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Special Report

The 2016 Legal Docket

With the generous investment of our members, Earthjustice is taking on some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. This year, we are pursuing nearly 400 active legal cases. Read the highlights:

Preserving The Wild

“The legal issues are challenging, and the opposition is daunting. But our track record of winning is remarkable, given the political and economic power that we go toe-to-toe against in court every day. Everyone connected with Earthjustice should take great pride in that.”

– Drew Caputo Vice-President of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife & Oceans
Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Creative
Preventing oil & gas drilling from harming Arctic Ocean ecosystems

In fall 2015, Shell announced it will end offshore drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean for the foreseeable future—a huge win for this spectacular region. But oil companies could decide to return at any time. We’re redoubling our efforts to convince the president to keep the Arctic Ocean forever free from drilling for oil and gas.

William Sebastian / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Fighting for the survival of an icon of the wild

Gray wolves play an important role in the health of wild ecosystems but were nearly eradicated in the West. Among our many efforts to defend wolves, Earthjustice is challenging the government for failing to bring the Mexican gray wolf—the legendary “lobo” of the American Southwest—back from the brink of extinction.

Opposing a mega-development at the park’s doorstep

Earthjustice is gearing up to block one of the greatest threats to the Grand Canyon in the park’s history: plans for a sprawling mega-development near the canyon’s south rim that would threaten aquifers and springs, and degrade the pristine quality of this awe-inspiring landscape.

Defending threatened species from industrial mine operations

We filed suit to protect threatened bull trout and grizzly bears from a massive mine proposed for the heart of some of the last remaining undeveloped habitat for these species in northwest Montana. The proposed Montanore Mine would transform a remote landscape in the Cabinet Mountains into a large-scale industrial mining operation.

Safeguarding marine species from harmful fishing practices

All too often, sea turtles, dolphins and seabirds are killed or injured by longlines—60-mile-long walls of deadly hooks—used in Hawaiʻi’s swordfish fishery. Earthjustice is challenging the government for allowing this practice to harm far too many endangered loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, as well as increasingly rare albatrosses.

Protecting endangered species from extinction

One of the world’s strongest and most effective wildlife protection laws, the Endangered Species Act has saved species from the bald eagle to the gray whale. But anti-environment members of Congress have introduced a barrage of bills and amendments to weaken and even gut this vital law—and Earthjustice is fighting to stop them.

Protecting Our Health

“Many communities still live with high levels of pollution and excessive toxic risk. We can do a better job. We have the technology and innovation—and we have the wherewithal to reduce those burdens.”

– Lisa Garcia Vice-President of Litigation for Healthy Communities
Protecting families from toxic chemicals

Flame retardants added to furniture and other household products provide little fire protection and contaminate the air in our homes with chemicals associated with severe health impacts, particularly for children. Earthjustice is seeking a ban on use of a particularly toxic type of flame retardant in consumer products.

Erin MacGregor-Forbes is an urban beekeeper in Maine.
Jason P. Smith for Earthjustice
Safeguarding pollinators and our food supply

Earthjustice is challenging a decision by California regulators to allow widespread use of two pesticides that are highly toxic to bees without taking a hard look at their impact on bee colonies. Honeybees, which have been suffering unprecedented die-offs, pollinate many of our most nutritious—and delicious—foods.

Fighting new and expanded crude-by-rail facilities

Trains loaded with explosive and dirty crude oil are rolling across the country to ports on both coasts. Earthjustice is challenging new facilities that would cause this traffic to skyrocket, threatening our health, safety and environment, and prolonging our dependence on the fossil fuels that are changing our climate.

Defending communities from contaminated air and water

North Carolina has thousands of factory-scale pig facilities that produce huge amounts of feces and urine. Earthjustice pressured the EPA to investigate the state’s lax regulation of hog waste disposal, which allows these facilities to pollute the air and water and threatens the health of nearby communities, which are disproportionately African American, Latino and Native American.

Preserving Florida’s land and water for future generations

Earthjustice filed suit to force the Florida legislature to uphold the will of the voters and restore funding to the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Intended for purchase of lands for conservation and recreation, most of the moneys were spent on ongoing expenses instead of land acquisition.

Opposing illegal injection of oil industry fluids into aquifers

Earthjustice filed suit to stop the illegal injection of millions of gallons of toxic oil wastewater and other industry fluids into California’s protected groundwater. At a time when the state is suffering from severe drought, these injections threaten underground water from Monterey to Kern and Los Angeles counties.

Advancing Clean Energy

“What we excel at is forcing action. We’ve stepped into the vacuum of the policy debate and forced meaningful action to begin the shift away from fossil fuels. At Earthjustice, we have the opportunity to wield the law as a powerful force for good.”

– Abigail Dillen Vice-President of Litigation for Climate & Energy
Dennis Schroeder / NREL
Leveling the playing field for solar, wind and other clean energy resources

Clean energy sources like solar and wind are booming across the country, but opposing interests are trying to stop them in their tracks. State by state, Earthjustice is fighting for fair rules that will allow clean energy to keep growing—and we’re challenging forward-looking states like California and New York to innovate and lead the way.

The Clean Power Plan suggests a renewable energy target for each state. In Maryland, the area around Paterson Park may be one of many to benefit from innovative community solar legislation passed in 2015.
Matt Roth for Earthjustice
Cracking down on power plant carbon pollution

Earthjustice is helping defend the administration’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which sets the first-ever federal standards limiting carbon pollution from power plants. Industry and allied states want to block this crucial step to curb the biggest single driver of dangerous climate change.

Safeguarding public lands from climate-polluting coal mining

Earthjustice is fighting a federal government proposal to allow Arch Coal to bulldoze roads and scrape well pads through pristine national forest land to expand its West Elk coal mine. The project could cause millions of tons of carbon pollution, degrade wildlife habitat and undermine climate goals.

Defending communities from hazardous coal ash

Earthjustice is challenging a Kentucky utility for discharging an almost continuous daily flow of dangerous coal ash sludge into the Ohio River. A toxic byproduct of burning coal, coal ash contains mercury, arsenic, lead, and many other harmful pollutants that can leak into streams and groundwater, putting nearby communities at risk.

Cleaning up oil and gas operations

The gas industry dumps or loses almost 8 million tons of methane—a major driver of climate change—into the air each year. Smog-forming toxic chemicals that leak along with the methane jeopardize people’s health. Earthjustice is fighting for the strongest possible safeguards to drastically reduce this pollution.

Stopping Australia’s ticking climate bomb

Australia’s proposal to develop massive new coal mines and expand coal export terminals along its northeastern coast threatens our climate, the Great Barrier Reef, and the ancestral lands of indigenous Australians. Earthjustice is working with Australian lawyers and community and indigenous groups to stop these developments.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.