The Environmental Defense Fund will oppose Trump’s candidacy as it aims to spend $20 million before the election

The Environmental Defense Fund’s political arm will oppose Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House, calling the former president’s positions on climate policy even worse than they were four years ago.

This is only the second time the group has waded into a presidential election, a source familiar with the decision noted, adding that it will pour $20 million into a campaign this fall to back candidates who support its mission to tackle the climate crisis.

“Make no mistake about what is at stake. Mr. Trump is worse today on our core issues than he was four years ago,” David Kieve, president of EDF Action, the group’s advocacy partner, said in a statement released Wednesday and shared in advance with NBC News. “Mr. Trump’s antipathy to electric cars and renewable energy has grown, and he has identified significantly expanding oil drilling as one of his top priorities on day one, often even ahead of his border wall.”

A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

Trump regularly says in his campaign speeches that if elected, he will “drill, baby, drill,” referring to oil production. He also criticizes electric vehicles and talks about how he pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a move that President Joe Biden reversed.

In 2020, EDF Action’s board broke with the group’s practice of not supporting or opposing presidential candidates when it announced its opposition to Trump. In doing so, EDF praised past efforts by both parties to advance environmental policy, while noting that Trump “is not a conservative in the mold of recent Republican presidents, with whom we could have advanced important conservation policies.”

Kieve’s statement on the 2024 race does not explicitly endorse Biden, although a source familiar with the administration’s process says it opens the door for the group’s efforts to re-elect him, adding that there is essentially no will be the difference between opposing Trump and supporting Biden.

Wednesday’s statement cited the Biden administration’s climate work.

“All the progress we have made over the past four years is at stake. We have made historic investments in fighting the climate crisis, driving the clean energy transition and addressing environmental injustice,” said Kieve. “We have done more on climate than in any comparable period in American history, and the contrast with Trump’s term could not be more dramatic.”

The Biden campaign praised the group’s decision.

“EDF Action played a critical role in passing President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act – the most ambitious climate legislation the world has ever seen,” campaign co-chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement. “As Donald Trump makes it his mission to roll back efforts to combat the climate crisis, EDF’s leadership, efforts and resources will be essential to defeat Trump and his destructive agenda once again.”

A number of environmental groups have already endorsed Biden, including the political arms of the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and NextGen America.

The Biden administration has made combating climate change a centerpiece of major pieces of legislation included in law, most notably the clean energy and climate provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden has regularly used his campaign speeches to highlight his climate agenda and achievements.

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