Skip to main content
Focus Area


To halt climate change, we must stop burning coal. Earthjustice is keeping coal in the ground by challenging extraction and mining, targeting the dirtiest coal-fired power plants for retirement, addressing hazardous emissions and preventing coal exports.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

In February 2013, Earthjustice litigation led to the shutdown of the Big Sandy coal plant in Kentucky. It's just the latest victory in Earthjustice’s effort to rid the land of one of the most highly polluting industries in America—coal-fired power plants.


Coal-fired power plants are the single biggest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, accounting for more than a third of all emissions. They also pollute our air and our water, causing and worsening respiratory illnesses like asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. To save our health and the health of our planet, we have to stop burning coal. Period.


  • ADDRESSING WASTE AND EMISSIONS through litigation and advocacy that establishes and enforces national regulations for power plant waste like coal ash.
  • RETIRING DIRTY AND COSTLY COAL PLANTS through litigation that forces the retirement of the oldest and dirtiest plants, blocks the construction of new ones, and creates incentives for investing in clean, renewable sources of energy.
  • PREVENTING COAL EXPORTS through work to prevent the permitting of terminals that would ship mountains of coal overseas to be burned.
  • STOPPING EXTRACTION AND MINING through efforts to ban mountaintop removal mining and other extraction practices, to protect the health, air and water of local residents, and to send a signal to the coal industry that coal's time as an energy giant is nearly done.


In October 2013, the Supreme Court refused to hear industry’s claims that global warming pollution doesn’t endanger public health—a landmark action that solidifies regulation of carbon pollution, including the emissions of coal-fired power plants. Earthjustice intervened on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund to challenge industry’s claims in legal briefs before the high court.

"There is no question that you have to tackle U.S. emissions if we have any hope of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. Tackling U.S. emissions absolutely means tackling coal-fired power plants." – Abigail Dillen, VP for Litigation: Climate & Energy

Spotlight Features

A Hero is Someone Who Doesn't Get Used to This

Mountain Hero Larry Gibson's courage to stand up and speak out against mountaintop removal mining inspired and gave voice to countless other Americans who live with the injustices of environmental pollution and destruction.

In the Shadow of the Stacks

Hear from attorney Jim Pew, who has worked for more than a decade to clean up coal plants, and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a smokestack and the specter of a plume.

VP of Climate & Energy Abigail Dillen on Ending Coal

VP of Climate & Energy Abigail Dillen discusses Earthjustice's strategy for ending the nation's dependency on coal. Through litigation and administrative advocacy, Earthjustice fights to hold the coal industry accountable for the damage it does to the environment and human health.


Number of letters sent by Earthjustice supporters in 2013 demanding an end to mountaintop removal mining