Environment America

Environment America is a federation of state-based environmental advocacy organizations in the United States.[3][4] The organization researches and advocates for environmental policies through lobbying, litigation,[5] and the mobilization of public support.[6] Environment America advocates new laws and policies to address climate change,[7] air pollution[8] and water pollution,[9] and is a proponent of clean energy.[10] It opposes offshore drilling.[11]

Environment America
Key people
Wendy Wendlandt, President
Doug Phelps, Chairman
Revenue (2019-2020)
Expenses (2019-2020)$11,825,834[2]


On November 5, 2007, Environment America separated from the state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), bringing with it the organization's national environmental advocacy program. The federation combined several small, state-based advocacy groups that had already separated from the PIRGs.[12] As a result of the separation of the organizations, the PIRGs’ scope of work was defined as consumer,[13] health,[14] and safety[15] issues while Environment America became responsible for the group’s previous environmental work. Doug Phelps, who helped build the state PIRG network, became the group’s new chair.[16]

Aims and activitiesEdit

Environment America works to publicize and gain support for solving environmental problems in the United States. Its areas of interest include the use of renewable energy sources,[17] climate change, air pollution, fossil fuel dependency,[18] environmental conservation,[19] and offshore drilling. The organization releases reports on topics such as wind energy policy,[20] solar energy,[21] global warming,[22] mercury pollution,[23] companies’ compliance with the Clean Water Act,[24] energy efficient buildings,[25] extreme weather in the U.S.,[26] fuel efficient cars,[27] and levels of carcinogens in waterways.[28]

Climate activist at Capitol South Metro in 2019

Environment America has worked on various environmental policies, including supporting the American Clean Energy and Security Act[29] and the Clean Power Plan[30] to reduce climate pollution; the Clean Water Rule to include streams and wetlands in Clean Water Act protections;[31] and the EPA's proposal for a revised fuel economy label.[32]

The organization has sought to influence environmental policy through politics. Environment America publishes an annual scorecard of members of the U.S. Congress based on how they voted on environmental issues in that year's session. Members of the Democratic Party typically score higher than members of the Republican Party on the scorecard.[33] The organization has endorsed both Republican and Democratic candidates during national elections.[34][35] In 2008 and 2012, it joined the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and Clean Water Action in endorsing Barack Obama’s reelection to office.[36]

In 2012, Environment America contributed $550,000 to Fair Share Action, an independent expenditure committee also funded by Tim Gill. The group conducted get-out-the-vote efforts in support of President Barack Obama during his 2012 reelection campaign.[37]


In its December 1, 2019, evaluation of Environment America, Charity Navigator gave the organization two of four stars, with two stars for "financial" and three stars for "accountability and transparency". With respect to the latter, several concerns were indicated by Charity Navigator: the FY 2018 Form 990 audited financials did not appear to be prepared by an independent accountant, and the organization's website lacked an easily accessible donor privacy policy and audited financials.[38]

State affiliatesEdit

Environment America has 29 state affiliates,[39] including Environment California and Environment Oregon.

Environment CaliforniaEdit

Environment California has supported environmental campaigns within California including statewide bans on plastic bags,[40] the reduction of energy inefficient appliances,[41] and the expansion of the state's solar metering program[42] and solar energy production.[43] The advocacy group has also worked to reform California’s renewable energy policies.[17][44] Environment California supported a law that Governor Jerry Brown signed in 2011 which mandated that 33% of the state's energy must come from renewable sources by 2020, an increase from the previous requirement of 20%.[45]

Environment California released reports on the energy consumption of public schools,[46] solar projects on school campuses,[47] Californian cities' solar power production,[48][49] "green job" training programs within the state,[50] and the costs of fossil fuels.[18]

Environment TexasEdit

In 2009, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club filed similar lawsuits against Chevron Phillips for alleged violations of pollution limits[51] and the Shell Oil Company for alleged illegal air pollution emissions.[52] Shell Oil Company agreed to pay a $5.8 million settlement, reduce emissions from its Deer Park refinery by 80%, upgrade chemical units, and reduce gas flaring.[53] The following year, the environmental groups sued the largest oil refinery in the United States, Exxon Mobil, accusing it of violating the Clean Air Act through the release of emissions from refineries and chemical plants in the Texas Gulf coast.[54]


