Authors@Google: John and Patricia Adams

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 15.03.2011

>>Winnie Lam: Hi, everyone. I'm Winnie Lam in product management. Thank you so much to
everyone for coming.
It's my honor, here, to introduce John and Patricia Adams here to Google from the NRDC;
the Natural Resources Defense Council. In just a few weeks’ time, President Obama
will be presenting to a select few Americans, our highest civilian honor, the Presidential
Medal of Freedom.
One of these few Americans receiving the honor is John Adams, right here.
John is a true environmental hero and legend. With his wife, Patricia, he founded the NRDC
back in 1970.
>>Bill: It's really a pleasure to have you guys here. This is my first chance here to
play Oprah Winfrey, so I hope I do OK.
I wanted to add -- I noticed in the citation, I think, that Obama is listed on the website
about the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
One of the quotes, I think was from Rolling Stone, said, "If the planet had a lawyer,
it would be John Adams." Which I think, from what I know about John and about NRDC is very
So, why don't we start?
You've been at NRDC; you've been at this business now for 40 years and long before that. Why
did you write the book?
>>Pat Adams: Well, we wrote this book together because over the 40 years that NRDC has been
growing, we've known a lot of individuals who've made an enormous difference.
And the story of NRDC really is the story of people who had ideas, wanted to make a
difference in the environmental world, and took action.
And we wanted to highlight and herald those individuals, as well as the founders who started
NRDC in 1970. And there's a story about how that got started. We may get to that later.
So, we wanted to write about the people who built NRDC, the history, and also, to consider
it sort of a blueprint. I mean, the story is not over. It's really just beginning in
many ways and so, this will serve as a blueprint and a challenge for the future, we think.
>>John Adams: I look back at the founding of NRDC and I think about Stephen Duggan,
now long gone, and James Marshall, Bob Marshall's brother, who was a great wilderness person,
and James Marshall was a great environmentalist from the Adirondacks and helped write the
state law that protects the Adirondacks and the Catskills; the Forever Wild clauses; and
a whole range of people like this who none of you will have heard of, except through
this book.
The book starts 40 years ago, and NRDC has half of its people are 30 or under. So they
obviously didn't know any of these wonderful people and now they will.
We've created a mark for them and they helped set up the first environmental law firm in
the country. And we have grown, now, to be a 1,300,000 members and activists and have
400 professional people working at NRDC, and we needed to record what happened and how
did it happen.
And finally, I transitioned out of NRDCs presidency three or more years ago. And Frances Beinecke,
a wonderful person, has taken over and a lot of people were saying, "How, after 36 years,
did the transition happen so well, that Frances is now a respected leader of NRDC?" And we
wanted to talk about that and let people know that you can have a transition, that we want
a future.
NRDC has to be around in the future and we're very, very proud that the transition worked
so well and NRDC is even stronger with the transition.
>>Bill: It's nice to hear that leadership transitions can go well. I think all of us
here, at Google, are hoping and expecting that that will happen.
So, NRDC was founded just over 40 years ago, I guess. Can you tell a little bit about the
story about what actually inspired it and how it was born?
>>John Adams: Do you want it?
>>Pat Adams: I'll just start if off, okay?
1970 was a time when there were a lot of things going on--I'm not gonna say "as you remember"--but
as you read about in your history books.
The Woman’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement, the early stories of the
Gay Movement, and there was a lot of energy in the air and a feeling that something could
be done.
And also, it played out in the environmental world.
The Cuyahoga River was burning, Rachel Carson's book about DDT had made a big difference,
and so, there was real energy, an idea, to really start something new and something that
could represent the environment.
And it was the first group who got this idea, was a group of quite well-heeled lawyers and
people who lived up in the Hudson River Valley.
And Con Edison had proposed to put a pump storage plant on Storm King Mountain, a beautiful
mountain, sort of the icon of the Hudson Highlands. And that would have meant that the top of
the mountain would have been gouged out and billions of fish and larvae would have been
sucked in to bring in the water, and there was a great reason for this not to be done.
