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An Earthjustice Year In Pictures
Spend a few moments with Earthjustice from 2017
Terry McGuire, Senior Legislative Representative.
Abigail Dillen, VP of Litigation for Climate & Energy.
Adenike Adeyeye, Senior Research & Policy Analyst / Advocacy Representative.
Paul Cort (right), Staff Attorney.
Steve Mashuda (speaking), Managing Attorney, Oceans.
Peter Lehner, Senior Strategic Advisor.
Clockwise from top left: Terry McGuire, Senior Legislative Representative; Abigail Dillen, VP of Litigation for Climate & Energy; Adenike Adeyeye, Senior Research & Policy Analyst / Advocacy Representative; Peter Lehner, Senior Strategic Advisor; Steve Mashuda (speaking), Managing Attorney, Oceans; Paul Cort (right), Staff Attorney.
Clockwise from top left: Terry McGuire, Senior Legislative Representative; Abigail Dillen, VP of Litigation for Climate & Energy; Adenike Adeyeye, Senior Research & Policy Analyst / Advocacy Representative; Peter Lehner, Senior Strategic Advisor; Steve Mashuda (speaking), Managing Attorney, Oceans; Paul Cort (right), Staff Attorney. Photos by Matt Roth, Gordon Klco, Chris Jordan-Bloch

December 16, 2017

In 2017, our nation underwent profound changes. Politicians and industry allies in Congress unleashed a relentless barrage of attacks on critical environmental and health protections, and on our bedrock environmental laws.

But thanks to the generous investment and partnership of our supporters, more than a hundred Earthjustice attorneys across the country are representing and fighting on behalf of hundreds of public interest clients, from national organizations to community groups.

Earthjustice has wielded the power of the law for more than 45 years to hold accountable those who would harm our communities, our climate, and the natural world, and to enforce our laws when government will not.

Take a look back at a few moments with Earthjustice:

Nationwide January 21

On the day after the presidential inauguration, millions across the country and world flooded city streets for the Women’s March. Lending their spirit, signs and knitted hats were many from Earthjustice, participating in their individual capacities.

Women's Marches.
Photos used with permission
Clockwise from top left: Jamie Dobbs, right (Senior Events Coordinator); Marty Hayden (VP of Policy & Legislation); Marie Logan, left (Associate Attorney); Jessica Hodge (Advocacy Communications Manager); Adenike Adeyeye, left (Senior Research & Policy Analyst / Advocacy Representative), with Irene Guttierez (former Associate Attorney).
Seattle, Washington February 8
Janette Brimmer Staff Attorney Northwest Office
A Wisconsin native, Janette has litigated cases to protect Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier and many other outstanding national parks and wilderness areas, iconic species like orcas and salmon, and the waters of the Northwest since 2008.
“I will never get tired of the natural world and working to protect it—and consider it an incredible privilege to have that actually be my job.”

Janette spent a few moments with Outside Magazine to share insights on a day in the life of an environmental lawyer and on facing down challenges (“We know that the hard, protracted cases are the ones where it’s more difficult for people to find lawyers, so we purposefully take those on.”).

In the months that followed, Janette worked to protect communities and the climate from a proposed methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington, that would be the largest methanol-producing facility in the world; examined the administration's proposed cuts to clean water funds; represented the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in their fight to defend the health of the Menominee River and portions of the Tribe’s ancestral homeland and sacred sites from the Back Forty Mine Project; and more.

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Arecibo, Puerto Rico February 12
Keith Rushing, in Arecibo.
Alejandro Davila / Earthjustice
Keith (driving) and Alejandro (photographing), on their way to meet with community members.
Keith Rushing Advocacy Communications Manager of Diversity Alejandro Davila Bilingual Press Secretary
Based in Washington, D.C., Keith (@Krush526) and Alejandro (@ADavilaFragoso) are part of Earthjustice’s Communications team, who work to elevate the voices of the communities we work with and raise public awareness about the issues our attorneys litigate on.
“We are going to continue our struggle. Because for us this is a matter of life and death.” Carlos Mario Garcia del Rio, resident of Arecibo

For six years, community members and municipalities across Puerto Rico have been fighting a proposed waste incinerator sited less than two miles from the largest wetland on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Earthjustice is representing community groups—Amigos Del Río Guaynabo, Inc., Ciudadanos En Defensa Del Ambiente, Comité Basura Cero Arecibo, Madres De Negro de Arecibo, and Sierra Club de Puerto Rico—in their legal fight.

