By Russell Mokhiber
Monday July 5, 1999; p. 3


      The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) would have you believe that it is in the forefront in the fight against global warming.
      Last week, for example, EDF put out a report that details the potential impacts of uncontrolled global warming on the New York metropolitan region.
     The report projects a major increase in 90 degree-plus days in the summer that can lead to an increase in heat-related mortalities among the region's most vulnerable populations.  In addition the report warns that uncontrolled warming can result in significant sea-level rise, which can cause repeated flooding of New York's roads, subways and airports.
      EDF chief scientist, Michael Oppenheimer, warned last week that "the New York region of the future could be flooded with problems if the US doesn't take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions now."
     But while EDF released heated rhetoric in New York, in Washington D.C. last week, the NonProfit Accountability Project (NPAP)  was releasing internal EDF documents showing how EDF is siding with corporate polluters against citizen activists in the fight of global warming.
    The documents reveal that in 1997, EDF created something called the Environmental Resources Trust (ERT) to serve as an accrediting agency for greenhouse emissions credits given to corporations that reduce greenhouse emissions.
     Three of ERT's board members are top level EDF staffers.  And the person named to chair ERT?  C. Boyden Gray, a corporate lobbyist and a leading opponent of global warming treaties.
    Among his other duties, Gray is chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a corporate front group that has pressured Congress not to support the Kyoto Treaty, which mandates a 10 percent reduction in global warming gases by industrialized nations.
     Instead ERT would benefit form an alternative approach created by polluting corporations and embodied in legislation introduced by Senator John Chafee (R-Rhode Island).
     The legislation, S. 547, (Credit for Voluntary Early Action), would provide lucrative credits for activities alleged to mitigate global warming.  EDF is one of the few "environmental" groups to support the emissions trading scheme embodied in the Chafee bill.  Others, including Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council, oppose the bill.
     Why would EDF, a purported environmental group, align itself with Gray, who played a critical role during the Reagan and Bush administration's in defeating environmental regulations, including automobile fuel efficiency standards, and who in recent years was the industry's point person in defeating clean air standards?
     EDF's Lisa Swann refused answer that or other questions. She did promise that she would provide someone within EDF to address these questions, but never did.  Gray did not return calls seeking comment.
    "Gray's record and his close ties to the corporate sector raise questions about ERT's credibility as an independent accrediting agency for greenhouse credits created by the Chafee bill," said NPAP's Bernardo Issel.