Writer-Producer norman Lear, 89, an activist's activist who founded People for the American Way in 1981 with the high hopes of "making the promise of America real for every American," is also the elder statesman among industry environmentalists. He founded the Environmental Media Association with Alan Horn in 1989 because "the world didn't need another environmental group. All the bases were covered. But what all of the environmental groups needed was a mouthpiece to get the message out."
By the time Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, 48, joined the EMA's board, he felt the environmental message first needed to be preached at home, where industry practices on recycling and using endangered woods "were really pretty pitiful. So we began in our own industry then expanded out into the world."
Reilly says he likes how the EMA tends toward nonpartisanship, and he doesn't see much good in environmental groups creating polarizing positions. "I try to have a balanced point of view. You can't have an anti-business attitude," he says. "You can't be anti-development when you live in the United States."
Taking a strong position toward business is what drew Kelly Meyer, 50, to head the L.A. Leadership Council of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has 350 lawyers dedicated to environmental issues. "I liked that they were hard-core," she says. "It's suits meeting suits. I want to see the environment defended like a corporation or a wealthy human being would be by the best lawyers."
Meyer's own environmental passion focuses on oceans, especially in the arctic, where, with polar ice melting, there are new opportunities for oil drilling. "There are no resources that could be brought in for a cleanup," she says. "You have a BP spill or an Exxon Valdez-type accident up there, and it's over."