Non-profit

Riverkeeper

Updated Riverkeeper logo (link)
Location:

OSSINING, NY

Tax ID:

13-3204621

DUNS Number:

09-322-3886

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $5,444,032
Expenses: $4,519,656
Assets: $4,041,075

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Riverkeeper is an environmental conservation group that advocates for the protection of the ecosystem of the Hudson River in New York state, as well as the New York State water supply for public use and natural habitats. 1 It signed a petition supporting the Green New Deal. 2 3

Riverkeeper was founded in 1966 as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association (HRFA). The organization officially changed its name to “Riverkeeper” in 1986. It was formally incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in 1984. 4

Riverkeeper publishes reports on the water systems of New York State, as well as reports on its own activities and efforts to the conservation movement. Riverkeeper has been reaching out to Hudson River waterfront communities to encourage engagement with its conservation efforts and legislative advocacy. Riverkeeper has also previously advocated against the use of zero carbon nuclear energy. 5 6

As of 2023, Ernest Tollerson is the chair of the board. Tollerson has previously worked as a journalist for 25 years and was former director of environmental sustainability and compliance at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), New York’s public transportation agency. He was previously a trustee of Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) from 2004 to 2013, as well as a board chair and interim president and CEO. 7

Background

Riverkeeper was founded in 1966 as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association (HRFA). 8 It was founded to respond to the status of the Hudson River, which it claims was essentially dying due to hazardous waste from factories and dumping practices. A group of Hudson River fishermen led by Bob Boyle created the group because the fish they would catch reeked of oil, and they sought to utilize a federal law that had fallen out of use to curb the oil spills. Tom Whyatt worked as HRFA’s first “Riverkeeper” in the 1970s, meaning someone who would monitor the Hudson for pollution. 9

In 1983, HFRA hired John Cronin to serve as its first full-time Riverkeeper and monitored the river with a patrol boat. The organization officially changed its name to “Riverkeeper” in 1986. 10 It was formally incorporated as a charitable organization in 1984. 11

Activities

Riverkeeper advocates for people to minimize their impact on the environment by conserving water, reducing car travel or “other reasons for using gasoline,” not using traditional fertilizers, properly disposing of pharmaceuticals, and finding alternatives to soaps and detergent. 12 Riverkeeper has a page on its website dedicated to what it claims are the toxic effects of pharmaceuticals when improperly disposed of, and advocates for people to make use of taxpayer-funded National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days, which are held in April and October in most places in the United States. 13

Research and Reporting

In 2022, Riverkeeper advocated for climate studies to be conducted, and continue its land preservation efforts. It also fought to prevent New York City’s management agency overseeing the Ashokan Reservoir from contributing to the erosion of Lower Esopus Creek through its “stop the mud” campaign. New York State agreed to force the city to seek alternatives for muddy water dumping. 14 That same year, Riverkeeper teamed up with city governments in Peekskill, Newburgh, Ossining, and Hudson 7 communities to support new regulations and programs for water-source protection. It also helped convince New York State to pass laws that would help protect water supplies from PFAS, a toxic chemical that often seeps into water systems. 15

Riverkeeper allows supporters to report a “pollution violation” they have observed, claiming that watchdog reports from community members are a key aspect of its environmental enforcement activities, and has previously responded to community-submitted reports of superfund sites, oil spills, and dead fish. 16

Riverkeeper publishes reports on the water systems of New York State, as well as reports on its own activities and efforts to the conservation movement. 17

Hudson River Conservancy

Riverkeeper has a page on its website discussing climate change and the ways it impacts the Hudson River, claiming that the Hudon’s temperature has increased by four degrees Fahrenheit and that its water level has increased by one foot (though the website does not specify since when). It also claims that drinking water supplies “are profoundly challenged by pollutants associated with runoff,” while also claiming that extreme flooding is costing lives and destroying communities and infrastructure. 18

Riverkeeper warns that with increasing population sizes alongside the Hudson River, there will be large amounts of people exposed to increasing risks of climate change, sewage pollution, and toxins. In response, Riverkeeper has been reaching out to waterfront communities to get them engaged with its conservation efforts and legislation advocacy. 19

Opposition to Nuclear Energy

Riverkeeper has repeatedly opposed the use of nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants produce no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions, and as of 2021 accounted for 19 percent of American electricity production—the largest source of zero carbon electricity in the United States. 20 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. 21

Riverkeeper advocated for the closure of the nuclear power plant at the Indian Point Energy Center, once the source of 25 percent of the electricity for New York City. Contrary to claims by Riverkeeper and others, the plant was not replaced by weather-dependent energy sources such as wind and solar. The New York Times reported that Indian Point’s zero-carbon electricity was mostly replaced by power plants burning natural gas. 22 23

Riverkeeper was one of over 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.” 24

In May of 2021, Riverkeeper 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. 25

Financials

According to Riverkeeper’s website, in 2022 it made a total of $5,065,794 in revenue and spent a total of $5,103,121. 26

Riverkeeper claims private patrons, corporations, government officials, and members among its more than 5,000 donors. 27

Leadership

President

As of 2023, Riverkeeper’s president is Tracy Brown. Brown is the fourth person to serve as the organization’s president since its founding. She was previously the regional director of water protection at Save the Sound, a conservation effort for the Long Island Sound; Brown founded its New York office and helped facilitate the merger of Long Island Soundkeeper with Save the Sound. She created a water quality monitoring program and reporting tools, and she also secured ten times the amount of federal funding for its estuary program than it had previously. 28

