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Connect: Earthjustice Capital Campaign for 100% Clean Energy.

Imagine a vibrant, innovative America powered by 100% clean energy.

Earthjustice, the nation’s leading environmental law organization, is driving that vision forward through the powerful concept of connection.

Our attorneys are connecting hard-hitting legal strategies with deep-seated expertise in the energy sector—key components to advancing clean energy on a massive scale. Partnering with diverse clients and allies, we outmaneuver the fossil fuel industry by breaking down legal barriers to clean power, delivering results that enable pioneering energy solutions to thrive. That’s the power of law.

That’s the power of Connect: Earthjustice’s ambitious multiyear capital campaign for 100% clean energy.

Mark Duda, a solar industry entreprenuer, confers with Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake in Honolulu.
Matt Mallams for Earthjustice
Mark Duda, a solar industry entreprenuer, confers with Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake (right), in Honolulu. Matt Mallams for Earthjustice
Clean Power.
The Time Has Come.
  • Chart of Wind Cumulative Capacity: 2000-2015.
    Chart of Solar Total Capacity (Utility Scale and Distributed): 2008-2015.

    Solar and wind energy have experienced rapid growth, with sustained momentum quarter after quarter.

  • -50%: Drop in average distributed solar cost since 2010.

    Plunging prices now make clean energy cost competitive or cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear.

  • Chart of Solar Total Capacity (Utility Scale and Distributed): 2008-2015.

    2015 Levelized Cost of Utility Scale Power Generation ($/MWh)

  • The human toll of burning fossil fuels is staggering.

    200,000 people die prematurely each year from air pollution in the U.S.
    Toxic pollution from coal plants include arsenic, lead, and mercury.
  • The impacts of burning fossil fuels are not borne equally. Children, the elderly, people of color and low-income families suffer the greatest harm.

    People below the poverty line can spend 35% of their income on energy bills. People below the poverty line can spend 35% of their income on energy bills.
  • Fossil fuel power plants account for 40% of all emissions.

    Coal and gas-burning power plants are the single largest source of climate pollution in the U.S., accounting for 40% of all emissions. Targeting the power sector is the most effective way to curb climate change.

Connect to a Clean Energy Vision.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the ambitious goal of running America on 100% clean power is entirely feasible, so long as we embark on a concerted effort to wean our country off of fossil fuels. Faced with the daunting reality of climate change and the rapid rise in affordable clean technology, the question is no longer whether clean energy can power the country—it’s when.

And the answer is now.

To achieve that vision, Earthjustice attorneys are using a potent combination of legal tactics and partnerships to navigate through a complex web of energy law favoring the fossil fuel status quo. This is the mission of the Connect Capital Campaign for 100% Clean Energy. With our clients and allies, we will enforce existing law and secure crucial regulatory reforms to drive fossil fuels out of our power sector by 2030.

Over the next five years, we and our allies aim to:

Create a national roadmap for fossil-free electricity by securing essential reforms in at least 20 states.

Cut coal’s share of the power mix by half so that no more than 15% of U.S. electricity comes from burning coal.

Roughly triple grid penetration of wind and solar energy so that 20% of U.S. electricity comes from the wind and the sun.

Advance equitable access to clean energy by spurring adoption and expansion of programs that benefit low-income communities and communities of color.

Clean up coal’s legacy of pollution by forcing safe closure of toxic coal ash dumps.

Abigail Dillen, Vice President of Litigation for Climate & Energy.
“We have the power to spur the rise of clean energy. Now is the moment to go all in on our future.”
Abigail Dillen
Vice President of Litigation for Climate & Energy
Our Key Strategies:
01
Level the Energy Playing Field
American energy law prohibits discrimination against new market players, yet current laws and policies are too often stacked in favor of dirty fossil fuels. To level the playing field for solar and wind, Earthjustice and our partners will litigate in the venues where critical decisions about our energy mix are made: federal and state public utility commissions. By demanding changes to the makeup of our nation's power source, we will be advancing equal access to clean energy for all Americans.
02
Hold Fossil Fuels Accountable
The true price of fossil fuels is staggering: air pollution from coal plants kills thousands of Americans each year and burdens tens of thousands more with asthma and other ailments. For clean energy to advance, we need to hold fossil fuels accountable for their devastating impacts on society. We will double down on our aggressive legal actions compelling coal plants to cut air, water and carbon pollution. By exposing the true cost of fossil fuels, we have driven many old, inefficient plants to retire, clearing the path for wind and solar.
03
Defend Clean Energy Wins
None of our hard-fought victories over clean energy will matter if we don’t defend our wins from attack. Utility companies are fighting to preserve business as usual, joining forces with well-funded fossil fuel interests to undermine clean energy mandates. They are waging an all-out war against the rooftop solar industry and its customers and attempting to roll back progressive energy policies in states like California, Hawaiʻi and Maryland. Earthjustice and our partners are beating back these rearguard actions in precedent-setting legal fights across the country. We cannot afford to lose the critical momentum that we have built transitioning America from coal to clean.
Clean Energy Work: Key Highlights
Advancing Clean Energy
Fighting Dirty Energy
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Read Details

