Also see Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (nonprofit)
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is one of the nation’s largest environmentalist groups. The group has more than $180 million in assets to fund its programs and has been accused of “using baseless scare campaigns to drum up press and funding.”
If was formed in 1970 by a small group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today, it claims more than 2 million members and online activists, which includes 500 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates to advance the environmentalist agenda.
Critics of NRDC argue that some of the council’s stances have made life harder for farmers and other industries. Environmentalists have expressed concern that NRDC’s endowment holdings in the gas and oil industry might expose NRDC and the movement to charges of hypocrisy.
NRDC helped back a campaign by SeaWeb in the late 1990s called “Give Swordfish a Break,” claiming that the species was being overfished. But Rebecca Lent, director of the Highly Migratory Species Division at the National Marine Fisheries Services, said that was an exaggeration. “Swordfish are not considered endangered,” she said. “I think [the campaign] will end up having a detrimental effect on our fishermen. I know a lot…who have lost their jobs already.”
The council opposed the Water Rights Protection Act. That legislation, which stalled in the U.S. Senate in 2016 after previously being stymied by Democratic Party opposition in 2014, would have prevented federal agencies from requiring certain entities to give up water rights to use public lands. Bill proponents, such as farmers and ski area operators, said existing policy, which NRDC supported, could deny them water rights for which they had already paid.
“Sue and Settle”
A Washington Examiner investigation discovered at least nine examples of NRDC participating in a “sue and settle” process (among more than 70 examples of the practice among left-leaning groups) with the Environmental Protection Agency during the first term of the Obama administration. In this process, a group sues the EPA in federal court to get the agency to issue new regulations by a certain date. The EPA and the plaintiff then meet behind closed doors and agree on a deal. Finally, a judge issues a consent decree making that agreement – usually whatever the group wanted done – the law.
NRDC took aim at President Donald Trump following his inauguration, criticizing his disdain for President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and for green-lighting the Keystone XL pipeline. NRDC urged its followers to “tell Congress to stand up to Trump’s anti-environment agenda.” The State Department said the pipeline, which will move tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas, serves the nation by protecting American interests in energy security.
The Natural Resources Defense Council released a report in September of 2017 detailing its new goal to stop restaurants from purchasing meat from farmers who utilize antibiotics in their animal care. 
Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
In April 2021, the NRDC celebrated the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York.  NRDC cited concerns about plant safety due to a series of incidents including a transformer fire, radioactive spills, and failed accident drills. After Indian Point was built in the 1960s, researchers found out that it was located in a seismic zone and that seismic activity “could exceed the earthquake design for the facility,” according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel on the issue.  NRDC claimed that New York’s renewable energy sources will be able to make up for the loss of power provided by Indian Point with solar and wind energy.  However, the New York Times reported that more fossil fuels were burned in New York to make up for the closure of Indian Point and that Indian Point had been producing more power than all of the wind turbines and solar panels in New York combined. 
Pesticide Action Network
Also see Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) (nonprofit)
NRDC joined the Pesticide Action Network in April 2017 in suing the EPA over its decision against banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide some have linked to nervous system and brain disorders. The pesticide is heavily used by farmers, who opposed a ban. NRDC had originally sued the EPA during the Obama administration to pressure the agency to propose a ban.
The NRDC was the main promoter of a hoax in that led to the “Great Apples Scare” of 1989. The group claimed that apples sprayed with the chemical Alar—a plant-growth regulating powder used to prevent the pre-harvest rotting of apples—could give people cancer. The NRDC claimed that “the average pre-schooler’s exposure was estimated to result in a cancer risk 240 times greater than the cancer risk considered acceptable by [the Environmental Protection Agency] following a full lifetime of exposure.”
Environmentalists—most notably actress Meryl Streep—falsely claimed that children would develop cancer by eating apples treated with Alar, causing the apple industry to take a major hit as parents stopped buying the fruit for their children and schools stopped purchasing it as well.
While the NRDC was the main promoter of the hoax, it used the Tides Foundation as a go-between to pay the fees for Fenton Communications, which promoted the story in the media.   The campaign eventually resulted in the Environmental Protection Agency banning Alar in 1989.
A lab study conducted by the American Council on Science and Health in 1999 showed that a consumer would need to consume over 5,000 gallons of Alar-laced apple juice per day to reach the NRDC’s cancer risk claims. Dr. Richard Adamson, director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Etiology, later said: “The risk of eating an apple treated with Alar is less than the risk of eating a peanut butter sandwich or a well-done hamburger.” 
Rhea Suh serves as president. She previously worked as assistant secretary for policy, management, and budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior under President Obama. Before that, she developed environmental programs at the left-leaning David and Lucile Packard Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Prior to Suh assuming the office, Frances Beinecke served as president and NRDC reported paying her $493,864 in total compensation in 2014, according to the organization’s IRS 990 form. That document reveals that NRDC reported paying just shy of $50 million in total salaries and wages that year, with at least 17 employees making total compensation of more than $200,000 each.
Daniel Tishman serves as the chairman of the board of trustees. Tishman is CEO of Tishman Realty & Construction Company. In 2006, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (then-R, now I), a prominent environmentalist funder, appointed him to the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board, which helped advise his administration’s environmental policy.
Other board members includes Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford, singer James Taylor, 501 Development Corporation founder Peter Morton, environmental activist Tom Roush and 11th Hour Project founder Wendy Schmidt.
NRDC reports $155,192,637 in revenue and $126,749,686 in expenses on its IRS 990 form for 2015.
Energy Foundation is a major funder of NRDC, having given nearly $3 million in 2011, for example. That organization opposes fossil fuels and is heavily backed by environmental activist and billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer has made substantialprofits from investments in oil and gas, particularly with Farallon Capital, which Steyer founded in 1986.
NRDC itself may also benefit from the success of companies that deal in fossil fuels, fueling charges of hypocrisy. The Nation found in an investigation that the council holds stocks in mutual funds and other assets that do not screen for fossil fuels.
NRDC paid Washington, D.C.-based Devine Mulvey, Inc. $5,592,029 for media consulting services in 2014. The council provides grants to a variety of organizations with aligned missions. Examples from 2014 include $15,000 to Alaska Wilderness League, $103,000 to the Blue Green Alliance, $89,500 to Catskill Mountainkeeper, $1.2 million to Partnership Project, Inc., and $33,000 to West Harlem Environmental Action.