Food and Technology Blog

Erich Pica is New President of Friends of the Earth

Posted Sep. 17, 2009 / Posted by: NBerning

Nationally recognized policy expert now leads progressive environmental group known for speaking truth to power

Brent Blackwelder, longest-serving environmental advocate in Washington, retires

Washington, D.C.—Erich Pica, a nationally recognized expert on dirty energy subsidies, is the new president of Friends of the Earth. “For 40 years, Friends of the Earth has spoken truth to power and stood up to polluting special interests and their political cronies—Republican and Democrat alike,” Pica said. “I plan to maintain that proud tradition as Friends of the Earth continues its fight for a healthy and just world.”

“We live in a historic time,” Pica continued. “The imminent threat of climate destabilization, our reliance on dirty fuels instead of clean energy, toxins in our homes and environment, an unsustainable food system and other threats demand transformational solutions that challenge the political and economic status quo. It is time for a new generation of leaders to fight for these solutions. We must fix the flaws in our economic system that are at the root of many of our environmental and social problems, and fight to transform the political climate that’s allowed them to persist.”

Pica, 34, has worked at Friends of the Earth for more than a decade. For the last six years, he has directed the organization's domestic programs, leading its fight against nuclear, oil, gas, biofuel and coal subsidies, spearheading its advocacy on global warming legislation, and launching many of its current campaigns including efforts to regulate emerging technologies like nanotechnology and reform federal investments in transportation infrastructure. Pica has authored numerous reports documenting the transfer of federal tax dollars to polluting industries. He has testified before Congress and is regularly quoted by top national TV, print and radio outlets. Pica’s July 2009 appearance on PBS’s Bill Moyers Journal to discuss national energy and climate legislation can be viewed here: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07172009/profile2.html

Pica’s tenure follows that of Dr. Brent Blackwelder, who became Friends of the Earth’s president in 1994. Blackwelder is the environmental movement’s longest-serving advocate in Washington; he has testified before Congress more than 100 times. Under Blackwelder’s leadership, Friends of the Earth won a landmark Supreme Court case defending the National Environmental Protection Act (Friends of the Earth v Laidlaw), exposed the illegal use of genetically modified corn in Kraft taco shells, and held the Export-Import Bank of the United States accountable for failing to consider climate change impacts in its planning. More on Blackwelder’s record of accomplishment can be found here. “There is no one I’d trust more at the helm of Friends of the Earth than Erich,” Blackwelder said. “He has been a highly valued member of our team for more than a decade. He’s smart and energetic, and he brings fresh vision and leadership to the environmental movement.” More information about Pica, including a bio and letter of introduction to Friends of the Earth's members and activists, can be found at http://www.foe.org/erich-pica-president. A high-resolution headshot can be found at http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/ErichPicaHeadshot.JPG.

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Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org) and our network of grassroots groups in 77 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. We're progressive environmental advocates who pull no punches and speak sometimes uncomfortable truths to power. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to global warming, protecting people from toxic and new, potentially harmful technologies, and promoting smarter, low-pollution transportation alternatives.

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