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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Office

Midwest Regional Office

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (George Peters / Getty Images)
Leading legal fights in the Midwest for healthy families, homes, workplaces, and communities; for protection and preservation of waters, wetlands, wild places and wildlife; for clean air; and for sustainable energy and climate solutions.

Signature Work

Based in Chicago, the Midwest Regional Office focuses on issues of unique significance concerning the region. Our attorneys’ docket of cases across the Midwest cover climate and energy issues, as well as protecting water resources from harmful mining. Highlights of our work in the Midwest:

  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: With more than 1,000 lakes and hundreds of miles of canoe routes in northeastern Minnesota, the Boundary Waters is America’s most visited wilderness area. Earthjustice attorneys are litigating on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Izaak Walton League of America, and The Wilderness Society to prevent sulfide-ore mining at the edge of the wilderness that would harm the water quality and ecology of these protected public lands and waterways.
  • The Back Forty Mine: We are in court to protect the Menominee River and the homeland of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin from irreversible harms of a proposed open-pit zinc-and-gold mine and minerals processing facility on the banks of the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border. The Back Forty Mine will be located within a landscape that features significant ancient Menominee Tribal cultural resources, including tribal burial grounds, historic agricultural sites, and ceremonial sites.
  • Cleaning Up Coal Ash: For decades, coal ash has polluted waters and communities in nearly every state, from Alaska to Florida. The Midwest is no exception. Coal ash, the toxic remains of coal burning in power plants, is full of chemicals that cause cancer, developmental disorders and reproductive problems. On behalf of our clients, Earthjustice fights in courts across the country for a long-term solution to this toxic menace.
    • In Illinois, we’ve filed lawsuits on behalf of the Prairie Rivers Network to stop contamination of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, Illinois’ only National Scenic River, from coal ash stockpiled by the electric generating company Dynegy. The toxic chemicals leaking from the coal ash pits have stained the riverbank a shimmery orange, rust, and purple color and turned the river water orange.
  • Shutting Down Coal: Litigation and the costs of new pollution controls required under federal safeguards that Earthjustice helped secure are bringing to light the true cost of coal, and reinforcing market forces that are driving electric utilities to opt for cheaper, cleaner alternatives to coal.
    • In Ohio, we briefed in the Ohio Supreme Court on our case challenging utility regulators’ approval of a bailout that would force FirstEnergy customers to pay nearly $600 million to prop up the company’s struggling coal plants. In June 2019, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned approval of the bailout, which has cost customers up to $204 million annually since the bailout was approved in 2017.
    • In Michigan, our attorneys have been advocating for years on behalf of impacted communities for reining in pollution from coal-fired power plants operated by DTE Energy and Consumers Energy. Many of the plants lack modern pollution controls.
  • Blocking New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure: To secure a future in which climate disruption remains manageable, Earthjustice is taking aim at major infrastructure projects across the country that threaten to entrench and expand fossil fuel dependence for decades to come.
    • In a proceeding before Indiana utility regulators, Earthjustice and Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana challenged Vectren’s request for approval of a $780 million new gas plant to be built on the site of the existing A.B. Brown coal-fired power plant near Evansville. Our attorneys contended that Vectren’s Integrated Resource Plan was based on shoddy modeling that rushed energy customers into a large capital investment with little to no consideration of less risky, lower-cost alternatives. We pushed the utility instead to increase investment in energy efficiency, demand response, renewables, and energy storage as it retires aging and uneconomic coal-fired units. Regulators rejected the new gas-fired power plant proposal in April 2019.
Map of Earthjustice offices.

Contact Midwest Office

311 South Wacker Drive, Suite 1400
Chicago, IL  60606
info@earthjustice.org

Staff

Debbie Chizewer Managing Attorney

Maryam Arai Sr. Development Officer, Major Gifts

Jennifer Cassel Project Attorney, Coal Program

Thomas Cmar Deputy Managing Attorney, Coal Program

Dulce Mora Flores Litigation Assistant / Legal Practice Administrator

Matt Horst Donor Marketing Associate

Shubra Ohri Staff Attorney, Coal Program

Lauren Piette Fellow, Coal Program

Adam Ratchenski Legal Fellow, Coal Program

Daniel Schreiber Senior Social Media Specialist

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