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Big Green Groups Map Their Environmental Strategy

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Conventional wisdom says environmentalism suffered a near-death experience in 2010, when a sweeping climate change bill ran aground in the Democratic-run Senate. But aspiring eulogists for the green movement have gotten ample material in the years before and since that failure.

Federal climate legislation is now an all-but-impossible goal. President Obama's attempt to curb carbon through executive branch power is challenged at every turn by industry opponents and combative Republicans.

The healthy decline in U.S. emissions that many greens welcome is in large part due to a natural gas boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing, that fractures the conservation community. Even winning votes for a simple bipartisan energy efficiency bill, for environmentalists, is a slog up Capitol Hill.

But looking only from 10,000 feet fails to judge the movement by its own heterogeneous, still-rebellious terms, a task provocatively attempted by Breakthrough Institute strategists Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger in their nearly decade-old essay "The Death of Environmentalism." That treatise excoriated green leaders as complacent and lacking vision.

Over the next week, E&E Daily will take its own look at the movement in its midlife -- profiling five environmental groups and their paths out of the cap-and-trade bill's wreckage.

Can the Environmental Defense Fund's commitment to market-based solutions coexist with the Sierra Club's newfound sense of activism? How does the Natural Resources Defense Council's bookish defense of federal laws mesh with the political machinations of the League of Conservation Voters and the envelope-pushing ethos of newcomer 350.org?       


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