A Year in Earthjustice

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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. About this work. (Brad Zweerink / Earthjustice)
An photo of Earthjustice's staff during the 1979 annual meeting in Zion National Park. The organization was then known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.

When the first Earthjustice attorneys
walked into a courtroom in 1971,
many of our nation’s environmental laws
were brand new.

The earth needed a good lawyer.

Today, five decades later:

In 2022, Earthjustice gathered for an all-staff meeting, with strict COVID safety protocols. (Matt Roth for Earthjustice)

With 200 attorneys, on behalf of 1,000 public-interest clients,
and with you by our side,
we take on the environmental challenges
of our time — and together, we win.

In this year of change and challenges,
you were extraordinary.

Thanks to your support,
we achieved more than 100 victories this year
for the earth and its people,
including these landmark wins:

In February, you saved one of the largest reef systems in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a ruling from Mexico’s highest court that underpins the protection of the right to a healthy environment.

The Story Our Partners
Attorneys in Earthjustice's International Program and Oceans Program supported our partner, the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), who filed suit against the port expansion on behalf of the community. Earthjustice and AIDA (The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense) jointly filed an amicus brief, arguing that the port expansion project violated the right to a healthy environment because it did not take into account the best scientific information available or fully evaluate all environmental impacts of the project.

That same month, you saved gray wolves from being hunted across much of the U.S., when a court restored federal endangered species protections, bringing wolves back on a path to recovery.

The Story The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Northwest Regional Office challenged the wolf delisting in a lawsuit on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Oregon Wild, and the Humane Society of the United States in Jan. 2021; that lawsuit was joined by another coalition of conservation groups and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Two months later, you restored stream flows on Hawaiʻi’s Molokai, returning life-giving water to communities and ending a century of waste by plantation-era landowners.

The Story The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Mid-Pacific Regional Office represented community group Molokaʻi No Ka Heke, a community group advocating for protection of Kawela and other streams. Water in Hawaiʻi is a public trust resource, protected under the state Constitution and Water Code. Earthjustice, our clients, and our partners have worked for decades to uphold the public trust, stop wasteful water diversions, and restore stream flows.
Witnessing the return of full flow to Kawela Stream for the first time in over a century. (Momi Afelin / Sustʻāinable Molokai)

Then, you accelerated the rise of clean energy with legal wins against one of the dirtiest coal plants in Michigan and a polluting gas plant in New York — replacing fossil fuels with clean energy solutions.

The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Clean Energy Program represented Sierra Club in the Michigan Consumers Energy case. Attorneys in Earthjustice’s Northeast Office represented New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, THE POINT CDC, UPROSE, Chhaya CDC, and Clean Energy Group, and Sierra Club in the New York NRG case.

In July, you elevated the voices of agricultural workers fighting for justice from the harms of toxic pesticides such as glyphosate.

The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Sustainable Food & Farming Program submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Farmworker Association of Florida, Pesticide Action Network, United Farm Workers & UFW Foundation, Farmworker Justice, and Migrant Clinicians Network.

The next month, you triumphed in bringing closer an end to the era of fossil fuels when a court reinstated the federal coal leasing moratorium — following an earlier legal ruling that revoked attempts to auction off 80 million acres of our nation’s waters to oil and gas leasing.

The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Northern Rockies Office represented the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Citizens for Clean Energy, Montana Environmental Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, and Defenders of Wildlife in the coal leasing moratorium case. Attorneys in Earthjustice’s Oceans Program represented Healthy Gulf, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth in the Lease Sale 257 lawsuit.

In the fall, you secured brighter futures for children across the country, when EPA finally took steps to regulate the nation’s largest source of lead emissions — leaded aviation gas.

The Story The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Toxic Exposure & Health Program represented Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Center for Environmental Health, Friends of the Earth, Montgomery-Gibbs Environmental Coalition, and Oregon Aviation Watch.

And, in stunning sequential victories, you defeated two massive petrochemical complexes planned for Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.”

