|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 Dispersant Rulemaking||Earthjustice is representing a coalition of conservation, wildlife and public health groups in the Gulf region and in Alaska in a citizen suit under the provisions of the federal Clean Water Act to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue a rule on chemical oil dispersants. EPA’s current rules—which during the 2010 Gulf oil disaster failed to ensure that dispersants would be used safely—do not fulfill the requirements mandated by the Clean Water Act. Currently, regulations dictating dispersants eligible for use in oil spills require minimal toxicity testing and no threshold for safety.|
|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.|
|EPA's Global Warming Endangerment Finding Challenged||Earthjustice is representing Environmental Defense Fund as an intervener against industry court challenges to the U.S. EPA’s scientific finding that global warming pollution endangers public health in America.|
|West-wide Energy Corridors||
In January 2009, on its way out the door, the Bush administration finalized a vast network of energy corridors that promote coal-fired and other fossil-fuel power plants. The West-wide energy corridors are approximately 6000 miles long and cover 3.2 million acres of federal land in eleven Western states. By designating corridors that service old dirty sources of energy while neglecting areas with potential for clean, renewable energy sources, the Bush administration curtailed the ability of the federal government to shift the country away from our dependence on fossil fuels.
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 required federal agencies to designate corridors for oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines and electric transmission facilities on federal land. In designating these corridors, the Bush administration ignored input from states, local governments, and thousands of citizens that suggested alternative routes that would not only support renewable energy, but also avoid trampling through iconic western landscapes including Arches National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The federal agencies responsible for designating these corridors also refused to engage in consultation under the Endangered Species Act to determine how these corridors would impact threatened and endangered species throughout the West.
On behalf of a coalition of conservation organizations and a western Colorado county, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging these corridors. The lawsuit seeks to redirect new transmission lines so that they link clean energy areas to consumers, and revitalizing the West-wide energy corridors, which have the potential to be an essential component of the of the overall renewable energy plan for the West, integrating state and regional policies to tap into the West's vast potential for wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources while protecting the region's iconic wildlife and public lands.
|Air Pollution Haze in Our National Parks||
The 1977 Clean Air Act set a national goal of cleaning up dirty air in major national parks and wilderness areas. Decades later, only a small handful of states have submitted legally required plans to comply. The result: power plant and factory emissions continue to obscure views of beloved landmarks in national parks across the country including Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Big Bend, Acadia, Sequoia, and Yosemite.
On October 21, 2008, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of Environmental Defense Fund and National Parks Conservation Association over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's failure to enforce deadlines for the states to adopt these clean air plans. The Clean Air Act required states to submit enforceable plans to EPA by last December to clean up hazy skies in parks and wilderness areas. As of June 2008, only six had submitted plans, according to EPA sources. The Earthjustice letter gave notice of intent to sue EPA unless the agency enforces the deadline against delinquent states within 60 days.
According to the National Park Service, human-caused air pollution reduces visibility in most national parks throughout the country. Average visual range -- the farthest a person can see on a given day -- in most of the western United States is now about one-half to two-thirds of what it would be without man-made air pollution (about 140 miles). In most of the east, the average visual range is about one-fifth of what it would be under natural conditions (about 90 miles).
Earthjustice is suing EPA on behalf of conservation groups.
|Gulf Longlines & Sea Turtles||
Earthjustice has filed suit to protect sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. These turtles are a key part of the ecosystem in the Gulf, where they forage and live throughout the year. They also are a valuable legacy for Gulf residents who take pride in observing and enjoying the sea turtles' continued choice of their local beaches to nest. But they are being captured and killed in large numbers by fishing vessels that deploy miles of line and thousands of hooks along the ocean floor. The turtles drown or suffer serious injury when they grab the bait off these hooks.
