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Focus Area

The Arctic

Earthjustice is fighting to protect one of the Earth’s remaining wild landscapes by working to reduce black carbon, stop disruptive oil and gas drilling, and defend communities that rely on the Arctic landscape for sustenance.
Jeff Schultz / National Geographic Creative

After legal pressure from Earthjustice and the realization that it is too risky to drill for oil in the remote, stormy and icy Arctic seas, Shell abandoned its plans to drill for oil in the sensitive waters of America's Arctic waters in 2014.


Massive blocks of Arctic ice play an important role in regulating the planet’s climate. But rapid loss of Arctic ice due to climate change is leading to great shifts—temperatures are increasing, storms are intensifying and sea levels are rising as we move towards irreparable damage. Additionally, as the Arctic landscape changes, the wildlife and human communities that depend on its resources for survival are facing daunting and life-threatening challenges.


  • PROTECTING ARCTIC WILDLIFE through litigation that protected imperiled species like polar bears, caribou and whales.
  • REDUCING BLACK CARBON through coalition building on the national and international level.
  • STOPPING OIL AND GAS DRILLING with litigation that beats back unlawful attempts by oil and gas companies to unleash dangerous carbon emissions and turn one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world into an industrial drilling zone.


Earthjustice played a strategic role in advocating for a landmark program to reduce methane, black carbon and other pollutants. The plan was announced in February 2012 by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, the United Nations Environment Programme, and leaders from five other nations. Earthjustice is one of the few civil society representatives in the newly formed “Climate and Clean Air Coalition”.

"Drilling in high-risk places like the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean is a backwards-looking strategy when we need to look forward to meet energy needs and limit the effects of climate change.” – Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President

Spotlight Features

Frozen Treasure: Defending the Arctic

The Arctic is a thriving, diverse landscape filled with life. There is currently no offshore oil and gas development in America’s Arctic Ocean. And for the sake of our warming world and irreplaceable species, there should never be.

Visions of the Arctic

Watch a film about the thriving, diverse Arctic landscape, and the threats the region faces from industrialization and climate change. Produced by the acclaimed photographers Florian Schulz and Emil Herrera-Schulz.

Saving America's Arctic

Allowing reckless oil and gas development not only puts the fragile and irreplaceable Arctic Ocean at risk of devastating oil spills, but also threatens to worsen climate change, undermine national climate goals, and further stress the dramatically changing region.

2.6 Million

Number of comments and letters opposing Arctic Ocean drilling delivered by Earthjustice’s coalition in 2012–2013