Keith and Alejandro traveled to Arecibo to interview residents who have been engaged in the fight. They documented how residents have used critical safeguards provided by the National Environmental Policy Act, our nation's oldest environmental law, to force government agencies to conduct public hearings and an environmental impact review on the incinerator project. Watch the video.

Earthjustice is now working to protect the law itself from legislative attacks on Capitol Hill by special interests who are attempting to undermine the law's pillars of public disclosure, comprehensive impact reviews, and public input.

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Denver, Colorado March 15
Heidi McIntosh, in Denver.
Chris Schneider for Earthjustice
Heidi McIntosh Managing Attorney Rocky Mountain Office
With more than two decades of environmental litigation experience, Heidi heads the Rocky Mountain regional office. Attorneys in the office work to protect the region’s public lands and unique wildlife, challenges reckless oil and gas development and off-road vehicle use, and safeguards precious water resources.
“The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes presidents to designate national monuments, but it does not give presidents the power to reverse the monuments created by their predecessors. Congress’s intent was clear: The Antiquities Act was to be used to protect the nation’s archaeological, scenic, and scientific wonders. Not to destroy them.” – Heidi, writing in an op-ed in TIME Magazine

Taking a quiet moment in early spring near the Denver office, Heidi had recently been part of settlement agreement negotiations in one of Earthjustice's two legal cases to save the Mexican gray wolf from extinction. The species is one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

Meanwhile, two weeks earlier, the U.S. Senate had confirmed former Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, making him head of the department responsible for historic landmarks, national parks, wildlife refuges, endangered species conservation, and offshore territories of the outer continental shelf.

The day of Sec. Zinke's confirmation, Earthjustice urged the secretary to fulfill his agency's responsibilities by protecting imperiled wildlife, rejecting fossil fuel extraction that jeopardizes our climate, and safeguarding public lands—including keeping natural treasures such as National Monuments intact for future generations.

The following month, on Apr. 26, the president issued an executive order directing that Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and 25 other national monuments be considered for the chopping block, setting in motion a review of those lands by the Interior Department. In June, Sec. Zinke reportedly issued a recommendation to the president, urging him to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. On Dec. 4, presidential proclamations were issued that eviscerated Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

In response, Heidi led a legal team in filing lawsuits on Dec. 4 and Dec. 7, charging that the president violated the 1906 Antiquities Act and the U.S. Constitution by eviscerating the monuments.

In the challenge to the President’s unlawful action on Bears Ears, Earthjustice represents nine groups: The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance are co-plaintiffs in the case, represented by counsel from those organizations.

In the Grand Staircase-Escalante lawsuit, Earthjustice is representing eight organizations: The Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project.  The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit and represented by in-house counsel.

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Lewiston, Idaho March 17
Stephanie Tsosie, in Lewiston.
Gordon Klco for Earthjustice
Stephanie Tsosie Associate Attorney Northwest Regional Office
Based in Seattle, Stephanie joined the Northwest office from the Navajo Nation in 2015.
“We’ve had a new generation stand up and be willing to put their lives on the line. We haven’t gone away like they thought we would when they signed those treaties with us.” Jacqueline Keeler, Navajo and Yankton Dakota Sioux tribal member, at the treaty conference

The two-day “Treaty Rights in a Changing Environment” conference brought together tribal members and representatives from environmental organizations, including Earthjustice, to reflect on how treaty rights and traditional cultural practices have strengthened movements to counter environmentally destructive projects. Stephanie, part of the Earthjustice legal team representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, participated in the event, alongside Earthjustice attorneys Jan Hasselman and Steve Mashuda.

