The National Environmental Trust

National Environmental Trust logo

The National Environmental Trust is a non-profit organization based in Washington DC, USA. Created in 1994, it’s a non-partisan foundation (meaning it does not align to any political party or agenda) that strives to educate the American public on contemporary environmental issues, such as climate change and government energy policies.

How does the National Environmental Trust work?

Through public education campaigns, the National Environmental Trust (NET) makes complex environmental problems digestible for the everyday citizen, helping everyone become more aware of how such issues affect public health and quality of life.

It also works to make national environmental problems relatable at the local level, helping more citizens become engaged in the energy and environmental problems that impact their daily life. This is achieved by highlighting how the average American can get involved in the policy making processes that define the country’s approach to the relevant problems.

The NET’s main environmental concerns

The NET is focused on eight environmental issues: energy; clean air; global warming; national forests; marine conservation; environmental health; mining reform; and fuel economy.

For each of these topics, it takes the latest news, political bills and top scientific studies, removes all the complicated jargon and translates them into facts and articles that everyone can understand.

1. Energy

This section of the NET’s work focuses on America’s national energy policy. It seeks to push a clean, affordable energy policy that promotes renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, and reduces the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. It also encourages a reduction in oil reliance to enhance energy security and wants to stop drilling in the country’s natural resource heritage.

2. Clean air

As the name suggests, this topic works to raise awareness of air pollution in the interest of public health. This includes providing information on fine particle soot that is linked to asthma, heart attacks and premature death, as well as details on various government acts, such as the Clean Air Act (an act that enforces regulations to limit the emissions produced by vehicles and industries), which the Bush presidency tried to weaken.

3. Global warming

The National Environmental Trust aims to educate the public on what global warming is and the many impacts it can have on the world, calling it ‘perhaps the most significant environmental problem facing the world today’. It also draws the public's attention to what the government is doing about the issue, such as breaking down the 2007 House Energy Bill and highlighting the key points.

4. National forests

America is full of forests and this area of the NET’s work strives to protect them. Focus is given to protecting the Roadless Rule, an act that prohibits the construction and reconstruction of roads and timber harvesting on 58.5 million acres of the country’s roadless forests.

5. Marine conservation

When people think of environmental issues, oceans and fish are not usually the first things that spring to mind. The National Environmental Trust seeks to change this by highlighting how important marine life is to everyday life. Pointing out how fish contribute to the American diet and employment (fishing, processing, importing), it draws attention to the damaging practices of overfishing, irresponsible fishing methods and climate change-caused habitat destruction.

6. Environmental health

The main concern under the category of public health is toxic chemicals. With thousands of chemicals being used in manufacturing, agriculture and commerce, Americans are surrounded by chemicals everyday, and, as evidence increasingly confirms the connection between these chemicals and public health issues such as cancer, the NET wants to highlight the great need to update the country’s toxic chemical policies.

It also works to preserve and extend the legal concept of Right-to-Know, a programme that states the public has a right to know about the pollution of big facilities. As part of this, the National Environmental Trust has worked to promote bio-monitoring (a process that checks blood, tissue and urine samples for chemical exposure) to shape toxic chemical policies.

7. Mining reform

The NET argues that the laws governing mining are in desperate need of reform. Considering the Mining Act was passed in 1827, it’s no surprise that it’s considered a bit outdated! America has changed greatly since the 19th century, including in the way it uses land. The NET suggests that hardrock mining on public lands is no longer benefiting the greater public interest and reform is needed in line with updates made to oil, gas and coal policies.

8. Fuel economy

The final area of work for the National Environmental Trust is to improve the fuel efficiency standards in SUVs, light trucks and pick-ups, vehicles that make up around half of the USA’s auto market. Increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAEF) standards would mean these vehicles can go further with the same amount of fuel.

The NET argues that this has many wins for the nation and the public, including: reducing the reliance on oil and therefore improving American energy security; saving consumers money on petrol as they don’t need to refuel as often; boosting profits on SUV, pick-up and light truck sales so creating more jobs in the market; and reducing CO2 emissions.

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