More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities and suburbs—and this number is skyrocketing.

NRDC programs help create strong, just, and resilient communities—making cities healthier, more sustainable places to live. We work to lower energy bills, reduce flooding, improve access to healthier food, and make it cheaper and easier for everyone to get around. And when polluters threaten communities, our lawyers go to court on their behalf. 

Our Priorities

Protecting Communities

Low-income communities are disproportionately affected by health problems associated with fossil fuels.

Sustainable Cities

More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in and around cities.

Energy-Efficient Buildings

Buildings are the single-biggest source of carbon pollution in most U.S. cities.

Climate-Resilient Cities

Thanks to better efficiency standards, Los Angeles now uses only as much water it did in the 1970s.

Local Food Systems

A typical American meal contains ingredients from five foreign countries.

What's at Stake

What you can do

5 ways city dwellers can spur climate action

What is your city doing about climate change? Ask your local leaders these five questions.

How to tackle fracking in your community

Take recycling to the next level—at home, at work, and in your community

How to protect your community from crude oil "bomb trains"

7 ways to flood-proof your house

More sustainable (and beautiful) alternatives to a grass lawn

How to call Congress

Ways to make change globally by acting locally

A step-by-step guide to protecting your community from dirty development projects

Keep the KXL tar sands pipeline out of Nebraska

Urge your governor to lead on climate action

Tell Trump we won't stop fighting global climate change

Delaware River Basin Commission to Consider Fracking Ban
Rob Friedman Kimberly Ong

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), the body responsible for regulating water quality in the Delaware River, announced yesterday that they will re-open a process that may lead to banning fracking in the watershed. Despite this, the resolution that has been put forward by the DRBC could open the Watershed to the dangers of fracking wastewater contamination and the withdrawal of freshwater for fracking elsewhere. This would be a dangerous mistake.

The Delaware River Basin extends from the Catskills in New York to parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, and is a vital water source for over 15 million people – about five percent of the nation's population. Recognizing the watershed’s outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational contributions to the nation, Congress has designated several segments of the Delaware River and its tributaries for protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Paddling on the Delaware River, Summer 2017

Mark Izeman

Yet despite the critical role it plays in the lives of millions of Americans, this unique area has been at risk to fracking for over ten years. While home to bass, spawning shad, trout, and one of the healthiest American eel populations in our country, the Delaware River Basin also sits on top of the Marcellus Shale, a prominent source of natural gas. For over seven years, NRDC and our allies have urged the DRBC to stop fracking in this important region. And since 2011, there has been a de facto moratorium on fracking and its associated activities.. 

Since then, the movement to ban fracking has been growing. In 2015, New York officially banned fracking across the entire state. Earlier this year this year, Maryland did the same, drawing on the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the dangers of fracking on public health. This summer, members of the public submitted 63,000 comments to the DRBC commissioners asking for a ban in the watershed. 

But a ban is by no means certain. The Commission has merely begun the process to start consider banning fracking in the Watershed. While initiating the process to vote on a fracking ban in the watershed is a step in the right direction, the resolution, as written, could present significant dangers to the Delaware River Basin. Specifically, the resolution states that the Commission will seek comment on opening the Watershed to storage, treatment, disposal and discharge of fracking wastewater, and allowing the withdrawal of water for fracking elsewhere. This would be a step backwards from the existing moratorium, which protects against all of these activities. Opening up the Watershed to fracking or any of its associated activities presents dangers for millions of people across the region.

Community members rally outside of the DRBC meeting this past summer.

Rob Friedman

The bottom line is that no regulations can fully protect our communities and the environment from the dangers of fracking and its associated activities. Only a full ban on fracking in the watershed is sufficient – and it must include all aspects of this dangerous practice, including the storage, treatment and disposal of wastewater.  

So – We are going to need your help in the coming months! 