Treaties invoke a dark history of colonization and more than a century of broken promises—but they also recognize tribal sovereignty and are meant to guarantee permanent access to culturally significant sites and traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

The event was hosted by Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, a grassroots organization created to honor and uphold traditional treaty rights in the land of the Nez Perce. For more than two decades, Earthjustice has spearheaded a legal battle to remove four outdated dams on the lower Snake River in order to restore dwindling wild salmon populations, in partnership with the Nez Perce Tribe.

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San Francisco, California April 20
  • Adrienne Bloch, in San Francisco.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Adrienne (left), with Ms. Margaret Gordon, co-founder of West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.
  • Colin O'Brien, in San Francisco.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Colin (foreground) speaks with community members.
Adrienne Bloch Senior Attorney, Fossil Fuels California Regional Office
Adrienne grew up on Chicago's south side and in New York City. A champion for environmental and climate justice, she leads the strategy and litigates to advance Earthjustice’s work to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Colin O’Brien Staff Attorney California Regional Office
Prior to joining the California regional office, Colin worked in the Alaska regional office, where he worked to protect air quality in the Arctic and in Fairbanks, and to defend the rich ocean ecosystem of the North Pacific.
“The City of Oakland stood up and used their legal authority to ban coal from being handled or stored in Oakland on the basis that it poses a substantial risk to the health and safety of Oaklanders.” Colin O’Brien, in an interview with Public Now

Adrienne and Colin speak with concerned community members after a court hearing in San Francisco about a proposed coal export facility in West Oakland. Months earlier, the attorneys had filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit from a private developer that is challenging Oakland's ban on the handling and storage of coal in the city.

When West Oakland residents learned in early 2015 that a local private developer had quietly cut a deal, behind the backs of the City Council and the Port, to bring trainloads of climate-disrupting coal to their neighborhood and then export them to the rest of the world, opposition quickly coalesced.

Those who oppose the plan to export coal through Oakland voiced concerns over how this decision will affect the community’s safety, the environment, and public health. And thanks to the dogged efforts of local residents (read their stories), in July 2016, the Oakland City Council banned coal from being handled and stored in the city. Five months later, the developers sued the City of Oakland to overturn the ban.

Earthjustice is representing San Francisco Baykeeper and the Sierra Club in the case.

Earthjustice attorneys are battling and blocking coal export proposals up and down the West Coast, and are part of a broad coalition tackling the issue in Oakland, working with local residents, unions, religious leaders and social justice advocates to educate the public about the coal proposal.

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Washington, D.C. April 29
Jonathan Smith, in Washington, D.C.
Chris Jordan-Bloch and Kyle Da Silva / Earthjustice
Jonathan Smith Associate Attorney Northeast Regional Office
Based in New York, Jonathan is working on cases to clean up air pollution from CAFOs ("concentrated animal feeding operations") and address civil rights violations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The politicians in Washington need to know that the people of America don’t support their climate policies.”

On the Saturday marking the president's 100th day in office, Jonathan, alongside many fellow Earthjusticers, was among the more than 200,000 people who descended on the nation's capital for the Peoples Climate March, demanding action on climate change.

Earthjustice marched to show those in office that they cannot ignore the will of the people or the dire consequences of climate change. We support communities facing off against big polluters and creating innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. We will never stop fighting for a healthy, sustainable future.

Within the first three months of the year, Earthjustice had already taken the administration to court in response to flagrant attacks on the laws and policies that safeguard what Americans hold dear: pure water to drink, clean air to breathe, a stable climate and well-protected public lands.

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Sacramento, California May 3
Adenike, in Sacramento.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Adenike Adeyeye Senior Research & Policy Analyst / Advocacy Representative California Regional Office
Based in San Francisco, Adenike's (@nikeyeye) work involves analyzing technical data and policy to support litigation and administrative advocacy focused on air quality, clean energy, and environmental health.
“During these past 40 years, industry representatives have claimed that the Clean Air Act was going to bring about the downfall of the American economy. They have all been wrong. The Clean Air Act has improved public health as productivity has risen and our economy has grown.” – Adenike, writing in Smoggy California District Lobbies Congress to Weaken the Clean Air Act

Adenike spoke to politicians and political staff during a "Clean Air Act 101" panel held at the Capitol Building. The session brought legal knowledge and citizen voices to the politicians in the Golden State's capital.

