NRDC Celebrates 30 Years of Environmental Victories in Southern California

NRDC’s Los Angeles Office is Thirty, Busy, and Thriving

LOS ANGELES ­­– This month, NRDC’s Los Angeles office celebrates 30 years of protecting Southern California’s natural habitats, communities, and resources. California has been at the vanguard of environmental policy for decades, passing first-of-its-kind policies that have served as models across the nation and the globe. For the past three decades, the Los Angeles office has been at the forefront of those efforts and become a laboratory for change.  

In 1989, NRDC set its sights on changing the troubled environmental landscape that characterized Southern California, by becoming the first national environmental organization to plant its roots in the region. “Los Angeles has long suffered from air pollution, water contamination, and land use decisions that reflect environmental discrimination,” said Joel Reynolds, NRDC’s Western Director who leads the Los Angeles Office. “Since opening our doors 30 years ago, we’ve been dedicated to protecting the region’s public health and unique natural heritage, while enforcing environmental accountability through litigation, advocacy, collaboration, and innovation,” he added.  

The victories of NRDC’s Southern California office span wide ranging environmental and public health issues and have helped shape the environmental movement in the region. Just this year, the office celebrated the final demise of the 710-freeway extension after working for over 20 years with local groups to protect the neighborhoods that it would have destroyed. Reynolds is quick to recognize the essential role of partnerships in the environmental progress of which NRDC has been a part.  “Our collaborative efforts with local organizations lie at the heart of our work to assist and support the most impacted communities,” said Reynolds.

Over the years, for example, NRDC’s Southern California Office has partnered with other organizations to successfully:

  • Defend air pollution controls that brought LA its cleanest air in 40 years
  • Cut diesel pollution from trucks and negotiate the installation of air filtration systems in schools
  • Arrest the destruction by unbridled development of essential coastal wildlife habitat
  • Stop the illegal testing of underwater explosives and military sonar in southern California waters and around the world
  • Protect low income communities from illegally permitted toxic waste facilities and transportation projects that “have to go somewhere”
  • Defend the moratorium against oil development along the California coast
  • Stop inadequately treated sewage from being dumped into Santa Monica Bay
  • Establish and enforce stormwater pollution limits for cities throughout California
  • Enforce rules that keep thousands of tons of trash and pollution out of Southern California’s rivers
  • Win two Emmys for a documentary about the impacts of ocean noise on marine mammals

Willing to stand up against those who harm or take advantage of the region’s people and natural resources, NRDC Los Angeles and its partners have helped change the culture of Southern California. Today, Southern California is known as an environmental leader, and NRDC’s Los Angeles office is proud to have been part of this movement for the past 30 years.  As the country faces evermore environmental challenges, NRDC will continue to fight and help lead California down a path of environmental excellence.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC

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