So, they fought this battle against Con Edison building the plant. And what they realized
as they worked on it was how expensive it was and how few communities would be able
to mount this kind of battle against a large industry, or a large corporation.
So they thought it was time to start a national organization, built on the NAACP pattern,
and I'll let John talk more about that.
>>John Adams: Yeah, I guess it's appropriate to talk about what happened very quickly thereafter.
I was at the US Attorney's office and been a litigator in working on criminal matters
for five years, but we had a farm in the Catskills.
And so, everybody at the US Attorney’s office knew of my interest in the environment and
a lot of them knew Patricia. And so this group of lawyers and others came to me and said,
"Would you like to try to start the first public interest law firm in the environmental
And so, we decided that it was something we would like to do. It was a little risky to
do it. We had three children and there wasn't any money involved and we had to go out and
raise the money to start NRDC.
But it looked like something that fitted my personality quite well. So, we went to Ford
Foundation and Ford Foundation indicated that they would give us some funding -- in fact,
a lot of funding.
They recommended that I meet with a group of young lawyers from Yale; four were clerking
down on the Supreme Court, several of them were Rhode Scholars, they were all very special
people and have turned out to be very special people.
Gus Speth, John Bryson, these are people who are nationally known in the environmental
and energy field. And so, we met and we had a long discussions about could we work with
them and they were very strong in their feelings about corporate America, and they didn't trust
anyone my age, even though I was only--
>>Pat Adams: Never trust anyone over 30.
>>John Adams: So, that three years put me at a disadvantage.
But we worked at reaching an agreement about what it would be if we were able to start
this organization and we agreed it would be a collegial place where we work together to
build a program of environmental protection.
It would be from the environmental point of view, not from the corporate point of view;
that we would have a way of working together that would be shared.
And when we were all done, even though it was a difficult team to swallow, they obviously
were very, very talented and when we got started, it was the beginning of the modern environmental
The first environmental laws were being written: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, NEEPA,
and then all of the other statutes.
All of this took place very, very quickly after NRDC was started on January 2nd, 1970.
And with this smart group of people, we had a real edge -- though certain things happened
that really almost stopped us from succeeding, but I'll wait until we go further on the questions.
>>Bill: So, I'm not quite as old as you guys are, but I think I'm quite a bit older than
some of the folks here.
I think, actually, you said half the folks at NRDC are under 30 -- that's probably true
here at Google, or more or less. But I was around in the early days of the environmental
I was in school. I remember Rachel Carson's book. I remember the Sierra Club starting
up and so on. Not starting up, but certainly becoming much more prominent.
I'm curious, what separated NRDC and the approach that you took there from other environmental
groups, as this movement really took off in the late 60s and the 70s?
>>John Adams: Well, first of all, we had these new laws and a lot of the new laws were to
be written.
And Ford Foundation funded six really talented lawyers and we were there to help write these
statutes. And the strength that NRDC brought to the environmental movement was that we
were able to write these statutes and then we were able to get the rules and regulations
that we used to enforce those statutes and make them strong.
And not only did we work on the rules and regulations, but then, immediately, the industrial
sector came in and tried to get an advantage under the rules and regulations, and we then
challenged any of the regulations that they were trying to change.
And we learned more about the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and NEEPA than any
other body, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
We knew these laws inside out and as we were doing this, we were able to grow NRDC almost
So, we had the Ford Foundation Grant, we opened up a Washington office immediately.
Two years later, we opened up our office at Palo Alto. But the team went to work on litigation,
writing the laws, challenging the rules and regulations, and gaining mastery over the
now developing regulatory framework that would govern all of the environmental protection
measures for the next 40 years until today.
These same rules and regulations govern how we deal with the environment, and I can honestly
say NRDC owns these laws. And the people that are doing the work at NRDC, a lot of them
are still with us and they have continued to know these laws and continued to protect
these statutes.
So, why were we different? Because nobody else had this legal team. We quickly added
By 1973, we had several nuclear physicists and a couple of biologists and we were heading
in a direction where our lawyers became scientists, our scientists became lawyers, and we actually
were very merged in how we approached almost all of the work that we did and it became
a great place to work.