Signed into law in 1970, the Clean Air Act was an historic piece of legislation intended to put the nation on a path to reining in the damage caused by polluted air; children wheezing with asthma, fish contaminated by mercury, days of school and work missed due to illness, serious diseases such as cancer, and premature death.

The Clean Air Act has proven a remarkable success. In its first 20 years alone, more than 200,000 premature deaths and 18 million cases of respiratory illness in children were prevented. But there is more that needs to be done to fulfill the Clean Air Act’s promise.

Far too many Americans are still breathing dirty air and suffering as a result. Polluters and their allies have spent decades negotiating exemptions for power plants, slandering science, misleading the public and pressuring the EPA with untruths and propaganda—pushing profits to take precedent over our health.

Because clean air fosters healthy communities and a stronger economy, Earthjustice fights to protect our right to breathe by securing the strongest possible health protections and preventing the most dangerous polluters from dodging their legal requirements to clean up our air.

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National Harbor, Maryland May 6
Patti Goldman Managing Attorney Northwest Regional Office
Based in Seattle, Patti leads Earthjustice’s pesticide work and is part of the litigation team fighting efforts to turn the Pacific Northwest into a fossil fuel export hub. She has extensive litigation experience, with notable successes in safeguarding the Pacific Northwest’s old-growth forests, protecting the region’s beloved Southern Resident orca whales, and obtaining phase-outs and limiting exposure to hazardous pesticides.
“EPA is refusing to ban a pesticide that harms children’s brains. It is acting contrary to the law, the science, and a court order. In a word: unconscionable.”

At the National Hispanic Medical Association 21st Annual Conference, Patti spoke on neurotoxic pesticides and getting them out of our food, our water, and our bodies. Through litigation, Earthjustice targets the most dangerous chemicals for phase-out or outright bans. One of those chemicals is chlorpyrifos (pronounced: klawr-pir-uh-fos).

Earthjustice, in partnership with many groups, has for years pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the dangerous pesticide, which can damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders. Chlorpyrifos is used on a wide variety of crops including apples, oranges, strawberries, corn, wheat, citrus and other foods families and their children eat daily.

In 2016, EPA itself released a revised human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos that confirmed that there are no safe uses for the pesticide. Yet on March 29, two days before a court-ordered deadline to make a decision, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos.

On June 6, Earthjustice filed an administrative appeal to the EPA, urging the federal government to ban chlorpyrifos. The new appeal challenges, on its merits, the EPA’s March action that allows chlorpyrifos to continue to be used on food crops. The appeal was filed on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens, United Farm Workers, Farmworker Association of Florida, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Farmworker Justice, GreenLatinos, National Hispanic Medical Association, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Learning Disability Association of America, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Washington, D.C. May 26
Jessica Ennis, in Washington, D.C.
Matt Roth for Earthjustice
Jessica Ennis Legislative Director, Climate & Energy Policy & Legislation
Jessica (@ennisjess) advocates for protecting people, our public lands, and the environment from the potentially devastating impacts of oil and gas development.
“The stakes were high, and incredible Senate champions including Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Tom Udall were prepared to go to the floor and fight for communities threatened by oil and gas pollution.”

Jessica savored a quiet moment on Capitol Hill. It was two weeks after Earthjustice, alongside our partners, chalked up a big win for the environment and our health, when a procedural vote failed in the Senate, preventing a Congressional Review Act resolution from nullifying the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Rule—a critical safeguard that protects communities and our climate from oil and gas pollution. It was a stunning upset in the face of stiff odds.

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to roll back new rules created by federal agencies. The 115th Congress used the controversial tool to take aim, one-by-one, at important protections ushered in under the Obama administration. One of the safeguards undone by the rule was the Stream Protection Rule, a commonsense protection created by the Department of the Interior to fix water pollution in rural communities caused by coal mining. It sought to ensure communities do not get stuck with the consequences of toxic water pollution from industrial coal mining operations. It would have been the first major update to surface mining regulations in 30 years.

The very same day as the attempt to undo the BLM methane safeguard failed in the Senate, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his department would try to undo the very same rule. Earthjustice attorneys in the Rocky Mountain office met that action in court.

