Friends of the Earth




Tax ID:


DUNS Number:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2018):

Revenue: $10,051,439
Expenses: $11,618,561
Assets: $15,167,428




Environmental Advocacy Group


David Brower


Erich Pica

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Friends of the Earth is a global environmentalist group based in the Netherlands. The U.S. branch is based in San Francisco and was started in 1969 by former Sierra Club executive director David Brower.

The organization routinely moves beyond environmental matters and into various other left-of-center advocacy including economic redistribution, restricting campaign speech, LGBT rights, and opposition to free trade deals.

In January 2019 Friends of the Earth was a co-signatory on a letter that denounced nuclear power as “dirty energy” (nuclear power plants produce no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions). 1


Friends of the Earth’s U.S. branch was established in 1969. On the first Earth Day in 1970 Friends of the Earth and Ballantine Books published The Environmental Handbook: Prepared for the first National Environmental Teach-In, warning overpopulation would harm the planet. 2

The Friends of the Earth International Chair is Karin Nansen, a founding member of Friends of Earth Uruguay. 3

Erich Pica has been president of the U.S. branch of Friends of the Earth since 2009. Before becoming president, he was the organization’s director of domestic programs. Pica is the chairman of the board of the Partnership Project and Partnership Project Action Fund and sits on the executive committee of the Citizens Trade Campaign. 4

Political Initiatives

The organization’s finance and economics focus is to make companies pay for pollution and push them to transition to a low-carbon economy, through means such as carbon taxes. The organization opposes economically beneficial trade agreements. 5

Friends of the Earth criticized President Barack Obama for backing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and “fast track” negotiating authority. 6

Obama was generally considered as a president that pushed an environmentalist-friendly agenda, committing the United States to the Paris Climate Accord. However, FOE International labeled the agreement “a sham of a deal” that will “fail to deliver.” FOE spokesman Dipti Bhatnagar griped “Politicians say it is a fair and ambitious deal yet it is the complete opposite. People are being deceived.” 7

However, after Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in June 2017, the organization decried the action claiming it would “accelerate” climate change. 8

FOE also has a “Friends of Democracy” campaign that promotes electoral changes that it expects to favor the political left, including campaign speech regulation, restricting Republican efforts to draw legislative districts, and ending conservative electoral integrity efforts. 9

Green New Deal

Also see Green New Deal (Movement)

The organization is among the strongest proponent of a version of the “Green New Deal.” However, it has criticized the up to $90 trillion proposal characterized as a “radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire U.S. economy” put forward by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as too moderate since it does not “expressly call for an end of the fossil fuel era.” 10 11 12

The Ocasio-Cortez-Markey version of the bill was too extreme even to get the support of Democrats in a Senate procecudural vote. The Green New Deal died by a vote of 0-57, as three Democrats and one independent voted with all Senate Republicans against, while most Democrats abstained from voting. 13

Friends of the Earth calls for a plan that would “fight climate change while tackling issues of justice and rising inequity.” 14 Regarding the plans put forward in Congress, FOE president Erich Pica said, “The Green New Deal is a strong vision for the future, stuck in the politics of today.” 15

The organization wants global redistribution from the United States to pay for the rest of the world to transition to a green economy, stating on its website: 16

Although wealthy countries like the United States are most responsible for creating the climate crisis, the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are paying the highest price — in lives and livelihoods lost . . . .

Friends of the Earth U.S. advocates for the U.S. to provide its fair share of funding, commensurate with what science, justice, and equity demand.

In its zeal for natural foods, the FOE has also lectured African countries experiencing severe hunger for accepting U.S. food aid that contained genetically enhanced rice. 17


Before the Green New Deal included various non-environmental related initiatives in an environmental bill, Friends of the Earth tied environmentalism with various left-wing causes.

In December 2017, the FOE issued its “Statement of Commitment to Anti-Oppression” that tied the environment to other issues, which says: “We understand that the ways we interact with the environment and the burden of pollution we bear are closely tied to class, race, gender, age and other forms of identity. Groups confronting racial and economic injustice are often targeted by polluting industries and others who harm the environment for profit.” 18

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. 19 An October 2018 proposal from The Nature Conservancy noted that zero-carbon nuclear plants produced 7.8 percent of total world energy output and recommended reducing carbon emissions by increasing nuclear capacity to 33 percent of total world energy output. 20

In a September 2018 “Impact Story” titled “Ending Dangerous Nuclear Power,” Friends of the Earth criticized nuclear energy as a “dangerous and dirty technology.” The report boasted that Friends of the Earth had “been the United States’ leading voice opposing nuclear energy,” and claimed credit for closing or obstructing the creation of several nuclear power facilities since 1969. 21

Friends of the Earth was one of more than 600 co-signing organizations on a January 2019 open letter to Congress titled “Legislation to Address the Urgent Threat of Climate Change.” The signatories declared their support for new laws to bring about “100 percent decarbonization” of the transportation sector but denounced nuclear power as an example of “dirty energy” that should not be included in any legislation promoting the use of so-called “renewable energy.” 22

