Suzanne Novak, Attorney, Northeast Office, Earthjustice: “The EPA’s current guidelines do not include a commitment to set a drinking water standard, even for a subset of PFAS chemicals that even manufacturers agree are dangerous.”
Located in New York City, the Northeast Office’s legal work includes national litigation to protect people’s health from toxic chemicals, regional advocacy promoting a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and local efforts to enforce the rights of communities disproportionately burdened by pollution.
Hastening the Transition from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy
Partnering with nonprofit organizations and communities, Earthjustice is securing major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by reducing our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, fighting expansion of oil and gas infrastructure that could lock in dependence on fossil fuels for decades to come, and ramping up reliance on renewables and energy efficiency. We accomplish this by deploying our litigation skills in court and in regulatory proceedings, bolstered by powerful communications and legislative strategies. Collectively, our work is transforming the nation’s energy economy.
Some highlights of this work include:
- Challenging the Constitution Pipeline, a proposed 124-mile gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York. The project would disturb over 1,800 acres of land, destroy hundreds of thousands of trees, fragment ecosystems, and cause additional development of fracked gas wells, increasing truck traffic and air, water, light, and noise pollution.
- Opposing a liquid petroleum gas storage facility in underground salt caverns on the shores of Seneca Lake, in the beautiful and tranquil Finger Lakes region of western New York State.
- Engaging in three cases related to the proposed expansion of crude oil storage and loading capabilities of a terminal at the Port of Albany, New York. The terminal’s expansion has significantly increased rail shipments of highly volatile Bakken crude oil through Albany, along with barge traffic. Hundreds of crude oil tank cars are stored on rails directly adjacent to public housing, resulting in increased air pollution.
Fighting for Healthy Communities
Earthjustice works to safeguard the fundamentals of human health—the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We’re reforming our nation’s broken chemical regulatory system and remaking our food system into one that nourishes and sustains life.
Our efforts in the Northeast are focused on fighting for stronger federal protections against toxic substances used in manufacturing; holding government agencies accountable for actions that subject already overburdened communities to further environmental injustices; and developing strategies that significantly reduce health, environmental, and climate harms in the production of our food and make healthy food more available and affordable for all.
Some highlights of this work include:
- Reforming our laws regulating toxic chemicals, which are dangerously weak, leaving millions of people at risk of toxic exposures every day. We serve on the steering committee of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a coalition of environmental advocates, medical and public health associations, labor unions, and parent groups that has been pressing Congress for many years to reform the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Fighting to rid consumer products of toxic flame retardant chemicals that do nothing to improve fire safety.
- Filing a petition to the FDA asking the agency to withdraw its approval of phthalates in food contact material. A hormone-disrupting chemical, phthalates can seep into food from plastic packaging and food processing equipment.
- Working to transform industrial agriculture, with successes in obtaining bans on some of the worst pesticides, securing stronger farmworker protection standards from EPA, and reducing pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
- Challenging a rule that illegally exempts industrial meat operations from federal hazardous substance reporting. The exemption allows the operations to release pollution—including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia—into the neighboring environment without informing potentially impacted communities or emergency responders.
- Pushing the EPA, through the courts and federal rulemaking process, to uphold its responsibility to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VI, any agency receiving federal money cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Title VI is one of the few enforceable civil rights laws that covers environmental actions, making it an important legal tool to hold agencies accountable for the impacts of their decisions on communities of color that are already overburdened by environmental pollution.
- Reducing emissions of lead and other toxic pollutants from power plants, industrial facilities, aircraft, and other sources.
Contact Northeast Office
48 Wall Street, 15th Fl.
New York, NY 10005
Lisa Garcia VP of Litigation for Healthy Communities
Marcelle Austin Earthjustice Council Manager
Victoria Bogdan Tejeda Associate Attorney
Lindsay Burtchell Development Officer, Major Gifts
Meagan Burton Senior Associate Attorney
Maggie Caldwell National Communications Strategist
Lauren Carroll Senior Development Research Analyst
Katie Cecil Deputy Director of Major Gifts II
Hannah Chang Staff Attorney
Alok Disa Senior Research and Policy Analyst
Danielle Edinboro Litigation Assistant
Eve Gartner Staff Attorney
Leslie Herrera Legal Practice Assistant
Sylvie Jensen Legal Practice Assistant
Jacob Kopas Staff Attorney
Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz Staff Attorney
Dan Lavoie Senior Director for Program Communications
Melissa Legge Equal Justice Works Fellow
Sorangel Liriano Litigation Assistant
Mariana Lo Litigation Assistant
Alexandra Manautou Associate Attorney
Alexandra de Mucha Pino Program Associate
Moneen Nasmith Staff Attorney
Suzanne Novak Staff Attorney
Kaísha Oliver Litigation Assistant
Isabel Benincasa Reade Individual Gifts Officer
Alyssa Ridley Individual Gifts Officer
Dawa Sherpa Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Litigation
Jonathan Smith Staff Attorney
Anne-Marie Stehn Legal Practice Manager
Robert Valencia Spanish Language Media Strategist