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Art Cooley, cofounder of Environmental Defense Fund, has died.

Art Cooley, cofounder of Environmental Defense Fund, has died.

WASHINGTON (AP), Art Cooley, a long-standing activist who cofounded the Environmental Defense Fund over 50 years ago, has passed away. Cooley, who was 87, helped to launch the group, which is now one of the most important environmental organizations in the world, from his Long Island, N.Y. home in 1967.

EDF now has over 2.5 million members and close to 1,000 employees, from New York to London down to Beijing.

According to Jonathan, Cooley, Cooley, he died Sunday in Colorado from natural causes.

Cooley was a high school teacher in the mid-1960s. He was also one of several activists who opposed the use pesticide DDT. This toxin was threatening the survival of birds like the ospreys, bald-eagles and peregrine falcons. The legal battle resulted in DDT being banned in the United States and EDF being formed.

Cooley served as the organization’s chair and secretary for many decades. Cooley was raised on Long Island and later became a long-time resident in La Jolla, Calif.

Fred Krupp, EDFs long-standing president, said that Art had a warmth & charisma that was evident at EDF board meetings. It helped bring people together for a common cause. Knowing Art will be a great joy for all of us who carry EDF’s torch.

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Cooley and his associates used science in court to challenge industry groups and helped establish the right for ordinary citizens to sue government to protect human health, EDF stated in a statement.

Charles Wurster, Cooley’s last surviving cofounder, has died. Dennis Puleston was another co-founder who died in 2001.

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