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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 our partners are pushing California to lead the way in scaling up innovative clean energy solutions. Over many years, we helped shift California away from a rush to build new gas plants to pursuing an all-in commitment to clean energy. 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. Now we’re focused on meeting and increasing clean energy mandates, integrating distributed energy into the grid, and moving to zero-emission technologies in the transportation sector. We won a major victory recently when energy regulators made electrifying freight a priority for utility investments in clean transportation infrastructure.

FL, KY, GA, AL: Cleaning Up a Toxic Legacy. Nationwide, more than 1,400 coal ash ponds and landfills are filled with nearly 280 billion pounds per year of coal ash laden with arsenic, lead, and other toxic substances. As we retire coal units, it is critical to ensure that these ponds and landfills are cleaned up so communities aren’t left with toxic coal ash legacies. Earthjustice secured a landmark legal settlement in Florida requiring Gulf Power to remove the coal ash waste stockpiled in a leaking dump overlooking the Apalachicola River and dispose of it in a landfill with appropriate safeguards to protect groundwater. In Kentucky, we halted the direct discharge of coal ash waste water from a coal plant that was continuously leaking toxic wastewater into the Ohio River. In Georgia and Alabama, we’re evaluating challenges to large municipal solid waste landfills that are seeking to act as dumping grounds for coal ash from numerous states throughout the region.

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 and boost market opportunities for clean energy. After defeating a proposed utility merger—the biggest such deal in the state’s history—that would have locked Hawaiʻi into imported natural gas power, we’re pushing for expanded access to clean energy through community-based renewable programs and “next generation” distributed resources combining rooftop solar with on-site energy storage.

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Indiana: Moving From Coal to Clean. In Indiana, we’re demonstrating that when industry is forced to internalize the true costs of coal plants, they quickly become uneconomic to operate. When we convinced the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to shift the financial risk of the Harding Street 7 coal plant in Indianapolis to shareholders, the utility decided to stop burning coal at that plant. And recently the utility Vectren announced it will retire coal-burning units at three of its Indiana plants rather than bear the costs of complying with wastewater regulations secured by Earthjustice. Now we’re making the case that the power produced by these plants should be replaced with investments in clean energy rather than a new natural gas plant.

LA, PA: Fighting for Clean Energy Instead of Gas. In New Orleans, Earthjustice is litigating to compel Entergy to meet its power needs with clean energy instead of building a new natural gas-fired power plant. The plant would be located in a predominantly African American and Vietnamese community that is already unfairly burdened with pollution, which the new plant would exacerbate. As we see a rush to replace coal power with gas power, we’re ramping up our work to push for clean energy as the necessary alternative to fossil fuels. A key state where we are looking to expand this work is Pennsylvania.

Maryland: Providing Access to Clean Energy for All. Earthjustice is pushing Maryland to become one of the nation’s clean energy leaders. We secured ground-breaking reforms requiring the state’s utilities to ramp up energy efficiency. We also led a successful campaign to legalize community solar in the state, helping to establish a community solar pilot program that will broaden access to low-cost clean energy for low- and moderate-income customers. We’re working to ensure this program succeeds and becomes a model that can scale up in other states. And faced with opposition from a new gubernatorial administration, we’re now playing an important role defending these gains and pushing for further progress.

Michigan: Protecting Utility Ratepayers—and Public Health. Earthjustice is deeply engaged in Michigan to reduce the state’s dependency on coal-fired power, protect customers, and secure commitments to clean energy. After years of our litigation, DTE Electric finally gave up and announced the retirement of three big coal plants, including River Rouge, a major contributor to toxic air pollution that’s causing a public health crisis in Detroit and Downriver communities. We’re locking those retirements in and gearing up to challenge DTE’s plan to replace those coal units with gas instead of clean energy. And we continue to challenge Consumers Energy’s attempts to charge Michigan customers hundreds of millions of dollars for costly retrofits to keep its polluting coal plants open.

New York: Transforming the Grid. New York is engaged in a trailblazing effort—known as Reforming the Energy Vision—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 wading into New York’s utility rate proceedings to secure key reforms and investments in furtherance of REV. Recently we played a key role in negotiating a binding settlement that requires Con Ed, the country’s biggest distribution utility, to adopt a host of cutting-edge practices, technologies, and pilot projects to harness distributed clean energy.

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Ohio: Fighting Coal Bailouts. Earthjustice is working to ensure that customers are not forced to prop up expensive coal power in Ohio that would crowd out investments in clean energy. In 2014, the utility FirstEnergy sought to charge its Ohio customers billions of dollars to guarantee the profits of its aging coal and nuclear plants for the next 15 years. To date we’ve kept the bailout largely in check, scaling back its amount and duration and securing the announced 2020 retirement of four units at the company’s Sammis coal plant. We’re now challenging a similar bailout strategy by FirstEnergy to saddle West Virginia ratepayers with the costs of its uneconomic Pleasants coal plant.

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

CO, NM, NV, AZ: Fending Off Attacks on Clean Energy. “Solar wars” are raging across the West as utilities attempt to throttle the growth of rooftop solar and other clean energy resources that threaten their business model. Earthjustice and our allies are fighting back. In Colorado, we helped negotiate a landmark settlement with the state’s largest utility that increases access to solar for low-income communities, eliminates unfair charges for rooftop solar and storage customers, and promotes fair competition. We defeated a series of attempts to spike rates for solar customers in New Mexico and shifted Nevada back in a positive direction for clean energy after a disastrous decision threatened to kill rooftop solar there. In Arizona, we recently reached an important settlement that, pending commission approval, eliminates anti-solar provisions proposed by the state’s largest utility and ensures solar’s future in the country’s second largest sun market.

MI, MO, OH, IN: Retiring Old Coal Plants. Earthjustice is litigating in several Midwestern states to make the economic case that pouring money into old coal plants doesn’t make sense. So far we’ve spurred the actual or planned retirement of 27 coal units in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana, reducing carbon pollution from the coal fleet in the Midwest by nearly 33 million tons per year. Many of these aging facilities are major contributors to toxic air pollution that cause asthma, heart attacks, and other serious illnesses in nearby communities. Shuttering the plants is the right decision not just financially but also for the sake of public and environmental health.

Western States: Clearing the Air. Earthjustice is working to enforce the Clean Air Act’s regional haze program, securing limits on pollution from coal plants that degrades air quality in our national parks and wilderness areas. We’re forcing power companies to choose between retrofitting old coal plants with state-of-the-art pollution controls or retiring those plants. Either way, the benefits for human health, the climate, and clean, clear air in our priceless parks are huge. By securing and enforcing new haze standards, we’ve pushed coal plants across the West to clean up or retire, playing an important role in the announced or actual retirement of 21 coal units to date. Recently we secured strong new haze protections in Utah and Arizona, and made significant progress in Texas and Montana. We are prepared to defend these gains against attacks from industry and the Trump administration.

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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
Join the Connect Capital Campaign for 100% Clean Energy