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Fighting for a Fossil-Free Future

When we win battles together in court, we have the potential to create lasting systemic change.

Solar panels and wind turbines in a field.
Solar panels and wind turbines in a field. (Peter Cade)

This page was published a year ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

When it comes to fighting climate change, it’s quite literally now or never: We have less than a decade left to avoid its worst impacts. The culprit behind this crisis is also inextricably linked to every other major environmental hazard, from plastic waste to environmental racism — it’s the fossil fuel industry. We need to cut off the source of these harms, while also pivoting to a 100% pollution-free clean energy future.

Earthjustice is using the power of the law to prevent new and expanded fossil fuel development and infrastructure, while transforming the way we generate and use energy to ensure a healthy environment for communities. When we win battles together in court, we have the potential to create lasting systemic change.

Despite the harmful Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which limited the EPA’s ability to fight climate pollution, the agency still has the power to protect public health and the environment, and we will keep the pressure on it to do so. We are also pushing for — and winning — climate investments at the state level, from New Mexico to Michigan. Earthjustice is supporting the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act — a $370 billion package that in total represents a huge step forward for climate solutions — while preparing to fight alongside communities in the Gulf Coast, Appalachia, and Alaska to stop the giveaways to the fossil fuel industry that were included in the bill.

Informed citizens play a critical role in the fight, too. Individual action alone can’t solve the climate crisis. The scale of the climate crisis means that it’s going to require collective action, something that groups like Earthjustice are fighting hard to coordinate.

Read on to learn how you can get involved.

Using the law to protect people:

Air pollution from the extraction, processing, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels directly harms millions of people and accelerates climate change. Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities on the frontlines of pollution due to generations of environmental racism and colonialist practices suffer disproportionately, experiencing increased rates of cancer, asthma, and upper respiratory diseases.

In California, Earthjustice is leading the transition to zero emissions. With six of the 10 most-polluted U.S. cities inside its borders, the state suffers from the worst air quality in the nation due to high-traffic trucking corridors in the Central Valley, drilling in residential neighborhoods, and shipping terminals that spread toxic coal dust. Earthjustice is using litigation and advocacy to end these harms and make way for a safer, healthier future. Reaching zero emissions will finally give our communities clean air to breathe and give the rest of the country a blueprint for how to transition to clean energy.

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Using the law to protect our planet:

Nearly 25% of climate heating emissions in the United States comes from fossil fuels pumped or mined on public lands and waters. Despite this, fossil fuel corporations are demanding that the government double down on new oil and gas leasing that would only lock us into decades of continued fossil fuel dependence and further exacerbate the climate crisis, while doing nothing to help lower gas prices.

Laws require the government to weigh the environmental hazards of drilling and mining when it decides whether to auction off to fossil fuel companies the lands and waters that belong to all of us. When it fails to account for the true harm of these projects, we take it to court.

The Biden administration can follow through on its promises to protect our planet from the worst effects of the climate crisis by swiftly phasing out new leases on public lands and waters.

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Using the law to protect our future:

We need to take action on the climate crisis now to create a livable future. There’s no “one size fits all” solution, but individuals can join together and advocate for local, state, and federal clean energy solutions and climate policies that meet the moment.

Earthjustice has partnered with community members in Puerto Rico to fight for solar energy, with activists fighting against Amazon’s polluting warehouse complex in the Inland Empire, and in California to press utility companies to make clean, safe power accessible to everyone.

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