The people like Gus Speth, who then became the head of a range of organizations, including
the United Nations Development Program, and then the Yale School of the Environment, he
and others from our staff attracted people just like them and we kept building this strength
of talent, which I think, probably fits the arc of Google.
You guys have smart people who started it and smart people wanted to come and work with
them. And NRDC really has followed that model.
Another thing that we did that I thought really made a big difference, NRDC let people go.
We set them off on a range of issues. I mean, we were just a handful of people in the beginning,
but one person was chosen to work on forestry. Another was chosen to work on clean air. Another
was chosen to work on clean water. Another was brought in to work on the nuclear issues
and nuclear safety issues.
Well, to make any kind of headway on these issues, you really had to be entrepreneurial.
You had to raise money. You had to bring in new staff. You had to find people who were
talented and determined that you were gonna have a big impact on the outcome, and that's
exactly what we did to build NRDC and compete with all of the other organizations.
Finally, if you were the Sierra Club, you wanted NRDC around because we would bring
your litigation; it was like free beer.
And it made a big difference and we were very careful to let everybody know that we were
part of the team. We weren't NRDC, with the headline, we weren't the lead plaintiffs,
we were a team. And that has stayed with NRDC and really built our reputation throughout
the environmental movement as team players that you can trust.
>>Pat Adams: I just wanna add one thing.
I'm not a lawyer, so I learned a lot as we were working on this book together, and those
early legal questions, I found interesting about who represents the environment?
Who is the plaintiff, here? We have a chapter called "Does a Tree Have Standing?" And those
were the issues, legal issues, that were being discussed and in a way, what's said, set NRDC
apart in those early years.
>>Bill: It does sound remarkably like Google in terms of a small set of founders with enormous
But at the same time, deep technical expertise and technical expertise first in law and then
something that you expanded. NRDC really did begin as a law firm.
You mentioned that the evolution, or expansion into really bringing in scientists. It's since
evolved into policy, science, as you mentioned, business, not just the legal side. How did
this happen and how has that worked?
>>Pat Adams: Well, talking to a number of people and watching NRDC grow as we went back
over the history, people use such terms as "adding tools to the toolbox", "paints to
the pallet," but as needs grew, NRDC found ways to meet those needs.
And about every ten years or so, there seemed to be a new great need. The 70s were pretty
environmentally friendly, President Carter, but when Reagan came in and he was gonna cut
back all of those laws, and suddenly, NRDC realized they needed a better communications
systems and better memberships so that they could represent them.
And then there was the 104th Congress, when we realized that we needed an advocacy program
and then the climate situation has developed where NRDC realizes they need more scientists
and people who are experts in climate.
So, in that sense, NRDC constantly is adding to its staff, but with very specific departments.
>>John Adams: Patricia has mentioned them, but through 1985, we didn't have a single
person working on communications.
Every lawyer and scientist was his own communicator. And clearly, that wasn't good enough for what
we needed. And in 1992, when we had the Republican election and Newt Gingrich came in, it so
happened that NRDC had just finished a capital campaign; the first capital campaign that
we ever had.
And I should say that from 1970, we had a slow growth every year and every year we would
just barely make our budget, but it grew. And by 1990, we had about something on the
order of about a 100,000 members and along came the 104th Congress. They were gonna rewrite
all the environmental laws.
So we immediately decided that we needed to expand the environmental organizations into
an association. And the association was called the Green Group, and I became the Chair.
So, the Green Group decided to meet Newt Gingrich in the challenge, right dead on, even though
we had a Republican House and a Republican Senate. And what we did is we hired a very
talented communications person and brought in a bunch of staff to work with that communications
The second thing is we really built up our membership. We started writing letters about
the threat to Newt Gingrich to the environmental laws around the country and lo and behold,
our membership went from 125,000 to 300,000. And then it continued to grow beyond that.
And we also set up an advocacy center, which has been a hallmark of NRDC ever since 1990
and 1994. And that advocacy center, we hired the best people who had worked for the various
committees--environmental committees-- and were out of office and gone, and we brought
them in as the staff for our advocacy center.
