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:
|Site Remediation Exemptions||When engineers go to clean up contaminated soil, they either 'rate the soil or heat it, turning what had been soil pollution into air pollution. The EPA used to regulate such remediation efforts, but in 2003 moved to exempt them. Earthjustice has sued to reinstate the regulations.|
|Ohio Clean Air Act Enforcement||Many industrial facilities in Ohio emit illegal amounts of air pollution, operating with illegal permits or no permits at all. The Environmental Protection Agency should have taken steps long ago but has failed to so do. Earthjustice is suing to force the agency to do its job.|
|Pesticide Protection for Farmworkers||The Environmental Protection Agency is allowing the continued use of azinphos-methyl and phosmet, two highly dangerous agricultural chemicals that attack human nervous systems and can cause death. Earthjustice represents farmworkers and others to halt the use of the chemicals. In April 2005, the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of people to sue pesticide maufacturers to compensate for injuries caused by toxic pesticides. Earthjustice Managing Attorney Patti Goldman was the chief author of the friend of the court brief.|
|Anacostia Pollutant Discharges Challenged||The Anacostia River in the nation's capital is badly polluted by raw sewage and stormwater. A lawsuit challenges inadequate pollution limits for the river.|
|Pesticide Protection for Children||The 1996 Food Quality and Protection Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to take special steps to protect children -- including the children of farmworkers -- from agricultural chemicals. The agency has failed to do so. Earthjustice is in court to make EPA do its job.|
|Iao, Waihe`e Aquifers Groundwater Management||Seeks to designate the `Iao and Waihe`e Aquifers on Maui as ground water management areas under the Hawai`i State Water Code, thereby turning over management of the aquifers to the State Commission on Water Resource Management.|
|Everglades: Agricultural Pollution||The legal battle to stop agricultural pollution the Everglades of south Florida has raged for years. Earthjustice has been in it from the beginning seeking to enforce the law and protect the Everglades.|
|Lake Okeechobee Backpumping, Florida||
Millions of gallons of polluted water coming off of half a million acres of sugar cane fields and cities are pumped into Lake Okeechobee by the South Florida Water Management District. The discharge contaminates drinking water supplies and fertilizes toxic blue-green algae blooms. Earthjustice filed suit demanding the district obtain Clean Water Act permits for its discharges and comply with water quality standards in the lake.
On December 11, 2006, a federal district judge in Miami ruled that the district must comply with the Clean Water Act. And on Jun 15, 2007, a federal court issued an injunction requiring the South Florida Water Management District to apply for pollution permits to engage in pumping dirty water into the lake.
As a result of our victory in court, one of the larger landowners near Lake Okeechobee, U.S. Sugar -- which farming operations resulted in polluted water being pumped back into Lake Okeechobee -- negotiated with the state of Florida to sell its 185,000 acres of lands and shut down the sugar growing and processing operations. With large-scale sugar processing phased out, once again the natural flow of water will return and help to restore the Everglades.
|International Right to a Healthy Environment||Earthjustice is involved in an effort to persuade the United Nations that the right to a safe, healthy, and healthful environment is a basic human right and, as such, is protected by various existing human rights agreements and conventions. Considerable progress has been made.|
|Peruvian Smelter Emits Toxic Pollutants||
The people (especially the children) who live in La Oroya, in the Peruvian Andes, have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. The source is a smelter operated by a company based in Missouri. Earthjustice is working to persuade the company to provide desperately needed medical care.
|Methanex Corp. Challenges US Environmental Protections||MTBE is a gasoline additive that has contaminated groundwater, provoking a decision by California to phase out its use. The manufacturer in turn sued the United States, demanding nearly a billion dollars to compensate for lost profits. Earthjustice has intervened to block the blackmail.|
|Public Participation in Trade Negotiations||The US Trade Representative is negotiating several trade agreements and refuses to reveal any details to the public, even though the documents have been freely circulated to the governments participating in the negotiations. Earthjustice has filed suit to force release of the documents.|
|Florida Irrigation: Farming Practices Destroying Trees||
Tomato growers in Florida use so much irrigation water that it floods downstream lands and has killed thousands of acres of bottomland hardwoods. Earthjustice sued on behalf of a downstream nature center to force the farmers to contain their irrigation water.
In October 2008, Earthjustice won an appeal of this case. The Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland decided that a trial court improperly dismissed the case on the theory that the water management district could not be required to stop the flooding.
|Waiahole Water Rights||Nearly a century ago, water vital to taro farmers, streams, and the estuary on O`ahu's east side was diverted to sugar plantations through the Waiahole Ditch system. The plantations are gone now, and Earthjustice represents farmers and Native Hawaiians in an effort to restore the water to the streams where it belongs. Earthjustice's efforts yielded the first return of water to Hawai'i's streams in history, and it continues to fight for more restoration, and is opposing further diversions of water from the system.|
|Pila`a Coral Reef Protection||
The developer of a luxury subdivision on Kaua`i neglected to put in erosion-control measures. The resulting runoff damaged a coral reef essential to wildlife, subsistence fishermen, swimmers, divers and others. Earthjustice filed suit to force the developer to fix the problem and is currently monitoring a settlement agreement requiring ecosystem restoration. The settlement also imposed the largest civil penalty ever assessed for violations of the Clean Water Act at a single site.