Our Victories


  • NRDC took the U.S. Navy to court over its high-intensity sonar and explosive training off the coasts of Southern California and Hawaii. In September, after a major legal victory and extensive negotiations, the navy agreed to put significant marine mammal habitat off-limits to such training exercises.
  • NRDC worked in New York for years to ensure that science—not industry—guided the state’s decision on fracking. That advocacy paid off in June, when New York State officially banned fracking due to possible public health risks.
  • In 2000, NRDC and the Maine People’s Alliance brought a lawsuit against the chemical company Mallinckrodt, which for decades dumped mercury in the Penobscot River, one of Maine’s most spectacular and mightiest waterways. In September, after 15 years of litigation, a judge ordered the company to clean up its mess once and for all.
  • When TransCanada filed a permit application for its Keystone XL pipeline in 2008, NRDC was the only environmental group to stand up against its construction. In November, after seven years of tireless advocacy, President Obama officially rejected the dirty tar sands oil pipeline.
  • After years of advocacy by NRDC and other concerned groups, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to protect 27 deep-sea canyons in the mid-Atlantic in addition to a huge swath of deep-sea habitat. At about 38,000 square miles, it’s the largest ocean area in the U.S. Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico that's protected from destructive fishing equipment.
  • On Chicago’s Southeast Side, NRDC worked with community groups to battle a Koch brothers–affiliated company over piles of petcoke—a dusty, toxic byproduct of oil refining that was coating the neighborhood. In February, BP announced it would stop shipping petcoke for storage in Chicago; the company holding the piles was forced to close one of its sites and remove petcoke from a second.


  • Six of America's largest school districts began serving antibiotic-free chicken for school lunch—abiding by an “antibiotic stewardship” that NRDC helped develop. The Urban School Food Alliance, as the districts are collectively known, buys $552 million worth of food and supplies every year, significant purchasing power that could help increase demand across the country for chicken raised without drugs.
  • In 2012, NRDC and other organizations had filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in Wyoming. Two years later, in September 2014, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the FWS had indeed violated the law.
  • About 30,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year—a rate that could send the animals to extinction within a decade. That’s why NRDC pushed New York and New Jersey, two of America’s largest markets for the illegal ivory trade, to ban ivory sales and establish harsher penalties for traffickers.
  • In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a groundbreaking plan—inspired by NRDC’s 2012 strategy—to put the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The standards represent one of the most important steps the United States has taken to slow climate change.
  • After eight years of campaigning by the people of Chile and members of NRDC, the Chilean government finally decided to shut down an ill-advised project to build five mega-dams on two of Patagonia’s wildest waterways. NRDC and our allies also offered a clean, renewable energy alternative to help power the country while protecting the Patagonia region.
  • Through the innovative City Energy Project, a joint initiative with the Institute for Market Transformation, NRDC helped 10 cities jump-start a boost in energy efficiency by, among other things, retrofitting old buildings. Together, the cities could lower energy bills by $1 billion annually and cut five to seven tons of carbon emissions every year.


  • Thanks to a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit brought by NRDC and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, the New York City Housing Authority will address the severe mold and moisture problems that plague many of its low-income public housing residences—home to about 400,000 people.
  • The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2008 decision to protect polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The 2008 listing, the first due solely to the threat from global warming, resulted from a 2005 petition and litigation by NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Greenpeace.
  • In response to a 2012 lawsuit filed by NRDC and our partners, a U.S. district court judge ruled in May 2013 that the federal government’s decision to allow oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Cook Inlet—home to an endangered beluga whale population—violated three federal statutes, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. 
  • After a 2008 lawsuit brought by NRDC and Los Angeles Waterkeeper, a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in August that Los Angeles County is responsible for cleaning up two of its waterways, polluted by toxic mercury, arsenic, cyanide, lead, and fecal bacteria in billions of gallons of stormwater runoff.


  • After years of advocacy by NRDC together with Mexican and international partners, Mexican President Felipe Calderón canceled a massive tourism development project next to the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, home to vulnerable marine life and the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortés.
  • In response to a lawsuit filed by NRDC and partners, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must address the growing health threat to humans from the overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Despite concluding in 1977 that such misuse could promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the FDA had not taken any action to tackle the threat.
  • The California Fish and Game Commission voted to complete a network of marine reserves, the final link in a system of more than 100 underwater parks from Oregon to Mexico. The decision, which came after a dozen years of NRDC advocacy, will help protect the unique nearshore ocean ecosystems while providing a safety net for fisheries.
  • NRDC launched the Community Fracking Defense Project, which will provide legal and policy assistance to communities wishing to protect themselves against the risks of fracking.