And Annie Notthoff then became the head of the NRDC advocacy office here in California,
but we had an office in Washington that was the best in the business and really the only
one that was set up to meet the kind of challenge that we were faced. And that's what we did.
And then, as we went on, Patricia mentioned climate, we were able to go and get a ten
million dollar grant from a Californian to set up a climate center. That center became
how we directed our efforts at passing a climate bill and our team here, and Noah and Roland
are here in the back, and they've been working on energy efficiency.
And we'll talk more about that, I think, in a couple of minutes, but we grew our energy
team because we knew that we needed that if we were gonna really fight on the climate
issue. So, that team numbers now 75 people.
>>Bill: You mentioned the growth in membership. I'm curious what role membership has played
in the organization.
Is it simply a matter of funding? Is it more a matter of grass roots advocacy? How has
that really strengthened the organization?
How have you relied on it? And has that changed in the last, say, five or ten years with the
growth of the Internet and so on?
>>Pat Adams: Membership was always an issue. John always advocated writing and getting
members and certain people at NRDC.
The management was saying, "How much money does it cost to send out the letter? What
kind of return do we get? Do we really wanna put money in that?"
But John was always really strong about building the membership. But when it really built was
in the 90s, when an issue became known in Baja, San Ignacio, in Mexico, and we were
told that Jacob Scherr actually, one of the lawyers, got a call from Homero Aridjis, who
is a poet from Mexico that Mitsubishi was planning to build a big salt plant down in
this lagoon where the grey whales come down from Alaska, the Bering Sea, and it’s a
nursery for the baby whales.
And if you can imagine what a large salt plant would do; it was an International Heritage
Site, a UN Heritage site. But bringing in the boats, sucking up all the water, and then
the salt being carried back out -- what was gonna happen to the whale nursery?
Well, NRDC doesn't have legal standing in Mexico. You can't exactly bring a lawsuit.
So, the way this was developed was through really a campaign.
This was really the first Internet work that NRDC did. And they were able to get the message
out and letters from all over the world came in to tell Mitsubishi to stop and not build
this salt plant. And the membership increased.
A lot of public attention was brought to it and it was a great victory. And those members
came in and have pretty much stayed and membership has also grown since then.
>>John Adams: I'll finish on that. The lagoon in San Ignacio -- we didn't know whether we
could save this nursery, which is quite a remarkable place and I urge you to see it.
It's eco-tourism now.
The Mexican fishermen take you out in the boats, the baby whales come up and kiss you
and it really is true--
>>Pat Adams: You kiss them, John.
>>John Adams: I kiss them.
It’s a remarkable place and so, we started using the Internet to get in touch with people
and sending out letters and ads and everything else that you could do with the communications
Pierce Brosnan became the spokesman for this fight and he went on radio and television
and we had wonderful ad campaigns.
And believe it or not, we were able to send out five million letters to Mitsubishi and
the Mexican government.
The president of Mitsubishi Cars came to visit me in the office in New York on three different
occasions, and he would say, "It's Mitsubishi Chemical. It’s not Mitsubishi Cars."
And I would say, "Tell it to them."
And it was a classic battle using law, science, and communications, and the power of membership.
And we learned a lesson there that we have used on every battle about our BioGems, about
the landscapes that we think are really important, like Yellowstone and the bears and the wolves,
the Arctic, and various places in Central America, South America, that we're working
And the tactics that we're using are really developed out of that membership. But I have
to say that from the beginning, we needed the members for standing.
If you wanna bring a lawsuit, you have to have the standing to bring a lawsuit. You
have to bring somebody who's injured, or has some relationship to the property that you
care about.
And for NRDC to build its membership, we had members everywhere. We brought 500 water pollution
lawsuits based on the Clean Water Act. The members were signed up. We would talk with
them. They would write affidavits about why the project that we're dealing with on water
pollution was impacting their use of the landscape, and so on and so forth.
Until the field of standing became very strong for us, we still use it. We still need that.
But I wouldn’t be able to have a straight face if I didn't tell you that 35,000,000
dollars a year of income comes from that membership, and that is about one-third of the total income
that NRDC has.
And so, all the way around, it’s a very, very important part of the strength of NRDC.
