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Our Cases

Earthjustice attorneys represent public-interest clients concerned about threats to the environment and hold accountable those who jeopardize the health of our planet. Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters, we provide expert legal support free of charge to groups large and small. Several of the most important legal battles for this year can be found at the 2014 Legal Docket.

Our complete legal docket includes about 300 active cases. Learn about some of our recent and historical cases:

Minnesota Haze Challenge

Clean air groups are appealing the EPA’s decision to approve a significant portion of Minnesota’s Regional Haze State Implementation Plan—a weak approach that will not result in cleaning up dirty coal-fired plant pollution.

Chemical Oil Dispersants & the Clean Water Act The Clean Water Act requires EPA to identify the waters in which dispersants and other spill mitigating devices and substances may be used, and what quantities can be used safely in the identified waters, as part of EPA’s responsibilities for preparing and publishing the National Contingency Plan. The Plan governs responses to discharges of oil and hazardous substances. But the use of toxic dispersants in response to the 2010 Gulf oil disaster was implemented without prior understanding of the effect on the Gulf of Mexico marine ecosystems and human health.
Challenging Weak Regulations to Clean Up Haze in National Parks Earthjustice, on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force the clean-up of polluting coal plants that degrade visibility and harm human health in national parks, wilderness areas, and other public lands.
Shell’s Oil Spill Response Plans Earthjustice is representing several clients to challenge the federal government’s approval of Shell Oil’s oil spill response plans for the Arctic Ocean. Earthjustice brought the challenge in the Alaska District Court in July 2012. The lawsuit focuses on two spill plans—the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas spill plans—but ultimately it addresses requirements that apply nationwide.
Legal Fight For Long Overdue Coal Ash Protections

Every day, power plants generate over 400,000 tons of toxic coal ash. Most of this waste, which is filled with arsenic, mercury, lead, selenium, cadmium and other pollutants that cause cancer and more, is simply dumped into unlined and unmonitored landfills and ponds. On behalf of 11 national and local environmental and public health groups, Earthjustice is suing the federal government to set a deadline to adopt federal coal ash protections.

Grand Canyon Uranium Mining

Earthjustice has intervened to defend the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

Idaho Clean Water Protections

Earthjustice is challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of weak Idaho state water pollution rules that don’t adequately protect Idaho’s cleanest rivers, lakes and streams including cold-water streams that support native trout. These are waters that are the cleanest and best suited to support fisheries and recreation.

Alaska Roadless Intervention Earthjustice, together with Natural Resources Defense Council, is representing several clients to defend the 2001 Roadless Areas Conservation Rule in court, once again. The latest challenge to the Roadless Rule was brought by the State of Alaska in the D.C. District Court in June 2011. It focuses on the two national forests in Alaska—the Tongass and the Chugach—but also seeks to strike down the rule nationwide.
San Pedro River Water Use Challenge Earthjustice represented the Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society in challenging the lawfulness of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion, which concluded that continued, even increased, water withdrawals by the Army for Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army base near Sierra Vista, Arizona, will not unduly impact the San Pedro River. In May 2011, Earthjustice won this case in the District of Arizona.
Shell Oil's Arctic Drilling Clean Air Act Permits

In March 2010, Environmental Protection Agency issued to Shell two multi-year major source air permits for its exploration drilling operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Earthjustice, on behalf of several petitioners, filed a petition for review of the permits in front of the Environmental Appeals Board, an administrative court within EPA.

Steller Sea Lion Consultation

Earthjustice, on behalf of Oceana and Greenpeace, has moved to defend the federal government in lawsuits brought by the State of Alaska and the groundfish industry. The lawsuits challenge conservation measures put in place in January 2011 to protect the endangered western population of Steller sea lions in the North Pacific Ocean.

Gas Pipeline Company's Certificate of Public Convenience Challenged

Earthjustice is representing a concerned landowner in challenging an application from the Laser Northeast Gathering Company -- a gas pipeline company seeking to operate in northeast Pennsylvania -- for a Certificate of Public Convenience, which would grant the company eminent domain powers, allowing it to force landowners to sell rights-of-way for pipelines through their property.

Stanislaus National Forest Travel Management Plan Challenged

Earthjustice is representing conservation groups in challenging the Forest Service's adoption of a motorized travel management plan that failed to minimize damage from off-road vehicles (ORV) in the Stanislaus National Forest, a popular recreational destination in California that encompasses approximately 900,000 acres on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.

Damaging Russian River Gravel Mining Plan Challenged

Earthjustice is representing Russian Riverkeeper and the Redwood Empire Chapter of Trout Unlimited in challenging the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors’ December 7, 2010 approval of a massive gravel mining operation called the Syar Alexander Valley Instream Mining Project. The mining will take place on a 6.5-mile stretch of river located in the lower Alexander Valley near the town of Geyserville and is the first mining project of significance in the lower Alexander Valley in more than 10 years.

East Coast River Herring and Shad Protection Efforts Challenged Earthjustice is representing commercial and recreational fishermen in challenging two government agencies for failing to protect river herring and shad from being caught and killed by Atlantic industrial fisheries. The lawsuit challenges the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for failure to conserve and manage river herring and shad populations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Atlantic Coast Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, which were put in place to prevent overfishing, rebuild depleted stocks, establish annual catch limits and accountability measures and minimize bycatch.