The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rankled legislators and business groups this month when it announced it might block development of a gold and copper mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay—a project that would have produced 1,000 direct jobs.

The news was praised, however, by a handful of radical environmental groups that have often worked hand-in-glove with the EPA to stymie development of natural resources—energy resources most notably. Unfortunately, most Americans remain unaware of the economic devastation these seemingly innocuous environmental groups have caused.


Behind the movement to ban the development of resources like natural gas, coal, nuclear energy, and even hydropower—which combine to provide 95 percent of our current energy usage—are powerful, well-funded activists who seek to fundamentally change our way of life. Activists at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, and Food & Water Watch—otherwise known as “big green radicals”—wield enormous influence in Washington and state capitols across the United States.

For instance, many top EPA officials are hired directly from this crop of organizations, creating a cozy relationship that radical environmentalists exploit to further their agenda. Known to insiders as the “NRDC Mafia,” at least a half-dozen staffers of the NRDC left to work in key policy positions within the EPA and in Congress after President Obama’s election in 2008. Recently uncovered emails revealed the EPA has crafted official government talking points to specifically conform to the agenda of the Sierra Club and NRDC. 

Another tactic these groups use to advance their agenda is a legal strategy known as “sue-and-settle.” Here, environmentalists sue the EPA ostensibly because it is not upholding its environmental mandate. These suits are often settled quickly in the environmentalists’ favor, forcing the EPA to quickly enact stricter environmental regulations, with the taxpayer on the hook for the legal costs.

These cozy relationships with regulators also exist with politicians. The radical environmentalists use their “green” to support a massive lobbying effort in Washington. The NRDC spent over half a million dollars and the Sierra Club spent over $300,000 lobbying the federal government in 2013. This money is raised from a suspicious maze of donations, including an off-shore shell company based in Bermuda, the far-left Tides Foundation, billionaire activists, and wealthy celebrities.

Unfortunately, the science to support this well-funded agenda is less than sound. Take fracking, for instance.

To frighten New Yorkers into banning natural gas extraction, Food & Water Watch ran a commercial featuring a farmer who claimed a natural gas well killed his cows. The fine print revealed a far less sinister explanation: An investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined his cows died as a result of a pond contaminated with E.coli from fecal matter. Fracking had nothing to do with their deaths.

Why should we care about a well-funded trio of groups pushing environmental policies based on a bad science? If we followed through with their radical agenda and eliminated all fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and hydropower from our energy portfolio, our electric bills would go through the roof. Wind and solar energy don’t provide enough cheap or reliable energy to meet our current energy needs.

Big green radicals have used their influence and money to push their extreme agenda, and recent proposed regulations suggest that it’s working. It’s time to take a closer look at their agenda and stop their quest to send Americans’ energy bills through the roof before it’s too late. 

Swearingen is a senior research analyst at the Environmental Policy Alliance, which operates The Environmental Policy Alliance is a project of the Center for Organizational Research and Education (CORE), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization managed by Berman and Company, a public relations firm.