>>Bill: So, maybe we could switch gears a little bit and talk about California, since
it’s very close to home, here. California, I think we all know, has been a leader on
energy and environmental issues for decades; certainly since the 70s, maybe before.
And in your book, you talk about how NRDC has really been in lockstep with what's going
on in California from very early on.
Could you talk a little bit about what some of the big successes have been in California?
Maybe failures, if there have been any?
But also, just how that has evolved?
>>John Adams: Well, NRDC came to California in 1972, and came to Stanford and one of the
first lawyers--one of the Yale group-- was John Bryson. He became, ultimately, the head
of the Public Utility Commission here at a very young age, and then from there, became
Chairman of Southern California Edison and then Southern California International.
And he obviously learned a lot about energy from our team and we learned a lot about a
lot of California energy issues from John's work at the PUC and elsewhere.
So we were smart enough to hire Ralph Cavanagh and David Goldstein. I don't know if you've
heard of either of these two folks, but Ralph is really one of the great geniuses of energy
efficiency and really changed the equation about how environmentalists look at energy
and the production of energy.
His work in Washington and Oregon, with the Bonneville Power and the Oregon and Washington
utilities, was basically arguing that the least cost is the way to go on energy production,
because he always felt that efficiency would be the least cost.
And then we get a Hood River project up there where he finally got everyone to agree that
we would take one community and it had about 35,000 people -- that's my recollection -- and
using the public utilities up there, they would fund all the efficiency that you could
fund in the whole city of Hood River.
And it turned out to be a miracle. They didn't have to build a power plant. It reduced the
use of energy, and for the first time, people really realized that you could, instead of
building new power plants and increasing energy, you could actually reduce the use of energy
through efficiency.
So, David Goldstein, a physicist who went to Berkeley and really is one of the brightest
people in the country working on these issues, he is a MacArthur Fellow winner and he won
his fellowship, the MacArthur Genius Award, because he organized efficiency in lots of
the things that we all use in our houses, particularly refrigerators. And he wanted
to prove that they could cut down the use of energy in California through efficiency
in refrigerators.
So, he worked on something he called the "Golden Carrot Award." He got some 25 utilities to
put up around 25,000,000 dollars for a winner-take-all competition. Whoever built the most efficient
refrigerator got all of the money.
The competition took a year; Whirlpool won it and now all the refrigerators throughout
the United States meet the Golden Carrot efficiency level. Amazing circumstances because refrigerators
really use a lot of energy around the world, around our country.
And for us to be able to see this transformation through the work of David Goldstein. Well,
that led to the building of an efficiency team, in California, that is really the best
in the world.
And we just had lunch with Noah and Roland, and we talked about what they were doing,
and Annie Notthoff.
So, the things that happened following David Goldstein, is to look at really all the uses
of energy in California and how it could be made more efficient, how we could get the
system so that it was relieved of the blockage to allow efficiency.
And now, we worked over the past nine years on the passage of 1493, the Car Bill, Pavley's
Car Bill, and working with E2 members, Environmental Entrepreneur members, we were able to pass
that car bill, which is now producing really very, very significant results in the less
use of gasoline and obviously, reducing carbon, as well as AB 32, which really is the climate
bill, here in California.
It’s the only climate bill in America; it’s the strongest bill in the country. And again,
our team of Environmental Entrepreneurs, you probably don't know who they are or what they
are, but let me tell you.
One of our board members, Bob Epstein, set up an organization called "Environmental Entrepreneurs".
He went out to his friends, who were in the high-tech world, and he encouraged them to
become members of this new group, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and they started having meetings,
where they talked about the various environmental issues.
They got them to contribute membership dues, a thousand dollars or more. They now number
some 900 around the country, and just to give you a little bit of the significance of this
group of entrepreneurs, they have produced, over the course of the ten years that they've
been in existence, over 500 thousand jobs through the companies that they have invested
They have invested 90 billion dollars in new technology and other investments of real estate
and the like. This is a group of people who have now become a major weapon for the environmental
future in this country, because they are competing with the old industry who wants the world
to stay the same.