Populations of these sea turtles are vulnerable; one turtle species in particular—the loggerhead—has suffered more than a 40% decline in its population over the past decade. Therefore, the Endangered Species Act requires the National Marine Fisheries Service to strictly limit the number of turtles that can be caught and harmed by these fishing vessels. But the Service has known for several years that these turtles are being caught by the hundreds, at levels that greatly exceed the allowed limit. The situation is so dire that in January 2009 the local fishery management council asked the Service to close the fishery altogether. Even though the scientific data are clear, and despite the fact that the Service has both the authority and duty to prevent further death and injury to sea turtles, the Service still has failed to act.
In its lawsuit, Earthjustice is asking the federal court in Florida to order the Service to close the fishery until the Service gathers the information needed to assess how best to protect the turtles and avoid further decimating their populations.
|Anacostia River: Sediment Pollution Limits||
The Anacostia River flows through Maryland and the District of Columbia. Even though it flows through our nation's capital, it is heavily polluted -- raw sewage, trash, and other contaminents flow into the river, especially after heavy rains. Erosion, runoff from grimy streets, and an antiquated sewer system contribute to the problem.
The Clean Water Act requires that each state and the District of Columbia must set water quality standards which would protect the public health or welfare and enhance the quality of water. The state or the EPA must then set limits on the amount of pollutants that can enter a specific waterbody in any given day (total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs), and the EPA must approve TMDLs only if they are adequate to achieve the state's water quality standards. Because contaminated sediment is one of the major causes of water quality impairment in the Anacostia, the District and Maryland must set TMDLs to limit sediment pollution along with other pollutants classified as "suspended solids."
In response to a previous Earthjustice lawsuit, the District of Columbia and Maryland adopted a daily cap for suspended solids in the Anacostia, but these caps are far too high to make the river suitable for recreation or even aesthestic enjoyment. Earthjustice is challenging the EPA's adoption of these inadequate pollution caps. The Anacostia River deserves better.
|Stronger Standards to Reduce Mercury and Other Pollutants from Power Plants||Power plants are, collectively, the worst toxic emitters in the country. They emit more than 350,000 tons of toxic chemicals each year, including more than forty percent of all mercury emissions (approximately forty-eight tons per year), twenty percent of all arsenic emissions (approximately seventy tons per year) as well as more than eighty tons per year of both lead and chromium. In Earthjustice's previous power plants air toxics case, we successfully challenged EPA's decision to remove power plants from the list of industries for which air toxics standards are required -- a move that would have allowed the agency to delay and curtail reductions in power plants' mercury emissions and leave their emissions of arsenic, lead and other hazardous air pollutants wholly unregulated.|
|Stronger Standards for PVC Plants||
Each year, PVC (or polyvinyl chloride) plants are responsible for pumping approximately 500,000 pounds of vinyl chloride -- a known human carcinogen -- and many other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. These plants have had incredibly damaging effects on communities throughout the country, especially in Louisiana. In Mossville, Louisiana, a historically African American community that is home to two PVC plants, health studies have found blood levels of dioxin among residents rivaling those seen in industrial accidents. Communities like Mossville that exist in the shadow of PVC plants suffer from high rates of cancer, asthma, and endometriosis.
Although EPA issued emissions regulations for PVC plants in 2002, they provided emission standards for just vinyl chloride, leaving emissions of dioxins, chromium, lead, chlorine and hydrogen choride -- substances associated with a wide variety of serious adverse health effects including cancer -- entirely unchecked. Further, the sole standard adopted, for vinyl chloride, was set at the same weak standard that has been in place since 1976, a level that allows PVC plants to continue emitting this toxin at levels that EPA itself expects to cause death and serious illness.
Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN) and the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, successfully challenged those regulations in 2002, resulting in a 2004 decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals finding that EPA's lax approach to regulating pollution from PVC plants violated the law. Four years later, the agency has failed to make any progress in replacing the vacated standard with a lawful one, leaving PVC plants underregulated.
In October 2008, Earthjustice again filed suit on behalf of MEAN, the Sierra Club, and Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) to force EPA to comply with their obligations under the Clean Air Act and issue lawful standards for PVC plants.
In Novermber of 2009, as part of a settlement reached with Earthjustice's clients, the EPA agreed to begin regulating the toxins released by PVC plants by July 29, 2011.