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Livingston, Montana May 28
Jenny Harbine, in Livingston.
Eric Ian for Earthjustice
Jenny Harbine Staff Attorney Northern Rockies Regional Office
Based in Bozeman, Jenny works to stop fossil fuel development in the western United States, including fighting fracking, coal mining, and coal burning.
“These public lands are not only beautiful; they sustain livelihoods, communities and cultures. I refuse to let my children believe there are some areas that are okay to sacrifice. Or that there are people we can leave to fend for themselves, against corporate greed.”

It was nearly two months to the day since Jenny and Earthjustice attorney Ted Zukoski took the administration to court over an order to resume giving away tens of thousands of acres of public lands to the coal industry. Leading up to that moment, they had been working nonstop with clients and colleagues for months. (Read the story.)

The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of a coalition of local, regional and national groups working to protect public lands, air and water quality and the health of the planet, including: Citizens for Clean Energy, Montana Environmental Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is also suing to challenge the decision.

The pause in leasing was ordered by former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow time to review and reform the federal program to ensure protection of the climate. The coal leasing program determines how 570 million publicly-owned acres are leased to coal companies for exploration and mining. The coal program offered scant benefit to taxpayers, auctioning off mining rights on public lands for a pittance. It has not been significantly updated since 1979.

The review of the program followed groundbreaking litigation that Earthjustice won in 2014 to force the Bureau of Land Management to consider the climate impacts before issuing a coal lease on public lands in Colorado. More than one-tenth of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the pollution that’s driving climate change, come from coal mined on federal land.

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Capitol Hill June 13
Terry McGuire, in Washington, D.C.
Matt Roth for Earthjustice
Terry McGuire Senior Legislative Representative Policy & Legislation
A native of southwest Virginia, Terry (@STerryMcGuire) works on Capitol Hill to protect and strengthen federal environmental laws and to prevent legislative attempts to undermine environmental progress.
“Hand in hand with our partners, we’re going to keep shining a bright light on efforts to block public health protections and gut the Clean Air Act. The American public supports the Clean Air Act, and no one, except maybe fossil fuel lobbyists, voted for dirtier air and more pollution.”

For two days in June, Americans from across the country embraced record-breaking heat in the nation’s capital to join Earthjustice in reminding their elected officials of something we all have a right to: clean air. They came to Capitol Hill specifically to speak with their members of Congress about harmful bills that undermine the Clean Air Act, including H.R. 806, the “Smoggy Skies Act.”

This legislation would permanently weaken the Clean Air Act. Among other things, it would delay updates to health standards so they would be scientifically behind the times and inject politics into what is supposed to be a science-based process for setting health standards. H.R. 806 has passed the House, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“If we are only looking at short-term costs, we are really missing the point and not protecting our kids,” said Afton Surwillo, a member of Mom’s Clean Air Force, who came from Colorado with her husband Steve and young daughter May. (Read Afton’s story.) “Coming to D.C. and meeting my representative’s staff felt very empowering. We are not going to keep quiet.”

Their visit came just days after the Pruitt-led EPA announced it was delaying implementation of a stronger smog standard, adopted by the agency in 2015 as a result of Earthjustice litigation. The EPA previously estimated that, by 2025, the 2015 standard will save hundreds of lives, prevent 230,000 asthma attacks in children and prevent 160,000 missed school days for kids each year. After Earthjustice sued the EPA over the delay, the agency withdrew the delay. But the EPA still has not enforced the safeguards. Earthjustice filed suit again on Dec. 4 to get EPA Administrator Pruitt to do something very simple: his job.

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Washington, D.C. June 21
Jan Hasselman, in Washington, D.C.
Matt Roth for Earthjustice
Jan Hasselman Staff Attorney Northwest Regional Office
Jan joined the Northwest office in 1998. During that time, he has successfully litigated on regional and national issues including listings of salmon under the Endangered Species Act, stormwater pollution, coal-fired power plants, and forestry.
“This fight is about justice and sovereignty. And it’s not over.”

Jan, lead counsel to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline, spoke with reporters outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following a status hearing to set a briefing schedule for the continuation of the lawsuit.