So, clean cars, global warming bill, and then all of the other efficiencies that have been
brought here from increasing the efficiency of television just recently enacted here in
California going nationwide.
And most important, even the light bulbs, in which new standards are being set and it’s
been based on California; it’s gonna be saving billions of dollars in energy costs,
but also really having a big impact on climate.
I asked the team to describe the impact that their work will have on what it is we all
know we need, which is really to change our energy future, and how far will light bulbs,
TV, computers, and insulation and closing the enclosure around houses, so that we can
really have efficiency throughout, how far will that take us towards the goals that we
need since we've lost the climate bill?
Well, they didn't have an answer for it, but I can tell you one thing, it’s the only
game in town, and we have to win at that game. And that's why I think E2 and the energy efficiency
team that we have here at NRDC, and working with Google on so many of these projects is
really the way we have to go.
>>Pat Adams: I just want to tell a quick story that sort of ties in NRDC and Google, even
though it starts back in 72.
And one of the first women lawyers was hired, Johanna Wald, and this is so typical of early
NRDC and I wouldn't be surprised if it's not typical of early Google. She went out when
John Weison hired her. He said, "OK, what area do you want? You want the oceans or millions
of acres of land to deal with?" And she says, "Well, I'll take the land."
And that was BLM, Bureau of Land Management Land in the West. And what is interesting
about this story is she started out --the land wasn't even mapped--she had to go to
the Yellow Pages to find out where a BLM office was in Idaho, and when she got there, the
guy left out the back door; he didn't want to talk to her.
And I tie this into Google in a way because they didn't have Google Maps. I mean, what
Google has done, in a way, to unify and give information, has made an enormous difference
for NRDC and people working in this area over the years.
And today, Johanna's working with Google and obviously, in NRDC on siting transition lines
from solar power or wind power places and that's how you all are working together today.
So, it has a nice sort of loop to it.
>>Bill: That's been a great project to really identify and plan, not just project by project,
but more systematically, where it makes sense to put transmission lines.
And we've been working with Noah as well on the energy efficiency stuff. And I think that's
been a really shining example of a success story, I think.
But at the same time, you mentioned the death of the climate bill. In some ways, it seems
like the environmental movement is really at a crossroads, perhaps one of many, over
the last 40 plus years.
We've seen, a little less than a year ago, a devastating oil disaster in the Gulf. The
climate bill has stalled. There is talk of rolling back many environmental protections,
certainly in the House.
Where do we go from here? And how do we remain optimistic in the face of where things stand
in Washington?
>>Pat Adams: Well, I'll start because I said this earlier when we met for lunch.
As we wrote the book, I became more and more discouraged about what the future's gonna
be and when you hear the statistics about climate change, it's very discouraging.
And then we were in Copenhagen and that climate conference didn't work and the climate bill
didn't pass and it's like, "How are we gonna end this book on a positive note?"
And I have often accused John and environmentalists as being gloom and doom all the time. You
gotta have something positive to say.
But as I said earlier, and this is really true, going and talking to people after we've
published the book, and particularly talking to people of your generation, I feel enormous
hope because I think technology will save the day.
And I think it’s possible and that this generation of people who really understand
and are working with the very kind of things that you're doing, think out of the proverbial
box, and it will be finding new ways for clean energy and I think that's one of the essential
things we need, and I think there's a great deal of hope.
>>John Adams: Well, technology got us into this mess; it better get us out.
And I think that's where all of us come from at NRDC.
OK, so I've lived through the dark days of Ronald Reagan and I've lived through the dark
days of both Bushes, from an environmental point of view.
And I often -- I actually believe that more good comes to the environmental movement when
we're in dark days, because people really realize they gotta buckle down and do things.
California's gonna play a major role in the future.
And when I say California, I mean Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and all of the states
that California has an impact on. So, that's a block that's gonna move on efficiency, on
wind, on solar.
And needless to say, in the last 30 years, California has remained, per capita, even
on its use of energy--hard to believe--whereas the rest of the country has increased per
capita use by 40 percent. So, California is really quite remarkable in what it's doing.
