Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (Glendale Springs, NC)


  • Name:Louis Zeller
  • Title:Executive Director

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
  • Address:PO Box 88
    Glendale Springs, NC 28629
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:(336) 982-2691
  • Main fax: (336) 982-2954

Organization Web

User Web and Email


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  • Mission:
  • The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) is a regional, community-based, non-profit environmental organization. Our founding principles are earth stewardship, environmental democracy, social justice, and community empowerment. We believe in the practice of earth stewardship, not only by our league members, but by our government and the public as well. To foster stewardship, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League encourages governmental and citizen responsibility in conserving and protecting our natural resources.

    BREDL advocates grassroots involvement to empower whole communities in environmental issues. BREDL functions as a "watchdog" of the environment, monitoring issues and holding government officials accountable for their actions. BREDL networks with citizen groups and agencies, collecting and disseminating accurate and timely information. BREDL sets standards for environmental quality and awards individuals and agencies who uphold these standards in practice.

  • Overview:
  • BREDL supports local grassroots organizing in the southeastern U.S. that protects the air, water, and soil from contamination, and promotes sustainable economic development in communities that are directly impacted by polluting industry.

    The issues center on toxic chemicals, sound energy alternatives, industrial and highway development at the expense of public health, intensive livestock operations, and huge waste dumps. These are problems, with devastating environmental and public health effects, are also the call for community action.

    We are community organizers by trade. We do it and we teach it. Our program was founded in North Carolina, by people living here. People who were faced with losing everything found a way of working which was effective and, we soon discovered, broadly useful. We continue to employ dedicated community organizers who meet with unorganized groups of people, identify natural leaders, investigate environmental issues, assist in the development of community projects, provide accurate technical information, troubleshoot difficult problems, encourage strategic planning, and unify the group. Effective community organizing requires accurate and timely information.

    Our program has specialized in original research from the beginning. Our staff and volunteers provide training in environmental testing, strategic campaign development, media effectiveness, finance and fundraising, lobbying, and legal issues. We conduct these trainings in order to organize effective community action and to accomplish specific goals. We assist new groups in setting up teams to conduct research, educate the public and build membership.

    When necessary, we organize coalitions of chapters to tackle statewide or national issues. This task force approach combines local resources and strategic thinking to effect broader goals. The League’s unique chapter framework unifies and protects these groups and makes us stronger; in effect, E pluribus unum.

    Our name reflects our origins more than our constituency. This is because for the last three decades we have grown in many ways but have kept to our goal of a just society. Along with our Appalachian communities, we now incorporate people from many areas of the South and all walks of life. The populations that BREDL works with vary widely across states and regions. One thing that they all have in common is the threat of being directly impacted by polluting industry, such as fossil fuel extraction, fracking, pipeline and related infrastructure, biomass incinerators, coal ash dumping, galvanizing plants, lumber mills, mega dumps, agricultural pollution of groundwater, as well as nuclear waste, radiation, and uranium mining activities. We have worked with partner organizations at the local, state, and national level to accomplish our goals and amplify our message. Over the past two years, our strategies have been effective in creating roadblocks and barriers for lawmakers whose intent is to bring hydrofracking to North Carolina. Our work is far from over, as new fossil fuel projects are threatening the region: pipelines that would carry fracked gas southward through VA and NC, and the free pass granted by NC legislators to Duke Energy for dumping coal ash in abandoned clay mines and landfills in rural areas across the state. These communities will not back down, and they have statewide support.

    At the heart of the BREDL model is self-identification by local rural communities of threats to their health, safety, and economic viability as a result of large-scale polluting industry or resource extraction projects operating in their communities. BREDL's function is to assist these communities in educating the citizens and governing bodies about the harmful impacts of pollution and applying effective political pressure to eliminate the source of pollution. In addition to training and technical assistance, BREDL offers its chapters incorporation in a 501(c)3 structure, which provides protection to grassroots members, and a sense of empowerment from belonging to a network of community-based groups across the Southeast facing similar threats to their well-being and way of life.

