 2014, and fiscal year 2016 Environmental Defense Fund’s operating expenses grew by a total 22 percent from $126 million to $154 million.
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The Environmental Defense Fund uses “a sprawling network of private donors, foundations, utilities, fossil fuel companies and others” to fund its projects.
Environmental Defense Fund has received grants from at least 30 organizations, which include many liberal donor foundations:
- Bauman Family Foundation ($50,000 during 2011-12)
- Heinz Family Foundation ($200,000 in the 1990s)
- John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($3,000,000 during 2016)
- Joyce Foundation ($700,000 during 2016)
- Pew Charitable Trusts
- Walton Family Foundation ($71,800,000 in 2010)
Additionally, the Environmental Defense Fund took $14,256,453 in government grants during fiscal year 2016. This was a massive 700 percent increase from the prior year 2015 when the group received $2,694,319 in government grants.
Environmental Defense Fund claims that their work is independent from the priorities of its funders; however, the Environmental Defense Fund has often been criticized by more radical environmentalist groups for authoring research that aids its funders that allows companies to “greenwash” their activities under the Environmental Defense Fund’s environmentalist banner. For instance, one article blasted carbon-trading markets, which Environmental Defense Fund fervently supports’ as “pay to pollute” programs.
Hidden Ties to Wal-Mart
In 2010 the Walton family, the principal owners of Wal-Mart, gave the EDF $71.8 million. Additionally during year’s 2011 and 2012, Walton “supplied about one-eighth of the organization’s roughly $100 million annual budget.” Sam Walton, Wal-Mart’s founder, sits on the EDF’s board of trustees.
EDF’s acceptance of Wal-Mart funding has been criticized for giving Wal-Mart an “an instant veneer of green credibility.” Other critics say that Environmental Defense Fund “greenwashes” Wal-Mart’s impact on the environment and natural resources.
Similarly, the New York Times wrote an article lauding the alliance between EDF and Wal-Mart, arguing the EDF “does not accept contributions from Wal-Mart or other corporations it works with.” The Times was later forced to issue a correction disclosing the large amount of money that the Environmental Defense Fund receives from the Walton Family.
Environmental Defense Fund has a leadership team that consists of 25 individuals, including 13 vice presidents for each major area of advocacy.
Fredrick Krupp has served as Environmental Defense Fund’s president since 1984. Prior to his work at EDF, he served as founder and general counsel for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (1978–1984). Since taking over as president over three decades ago, Krupp has expanded EDF into a large influential environmental group by increasing budget by over $157 million and staff by over 600.
Diane Regas has been with Environmental Defense Fund as the executive director since 2006 after spending 20 years as a civil servant in the Environmental Protection Agency.