California: Driving Energy Innovation. Earthjustice and its partners are pushing California to lead the way in scaling up innovative clean energy solutions. We played a central role in securing a state mandate for large-scale investment in energy storage and in creating a market for “demand response resources” that will make the power grid more flexible. Over many years, we helped shift California away from building new gas plants to pursuing an all-in commitment to clean energy. Now we’re focused on securing grid reform and compelling zero emissions standards for vehicles, freight and ports so we can fuel our transportation sector with clean electricity.

Florida: Cleaning Up a Toxic Legacy. Every year, nearly 280 billion pounds of coal ash laden with arsenic, lead and other toxic substances are dumped into our lakes, rivers and streams. All too often, taxpayers are left to foot the bill for cleaning up contaminated waterways. Recently Earthjustice secured a landmark legal settlement in Florida that requires Southern Company’s Gulf Power to remove the coal ash waste it had stockpiled in a leaking dump overlooking the Apalachicola River and dispose it in a landfill with appropriate safeguards to protect groundwater. It’s a result we are working to replicate at coal ash ponds throughout the United States.

Hawaiʻi: Leading a Clean Energy Revolution. Rooftop solar is booming across Hawaiʻi, which is committed to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045. Earthjustice has played a central role in this clean energy revolution, using legal advocacy to remove technical and policy barriers to clean energy and boosting the market through innovative incentive and financing programs. In 2015, we helped defeat a utility merger that threatened to turn back the clock on the state’s clean energy advances. Now we are pushing reforms that will make it possible to achieve the state’s 100% clean energy vision.

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Kansas: Stopping New Coal Plants. Despite Kansas’ abundant wind energy resources, the rural utility Sunflower Electric is still determined to build a big new coal plant. Initially proposed nearly a decade ago, the plant would be by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the state. Back in 2007, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied a permit for the plant on grounds that it would exacerbate global warming. That courageous decision created political shockwaves and a reversal of the agency by then-Governor Sebelius. Earthjustice has been fighting in court ever since, going all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court to ensure this plant will never be built. While the fight is not over yet, we have successfully kept this project from moving forward for nine years.

Kentucky: Moving From Coal to Clean. Even in the heart of coal country, Earthjustice is advancing the transition from coal to clean energy. In Kentucky, we challenged AEP’s proposal to make its customers pay for a $940 million retrofit to the aging Big Sandy coal plant. We made the case that cleaner energy alternatives would cost much less and provide Kentuckians with healthier air. Faced with the evidence, AEP backed down and not only committed to retiring the plant, but agreed to double its investments in energy efficiency and evaluate increased use of wind power.

Maryland: Providing Access to Clean Energy for All. Earthjustice is pushing Maryland to become one of the nation’s clean energy leaders. We have secured ground-breaking mandates for the state’s utilities to ramp up energy efficiency, placing Maryland among the country’s top five national leaders on efficiency. And we have secured regulatory reforms that will compel more investment in energy efficiency programs going forward, including programs that specifically benefit lower-income customers. We also led a successful legislative campaign to legalize community solar in the state, making Maryland one of only 14 states and D.C., where programs are in place to encourage community solar. The program will broaden access to low-cost clean energy by setting aside 30 percent of available community solar capacity for projects in low- and moderate-income communities. We’re working to ensure this program succeeds and becomes a model that can scale in other states.

New York: Transforming the Grid. New York has launched a pioneering effort—known as Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)—to reform the utility business model and spur the growth of “distributed” energy resources including rooftop solar, microgrids, energy efficiency and energy storage. Earthjustice is proving up the vision in practice, wading into New York’s utility rate cases to spur investment in these crucial resources while ensuring that utilities do not use REV as an excuse to impose unwarranted new charges on customers. We have negotiated pioneering commitments to clean resources and the smart metering infrastructure to support them, while also managing to fend off big new charges that would discourage customers from investing in energy efficiency, solar generation and other customer-led solutions.