PennEnvironment has released several reports that analyze environmental concerns in Pennsylvania including counties' recycling fees,[55] the dumping of toxic chemicals by industrial facilities into the state’s waterways,[56] and the building of roads and logging in the Allegheny National Forest.[19] Another report released by the state affiliate found that power plants fueled by coal in the state release large amounts of pollution that contribute to unhealthy smog and put susceptible populations at risk. In 2011, PennEnvironment condemned the government's decision to reject stricter air pollution regulations that would diminish ground-level ozone, the main component of harmful smog.[57]

In 2012, PennEnvironment, along with the Sierra Club, sued PPG Industries for the contamination of lagoons and a solid waste landfill at the company's Ford City site near the Allegheny River which resulted from the disposal of glass polishing waste.[58] Chemical testing revealed high levels of arsenic, lead, antimony, iron and chromium at the site.[58] The environmental groups claimed that the company violated the Clean Water Act and Resources Conservation and Recovery Act and failed to follow an administrative order issued by the DEP under the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law to clean up the site in 2009.[58]


  1. ^ Stein, Karen F. (2013). Rachel Carson: Challenging Authors. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9789462090682.
  2. ^ a b "Guidestar - Environment America, IRS Form 990" (PDF). Guidestar. Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  3. ^ Howard, Jordan (September 2, 2011). "Green Groups Struggle With Obama's Mixed Environmental Record". Huffington Post.
  4. ^ Gerken, James; Rael, Andrea (October 11, 2013). "'Fracking By The Numbers' Report Urges U.S. To Ban 'Environmental Nightmare'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  5. ^ Kelly, Eileen (November 15, 2017). "Settlement proposed in lawsuit against chicken-processing plant that dumps into Sewanee River". Florida Times-Union.
  6. ^ Guillén, Alex (January 23, 2013). "Obama must balance call for climate action with Keystone decision - 2012 TransCanada lobbying drops off - BP fears four missing employees in Algeria dead". Politico.
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  8. ^ McCarty, James (April 13, 2017). "Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown air pollution still among Ohio's worst". Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  9. ^ Snider, Annie (April 18, 2017). "Pruitt allies explore hiring private lawyers to rewrite EPA rule". Politico.
  10. ^ Mulkern, Anne (January 20, 2011). "Buzz Builds for 'Clean Energy' Standard, but Passage Won't Be Easy". New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  11. ^ Neuman, Scott (May 25, 2010). "As BP Backlash Grows, So Do Calls for Boycott". NPR.
  12. ^ Newton, David (2015). Fracking: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 186. ISBN 9781610696920.
  13. ^ Lazarus, David (April 17, 2018). "A good consumer agency is a weak consumer agency, says Trump's consumer watchdog". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ Wattles, Jackie (April 10, 2017). "KFC promises to ditch antibiotic-laden chicken". CNN.
  15. ^ Krause, Nancy (November 21, 2018). "Trouble in Toyland: US PIRG lists dangerous toys for holiday season". WPRI.
  16. ^ Brobeck, Stephen (2015). Watchdogs and Whistleblowers: A Reference Guide to Consumer Activism. ABC-CLIO. p. 390. ISBN 978-1440829994.
  17. ^ a b Shauk, Zain (September 14, 2009). "Legislators pass renewable energy bills". Glendale News-Press.
  18. ^ a b Seba, Tony (2013-02-17). "Cheap Hot Water? Just Add Sunshine". The Wall Street Journal.
  19. ^ a b Cotton, Josh (September 20, 2012). "Enviro group, reps at odds on ANF". Times Observer. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
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  22. ^ Learn, Scott (December 4, 2009). "U.S. states have taken big steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, report says". Oregonian.
  23. ^ Biddle, Tami (March 18, 2011). "Mercury Pollution Concerns Grow". PennLive.
