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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 Montana's Smith River

Proposed mining exploration activities at the headwaters of Montana’s famed Smith River threaten to degrade water and further strain already low stream flows, according to a formal legal complaint filed in Montana District Court by Earthjustice, on behalf of the Montana Environmental Information Center and Earthworks.

Defending Wolves in Idaho's Frank Church Wilderness Area

A coalition of conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, have asked a federal judge in Idaho to halt an unprecedented program by the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to exterminate two wolf packs deep within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the largest forested wilderness area in the lower-48 states.

Bison: Born to be Wild

Earthjustice, representing conservation groups, asked the Montana Supreme Court to allow state wildlife officials to move ahead with a plan to transfer to north-central Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation approximately 30 wild bison originally moved from Yellowstone National Park.

Supporting Suspension of Drilling in Badger-Two Medicine

Cowboys, hunters, outdoor recreationalists and members of the Blackfeet Nation, represented by Earthjustice, are seeking to intervene in opposition to a Louisiana oilman’s lawsuit demanding immediate approval to drill adjacent to Glacier National Park.

Protecting Montana’s Largest National Forest, Beaverhead-Deerlodge

At 3.35 million acres, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge is Montana’s largest national forest. It encompasses more roadless lands—1.8 million acres—than any Montana national forest. Earthjustice, representing the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Montana Wilderness Association, defended the U.S. Forest Service’s plan to restrict use of dirt bikes, four-wheelers, and snowmobiles across 322,000 acres of lands recommended for wilderness protection under a 2009 revision to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge forest plan.

Challenging Montana's Weak Wildlife Protections on State Trust Lands

Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice. have filed a legal challenge to federal approval of a state forest management plan in Montana that threatens grizzly bears and bull trout. Both species are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Challenging the Flawed EPA Air Pollution Plan for "Scenic Landscape" States Conservation and public health groups seeking to restore clear skies over some of our nation’s most scenic landscapes have filed a challenge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver against plans approved by the Environmental Protection Agencythat allow coal-fired power plants in Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming to escape federal requirements to reduce their emissions of haze-causing pollutants. The exemptions are being challenged by HEAL Utah, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Powder River Basin Resource Council, and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice.
Wyoming Fracking Chemical Information Disclosure In an effort to help protect the public from exposure to toxic chemicals, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks and OMB Watch are in court to require the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to disclose information about chemicals used during the controversial oil and gas development process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
North Boundary Bison Intervention

Bison are the only native wildlife species still unnaturally confined to the political boundaries of Yellowstone National Park for any part of the year. As recently as 2008, more than 1,400 bison—about one-third of the current size of Yellowstone’s bison population—were captured and slaughtered by government agencies while leaving Yellowstone in search of food. Earthjustice, on behalf of the Bear Creek Council, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Natural Resources Defense Council, is defending a Montana state policy allowing wild bison room to roam outside the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

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.

Otter Creek Coal Strip Mine Challenged

Earthjustice is representing the Montana Environmental Information Center and Sierra Club in challenging a massive new coal strip mine in southeastern Montana. The lawsuit alleges that the state's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal for mining, without first examining the potentially devastating environmental consequences of the mine, violated the state's constitutional and fiduciary obligation to prevent unreasonable environmental degradation.

Badger-Two Medicine Travel Plan Intervention

The Badger-Two Medicine region represents 130,000 acres of National Forest land located in Montana's Rocky Mountain Front -- where the eastern slope of the Rockies meets the Great Plains -- and sandwiched between the south boundary of Glacier National Park and the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas. Located amidst some of our nation's most impressive wildlands, the Badger-Two Medicine hosts numerous rare and sensitive wildlife species, including grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines, bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats. It also constitutes a land of special cultural importance to the Blackfeet Tribe, whose reservation it borders. The region is also almost entirely unroaded, presenting a de facto wilderness occupying a critical wildlife movement corridor along the eastern Rocky Mountain Front.

Canada Lynx Critical Habitat Intervention The Canada lynx is a secretive forest cat that needs big, wild landscapes to survive. In February 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted to conserve this rare species by designating 39,000 square miles of forest land as critical habitat for the lynx pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. The critical habitat designation, which encompasses lands in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Maine, allows the Service to protect lynx from harmful activities within areas that are crucial for the species' survival and recovery.
Horse Butte Bison Intervention The Montana Stockgrowers Association and two other plaintiffs have filed a state court lawsuit seeking to order the capture, hazing, or slaughter of bison (also known as buffalo) by a Montana state agency in the Horse Butte area just outside the west boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Earthjustice has intervened in this case on behalf of conservation groups and local landowners to stop the stockgrowers from reinstating a bison slaughter.
Gray Wolves in the Northern Rockies

Gray wolves have come perilously close to extinction in the Rocky Mountains. Only in the past decade has the wolf population rebounded from a population of less than 50 to more than 1,500 wolves today. Visitors come to Yellowstone every year to get the chance to see and hear wolves in the wild.

In September, 2008, the Bush administration moved to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves, by asking a federal court for permission to withdraw its March 2008 decision to drop protections for wolves in the northern Rockies. On March 6, 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar affirmed the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species in the western Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho and Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

Once again, Earthjustice has turned to the courts to protect the grey wolves of the northern Rockies from attempts to deprive wolves of necessary legal and habitat protections. On June 2, 2009, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of conservation groups challenging the decision to delist the wolves. In August 2009, Earthjustice sought an emergency injunction to halt wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.