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Environmental Groups Focus on Change by Strengthening Their Political Operations

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

ST. LOUIS - When the police arrested seven students at Washington University in St. Louis recently after a crowd of protesters sought to crash a board of trustees meeting, leaders of the environmental movement were thrilled.

The students were demanding the resignation of one of the board's members: Gregory H. Boyce, the chairman of Peabody Energy Corporation, the nation's largest coal company and one of the most ardent corporate opponents of efforts to address global warming. They also represented the face of a new activism that the nation's largest environmental groups are encouraging to revive a climate-change movement that seemed stalled not so long ago.

Like their student confederates, the so-called big green groups are mounting their own climate-change campaign this spring, and it looks nothing like the failed efforts of the recent past. 

What was a scattering of lawyers, lobbyists and policy analysts with the same goal but no agenda has become a united front, leaders of the groups say. Major organizations like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council have strengthened their political operations and grass-roots networks, and they have raised and spent more money than ever before.    


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