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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:

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.
Reid Gardner Haze Rule The Moapa Band of Paiutes and environmental allies filed suit in federal court over the issue of air pollutants from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant located just a couple hundred yards from the homes of Moapa Paiute families. The lawsuit is being filed in the 9th Circuit Court by Earthjustice on behalf of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, Sierra Club, and National Parks Conservation Association.
Challenging Unregulated Fracking in California As hundreds of California oil and gas wells undergo dangerous hydraulic fracturing without government oversight, environmental advocates, represented by Earthjustice, are in court to force the agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry to abide by the state’s foremost law that protects public health and the environment. The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, charges that the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources has failed to consider or evaluate the risks of fracking, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
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.

U.S. Needs to Get the Lead Out of Aviation Fuel

While lead was phased out of automobile gasoline more than 15 years ago, it persists as a constituent of aviation fuel, or avgas, used by general aviation airplanes. Aviation is the single largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. and poses a significant threat to public health -- especially in communities located near airports.

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.
Air Pollution Loophole Challenge Earthjustice is representing Sierra Club, Montanans Against Toxic Burning, Huron Environmental Activist League and Downwinders at Risk in challenging an egregious air pollution loophole supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The suit disputes the Obama EPA's unprecedented assertion that burning industrial solid waste as a fuel—akin to coal or natural gas—is a form of recycling, and therefore not subject to key provisions of the Clean Air Act that protect people from the harmful air emissions that result.
Gulf Deep Water Oil Drilling Challenge

Earthjustice is representing the Sierra Club, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation in challenging the federal government’s flawed environmental risk assessment of Shell Oil Company’s plan to drill for oil in deep Gulf of Mexico water near the site of BP’s catastrophic 2010 well blowout. The suit alleges that the government’s calculations grossly understate the blow-out risk and that Shell’s drilling plan places communities at risk of another major oil spill along the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts.

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.