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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:

Gas Pipeline Company's Certificate of Public Convenience Challenged

Earthjustice is representing a concerned landowner in challenging an application from the Laser Northeast Gathering Company -- a gas pipeline company seeking to operate in northeast Pennsylvania -- for a Certificate of Public Convenience, which would grant the company eminent domain powers, allowing it to force landowners to sell rights-of-way for pipelines through their property.

California's Approval of Methyl Iodide Challenged

Earthjustice is representing a coalition of groups and farm workers in challenging the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's approval of the cancer-causing strawberry pesticide methyl iodide. Wrongly touted by the manufacturer as environmentally superior to fumigants that contain methyl bromide, methyl iodide is in fact an extremely poisonous and dangerous pesticide that causes cancer and pollutes groundwater.

Challenge to Washington State Coal Export Facility Permit

Earthjustice is representing a coalition of conservation and clean energy groups in challenging a state shoreline permit authorizing the construction of a coal export facility in Longview, Washington, that will export millions of tons of coal overseas.

Alaska Cruise Ship Wastewater Pollution Permit Challenge Earthjustice is representing the Campaign to Safeguard America’s Waters, a project of Earth Island Institute, and Friends of the Earth in challenging the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to grant the permit that authorizes cruise ships to continue dumping pollutants without meeting the standards required by law.
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.
Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Challenge Earthjustice is representing Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) in challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to make a decision on the banning of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The toxic chemical is widely used in orchards and agricultural fields across the country. Exposure to the chemical has been linked to both short and long term health effects, such as headaches, seizures, low birth weights and developmental delays.
Ingredients in Gulf Oil Dispersants Challenged Earthjustice is representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation in challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to reveal the secret ingredients in chemical dispersants that the agency has deemed eligible for use in oil spills.
Air Quality in the San Joaquin Valley

Air quality planning in the San Joaquin Valley is broken.  Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets national standards and the state and local air districts are responsible for developing the plans for how areas that fail to meet those national standards will control pollution sources in order to come into compliance. For the last 10 years Earthjustice has been putting the pressure on EPA and the local air district to adopt meaningful plans and enforce the deadlines for agency action under the Clean Air 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.
Seminole Power Plant

Earthjustice is opposed to the construction of new coal plants because of the growing crisis of global warming and because they are the dirtiest way of generating electricity.  Coal fired power plants are an extremely polluting antiquated technology and the Seminole Electric plant would pollute the air a lot more than older coal power plants of similar size. The permit didn't meet the Clean Air Act requirements.

Gas Drilling Wastewater in the Monongahela River

There is a gas rush in Pennsylvania. The PA Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP") issued more than 1,300 permits for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale this year, up from 97 in 2007. Extracting gas from the shale involves the use of toxic drilling muds and a stimulation process known as "hydraulic fracturing," whereby millions of gallons of water and toxic chemicals are pumped at high pressure into horizontal wells to break up low-permeability rock and release trapped gas. About half of the injected fluids are recovered, along with high levels of total dissolved solids ("TDS"), heavy metals, and normally occurring radioactive materials that leach out of underground formations. The wastes from drilling muds, hydraulic fracturing fluids, and brines that emerge during the production phase cannot be discharged safely into the waters of the Commonwealth without extensive treatment.

Hatfield's Ferry & Coal Combustion Waste Hatfield's Ferry is located along the Monongahela River that flows north from West Virginia into southwestern Pennsylvania. The Monongahela is heavily used for recreation (boating and sportfishing) and is the main drinking water source for over 90,000 people in the region south of Pittsburgh. It is also the location of one of Pennsylvania's dirtiest coal-fired power plants.
Stockwater Exemption On June 30, 2009, Earthjustice's Seattle office filed suit in state court in Washington, on behalf of third and fourth generation farmers against a huge industrial cattle feedlot.  The Five Corners Family Farmers are a group of dryland wheat farmers whose families have been living and farming in the area since the early 1900s. Franklin County, Washington is one of the driest counties in the state and the Family Farmers group uses conservative farming practices in order to produce wheat without irrigation. The new industrial feedlot, Easterday Ranches, Incorporated, will pump over a million gallons of groundwater total per day from an area otherwise closed to new groundwater withdrawals due to decreasing aquifer levels.  The Family Farmers worry that their wells, the source of all their water for drinking and household uses, will be threatened by this huge new, unregulated, industrial use.
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rulemaking

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is promulgating regulations to implement statutory changes enacted from the 2007 legislative session. These new regulations are expected to substantially change the state permitting process for oil and gas development in Colorado. For the first time, the regulations will systemically address public health, environmental and wildlife concerns. 

Earthjustice has been asked to represent the conservation community in these proceedings, to make the case for regulations that are open and transparent and protective of the environment, and to counter an intense campaign by the oil and gas industry to weaken the proposed rules.

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.