Earthjustice Welcomes Peter Lehner To Lead New Food and Agriculture Program

Former NRDC Executive Director Joins Earthjustice to lead sustainable food advocacy


Liz Judge, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2007

Earthjustice is thrilled to announce Peter Lehner is joining the premier nonprofit environmental law organization to build a sustainable food and agriculture program. Beginning October 6, he will work out of Earthjustice’s Northeast Office in New York City. Lehner will be instrumental in developing strategies to significantly reduce health, environmental, and climate harms from production of our food and to promote a more sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural system.  

Prior to joining Earthjustice, Peter was the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the NRDC Action Fund. There, Peter guided NRDC’s policy, advocacy, communications, strategy, development, and management and led the Action Fund’s political activities. Among other initiatives, Peter shaped a clean food program with food waste, antibiotic-free meat, regional food, and climate mitigation projects.

Peter also served as chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office. He supervised all environmental litigation by and against the state, prosecuting a wide variety of polluters and developing innovative multi-state strategies targeting global warming and air pollution emissions from the nation’s largest electric utilities. Law established in some of these cases now underlies the Administration’s Clean Power Plan. He also spearheaded novel watershed-wide enforcement programs and cases addressing invasive species, wildlife protection, and public health. 

Earlier, Peter created and led the environmental prosecution unit for New York City, where his cases protecting the city’s drinking water laid the foundation for the city’s current watershed protection program. He began his environmental career in Earthjustice’s Washington, D.C., office. 

Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming back to Earthjustice a lawyer of Peter’s extraordinary ability and creativity. He will be a great fit with the excellent Earthjustice team. His experience in government, public interest, and the private sector, combined with the reach of Earthjustice and its partners, will significantly increase our impact.”

“Food is, of course, critical to our lives and our current system produces huge quantities,” said Lehner. “Yet agriculture affects our environment and climate, and food affects our health, more than almost any other activity. I am delighted to be rejoining Earthjustice to take advantage of the opportunities to work with allies among farmers, communities, and others to make our food and food production cleaner and safer.”

Lisa Garcia, Vice President for Healthy Communities said, “Earthjustice has worked at the regional and national levels to ensure widespread protections from pesticide exposure for farmworkers, communities, consumers from toxic pesticides and reduce harms and impacts to our lands and water from unsustainable agricultural systems.  Peter’s work will continue and strengthen Earthjustice’s legacy of winning protections for families and our environment.”

Peter holds an AB in philosophy and mathematics from Harvard College and is an honors graduate of Columbia University Law School.  Peter is on the boards of the Rainforest Alliance, the Environmental Law Institute, the Butler Conservation Fund, and two large farms in Costa Rica and a member of the American College of Environmental Lawyers. He has been honored with numerous awards by EPA and many environmental groups. Most recently, the Apollo Alliance Project of the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation awarded him with its 2015 Right Stuff Award for outstanding efforts to promote a sustainable environment and economy.

Earthjustice fights for the right of all to a healthy environment. As the premier nonprofit environmental law organization, Earthjustice takes on the biggest, most precedent-setting cases across the country. It wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change. We do this work by partnering with thousands of groups, supporters and citizens to take on the critical environmental issues of our time, and bring about positive change. Earthjustice is headquartered in San Francisco, CA, with 11 offices around the country.

Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.