In May of 2021, Friends of the Earth was one of 715 groups and businesses listed as a co-signer on a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate that referred to nuclear energy as a “dirty” form of energy production and a “significant” source of pollution. The letter asked federal lawmakers to reduce carbon emissions by creating a “renewable electricity standard” that promoted production of weather dependent power sources such as wind turbines and solar panels, but did not promote low carbon natural gas and zero carbon nuclear energy. 23


  1. “Group letter to Congress urging Green New Deal passage.” League of Women Voters of the United States. Accessed August 12, 2021.
  2. Morrison, Richard. “The Dark Side of Earth Day.” The Daily Caller. April 22, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  3. Press Release. “Karin Nansen, New Chair of Friends of the Earth International.” January 12, 2017. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  4. Our Team. Friends of the Earth. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  5. Finance and Economic Systems. Friends of the Earth. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  6. Street, Jon. “Republicans Weren’t the Only Ones Criticizing Obama’s SOTU Address. Even Some of the Left are Vowing to Fight This Proposal.” TheBlaze. January 21, 2015.
  7. Editorial Board. “The Paris Climate Deal Was A ‘Fraud’ And a ‘Sham’ … Until Trump Decided to Ditch It.” Investors Business Daily. June 2, 2017. Accessed May 6, 2019.
  8. Press Release. “U.S. Exit From Paris Agreement Will Accelerate Climate Crisis.” Friends of the Earth. June 1, 2017. Accessed May 6, 2019.
  9. Democracy. Friends of the Earth. April 26, 2019.
  10. McConnell, Mitch. Twitter Post. March 25, 2019, 5:18 P.M. Accessed March 29, 2019.
  11. Press Release. “The Green New Deal is a Strong Vision for the future, Stuck in the politics of today. Congressional Green New Deal Resolution Falls Short on Fossil Fuels.” February 7, 2019. Accessed April 26.
  12. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, Dan Bosch, Ben Gitis, Dan Goldbeck, and Philip Rossetti. “The Green New Deal: Scope, Scale, and Implications.” American Action Forum. February 25, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2019.
  13. Nawaguna, Elvina. “Senate Democrats Dodge Vote on Gree New Deal Resolution.” Roll Call. March 26, 2019. Accessed May 6, 2019.
  14. Green New Deal. Friends of the Earth. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  15. Press Release. “The Green New Deal is a Strong Vision for the future, Stuck in the politics of today. Congressional Green New Deal Resolution Falls Short on Fossil Fuels.” February 7, 2019. Accessed April 26.
  16. Climate Finance. Friends of the Earth. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  17. Editorial Board. “The Only Way to Go Green.” Investor’s Business Daily. January 14, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2019.
  18. “Friends of the Earth Statement of Commitment to Anti-Oppression.” December 1, 2017. Accessed April 26, 2019.
  19. “Nuclear explained.” U.S. Energy Information Administration. Accessed August 16, 2021.
  20. “ The Science of Sustainability.” The Nature Conservancy. October 13, 2018. Accessed August 16, 2021.
  21. “Ending Dangerous Nuclear Power.” Friends of the Earth. September 24, 2018. Accessed August 12, 2021.
  22. “Group letter to Congress urging Green New Deal passage.” League of Women Voters of the United States. Accessed August 12, 2021.
  23. Letter from Center for Biological Diversity et. al. to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Joe Manchin, and Rep. Frank Pallone. “RE: CONGRESS SHOULD ENACT A FEDERAL RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD AND REJECT GAS AND FALSE SOLUTIONS.” May 12, 2021. Accessed July 25, 2023.*1c9h3t8*_gcl_au*MTc3NjM3MTM1Mi4xNjg5OTU1MzAz

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Paul Ehrlich
    Advisory Council
  2. Erich Pica
    President, Friends of the Earth-US
  3. Arlie Schardt
    Former Director
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1974

  • 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
    2018 Jun Form 990 $10,051,439 $11,618,561 $15,167,428 $2,677,770 Y $9,510,858 $0 $99,356 $297,811 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $12,545,714 $10,291,770 $16,255,176 $2,433,740 N $12,388,735 $0 $6,750 $361,646 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $10,486,418 $10,025,103 $13,914,852 $2,823,669 N $8,814,488 $0 $97,521 $315,790
    2015 Jun Form 990 $12,759,708 $9,657,628 $11,583,403 $1,002,321 N $10,300,205 $0 $29,886 $293,238 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $7,495,818 $6,456,320 $8,505,945 $978,259 N $7,367,430 $0 $7,234 $250,752 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $7,475,073 $6,132,604 $7,644,231 $1,198,227 N $7,316,381 $0 $10,300 $246,028 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $6,151,456 $4,455,364 $6,076,629 $980,878 N $5,960,936 $0 $7,152 $234,375 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $5,495,897 $4,494,732 $4,506,696 $1,098,712 N $5,228,405 $0 $18,170 $248,641 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Friends of the Earth

    1100 15TH ST NW STE 1100
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-1724