- Radical environmentalist and peace activist
- President of Friends of the Earth
- Perhaps the foremost environmental lobbyist in Washington, DC
- Board member of the League of Conservation Voters
Born in Buffalo, New York, Brent Blackwelder has been President of the environmentalist organization Friends of the Earth (FOE) since 1994. He also sits on the Directors' Boards of the League of Conservation Voters and 20/20 Vision (a radical anti-war and environmentalist group).
"I am a tree hugger," says Blackwelder. "Clear-cutting of forests should be outlawed and only selective cutting allowed. We cannot as a nation afford to lose any more magnificent ancient forests. There are so few left that they should be off-limits to logging."
In February 2002 Blackwelder was a signatory to a letter asking President George W. Bush to "ratify and implement the major environmental treaties forged at Rio and thereafter"; "reduce United States emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants"; "stimulate development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies"; "protect critical land and marine ecosystems"; "eliminate subsidies that cause overfishing, halt destructive fishing practices, and enforce controls on ocean pollution"; and "increase U.S. assistance to developing countries to protect their environments and the global environment."
The letter also blamed globalization and capitalism for environmental degradation and social strife around the world, stating: "While actions to reduce barriers to trade and investments have stimulated economic growth, there are deep concerns about the uneven distribution of these economic gains among and within countries, the growing pressure on natural resources, and increasing pollution. The failure to address these tensions provides the impetus for unrest, social conflict and violence." Other signers of the letter included: John Adams, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Kathryn Fuller, President of the World Wildlife Fund; Denis Hayes, from the Earth Day Network; Robert K. Musil, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility; Randall Hayes, President of the Rainforest Action Network; Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund; Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club; and Mark Van Putten, former President of the National Wildlife Federation.
In February 2003 Blackwelder co-signed a letter requesting a meeting with President Bush to discuss the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq. The note expressed particular distress over the expectation that "catastrophic pollution" would be "unleashed on the people of the Middle East and the ecosystems supporting them ... should there be a war with Iraq." Fellow signers included Randall Hayes of the Rainforest Action Network, and the Executive Directors of Greenpeace, Earth Island Institute, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
In 2004 Blackwelder endorsed Democrat John Kerry for U.S. President and called Republican incumbent George W. Bush "the most anti-environmental president we have had this century."
Blackwelder founded American Rivers and the International Rivers Network, both of which (like FOE) oppose damming projects and river-development initiatives. Through these organizations, Blackwelder has been able to stop the planned construction of more than 200 dams and stream channelization projects.
In recent years Blackwelder has personally given financial support to the campaigns of numerous political candidates, mostly Democrats. Notable recipients of contributions from Blackwelder include Barbara Boxer, Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, and Bill Bradley. Blackwelder also gave $13,000 to the League of Conservation Voters between 1995 and 2002.
Blackwelder earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, an M.A. in Mathematics from Yale, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Maryland. He authored the 1987 book The Colorado Basin: A Citizen's Perspective on Development, Plans and Alternatives, and he co-authored Bankrolling Successes: A Portfolio of Sustainable Development Projects (1988).