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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:

Defending Fenceline Communities From Oil Refinery Pollution

About 150 oil refineries nationwide are filling their neighborhoods with toxic air pollutants that can cause serious health problems. Earthjustice is representing communities who suffer from this pollution in a lawsuit to force the EPA to clean up these dirty operations.

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.

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.

Stopping Destruction at Kentucky's Stacy Branch Coal Mine

Earthjustice, representing local residents, is challenging a permit for a new mountaintop removal coal mine, the Stacy Branch mine near the town of Vicco in eastern Kentucky.

Cleaning Up Sewage Sludge Incinerators

There are over 200 sewage sludge incinerators operating in communities across the U.S. They emit toxic air pollutants like mercury, lead, acid gases, and dioxins and furans from facilities as they burn sewage sludge and industrial waste. The health effects from these pollutants include premature death, cancer, heart attacks, kidney disease, weakened immune systems, developmental delays, and any manner of respiratory problems. These incinerators are typically used to burn semi-solid wastes collected during wastewater treatment, are the sixth largest source of mercury pollution in the United States.

Mitigating Impacts of Conowingo Dam on Susquehanna River, Chesapeake Bay

A coalition of conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, has petitioned to be included in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing proceedings for the Conowingo Dam. The groups plan to push the commission to require the dam’s owner, Exelon Generation, to take action to address and prevent harm to water quality in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.

Protecting Groundfish in New England

Attorneys from Conservation Law Foundation and Earthjustice have filed a pair of lawsuits in the federal district court challenging recent decisions by the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding New England groundfish. Groundfish like cod were once important apex predators in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and were the foundation of one of the nation’s most iconic fisheries. Now, in addition to the chronic and severe overfishing they have been subjected to in recent decades, their recovery is being also affected by changes associated with greenhouse gas emissions such as increasing ocean temperatures.

Protecting Chesapeake Bay from LNG Export Terminal Earthjustice and a coalition of local, regional, and national groups are objecting to the environmental impacts posed by the proposed Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gasexport terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, saying the project would hurt the Bay’s economy and ecology, increase air pollution, and hasten fracking and drilling in neighboring states.
Seeking Full Review of GE Salmon Environmental Risks

Genetically engineered salmon is the first ever GE fish intended for human consumption in the United States. Documents disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request raise serious questions about the adequacy of the Food and Drug Administration’s review of the AquAdvantage Salmon application.

Cleaning Up Fine Particle Pollution

Following a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of American Lung Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement stronger requirements to clean up particulate matter, also known as “soot,“ one of the deadliest forms of air pollution.

Protecting Communities from Chrome Plating Facilities On behalf of local and national environmental groups Clean Air Council, California Communities Against Toxics, and Sierra Club, Earthjustice is challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s weak emission standards for chromium electroplating plants, facilities that emit dangerous amounts of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.
Protecting Endangered Caribbean Corals from Overfishing Earthjustice is representing the Center for Biological Diversity in a lawsuit seeking greater protections from fishing for threatened coral reefs in the Caribbean.
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.
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.
East Coast River Herring and Shad Protection Efforts Challenged Earthjustice is representing commercial and recreational fishermen in challenging two government agencies for failing to protect river herring and shad from being caught and killed by Atlantic industrial fisheries. The lawsuit challenges the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for failure to conserve and manage river herring and shad populations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Atlantic Coast Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, which were put in place to prevent overfishing, rebuild depleted stocks, establish annual catch limits and accountability measures and minimize bycatch.