The NRDC Board of Trustees is packed with members of the one percent. Celebrities in entertainment and business make up much of the 39 member board. Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, James Taylor, and Laurie David – ex-wife of Seinfeld creator Larry David – are joined by Chairmen of Disney, Sony, and TeleSoft. Given how high-flyers in the entertainment and business community often conduct themselves, it’s hard to believe that the NRDC board members would eschew this lifestyle for the circumspect one of environmentalism for which the NRDC advocates.
The vehicles the board members drive indicate that they don’t. Based on data from LexisNexis and auto insurance companies Geico and Progressive, NRDC board members’ households own 86 vehicles (see table below), most of which are luxury gas guzzlers.*
Based on these databases, and government fuel economy calculations, these 86 vehicles only achieve an average of 24.3 miles per gallon – less than the average of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2013 and less than half the 54.5 mpg for which NRDC advocates. More than half of these vehicles (48) are gas guzzling SUVs, and more of them get less than 15 mpg than get a respectable 35 mpg. More than a third of them are luxury German vehicles, including Porches, BMWs, Mercedes, and Audis. It’s not easy being green. Especially when you’re loaded.
These finding follow similar ones from the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors, who also drive gas guzzlers. They also build on the mountain of hypocrisy that is the big green movement. Whether it is billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer making his fortune in coal before rallying against it, anti-fracking Colorado congressman Jared Polis earning money from fracking before leading a ballot initiative in the state to ban it, or simply the opulent lifestyles that many greens live while telling us to live with less, such hypocrisy damages the credibility of the movement as a whole. But it’s easy to be hypocritical when you can drive off in your Porsche.
*Methodology: NRDC board members’ primary addresses were inputted into Progressive and Geico’s online insurance databases. According to company representatives, these databases use Department of Motor Vehicles registrations by address and are updated regularly. They corroborate 86 vehicles at these addresses. (Each database on its own came back with several more – we focused on those vehicles that both databases corroborated.) These vehicle models were then inputted into fueleconomy.gov to derive their mileage estimates. When the engine size of the model was unclear, the smallest engine – with the best fuel economy – was used.