And according to our team, and I believe them, there's a lot more that can be done here and
that will be now transferred to other places. There are some 30 states that are involved
in the kind of work that California has started.
We have Reggie in New York, Maine to Maryland. And it's working very hard at reducing carbon
through the laws that have been passed there.
And so, we have to make more headway there. So, work in all of the states is absolutely
The second part is we have to play as hard a hardball as we can with the federal government.
We have to ensure that Lisa Jackson survives and is given the authority and her authority
is protected.
We have to spend time with our friends in the Senate and in the House, giving them the
kinds of arguments they need. We have to be prepared with lawsuits to block efforts. Remember,
it's hard to pass legislation, but it’s equally hard to get rid of legislation.
And we're specialists at defending the things that are important to us.
The third, in terms of the message, we think we will win the message. If they go after
Lisa Jackson and the laws that protect our health, I think that we will win the message
and we will gain back our losses in the next election.
There are other things that are going on here that are very important. I look at the Department
of Energy. It has 90,000,000 dollars that it is spending on efficiency and new technology,
on new car batteries, and so what is happening with the car batteries?
Car battery companies are being built in the Midwest. They're gonna be the battleground
states of the next election. If the battery companies and the car companies do grow, as
one would expect, and people like the folks at NRDC, we've just built a new office in
Chicago. That office in Chicago is looking at the coal power plants; it’s looking at
the battery companies as supporters of theirs.
We're gonna build a new front in the rust belt, because without the rust best, we're
never gonna be able to get a climate bill passed in this country.
So, we have a very positive attitude about what we need to do and I would just say that
we watched the Proposition 23, and that fight over "would we have a climate bill here in
California" was absolutely critical.
Well, what was really critical was that the folks from Google and from Silicon Valley
stepped into the fight and became major players in defending AB 32. And that's a lesson, a
victory, a major victory, that I think will not be lost on the folks who were doing this
kind of work, because for it to succeed, they have to have a regulatory framework that works.
And if we have Just Say No people governing our country, we're gonna have a hell of a
time getting the good things done that we need to get done.
>>Bill: So, we've got a few minutes left. I think we can take a few questions from the
audience, if anyone has any.
And if not, I can certainly ask some more.
Yes, Sam?
>>audience #1: [inaudible]
>>Bill: I'll repeat it.
>>audience #1: [inaudible]
>>Bill: The question was about on the topic of Prop 23, which did not pass.
What do you make of Prop 26, which did, and what seems like a little bit of a backdoor
at the same things?
>>John Adams: Annie, would you come up here?
>>Annie: Hi, I'm Annie and I work on our California issues. Prop 26, I think there's gonna be
a lot of litigation about Prop 26. And, of course, when it comes to implementing AB 32,
and things that are already on the books, we think that that isn't gonna be affected
by Prop 26, so that you can generate revenues from laws that are already on the books before
January 1st, 2010.
But anything from January 2010, when Prop 26 is retroactively effective to, will be
compromised. So I think we're gonna see a lot of litigation. And what NRDC is doing
right now is doing an analysis to see if we can sue on it and what kind of challenges
we can bring.
>>Bill: Thanks. Other questions? Yeah.
>>audience #2: [inaudible]
>>Bill: The question is about careers for young people starting out today in the environmental
movement, law policy, and other aspects, and how does that compare to other potential careers?
>>Pat Adams: I'll let John answer that more, but I would just say that I think today, there's
not just the environmental world.
In the business world, our daughter is with Honeywell, which is a business, but they are
very much involved in environmental issues, as is Google.
So, you don't necessarily have to make that separation.
>>John Adams: Well, NRDC is not your typical example, but we are hiring every year. We
have grown and grown and we're gonna continue to grow as far as I can see.
I think, and I'm involved with several university programs, the Duke and the Yale Environment
Schools are really, in the East, are really wonderful places to get trained. Berkeley
here and a range of other places out here, and I see a growing interest in this field
and a growing need.
I don't think there's any turning the clock back. I think more people are getting jobs
in the environmental world than on almost any of the other professions.
So, I think that you should encourage the young people to go into this field. I meet
them all the time. I write recommendations for them. We try to place as many people as
we can.