  • NRDC beat back the spread of dirty fuels from liquid coal to oil shale and tar sands by blocking new coal-fired power plants and a first-of-its-kind coal-to-liquid plant, and by stopping the Keystone pipeline, which would have drained dirty tar sands oil from Canada into the United States before most of it was exported.
  • Following a decade of powerful lobbying by NRDC, President Barack Obama announced an agreement with 13 automakers in July 2011 to strengthen pollution and fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. The tougher standards will cut U.S. oil consumption by about 1.5 million barrels per day by 2030 and generate about $80 billion annually in consumer fuel savings by 2030.
  • Following seven years of steady pressure and rigorous oversight by NRDC and our partners, the world's leading fishing nations signed a landmark treaty to protect more than 16 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean from unregulated bottom trawling.
  • NRDC scored two landmark victories for North America's last wild forests after a long legal battle supported by a broad group of supporters, protecting more than 11 million acres of North American forests—roughly the size of five Yellowstone National Parks.
  • After decades of fighting, NRDC saw the Obama Administration announce new standards to reduce mercury, lead, and other toxic pollution, as well as soot and smog causing pollution, from power plants—a major breakthrough for the health of American families.


  • In response to NRDC advocacy and litigation, the EPA announced the complete ban of a long-lasting neurological and reproductive toxic called endosulfan and the removal of cancer-causing carbaryl from pet collars, a use which is particularly dangerous to children.
  • In a major court victory in 2010, NRDC halted plans to drill in millions of acres spanning Alaska's Chukchi Sea, one of the United States' two Polar Bear Seas.
  • NRDC provided technical and policy guidance to the U.S. Department of Energy on new energy efficiency measures, including federal standards for home water heaters that will save consumers $10 billion over 30 years and reduce carbon emissions by 160 million tons.


  • After a seven-year battle, waged by NRDC and others in the courts and legislative halls, California gets the go-ahead from the EPA to regulate global warming pollution from cars, setting the stage for national reform.
  • In response to a lawsuit by NRDC and others, the U.S. Department of the Interior cancels 77 Bush-era oil and gas drilling leases in Utah's red-rock country, preserving more than 100,000 acres of wilderness.


  • NRDC works closely with Congress, industry and the Bush administration to ban the export of mercury, a move that will help keep the dangerous neurotoxin out of tuna and other fish, protecting the health of countless women and children worldwide.
  • NRDC attorneys successfully defend the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge against Shell's plan to drill exploratory oil wells off its spectacular, wildlife-filled coastline.


  • NRDC and our partners win a historic Supreme Court ruling that global warming emissions are "pollutants" under the Clean Air Act and that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to curb those pollutants.


  • NRDC legal action leads the Bush administration to propose protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act—a crucial first step toward saving the bear from the ravages of global warming.


  • NRDC staves off the Bush administration's attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.


  • NRDC is the only international environmental organization asked to help develop China's national plan for energy efficiency.
  • NRDC secures an efficiency standard that will save consumers $1 billion a year on energy bills.
  • NRDC takes the Bush administration to court and blocks its dangerous plan to allow 20,000 aging power plants, refineries and factories to spew millions of tons of pollution into our air.


  • NRDC wins a federal court case stopping the worldwide deployment of a U.S. Navy sonar system that would have blasted oceans with noise so intense it could maim, deafen and kill whales.


  • NRDC is instrumental is securing the passage of a first-of-its-kind law designed to cut global warming pollution from cars and trucks sold in California.
  • Working with a coalition of environmental groups, NRDC goes to federal court and blocks the Bush administration from allowing oil exploration in thousands of acres of public wildlands next to Arches National Park in Utah.


  • NRDC's decade-long campaign to reduce arsenic in drinking water culminates with the EPA adopting stricter standards for tap water treatment.
  • NRDC helps secure an agreement among logging companies, environmentalists, native peoples and the government of British Columbia to protect millions of acres of the Great Bear Rainforest - home of the rare white Spirit Bear - from logging.


  • NRDC's Give Swordfish a Break campaign persuades the federal government to issue stronger protections for north Atlantic swordfish.
  • NRDC's worldwide campaign forces the Mitsubishi Corporation to abandon its plan to construct a massive salt factory next to the last unspoiled breeding ground of the gray whale.


  • NRDC plays a key role in a 200-group coalition that convinces President Clinton to protect 40 million acres of undisturbed, unlogged roadless areas in national forests.
  • NRDC lawsuit forces the EPA to require coal-fired power plants to monitor and report publicly on their mercury emissions.
  • NRDC helps win commitments from over 200 companies, including Kinko's, 3M, Starbucks, and Home Depot, to help save temperate rainforests by phasing out their use and sale of old-growth wood products.