The Legal Team
Attorneys in Earthjustice's Fossil Fuels Program represented RISE St. James, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Healthy Gulf, No Waste Louisiana, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, the Sierra Club in the Formosa Plastics petrochemical case; and represented RISE St. James, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Healthy Gulf, and Sierra Club in the South Louisiana Methanol’s Petrochemical Complex case.
“Today, David has toppled Goliath,” said Sharon Lavigne, founder and president of RISE St. James. (Brad Zweerink / Earthjustice)

You did all of this,
and so much more.

Every one of Earthjustice’s clients
gets top-tier legal representation, free of charge —
thanks to your support.

We work alongside
communities across the country
to fight for clean air, clean water, and
protections for wilderness and wildlife — one case at a time.

Whitney Gravelle, President of Bay Mills Indian Community
On the Line 5 Pipeline

“This is not just a tribal fight; we are fighting on behalf of all who value the Great Lakes and our environment.”

“The Straits of Mackinac are a precious and culturally sacred part of our ecosystem that should not be jeopardized in the name of corporate greed. This is not just a tribal fight; we are fighting on behalf of all who value the Great Lakes and our environment.”

The Story
Gravelle, at the “Pipe Out, Paddle Up Flotilla” against the Line 5 pipeline, in Mackinaw City, Mich. (Sarah Rice for Earthjustice)
Andrea DeClouet of Ironton, Louisiana
An oil terminal would have desecrated historic Black cemeteries

“Our founders were freemen who bought this property with whatever money they earned and saved.”

The Story
Residents of Ironton can trace their roots directly to enslaved people who labored at the St Rosalie sugar plantation. (L. Kasimu Harris for Earthjustice)
Magali Sanchez-Hall of Wilmington, California
On industrial drilling sites in neighborhoods

“We’ve been conditioned to think this is normal, but it’s not.”

The Story
The predominantly Latinx residents of Wilmington are surrounded by active oil and gas wells. (Tara Pixley for Earthjustice)

Wherever you live,
Earthjustice is fighting for you.

Until we achieve a better world for all,
our pursuit for justice will never rest.

From red knot shorebirds to Florida’s manatees, we will protect imperiled species and the ecosystems that support their lives — and ours.

Red knot shorebirds gather on the shores of the Delaware Bay. (Courtesy of PBS Nature)

We will end the extraction and burning of fossil fuels in old and new frontiers — including the explosive growth of fossil-fueled cryptocurrency mining — to terminate the fossil fuel industry’s destructive grip on our world.

Greenidge Generation bitcoin mining facility, next to Seneca Lake in New York. (Lauren Petracca for Earthjustice)

We will protect our Arctic, where we have fought relentlessly — and successfully — for four decades to defend our climate and the region’s waters and most sensitive landscapes from oil and gas drilling.

Caribou near the Lake Teshekpuk area in the Western Arctic. (Kiliii Yuyan for Earthjustice)

We will stop the exploitation and destruction of lands and waters — from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters to southwestern lands sacred to Tribes and Indigenous communities.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (Brad Zweerink / Earthjustice)

We will make our nation’s food system safer and cleaner by enforcing laws to support climate-friendly, sustainable agriculture and challenging the worst abuses of industrial agriculture.

We will partner with communities throughout the country in their fight for intersectional justice, including a resilient, localized clean energy system for Puerto Rico.

Volunteers install solar power on the home of a community member in Guayama, P.R. (Erika P. Rodríguez for Earthjustice)

We will safeguard the waters of the U.S. and the air we breathe by enforcing science-driven laws and compelling agencies to regulate the cumulative impacts of pollution.

We will accelerate the shift to zero carbon emissions and a pollution-free electricity grid by phasing out fossil-fuel power generation and eliminating barriers to renewable energy.

Supporters rally for electric school buses outside of Los Angeles school district headquarters. (Hannah Benet for Earthjustice)

We will remove toxic chemicals from our lives, ensuring neighborhoods and workplaces are safe from toxic air emissions, PFAS contamination, and more.

In support of Colorado’s Clean Air, Healthy People Act, on the steps of the capitol building. (Kevin Mohatt for Earthjustice)

We will leave no one behind
in our fight for a thriving world.

The law makes change.

Changemakers from Guyana, Kenya, Canada, and Tunisia call for climate justice, human rights, and the end of fossil fuels during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

You did a lot of good in 2022.
Thank you.

Now, let’s talk about 2023.