NRDC Victories 2014:
The Change We Make Together
This is what success looks like.
Joining forces with partners and supporters across the globe, NRDC broke new ground this year in the fight for our communities, our wild heritage, and the natural systems on which all life depends. From protecting the health of millions through food-safety regulations, to defending endangered sea life, to leading the way with a breakthrough plan for limiting carbon pollution, we advanced potent solutions to the most complex challenges of our time. Together, we're getting the job done.
WE PROTECT. Backed by 1.4 million members and online activists, NRDC helped keep our most cherished wildlife and wild places -- and all who rely on them -- safe from harmful pollution, illegal trading, and other threats.
WE DEFEND. Working with a broad range of partners -- from community groups to business leaders to the federal government -- we secured strict measures to keep toxic dangers out of our homes and waterways.
WE LEAD THE WAY. NRDC convened key stakeholders to create and implement innovative strategies to combat climate change, restore our oceans, and build a clean energy future.
Creating a Clean Energy Future
To protect future generations from climate change, we must start cutting carbon pollution today. In 2012, NRDC devised a groundbreaking strategy that would put the first-ever national limits on CO2 from power plants. This June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed limits inspired by our innovative plan. Once implemented, they will reduce carbon pollution from power plants more than a quarter by 2020, and 30 percent by 2030, from 2005 levels. NRDC is not only steering a coalition to protect these new standards from polluters and politicians but also galvanizing the public to take action, as we did when we helped bring more than 400,000 activists to New York City for the People's Climate March in September. And we'll keep fighting for a clean energy world by looking for more ways to cut CO2, reduce pollution, and increase energy efficiency.
Cleaner Cars on the Road
Cars are a major source of carbon pollution, especially in California. Building on our success in gaining national clean car standards, we partnered with environmental justice and community-based groups as well as labor and health organizations to support electric vehicle legislation in the state. The Charge Ahead California initiative aims to put one million electric vehicles on the road over the next 10 years.
Limiting Pollution from Cars and Trucks
NRDC won the fight for EPA standards that will strictly regulate harmful emissions from vehicle tailpipes, which cause up to 45 percent of soot and smog pollution. This will save up to $19 billion in annual health costs.
New York Bans Fracking
After nearly seven years of pressure from NRDC, our allies, and individuals both near and far, New York took a stand against Big Oil and banned fracking in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo let science -- science that's repeatedly deemed fracking unsafe -- guide his historic decision and, ultimately, our future.
More Efficient Buildings in Chicago
Through our groundbreaking City Energy Project, we're working with ten U.S. cities to promote energy efficiency in existing buildings. Our Retrofit Chicago program will help 47 buildings lower energy use by 20 percent over five years, saving millions in energy costs.
Wildlife and Wildlands
In Defense of Wolves
Wyoming's wolf-management plan, which allowed these animals to be shot on sight across more than 80 percent of the state, failed to protect them. NRDC and our allies defended the wolves in federal court, and in September they finally regained their endangered species status. Our nationwide wildlife advocacy also helped pass a law that, for the first time, gives Illinois the authority to protect wolves, mountain lions, and black bears from unregulated shooting.
Saving Alaska's Pristine, Wild Places
Bristol Bay, whose untouched waters are home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, is being threatened by 10 billion tons of contaminated mining waste. With local partners, NRDC has been working for years to protect the area from destruction. Finally, in 2014, mining heavyweight Rio Tinto announced its divestment from the proposed Pebble Mine project, and NRDC helped compel the EPA to propose new rules that would block the massive mine. We'll continue to push the agency to finish what it started.
Mountain Monuments Preservation
After a decade of pressure from NRDC and community organizations, the White House made national monuments of California's San Gabriel Mountains and New Mexico's Organ Mountains, which together encompass more than 800,000 acres of historical landmarks and abundant wildlife. NRDC remains committed to safeguarding our natural treasures, seeking similar protections for the Greater Canyonlands and the Arctic.
