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:
|Protecting Consumers from Mercury in Seafood||
Consumer protection and environmental advocates, represented by Earthjustice, have filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for failing to respond to a July 2011 petition in which the groups asked the FDA to give consumers clear, accurate and accessible information about toxic mercury in the seafood they eat.
|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.
|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.
|Restoring Kauai's Waimea River||Earthjustice, on behalf of community group Poʻai Wai Ola/West Kauaʻi Watershed Alliance, has brought legal action to protect the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and restore stream flows to the Waimea River on Kauaʻi. The case before the State of Hawaiʻi’s Commission on Water Resource Management charges the state-run Agribusiness Development Corporation and its tenant the Kekaha Agricultural Association, which operate the old sugar plantation ditch systems diverting Waimea River, of excessively draining the river and even dumping the water, rather than letting the river flow for the environment and public uses.|
|Suing to Stop Illegal Sewage Discharges in Maui||
Four Hawaiʻi community groups, represented by Earthjustice, have filed suit under the federal Clean Water Act to stop Maui County from discharging wastewater into the ocean from its Lahaina treatment plant without a permit. Millions of gallons of wastewater injected into wells at the facility each day surface offshore of popular Kahekili Beach Park in West Maui, killing the coral reef and triggering outbreaks of invasive algae.
|Solar Tax Credits in Hawai‘i||Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club, is challenging in state circuit court the Hawaiʻi Department of Taxation’s decision to cut back on tax credits for residents and businesses that install solar energy systems. The Department’s new interpretation of the solar credit—which was announced November 9, 2012 and goes into effect January 1, 2013—will drastically reduce the availability of the Hawaiʻi renewable energy tax credit for solar photovoltaic systems and threatens Hawaiʻi's progress in promoting renewable energy and in weaning itself off fossil fuels.|
|Protecting Endangered Sea Turtles, Rare Albatross from the Longline Swordfish Fishery||Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging a new rule by the National Marine Fisheries Service that doubles the number of endangered sea turtles allowed to be entangled and killed by Hawaiʻi’s longline swordfish fishery. The suit, brought under the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental laws, aims to stop the Fisheries Service from allowing the fishery to cause the deaths of far too many endangered loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, as well as migratory seabirds.|
|Protecting Hawai'i’s Reef Ecosystems from the Aquarium Trade||Citizens and conservation groups took legal action today to require the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources to protect Hawaiʻi’s reefs and coastal areas from unlimited collection of fish and other wildlife for the aquarium trade. Specifically, the groups are asking DLNR to conduct environmental reviews—including an examination of cumulative damage to the state’s reefs—before granting permits that allow unlimited aquarium collection of marine wildlife in coastal waters.|
|Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Challenge||
Earthjustice is representing a diverse coalition of conventional and organic farmers, dairies and agricultural associations, and environmental and consumer groups in challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s decision to deregulate a variety of alfalfa genetically engineered to tolerate exposure to the herbicide glyphosate. Earthjustice, together with the Center for Food Safety, is challenging the deregulation under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Plant Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
|Na Wai Eha Treatment Plant Environmental Impact Statement||Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of Maui community groups Hui o Na Wai 'Eha and Maui Tomorrow Foundation challenging plans by Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (A&B) to build a water treatment plant that would take contested stream flows from several Na Wai 'Eha streams, "the Four Great Waters" of Waihe'e River and Waiehu, 'Iao, and Waikapu streams on Maui, so that A&B can supply the treated water to its development projects and also sell it to Maui County. The proposal would redirect nine million gallons per day of diverted stream flows that A&B has claimed is essential for its Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) plantation and instead use it for A&B's land and water development plans.|
|Kaua'i Seabirds Threatened by KIUC Powerlines & Structures||
For decades, endangered Hawaiian petrels and threatened Newell's shearwaters have been killed and injured by flying into power lines and associated structures owned and operated by Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). KIUC's own estimate is that it currently kills nearly 200 listed seabirds per year, without coverage under an incidental take permit in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The illegal operations of KIUC and its predecessor, Kaua'i Electric, have killed thousands of imperiled seabirds over the years and bear substantial responsibility for the crash in the Newell's shearwater population on Kaua'i, where the bulk of the species is found and where bird numbers have declined by 75% in only the past fifteen years.
|Makua Environmental Impact Statement||In October 2001, Earthjustice reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Army that requires the Army to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposed resumption of live-fire training at Makua Military Reservation (MMR) on Oahu, a culturally and ecologically important area, with scores of Hawaiian cultural sites and nearly fifty endangered plants and animals threatened by training.|
|Hawai'i Clean Energy Planning Framework||
Earthjustice is representing the Hawai'i Solar Energy Association, the statewide solar industry association, in proceedings before the Hawai'i Public Utilities Commission regarding the state electric utilities' proposed framework for energy planning, which will direct state energy development and use for decades to come. Earthjustice is seeking to ensure that the final approved framework best serves the public interest in maximum growth and distribution of clean energy.
|Critical Habitat for the Palila||The palila -- a bird endemic to Hawai'i -- depends on the native Hawaiian dry land forest, particularly mamane trees, for food, shelter, and breeding, and the destruction of mamane forests by sheep and goats and other browsing animals in the early twentieth century prompted a sharp decline in palila numbers and habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reacted by recognizing palila as endangered in 1967 and designating Palila critical habitat on the upper slopes of Mauna Kea.|