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Ohio: Fighting Coal Bailouts. For more than two years, Earthjustice and its allies have been litigating in Ohio against proposals by First Energy, AEP and Duke Energy to charge customers billions of dollars to keep their old coal plants running for the next 15 to 35 years. We’re fighting on multiple fronts—in the Ohio Public Service Commission, in the Ohio courts, and before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—to push this expensive coal power out of the mix in Ohio so we can make room for clean energy and save electricity customers a fortune. We’ve already made progress with First Energy giving up on its bail-out proposal for the Sammis coal plant, which will now retire no later than 2020.

Washington, D.C.: Advancing Clean Energy Nationwide. We are securing, defending and strengthening national pollution standards and energy reforms that are driving progress nationally.

West Virginia: Ending Mountaintop Removal Mining. Earthjustice has fought for years to end mountaintop removal mining—blowing the tops off mountains to get at the coal below—an atrocity that threatens Appalachia’s water, wildlife and people. Our work helped close the door on West Virginia’s massive Spruce No. 1 Mine, and paved the way for the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to protect communities from other similarly harmful projects. We are now building on our longstanding work in Appalachia by litigating before the energy commission to compel investment in clean energy rather than in coal and gas.

NM, AZ, NV, CO: Fending Off Attacks on Clean Energy. Across the West, Earthjustice and its allies are fighting utility attempts to throttle the growth of rooftop solar and other clean energy resources that threaten their business model. We have defeated repeated attempts to spike rates for solar customers in New Mexico and Arizona and blocked utility efforts to slash compensation for “net-metering” solar customers who feed energy back to the grid. We’re the lawyers challenging Nevada’s high-profile rollback of its successful solar program, and so far we’ve succeeded in keeping solar affordable for existing customers. We’re also in the thick of defining fights over the future of solar and distributed clean energy in Colorado, with a landmark settlement poised for commission approval.

MI, MO, OH, IN, KY: Retiring Old Coal Plants. After years of litigation by Earthjustice and its partners, Detroit Edison finally gave up and announced the retirement of three big coal plants, including River Rouge, a major contributor to toxic air pollution that is causing a public health crisis in South Detroit. Michigan is one of several Midwestern and Appalachian states where we are making the economic case that pouring money into old coal plants doesn’t make sense. So far we’ve spurred the retirement of 16 coal plants in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, reducing carbon pollution from the coal fleet in the Midwest by more than 45 million tons per year.

Western States: Clearing the Air. Earthjustice is working to enforce the Clean Air Act’s regional haze program, securing first-ever limits on pollution from coal plants that degrades air quality in our national parks and wilderness areas. By forcing power companies to install state-of-the-art pollution controls, we’re forcing them to make a choice between retrofitting or retiring old coal plants. When they make the wise choice to retire, the climate benefits directly. When they invest in pollution controls, coal power becomes even less competitive economically with clean energy. Either way, the benefits for human health and clean, clear air in the parks are huge. By securing and enforcing new haze standards, we have pushed coal plants to clean up or retire across the West, from Washington and Oregon to Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. We’re fighting court battles now to achieve further progress, with more shuttering of coal plants on the horizon in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Texas.

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Connecting the Allies.

Earthjustice partners with clean energy allies from every sector—technology innovators, entrepreneurs, public health experts and community leaders. By marrying the legal firepower of our attorneys with the knowledge and ingenuity of our on-the-ground allies, we are building a resilient network of clean energy champions nationwide to take on the fossil fuel industry.

Miya Yoshitani Executive Director Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Mission Transitioning California communities from fossil fuels to clean energy
Jacqui Patterson Environmental & Climate Justice Program Director NAACP
Mission Advancing a just transition from systems of extraction and domination to regeneration, cooperation and resilience
Mark Duda Founder, Principal Distributed Energy Partners
Mission Positioning Hawaiʻi as a clean energy powerhouse
Rick Gilliam Energy Regulatory Policy Program Director Vote Solar
Mission Crafting policy measures to bring solar into the mainstream
George Martin, Board Chair.
“When I think of the world that my grandchildren will inherit, there is no group I am happier to invest in than Earthjustice. They're not just fighting the climate fight — they're getting the results.”
George Martin
Board Chair, Earthjustice