Ken Ward posted an intelligent critique of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). I want to anticipate a response. EDF always says something along the lines of “We are getting the absolute best deal available. Go with us, or you will end up settling for something worse, probably nothing.” Let’s set the wayback machine to 1997 and look at a case where the mainstream environmental community did not go along with EDF.

Briefly: The Joseph Company wanted to market soda in a self-chilling can, cooling produced via HFC R-134a, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than CO2. The HFC in one of these cans would have produced a greenhouse forcing equivalent to driving a car 200 miles. EDF saw this as a perfect opportunity for emissions trading. This product is going to come to market regardless of what we do, they intoned solemnly. The Joseph Company is willing to offset their emissions — a win-win situation.

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Over the objections of EDF, the rest of the environmental community, including grassroots EDF members, stepped up and stopped this stupid project. Eventually a new version that uses CO2 was developed instead; this improved product is as bad as for the environment as canned soda normally is, but at least is not several thousand times worse. If EDF had succeeded in helping to push it through, they would be offering it today as an example of practical politics to win environmental goals, rather than an absolutely unnecessary cave. Read the long version at Nonprofit Watch.

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