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Staff Attorney Isaac Moriwake (right) speaks with solar industry leader and longtime Earthjustice partner Mark Duda in Hawaiʻi’s State Capitol.

Isaac Moriwake (right), staff attorney in the Mid-Pacific Office, speaks with Mark Duda, a solar industry leader and longtime Earthjustice partner, in Hawaiʻi’s State Capitol. (Matt Mallams for Earthjustice)

What You Should Know About

Earthjustice

A short guide on who we are & what we do

What You Should Know About

Earthjustice

A short guide on who we are & what we do

Staff Attorney Isaac Moriwake (right) speaks with solar industry leader and longtime Earthjustice partner Mark Duda in Hawaiʻi’s State Capitol.
Matt Mallams for Earthjustice
Isaac Moriwake (right), staff attorney in the Mid-Pacific Office, speaks with Mark Duda, a solar industry leader and longtime Earthjustice partner, in Hawaiʻi’s State Capitol.

Who is Earthjustice?

A 501(c)3 nonprofit environmental law firm, we have a passionate belief that the power of the law can be used to preserve the environment and build a healthier future for all.

How is Earthjustice unique, when compared to other environmental organizations?

We are the legal backbone for the environmental movement—the attorneys and legal strategists for both nationally known and community organizations. We take on many of the biggest environmental and health challenges of our time and stick with them, often litigating cases for years. The gains we achieve create ripple effects that improve the quality of life for this and future generations.
Because we represent our clients free of charge (thanks to the generous, continued support of individuals and foundations), an investment in Earthjustice has double the impact, supporting both Earthjustice and the organizations we represent. We have been awarded Charity Navigator’s top rating for the past eight consecutive years, an achievement attained by only 2% of charities.

What does Earthjustice do?

We enforce and strengthen our nation’s laws in order to fulfill the promise of our communities as safe, healthy places to live and work, and to safeguard the irreplaceable natural world.
We are actively litigating more than 350 cases. Areas of casework include protecting threatened wildlife, restoring clean air and water, protecting people from pesticides and other toxic chemicals, reining in our dependence on fossil fuels, strengthening the rise of clean energy, and more.
We live in a country with many strong environmental laws. But laws are merely words on paper if they’re not upheld. We’re here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Who are Earthjustice’s clients?

We've represented more than a thousand public interest organizations and individuals. Our clients encompass grassroots groups to national nonprofits, such as the American Lung Association, Sierra Club, and NRDC.

How does Earthjustice select its cases?

We take on the major environmental and public health fights: high-stakes cases where precedents and landmark outcomes will have an enduring, positive impact.

Where does Earthjustice work?

Within the United States and internationally.
Our offices provide regional emphasis and expertise across the country. Coal, Clean Energy and Oceans Programs give added focus to those bodies of work, and an International Program works with organizations around the world. On Capitol Hill, our Policy & Legislation staff advocate on behalf of the public's interest. We are headquartered in San Francisco.

How large is Earthjustice?

More than 200 staff members, including more than 100 full-time attorneys.
Our team includes legal and research analysts, policy and legislation experts, communications staff who raise public awareness about our issues and the communities we work with, and development officers who help our supporters invest in the change they want to make in the world.

How long has Earthjustice been around?

We were founded in 1971, in the same era as our nation's cornerstone environmental laws: Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
Initially known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, we were always a separate entity from the Sierra Club. We changed our name to Earthjustice in 1997 to better reflect our role as a legal advocate for a diverse, and growing, group of clients.

How did Earthjustice begin?

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund—often referred to as the Inc. Fund—was the model for Earthjustice. The NAACP was formed to eliminate discrimination against African Americans. But to end segregation, they had to overturn the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court "separate but equal" decision. To do so, a series of lawsuits were filed that were in effect a dialogue between the Inc. Fund and the Supreme Court about what "separate but equal" meant.
The Ford Foundation was a supporter of the Inc. Fund, and, like many institutions in the 1960s, it had a growing concern about the environment. Ford thought the model of the Inc. Fund could be translated to work for environmental protections. At the same time, the conservation movement was becoming increasingly visible and active. Shortly thereafter, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (later renamed Earthjustice) was founded by a small group of attorneys.

Has Earthjustice’s work helped me?

Whether you’re a city dweller, a suburbanite, or spend most of your time in the great outdoors, you’ve experienced or benefited from Earthjustice’s work.
Earthjustice's legal victories have cleaned up the air we breathe, banned some of the most dangerous chemicals from our food and homes, saved hundreds of threatened species, preserved centuries-old forests from logging, and much, much more.

Thanks to our legal expertise and strong partnerships with hundreds of organizations—and our hundreds of thousands of passionate supporters—Earthjustice has built a remarkable record of success.

See just a few highlights:
More than a decade ago, we went to court to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon pollution. Three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions confirmed the EPA's authority to limit climate change pollution.
The Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
The Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania.
To clean up deadly soot (fine particulate) air pollution, we partnered with community organizations to pressure Congress and to take the EPA to court, beginning in 2006. The new, strong soot standard, adopted in 2012, will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in health-related costs every year. We continued to defend the standard from industry attacks after it was finalized.
Vickie Simmons, a member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, at addresses a rally on July 19, 2012.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Vickie Simmons, a member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, addresses a rally on July 19, 2012, in Sacramento, held before an EPA public hearing on protections from soot. Simmons spoke about pollution from the Reid Gardner coal plant and health problems in her community near Las Vegas.
Our attorneys fought for more than a decade to save the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, winning more than a dozen cases, as industry and political forces sought to undermine the rule. Today, nearly 50 million acres of national forest—critical habitat for wildlife, as well as drinking water sources for millions of Americans—are permanently protected.
Visitors in the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, a 11,175-acre roadless area, located 26 miles south of Butte, Montana.
Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management
Visitors in the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, a 11,175-acre roadless area near Butte, Montana.
We successfully defended a Colorado voter-approved renewable energy standard, passed in 2004, from attacks by opponents who vowed to “put wind energy on trial.” The groundbreaking case affirmed the authority of states to adopt policies that support clean, renewable power.
The Cedar Creek wind farm in Colorado, against a backdrop of stratocumulus clouds.
National Center for Atmospheric Research
The Cedar Creek wind farm in Colorado, against a backdrop of stratocumulus clouds.