Board

As of 2023, Ernest Tollerson was serving as the chair of the board. He has been a journalist for 25 years and is the former director of environmental sustainability and compliance at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), New York’s public transportation agency. He has also sat as a trustee of Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) from 2004 to 2013, as well as a board chair and interim president and CEO. He advised on its programs for climate change and inequality. As of 2023, Tollerson also sat on the boards of Environmental Advocates NY, the Regional Plan Association, the Hudson River Foundation, the South Street Seaport Museum, and the New York Historical Society. 29

As of 2023, Jeffrey Scales was serving as the chair of the group’s advisory board. He had a 35-year career as a financial advisor, having founded JSA Sustainable Wealth Management in 2005. The firm is a B Corp and aligned with the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda. Scales is the chief impact officer for Longwave Financial. He is a board member of numerous welfare and environmentalist groups, including Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy and EARTH University in Costa Rica. 30

Other Roles

John Lipscomb works as the boat captain, a role that has existed since the 1980s. Riverkeeper hires a boat captain to use its patrol boat and monitor the Hudson River for signs of pollution. 31 32

References

  1. “About Us.” Riverkeeper. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/.
  2. “Green New Deal Hub.” Influence Watch. https://www.influencewatch.org/hub/green-new-deal/.
  3. “Our Story.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-story/.
  4. “Our Story.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-story/.
  5. 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. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/energy-justice/pdfs/2021-5-12_600-Group-Letter-for-RES.pdf?_gl=1*1c9h3t8*_gcl_au*MTc3NjM3MTM1Mi4xNjg5OTU1MzAz
  6. “Beyond Indian Point.” Riverkeeper. Accessed November 10, 2021. https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/indian-point/
  7. “Ernest Tollerson.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-board/ernest-tollerson/.
  8. “Tracy Brown.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-team/tracy-brown/.
  9. “Our Story.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-story/.
  10. “Our Story.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-story/.
  11. “Our Financials.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/financials/.
  12. “Minimize Your Impact.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/get-involved/minimize-your-impact/.
  13. “Pharmaceuticals.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/water-quality/pharmaceuticals/.
  14. “Our Financials.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/financials/.
  15. “Our Financials.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/financials/.
  16. “Report A Pollution Violation.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/get-involved/violations/.
  17. “Publications.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/publications/.
  18. “Climate Impacts.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/climate-impacts/.
  19. “Restore & Protect NYC Waterways.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/restore-nyc-waterways/.
  20. “Nuclear explained.” U.S. Energy Information Administration. Accessed August 16, 2021. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/nuclear/us-nuclear-industry.php>
  21. “The Science of Sustainability.” The Nature Conservancy. October 13, 2018. Accessed August 16, 2021. https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/the-science-of-sustainability/
  22. “Beyond Indian Point.” Riverkeeper. Accessed November 10, 2021. https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/indian-point/
  23. McGeehan, Patrick. “Indian Point Is Shutting Down. That Means More Fossil Fuel.” New York Times. April 12, 2021. Accessed November 10, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/12/nyregion/indian-point-power-plant-closing.html
  24. “Group letter to Congress urging Green New Deal passage.” Earthworks. January 10, 2019. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.earthworks.org/publications/group-letter-to-congress-urging-green-new-deal-passage/
  25. 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. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/energy-justice/pdfs/2021-5-12_600-Group-Letter-for-RES.pdf?_gl=1*1c9h3t8*_gcl_au*MTc3NjM3MTM1Mi4xNjg5OTU1MzAz
  26. “Our Financials.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/financials/.
  27. “Our Financials.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/financials/.
  28. “Tracy Brown.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-team/tracy-brown/.
  29. “Ernest Tollerson.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-board/ernest-tollerson/.
  30. “Jeff Scales.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/volunteer-leadership/advisory-board/jeff-scales/.
  31. “Our Story.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/riverkeeper-mission/our-story/.
  32. “Stop Polluters.” Riverkeeper. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1984

  • 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
    2021 Jun Form 990 $5,444,032 $4,519,656 $4,041,075 $571,176 N $4,529,074 $3,448 $443 $252,505 PDF
    2020 Jun Form 990 $4,350,277 $4,159,383 $3,190,410 $644,887 N $3,765,340 $30,652 $846 $221,896 PDF
    2019 Jun Form 990 $4,252,592 $3,969,312 $2,429,876 $75,247 N $3,415,317 $27,658 $55 $196,817 PDF
    2018 Jun Form 990 $3,895,801 $4,337,617 $2,145,454 $74,105 N $3,757,484 $27,490 $356 $216,461 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $4,100,482 $4,274,476 $2,714,293 $201,128 N $4,032,516 $90,132 $323 $213,044 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $4,632,230 $4,409,831 $3,009,712 $322,553 N $4,513,699 $156,738 $148 $290,614 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $5,081,607 $4,150,449 $2,885,292 $420,532 N $5,005,233 $90,094 $151 $275,257 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $4,068,779 $3,772,972 $1,661,736 $128,134 N $3,949,130 $81,058 $229 $200,393 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $3,551,150 $3,591,439 $1,375,749 $137,954 N $3,505,308 $57,376 $1,053 $276,868 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $3,660,867 $3,758,953 $1,903,722 $625,638 N $3,083,161 $557,916 $1,870 $198,345 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $3,831,322 $3,771,915 $1,594,867 $218,697 N $2,729,583 $1,128,995 $5,088 $463,798 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Riverkeeper

    20 SECOR RD
    OSSINING, NY 10562-4645