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:
|Sacramento-San Joaquin River Salmon Biological Opinion||This lawsuit challenges NMFS' politically motivated "no jeopardy" biological opinion on the effects on five ESA-listed salmon and steelhead species of the proposed long-term operations, criteria and plan for the jointly operated federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project -- a plan that would pave the way for dramatically increased exports of water from the Bay Delta.|
|Delta Smelt Biological Opinion||
The tiny smelt that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been declining for years. Studies clearly indicate that increasing diversions of water would harm the fish, but the administration decided to proceed anyway. Earthjustice and NRDC sued to block an offending biological opinion.
The court ruled in our favor in December 2007.
|Giant Sequoia Monument Logging||
Challenge to the Forest Service management plan for Giant Sequoia National Monument, a plan that allows extensive logging in previously protected old growth habitat within the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Earthjustice sued on behalf of six organizations to protect this national treasure and the species that depend on it.
On August 22, 2006, a federal judge ruled that the plan to allow commercial logging in Giant Sequoia National Monument was illegal.
|Protecting Viable Wildlife Populations||A 1976 law requires the Forest Service to maintain viable populations of wildlife species on the national forests. In September 2004, the Bush administration rewrote rules adopted during the Reagan administation to gut what's called "viapops." In March 2007, the court ruled that the rewritten rules were invalid.|
|Grizzly Bear Road Standards||The Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service have approved new road access standards through grizzly bear habitat in Montana, Idaho, and Washington that are inadequate to protect the bears and their habitat. A lawsuit seeks to reform the standards.|
|Butte Creek FERC Consultation||
In this case, Earthjustice sought to compel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to initiate formal consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding the effects of the DeSabla-Centerville hydroelectric project on federally-listed spring-run Chinook salmon, including the illegal take of thousands of pre-spawning adults on Butte Creek in recent years. On December 12, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that FERC is not required by the existing license to consult with NMFS regarding the effects of the project on newly listed species.
|Albatross Listing Petition||
The black-footed albatross, decimated long ago by hunters, is now being threatened by longline fisheries. Earthjustice filed a petition to get the species protected under the Endangered Species Act. In October 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that listing the albatross may be warranted, and is now deliberating whether to do so.
|BLM Wilderness Attack||In 2003, the Bush administration agreed to stop protecting millions of acres of potential wilderness. The agreement was the result of a suit by the state of Utah and others that was settled in secret. Conservation groups intervened, and are challenging the settlement in a very convoluted and drawn-out case.|
|Northwest Forest Plan: Aquatic Conservation Strategy||The Northwest Forest Plan was written to balance timber demand with wildlife needs. A part -- the Aquatic Conservation Strategy -- aims to protect salmon and clean water. The Bush administration has drastically weakened the strategy, and on March 30, 2007, a federal court found that administration acted illegally by suppressing scientific evidence.|
|California Spotted Owl||The Fish and Wildlife Service declined to grant federal protection to the California spotted owl arguing that a management plan known as the Sierra Framework would do so -- then it gutted the framework. Earthjustice has filed suit to seek Endangered Species Act protection for the owl.|
|California Logging Clean Water Exemption||The Clean Water Act is meant to clean up the nation's waterways. In some areas, however, exemptions have been issued that have hampered the goal. One such is in California, where three water boards have ruled that loggers are exempt. Earthjustice is challenging the exemptions in court.|
|Grand Canyon Humpback Chub||The population of humpback chub in the Grand Canyon has fallen by two-thirds since the species was protected 30 years ago. The reason: Glen Canyon Dam and invasive species. The recovery plan for the chub is totally inadequate to the task. Earthjustice is in court to force a better plan.|
|Okinawa Dugong & Proposed Airbase||The American military is trying to force the Japanese government to build a new airbase on a reef used by endangered dugong (cousin to the Florida manatee) for feeding and resting. In January 2008, a federal judge ruled against the Department of Defense, ordering the DoD to consider the impact of the base on the dugong's habitat.|
|Central Valley Steelhead Intervention||A group of irrigation districts has filed suit to strip Endangered Species Act protections from steelhead trout that spawn in rivers that flow through the Central Valley in California. Earthjustice represents fishing organizations and conservation groups trying to maintain the protections.|
|Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Listing||Ninety-nine percent of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout's original habitat is lost and 95% of its remaining population is subject to existing threats. But the Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to protect it under the Endangered Species Act so Earthjustice is asking for a court order.|