Here is what you can do to help fight for a ban in the Delaware River Basin:

  • Show up. Show your support for the ban by joining me at the Commission’s next public business meeting. The meeting will take place tomorrow, September 13, 2017, at 10:30am at Linksz Pavilion, Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown, Pennsylvania.
  • Speak out. If you live in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware, call your governor and ask them to support a fracking ban in the Watershed.
  • Submit your comments. The Commission intends to release draft regulations related to fracking in the watershed no later than November 30, 2017. Once the draft regulations are released, the public has the opportunity to comment on the draft regulations. And we need you to say loud and clear that the Commission needs a ban without any language that could result in the storage, treatment, disposal and/pr discharge of fracking wastewater, or the withdrawal of water for fracking elsewhere.
Blog Post

The natural gas industry is actively trying to open the Delaware River Basin up to natural gas fracking—but we can stop them.

Blog Post

NRDC joined people from all walks of life in Washington Crossing, PA to speak at the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) business meeting in support of a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Watershed.

What's At Stake
Why We Must Stop the Flow of Tar Sands Oil
This dirty, dangerous oil, which is almost impossible to clean and affects the health of people, is bad news for our country—and the planet.

The following is a transcript of the video.

Anthony Swift, director, NRDC Canada Project: So right now, about two million barrels a day of tar sands oil is getting into the U.S., and most of it is coming in via pipelines.

The Canadian oil industry has plans to nearly double the amount of tar sands coming into the U.S.—by tanker, by barge, by rail, and by pipeline. These plans would be catastrophic for communities across the country, would increase the risks of tar sands pipeline spills and tar sands by rail spills.

We've seen even in our current situation over 400 spills on our pipeline system every year. That's over a spill a day.

Oil spills are always bad news, but many people don't realize that tar sand spills are even worse. When tar sands is spilled in water bodies, it will sink. Take, for example, in 2010, a pipeline ruptured and spilled a million gallons of tar sands into the Kalamazoo River.

Our responders found they didn't have the tools to clean or contain that spill, and the end result was a cleanup that cost over $1 billion, and over 40 miles of the river is still contaminated with tar sands, nearly six years after the spill.

Tar sands oil is some of the dirtiest oil in the world. One of the byproducts is petcoke, or petroleum coke. It's a coal-like substance that builds up in piles in refineries that process tar sands, and those petcoke piles pose major health risks to the communities that surround them.

We're finding tar sands also produces air pollution, which increases incidences of respiratory illnesses and asthma in communities that live around these tar sand refineries.

No matter what Big Oil says, the United States does not need more tar sands. Neither does Canada.

And you know, we've got new solutions that are cleaner for our communities and better for our climate.

If the public rallies together, we can stop these dangerous, dirty projects, and protect our future for decades to come.

Sign NRDC's solidarity pledge against the Keystone XL

Policy Primer

Yes, Trump has green-lighted the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. But Nebraska’s got a slew of public hearings on the calendar, and legal challenges loom large.

Action Figure

The founder of Bold Nebraska has led the Cornhusker State’s years-long rallying cry against TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline.


How a single pipeline project became the epicenter of an enormous environmental battle

Midwest Dispatch

Meet some of the people who are striving to stop TransCanada’s dirty tar sands oil pipeline once and for all.

On Location

Residents of coastal Maine speak out against the dangerous transport of Canada’s tar sands oil through U.S. waters.

Personal Action

Are you one of the 25 million Americans who live along a crude-by-rail route? Here's how to find out and what you can do about it.

NRDC in Action

For more than a decade, we've fought to keep this filthy fossil fuel from being dredged up and piped through the United States.

onEarth Story

In Donald Trump’s war on the environment, Americans’ complacency is his greatest ally.

onEarth Story

Five years ago, a pipeline spilled a million gallons of tar sands crude into a Michigan river—and we’re still cleaning it up.

onEarth Story

A new study finds that even small smudges of oil can have huge impacts on flight and a bird’s energy budget.


Tar sands oil is harder to clean up than conventional crude. Here are the reasons why.

onEarth Story

The strong, erratic currents of the Straits of Mackinac could make an oil spill disastrous for two lakes and a whole lot of coastline.


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