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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:

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.
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.
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.
BP Oil Spill Plan Challenge

Earthjustice is representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Sierra Club in challenging the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) arbitrary approval of BP's oil spill clean-up plan. In its spill plan, BP claimed it could contain any possible spill by vacuuming up over 20 million gallons of oil per day. BP's actual recovery rate since the Deepwater Horizon explosion has turned out to be about two percent of that.

Offshore Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

Earthjustice is representing the Gulf Restoration Network and  the Sierra Club in challenging the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) for its policy put forth in a notice to the oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; in its notice, MMS exempts those companies from being required to disclose in their exploratory plans a blow-out scenario, and a worst case scenario as required by law. The blow-out scenario and worst case scenario, if included, would disclose scenarios for a potential blow-out, including the maximum volume of oil that would be released, the maximum flow-rate of the oil, the maximum duration of the blow-out, and the estimated time it would take to contain such an oil spill. 

Pacific Fisher: Warranted, But Precluded

A close relative of the mink, otter, and wolverine, the Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti) once roamed the old-growth forests of the West Coast from Washington state to the Sierra Nevada. As with many other predatory species, however, fisher populations have declined dramatically in recent decades due to trapping, logging, farming, and fire. Survey information indicates that the fisher is likely extirpated from all of Washington, most of Oregon, and at least half of its range in the Sierra Nevada. The California population has been divided into two remnant populations, one in the northwestern part of the state and another small group in the southern Sierra Nevada believed to contain fewer than 500 individuals.

Tongass Roadless Exemption In 2009, a diverse coalition of Alaska Native, tourism industry, and environmental organizations challenged the Bush administration's 2003 rule "temporarily" exempting southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest—the nation's largest and wildest—from the landmark 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
Salmon-Challis National Forest Travel Management Plan

The Salmon-Challis National Forest (SCNF) is located in east-central Idaho and covers some 4.3 million acres. It includes within its boundaries the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area in the continental United States, as well as the Wild & Scenic Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Even outside these protected areas, over a million acres of the Forest is wild, undeveloped, and roadless. Consequently, the SCNF is home to miles of pristine salmon streams and abundant and diverse wildlife. It is a unique and irreplaceable refuge for many species and for people who seek the untrammeled solitude of wild places.

Kaua'i Seabirds Threatened by KIUC Powerlines & Structures

For decades, endangered Hawaiian petrels and threatened Newell's shearwaters have been killed and injured by flying into power lines and associated structures owned and operated by Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). KIUC's own estimate is that it currently kills nearly 200 listed seabirds per year, without coverage under an incidental take permit in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The illegal operations of KIUC and its predecessor, Kaua'i Electric, have killed thousands of imperiled seabirds over the years and bear substantial responsibility for the crash in the Newell's shearwater population on Kaua'i, where the bulk of the species is found and where bird numbers have declined by 75% in only the past fifteen years.

Western Arctic Oil & Gas Drilling

Outside of the industrialized oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, vast areas of relatively untouched wildlife habitat remain in Alaska's Western Arctic. This region includes the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the largest unprotected block of land in the federal land system. The Reserve consists of varied ecosystems and habitats, from coastal lagoons to Arctic tundra and rugged mountains, supporting large populations of caribou, polar and grizzly bears, wolves, fish, and migratory birds. It is also home for Teshekpuk Lake, one of the most important and sensitive wetland complexes in the circumpolar Arctic.

Fueling the Fire: Shell's Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean Alaska's Arctic Ocean has been under constant pressure in recent years as a rapidly warming climate continues to melt the sea ice that for millennia has supported Arctic species—polar bear, Pacific walrus, seals and whales—and the associated Alaska native cultures in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
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.

Utah Resource Management Plans and Lease Sale Challenge

In late 2008, the Bush administration attempted to cement its pro-development philosophy in the BLM's land management plans applicable to Utah's public lands for decades to come. These public lands include areas adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Ninemile and Desolation Canyons. The development authorized under these plans will have severe impacts on wildlife, rivers and streams, cultural resources, and air quality in some of Utah's most spectacular places.

On behalf of several conservation groups, Earthjustice filed suit in December 2008. In January 2009, Earthjustice obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting BLM from finalizing the Utah leases until after the change in administrations in Washington. Once Obama took office, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that BLM would not finalize the leases, but would conduct additional environmental analysis.

In October 2009, Salazar announced that eight of 77 oil and gas lease parcels sold during a December auction in the waning hours of the Bush administration will be off-limits to drilling. Earthjustice continues to challenge plans to open an additional 2 millions acres of Utah public lands to oil and gas development.


Makua Environmental Impact Statement In October 2001, Earthjustice reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Army that requires the Army to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposed resumption of live-fire training at Makua Military Reservation (MMR) on Oahu, a culturally and ecologically important area, with scores of Hawaiian cultural sites and nearly fifty endangered plants and animals threatened by training.
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.