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  25. ^ Koch, Wendy (March 8, 2012). "As gas prices soar, studies tout energy efficiency". USA Today.
  26. ^ Klernan, Kate (February 13, 2013). "Blizzard provokes climate change debate among scientists". The Brown Daily Herald.
  27. ^ Lew, Denise (June 27, 2012). "Powering Down Oil?". The Connection.
  28. ^ Goodenow, Evan (April 24, 2012). "Lake Erie ranks in nation's top 50 for carcinogens dumped into water". The Chronicle-Telegram.
  29. ^ Mackinder, Evan (August 23, 2010). "Pro-Environment Groups Outmatched, Outspent in Battle Over Climate Change Legislation". Open Secrets.
  30. ^ Goldberg, Suzanne (February 9, 2016). "Supreme Court to block Obama's sweeping climate change plan". The Guardian.
  31. ^ Johnson, Tom (July 27, 2017). "Fed rollback of clean water rule could threaten half of NJ's streams". NJ Spotlight.
  32. ^ Sierra Club (2010). "Sierra Club Comments EPA Proposed Fuel Economy Label" (PDF). Sierra Club. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  33. ^ Nichols, Lee (2010-01-08). "Congressional Scorecard: Making the Green Grade". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  34. ^ Greene, Brian (April 19, 2012). "Environmental Groups Endorse Obama". U.S. News & World Report.
  35. ^ DeRosier, John (March 15, 2017). "LoBiondo urging fellow Republicans to accept climate change". The Press of Atlantic City.
  36. ^ Eilperin, Juliet (2012-04-18). "Obama endorsed by major environmental groups". Washington Post.
  37. ^ Karen Crummy, Democratic activist Tim Gill heavily funded federal super PAC, Denver Post (October 27, 2012).
  38. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for Environment America Research and Policy Center". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  39. ^ The Public Interest Network (n.d.). "Action in the States". [The Public Interest Network]. Archived from the original on 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  40. ^ Lee, Mike (July 8, 2012). "Bill to ban plastic bags advances in Sacramento". The San Diego Union Tribune.
  41. ^ Lee, Mike (2006-07-25). "Even in energy-efficient world, devices' drain powerful". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on April 12, 2013. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  42. ^ Meyers, Glenn (November 13, 2015). "California Net Metering Petition Gains Traction". CleanTechnica.
  43. ^ Shih, Gerry (2009-10-16). "Consumers Pay the Price". New York Times.
  44. ^ Wycoff, Ann (2009). "The Whirlwind Tour: Windmills in California". [ Wandermelon]. Archived from the original on 2013-04-26. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  45. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (2011-04-13). "Gov. Brown signs law requiring 33% of energy be renewable by 2020". Los Angeles Times.
  46. ^ Keller, Ben (2012). "Schools go solar to save cash, revive programs". [The Business Journal]. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
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  48. ^ Turner, Dan (April 24, 2012). "Cloudy Skies for LA's Solar Efforts". Los Angeles Times.
  49. ^ Seba, Tony (April 24, 2012). "Five Reasons Why California Cities Will Build One Million Solar Roofs and 12 Distributed GW by 2020". Forbes.
  50. ^ Smith, Kevin (August 6, 2011). "Green Jobs Training Traction in California, But More Jobs Needed in All Sectors". Whittier Daily News.
  51. ^ Seba, Erwin (August 19, 2009). "Green Groups Sue Chevron Phillips Over Pollution". Reuters.
  52. ^ "Exxon Mobile Sued Over Oil Refinery, Air Laws". NBC. Associated Press. December 14, 2010.
  53. ^ Mouawad, Jad (April 23, 2009). "Shell Settles Air Pollution Accusations". New York Times.
  54. ^ "Exxon Mobil sued over oil refinery, air laws". NBC News. December 14, 2010.
  55. ^ Portnoy, Jenna (October 8, 2011). "DEP blocks Pa. counties from collecting recycling fees". The Morning Call.
  56. ^ Adkins, Jared (January 1, 2012). "Pennsylvania Water 7th Most Polluted in Nation". PennEnvironment.
  57. ^ Sapatkin, Don (January 4, 2013). "Smog in Phila.'s air actually worse than people think, environmental group says". Philly.com.
  58. ^ a b c Spencer, Malla (April 20, 2014). "PennEnvironment, Sierra Club sue PPG over Ford City site". Pittsburgh Business Times.

External linksEdit