Protecting Elephants from Ivory Trade
With 30,000 forest elephants killed for their tusks every year, these majestic animals could be gone within a decade. In August, NRDC pushed two of America's largest ivory markets, New York and New Jersey, to ban ivory sales and establish harsher penalties for traffickers. NRDC will continue the fight, with plans to take state-level bans to California, the second biggest ivory market in the States, and is working to strengthen federal restrictions.
Victory for the Rivers of Patagonia
The people of Chile and members of NRDC stood up to energy companies that planned to build five mega-dams on two of Patagonia's wildest rivers, resulting in a government shutdown of the ill-advised project. We didn't stop there. We also offered an alternative solution: a clean, renewable energy plan that will complement increased energy efficiency and help power the country while protecting Patagonia’s rich biological and cultural diversity.
Protect Our Health
Keeping Families Safe from Toxics at Home
Our homes should be a safe retreat. But until now, consumers have been largely unaware of potential health threats from toxic chemicals in couches and other furniture. NRDC is working to keep our homes healthy: California recently passed an NRDC-cosponsored bill requiring furniture manufacturers to label products that contain flame-retardant chemicals, which are associated with cancer and other serious diseases.
Taking Antibiotics Off the Table
A staggering 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are administered to livestock and poultry -- usually healthy animals. Such rampant overuse is a serious risk to public health, rendering the medicine less effective for treating people. Thanks to NRDC's mounting pressure and a push to educate consumers and policymakers, the industry is changing for the better: Poultry giants like Perdue Farms, Tyson, and Chick-fil-A announced antibiotics-reduction initiatives, while California's governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed for unnecessary drug use in livestock.
Cleaner Ports, Cleaner Air in China
In the 1990s, the shipping industry was a prime source of serious air pollution in port cities like Los Angeles, which now has one of the world’s greenest ports after NRDC tackled the problem. In 2014, we took our clean-ports blueprint to China, where we have a 25-year history of environmental work. We partnered with groups in Shenzhen and Shanghai, home of the planet's largest port, to help reduce air pollution, which caused an estimated 1.2 million premature deaths in the country in 2010.
Preparing India for a Warming World
Warning systems exist for various natural disasters—but not for extreme heat. Building on last year's successful first extreme-heat early warning system and preparedness plan in South Asia, NRDC created the 2014 Heat Action Plan for Ahmedabad, India, which has revolutionized the city's approach to public-health management on dangerously hot days. India’s government is now exploring expanding the system across its states.
Revive Our Oceans
Safeguarding Our Seas
Oil drilling, toxic runoff, and plastic trash threaten the oceans more than ever before. Add in the fact that up to 90 percent of the world's large ocean fish have been wiped out by overfishing, and it's easy to see why ocean protection is more critical than ever. With our partners, we helped convince President Obama to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to nearly 490,000 square miles, a vast area that includes coral gardens, underwater mountain ranges, and abundant sea life.
Safe and Sufficient Water
Cleaning Up L.A. Rivers
Following a six-year legal battle, NRDC scored a victory when a federal appeals court found Los Angeles County liable for the untreated storm water polluting the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, which flow into Southern California's beaches and threaten the health of millions. To ensure the government acts on this ruling, we're pushing for infrastructure changes, such as a system to capture polluted runoff and reuse as much storm water as possible.
Safe Housing for All New Yorkers
Four hundred thousand people live in the New York City Housing Authority's low-income residences, many of which are plagued by pervasive mold and excessive moisture, exacerbating asthma and other health issues. Challenging the city's failure to provide healthy housing, NRDC stepped in on behalf of tenants and community groups. As a result, in a landmark environmental justice settlement, NYCHA agreed to begin cleaning up its act.
Leading the Way
A Call for Responsible Investing
With financial firms FTSE and BlackRock, NRDC steered the way for transforming green economics by catalyzing the launch of a first-of-its-kind global index strategy. It excludes companies that focus on fossil-fuel exploration or extraction, sending a strong message to investors, financial markets, and the public about the urgent need to keep carbon in the ground and address climate change. We also organized other groups to formally recognize divestment as a strategy at the 2014 U.N. Climate Summit, bolstering recruitment of new divesting institutions.