Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit environmental advocacy group founded in 1967, launched Scorecard on April 22, 1998 as a free public-information service. Scorecard was created by a team led by Dr. Bill Pease of our staff; Dr. Pease later joined GetActive and continued to operate Scorecard under a contract between GetActive and Environmental Defense.
From the outset, public response to Scorecard was overwhelming: hundreds of thousands of citizens clearly wanted information about pollution in their community and were eager to take action to defend their environment. Scorecard's Zip to Your Community quickly became the easy way for anyone to obtain accessible, scientifically credible information about toxics in their community. Our goal was to make the local environment as easy to check on as the local weather.
Why? By spotlighting the companies with the worst environmental records, we sought to create strong incentives for pollution reduction - no one enjoys holding the rank of top polluter in their community. By distributing previously inaccessible data, Scorecard was intended to provide a powerful tool for both citizens and communities to demand improvements in environmental quality.
For the next seven-plus years, Environmental Defense expanded and refined Scorecard. Scorecard became the web's preeminent source for information about toxic chemicals, integrating data from scientific sources to profile over 11,000 chemical hazards and their potential health effects. From our initial coverage of toxic chemical releases from industrial facilities, we added profiles on local pollution problems like Superfund sites and lead hazards, as well as information on smog and particulates that impact health and air quality, and on the hazardous air pollutants that pose cancer risks. We also added detailed data about water quality and agricultural pollution. And we included environmental justice profiles for in every community in the U.S., identifying which groups bear a disproportionate share of environmental burdens.
Early in 2005, Environmental Defense decided to transfer our ownership of Scorecard to another nonprofit. After discussions with many groups, we selected Green Media Toolshed as Scorecard's new owner because of GMT's exciting vision for Scorecard's future. To help ensure that Scorecard will remain a free public-information service for many years to come - as it has been since the site was first launched - Environmental Defense transferred all of its ownership interests in Scorecard to GMT at no charge. GMT took over the site as of November 1, 2005.