  • History:
  • The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League began in 1984 as a result of community grassroots organizing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and Virginia, where local residents opposed the planned construction of a high-level nuclear waste dump in the region. Fifty merchants and homemakers, farmers and teachers met at the Mission House of the Holy Trinity Church to organize, with the founding principles of earth stewardship, public health protection, environmental democracy and social justice.

    The community group was successful in stopping the dump, and the fight brought together the founding members of BREDL, some of whom are still active in the organization. The principal organizers, recognizing an ongoing need, stayed together to form a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The community organizing strategies and tactics which helped win our first victory guide us today. Today we are a league of more than fifty community-based chapters serving the Southeast.

    From there, the group began reaching out to help communities all across the
    southeastern U.S., ordinary people facing David-and-Goliath struggles against polluting projects threatening public health, safety, and quality of life. In 1985, these community groups began joining BREDL as chapters, and each group's leader was invited to serve on the BREDL board of directors. We continue to operate with this model. Currently there are over 50 active chapters and 53 emeritus chapters of BREDL in the seven states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Maryland.

    The portfolio of successful grassroots environmental campaigns undertaken by BREDL working hand-in-hand with the chapter organizations is comprehensive, addressing environmental impacts of nuclear waste dumping, asphalt plants, coal-fired power plants, intensive livestock operations, paper and pulp mills, landfills, sewage treatment plants, pollution from dry cleaning solvents, new highway construction in sensitive habitat, nuclear weapons waste processing and storage, the nuclear power industry, mega-dumps, spreading sewage sludge on farmland, and incineration of medical, industrial, agricultural, and municipal solid wastes. Over the last twenty-nine years, BREDL's local grassroots efforts have prevented construction of six medical waste incinerators, 20 commercial solid waste megadumps, and more than two dozen asphalt plants.

    In the 1980’s and 1990’s, BREDL prevented a multi-state ThermalKEM hazardous waste incinerator, a southeastern nuclear waste dump and a national nuclear waste dump. In the 2000's, our coordinated grassroots citizens’ campaigns have had further victories. We won a legislative victory with the passage of the NC Solid Waste Act, effectively blocking at least four multi-state mega-dumps. After twenty-one years of determined effort, our Matthews, NC Chapter shut down one of the dirtiest medical waste incinerators in the country, Biomedical Waste of NC (BMWNC). We eliminated mercury waste from the Stericycle incinerator, shut down a tire incinerator in Martinsville, won the landmark environmental justice court decision in Greene County, NC. Further, with our chapters we have protected air quality by blocking scores of asphalt plants, four medical waste incinerators, a PVC plant and a lead smelter, and passage by local governments of eight polluting industries ordinances. Our work on nuclear power and coal plants laid the groundwork for our new Safe Energy Campaign. Victories over twenty-four mega-dumps have resulted in our affirmative Zero Waste Campaign.

    During the last five years we have organized twenty-nine new chapters in communities being directly impacting by polluting industries, with volunteer members dedicated to working on a variety of water and air pollution issues including hydraulic fracturing, pipelines and related infrastructure, biomass incineration, nuclear power and uranium mining. Guided by the principles of earth stewardship and environmental justice, we have learned that empowering whole communities with effective grassroots campaigns is the most effective strategy for lasting change.

    In honor of our 30th anniversary in 2014, BREDL members and staff have compiled a written and photo- documentary history of the organization. We have collected stories from members, volunteers, and chapters emeritus to create a timeline of campaigns activates and victories to celebrate and learn from as our work continues.

  • Year established:1984
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:8
  • Advisory board size:23
  • Staff size:7


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:Operating
  • Tax ID:58-1624130

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:581624130
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:
  • Organization Address:PO BOX 88
  • Organization City:GLENDALE SPGS
  • Organization State:NC
  • Organization Zip:28629-0088
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):2
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Educational Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:December, 1987
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):351
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Combating or preventing pollution (air, water, etc)
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:December, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:December
  • NTEE Code:C012
  • Asset Amount:$1,315,371
  • Asset Code:6 ($1,000,000 - $4,999,999)
  • Income Amount:$732,205
  • Income Code:5 ($500,000 - $999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$726,656
  • Last Updated:2/21/2018 4:59:07 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.