We have student programs and we have internships and I know a lot of the other environmental
organizations have the same.
I see no downward dip in the membership or the strength of the environmental movement,
even though this has been a tough economic time.
And a place like NRDC wants really talented people and you can't win without them.
>>Bill: Yeah?
>>audience #3: I wanted to say thanks for doing what you do and for [inaudible].
>>Bill: The question is about electronic waste and whether there's hope for more stringent
regulations to prevent export of what, basically, are toxic materials.
>>John Adams: [inaudible]
>>Pat Adams: [inaudible]
>>Noah Horowitz: Honorary doctorate.
Hi. I am Noah Horowitz with the San Francisco office. I work on consumer electronics, more
on the energy use side, but the question is, what do we do with all these products, whether
it’s our cell phone, our laptop, our TV when it’s done with its useful life and
it can't be reused, or for whatever reason, people wanna get rid of it?
It’s legal in almost all of the country. All that stuff is going in the landfill. Some
states, California for example, has an advanced recycling fee.
So, when you buy something, there's money in advance that goes to recycle that. We're
working with companies like Best Buy, that will take it from you for free, or a very
low fee, and they're working with other organizations to make sure that's recycled properly.
There are still horror stories, but there are becoming fewer of they open up the computer,
they take the printed circuit board, it goes to a developing country, there's a pit full
of acid and someone is putting it in there and they're getting burned and precipitating
off the gold.
That’s still happening.
We're trying to set up systems so that doesn't happen, and I'm optimistic in the next three
to five years, we'll get that right. Bill, anything you want to add on the computer or
user side?
>>Bill: No. I mean, it’s the same issue. Though, compared to an individual, who might
have a PC at home and they buy a new one and then they wanna get rid of the old one, they
don't know what to do with it. But I think large companies like Google, certainly, as
we decommission systems, we have larger numbers of them.
We pay very close attention to what happens to them. But it is a big issue. Where do you
put these things? How do you reuse as much of the material as possible and so on.
I think we have time for one more question, perhaps? Yeah, Ross.
>>audience #4: [inaudible]
>>Bill: So, the question is about, as population grows, as people become more prosperous, people
will be using more energy.
It seems like we need some kind of Apollo-scale project to create the energy sources, clean
energy sources, I assume Ross meant, to meet those needs.
And what's NRDC doing around that? What's its strategy?
>>John Adams: Well, we hoped you had that strategy. And I think it’s gonna have to
come, that particular strategy, is gonna have to be developed by people like the folks at
Google and from this world.
And then, NRDC will match up our strength with your knowledge. And that's the strength
of NRDC is that we have a political operation and we have a lot of power, but we need the
positions to take with us to be able to make a big difference and we're watching and learning
how important it has been to work with Environmental Entrepreneurs, E2.
They have made a huge difference to us because they are outlining important political and
scientific positions and they make the arguments based on their technology.
So, when you see an opportunity about an Apollo, and you come to us and we get a group of Environmental
Entrepreneurs because they'll see the economic benefit to them, I think we could put together
a program that would take us over the top.
And I also think we'll get a climate bill, too. I mean, this has been pretty disappointing,
but only when it’s really bad, do you get a climate bill and then some of the Republicans
are gonna be very sorry and so you'll see them come our way.
And I think we'll have a chance at making some headway on that. But I don't have an
Apollo plan, yet. Do you, Noah?
>>Bill: All right. Well, I think we're about out of time. I just want to say about John
and Patricia, both of you.
Your story and the story of NRDC, certainly I find inspiring and I hope other people here
do as well.
Your book is titled, "A Force for Nature." I think that can be applied to both of you
as well and I really appreciate your coming to Google.
Thanks for your time.
>>Pat Adams: It's very nice to be here.
>>Winnie Lam: So, John and Patricia are gonna stick around for a few minutes for those of
you who want to get your book signed. They'll be here, over there.
>>Bill: Thanks, everybody.
>>John Adams: We want to thank Winnie and Bill. Thank you very much.
>>Bill: Yes, my pleasure.
>>Winnie Lam: You're welcome.