  • President Clinton approves new EPA standards for ozone smog and particulate pollution at NRDC urging.


  • NRDC plays a lead role in securing the passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996.
  • The Food Safety Protection Act, the first comprehensive pesticide reform in twenty-five years, passes eight years after NRDC releases Intolerable Risks, a report highlighting the need for additional health safeguards for children.


  • NRDC's fight against nuclear testing results in the administration reversing its policy and embracing a "true zero yield" treaty that would ban all tests.


  • NRDC saves eastern North America's largest untouched wilderness by helping the Cree defeat the James Bay hydro-electric project.


  • NRDC legal action forces two oil giants, ARCO and Texaco, to cease water pollution and pay stiff fines for past violations.


  • NRDC helps stop New York City's practice of dumping processed sewage sludge in the ocean, eliminating the practice in the United States altogether.
  • NRDC is instrumental in passage of most significant lead-poisoning prevention law since the phase-out of leaded gasoline.


  • NRDC achieves a major victory in negotiations with the EPA and the oil industry over a Clean Air Act requirement for cleaner-burning gasoline in America's most polluted cities.
  • NRDC helps defeat U.S. Senate bill that would open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to unnecessary oil drilling.


  • A five-year NRDC legal battle forces Upjohn Company to pay $1.2 million to restore Connecticut's Quinnipiac River after more than 1,100 illegal waste water discharges.
  • NRDC efforts to block oil drilling along the California and Florida coasts leads to a 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling.


  • NRDC is instrumental in enactment of the EPA incinerator standards that include first-ever federal garbage recycling requirements.
  • NRDC petition results in the EPA issuing a comprehensive ban on asbestos.


  • NRDC forces Interior Department to conduct analysis of the cumulative impacts of its offshore oil and gas leasing program on migratory species.
  • NRDC wins court ruling requiring the EPA to evaluate technologies that eliminate toxic water pollution from new chemical plants and all new factories.


  • NRDC lawsuit forces Bethlehem Steel to pay $1.5 million in penalties for water pollution.
  • NRDC initiative leads to International Treaty to save ozone layer.


  • NRDC helps pass California's Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxics Enforcement Act.
  • NRDC wins passage of legislation requiring the U.S. government to set up "early warning" system to track environmentally harmful multilateral bank projects.
  • NRDC court challenge blocks the EPA attempt to weaken national regulations controlling toxic substances in sewage treatment plants.


  • NRDC wins passage of legislation requiring the Pentagon to prepare its first-ever report on the environmental and other consequences of nuclear war; Pentagon admits potential of nuclear winter.
  • NRDC negotiates an unprecedented agreement with the pesticide industry in support of reform legislation, rewriting federal pesticide laws.
  • NRDC helps win adoption of national efficiency standards for consumer appliances, saving billions of dollars in electrical bills.


  • NRDC lawsuit forces the EPA to require safety testing on 20 potentially dangerous chemicals widely used in industry, disallowing voluntary testing agreements with industry.
  • NRDC litigation forces the EPA to issue standards to control diesel emissions from trucks and buses.
  • NRDC wins litigation to compel the Department of Energy to comply with environmental laws at all of their nuclear weapons facilities.


  • NRDC litigation results in the first public access to pesticide heath and safety data utilized by the EPA in regulatory decisions.


  • NRDC leads coalition that persuades Congress to amend Endangered Species Act to outlaw collecting of endangered plants found on public lands.
  • NRDC wins U.N. Environmental Program gold medal for its work to protect the global environment.


  • NRDC-backed legislation passes requiring the U.S. Agency for International Development to do more to prevent deforestation.


  • NRDC leadership helps win federal protection for 100 million acres of Alaskan lands.


  • NRDC launches fight against acid rain through lawsuit which cuts sulfur dioxide emissions by a million tons annually.
  • NRDC wins fight to remove ozone depleting CFCs from aerosol cans.


  • NRDC lawsuit victory prohibits the EPA from exempting large numbers of pollution sources from water pollution controls.


  • NRDC litigation wins limits on water pollution for 24 major industries.


  • NRDC lawsuit requires the EPA to begin land-use planning in watershed areas to control water pollution.


  • NRDC wins a federal court ruling against power plants that disperse pollution and send it downwind as a substitute for pollution controls.


  • NRDC begins action that wins phaseout of lead in U.S. gasoline.
  • NRDC wins lawsuit to enforce parts of the 1970 Clean Air Act directing cities to improve mass transit and reduce reliance on cars.


  • NRDC wins lawsuit that requires the Department of Interior to consider energy conservation as an alternative to proposed offshore oil drilling.


  • NRDC wins passage of the Clean Water Act, which allows citizens to sue polluters directly.