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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:

Engineering an Environmental Disaster: 2,4-D Resistant Crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has released its draft Environmental Impact Statement that dismisses the significant harms of a new class of genetically engineered crops and the powerful and toxic herbicide they were manufactured to resist: Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D resistant “Enlist” corn and soy. 2,4-D is a component of Agent Orange, the notorious defoliant manufactured by Monsanto and Dow. USDA proposes to allow farmers to plant 2,4-D resistant corn and soy wherever they please without any government oversight, and downplays any and all impacts.

Reducing Harm to Marine Mammals from Navy Sonar in Pacific

Earthjustice is representing Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi, the Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and Ocean Mammal Institute in a lawsuit challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s approval of a 5-year plan by the U.S. Navy for testing and training activities off Hawaiʻi and Southern California. The Navy and Fisheries Service estimate this training will cause 9.6 million instances of harm to whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. The operations will include active sonar and explosives, which are known to cause permanent injuries and deaths to marine mammals.

Cleaning Up the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers Watersheds

Earthjustice, on behalf of the Anacostia Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Friends of the Earth, Waterkeeper Alliance, Pat Munoz and Mac Thornton, has filed a challenge involving a state-issued pollution discharge permit for Montgomery County’s 499-square mile stormwater system.

Cleaning Up the Danskammer Coal-Fired Power Plant

The Danskammer Plant, located along the shore of the Hudson River in the town of Newburgh, New York, has been responsible for more toxic pollution than nearly all of the total 646 industrial sites in the state and numerous violations of federal air quality standards.

Defending Tahoe National Forest

Conservation and recreation groups, represented by Earthjustice, took legal action to uphold a U.S. Forest Service plan that keeps motor vehicles out of sensitive natural areas in the Tahoe National Forest of northern California. The groups filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit brought by off-road-vehicle users opposed to limits on cross-country driving. In defending the Forest Service, the advocates for public lands argue that requiring motor vehicles to use designated roads and trails is crucial to protecting the forest from further environmental damage.

Protecting Canyon Creek Watershed from Coal Mining

Climate disruption, public health, and Alaska’s clean water and air and abundant fish and wildlife are all at stake in the State of Alaska’s push to open its vast coal resources for development. Most recently, the state decided to open over 13,000 acres of roadless state lands to competitive coal leasing. Earthjustice is challenging the decision as unconstitutional and not in the best interests of the state.

Controversial Repowering of the Cayuga and Dunkirk Coal-fired Power Plants

Earthjustice is representing the group of elected officials in the repowering proceedings before New York's Public Service Commission. At issue is a controversial, precedent-setting decision: whether to repower the uneconomic coal-burning Cayuga and Dunkirk power plants with natural gas—a plan that would lock the region into continued use of fossil fuels and hike electricity bills for people and businesses across a 20-county region in western and central New York, or take the plants offline and instead upgrade the transmission lines—a cleaner and far less expensive option.

Defending Rights of Local Towns: Act 13 Zoning Challenge

Act 13 is a controversial Pennsylvania state law that sought to override local zoning laws related to the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Earthjustice filed an amicus brief on behalf of groups, defending the rights of towns to limit the impacts of the fracking-enabled gas drilling boom.

Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue: Tahoe Regional Plan Update

Two Tahoe conservation groups, the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore, represented by Earthjustice, have filed a federal lawsuit challenging new rules for Lake Tahoe that seriously reduce protections for the treasured mountain lake. The new Tahoe Regional Plan Update shifts authority over future development decisions to local jurisdictions and allows those towns and counties to adopt weakened pollution controls that do not meet the minimum environmental requirements established by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Defending Kaua’i Pesticides Ordinance

Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety are prepared to intervene on behalf of community groups to defend a Kauaʻi County Council ordinance restricting the use of pesticides near sensitive areas by companies developing GMO crops, if any companies challenge it in court.

Advancing Clean Energy: Energy Storage

Energy storage systems can use mechanical, chemical, or thermal processes to store energy; these processes range from battery technologies to energy storage within compressed air or molten salt.

Bison: Born to be Wild

Earthjustice, representing conservation groups, asked the Montana Supreme Court to allow state wildlife officials to move ahead with a plan to transfer to north-central Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation approximately 30 wild bison originally moved from Yellowstone National Park.

Clean Air Standards for New Wood Boilers and Furnaces

National health and environmental groups, represented by Earthjustice, have filed a legal challenge to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to update clean air standards that limit emissions from new outdoor wood boilers, furnaces and other similar sources that discharge large volumes of smoke and soot. This review is 17 years overdue, resulting in increased exposure to harmful smoke and soot in communities across the nation despite the wide availability of cleaner technologies.

Supporting Suspension of Drilling in Badger-Two Medicine

Cowboys, hunters, outdoor recreationalists and members of the Blackfeet Nation, represented by Earthjustice, are seeking to intervene in opposition to a Louisiana oilman’s lawsuit demanding immediate approval to drill adjacent to Glacier National Park.

Defending EPA Rule Reducing Large Ship Pollution

A coalition of environmental groups, represented by Earthjustice, has moved to intervene in a court case to support a low-sulfur fuel requirement for ships in most U.S. waters, including southern Alaska.