The hearing followed a June 14 court decision finding legal flaws in the Army Corps’ permitting process for the Dakota Access pipeline. It was a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies, and a vindication of the concerns the pipeline has raised from the very beginning.

It was not, however, the last word on the pipeline’s legality or operations, and the legal fight continued to move forward. On Oct. 11, the court ruled that the pipeline can continue operating pending an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps estimates that the new environmental review will be completed by April 2018.

On Dec. 4, the court, citing the Nov. 16 Keystone oil spill in South Dakota, imposed several interim measures over the ongoing operation of the Dakota Access pipeline, all of which were requested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Read the FAQ on the litigation.

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Clarinda, Iowa July 26
Peter Lehner (left), with Seth Watkins in Clarinda, Iowa.
Brad Zweerink for Earthjustice
Peter Lehner Senior Strategic Advisor Sustainable Food & Farming Program
Based in New York, Peter (@p_lehner) directs Earthjustice's Sustainable Food & Farming Program, developing strategies to reduce health, environmental, and climate harms from production of our food and to promote a more environmentally sound agricultural system.
“We are rethinking the role of agriculture in the environment, and finding ways to shift this vast, resource-intensive system into a force for environmental health, rather than degradation.”

Peter (left) speaks with Seth Watkins, who has transformed his 3,200-acre farm in southwest Iowa into an ecological powerhouse that restores the land, protects local wildlife and sequesters carbon—all while turning a profit.

Peter leads Earthjustice’s Sustainable Food & Farming Program, which works to improve our nation’s food system, from crop selection and farming practices to food processing and accessibility. We already know how to produce food that nourishes people without abusing workers, animals, or the environment—our country’s policies should support sustainable farming.

Earthjustice has shown that focused and persistent legal advocacy can clean up industries. Now we are applying our experience and knowledge to reform Big Food. Working in partnership with activists, communities, progressive farmers and ranchers, scientists and others, we can—and will—compel change.

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Broomfield, Colorado July 31
Michael Hiatt (right), with Rick Gilliam in Broomfield, Colorado.
Matt Nager for Earthjustice
Michael Hiatt Staff Attorney Rocky Mountain Office
Michael joined Earthjustice in the spring of 2010, shifting to environmental law after a career in the music industry in Nashville. From the Denver office, he has been litigating to protect the region’s spectacular public lands, air and water resources.
“Colorado shows that while there may be dark storm clouds at the federal level, the future of clean energy is clear.”

Michael (right) meets with Rick Gilliam, program director at Vote Solar, an Earthjustice client and partner. Earlier in the month, Colorado had become the 11th U.S. state to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement in a repudiation of the Trump administration’s decision to walk away from the deal.

The state has long been a national leader in developing clean, renewable energy, and four recently achieved regulatory developments are poised to accelerate Colorado’s clean energy transition.

Michael is part of a team of Earthjustice attorneys working state-by-state to scale up forward-thinking solutions that enable clean energy to thrive and expand access to it, from modernizing our electric grid to piloting community solar projects to expanding energy storage.

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Erie, Colorado July 31
Robin Cooley, in Erie, Colorado.
Matt Nager for Earthjustice
Robin Cooley Staff Attorney Rocky Mountain Office
Based in Denver, Robin works to protect the wild places and species of the Rocky Mountain region from the harmful impacts of energy development and off-road vehicle use and to promote a clean energy future.
“Trump and his administration cannot blatantly ignore the law just to benefit polluters at the expense of everyone else.”

Robin visits an oil rig site, as summer was drawing to a close. Several weeks earlier, she and a team of Earthjustice attorneys in the Rocky Mountain office filed a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s decision to indefinitely delay the Bureau of Land Management’s common-sense standards that reduce the waste of publicly owned natural gas resources and limit the release of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) and toxic air pollution on public and tribal lands.

A federal appeals court had already overturned the administration’s earlier attempt to block a similar safeguard, ruling that the compliance date for a regulation could not be ignored while the administration seeks to rewrite the rule—a common tactic for this administration. And an attempt by Congress to undo the BLM methane safeguard using the Congressional Review Act had also failed.

Months later, on Oct. 4, the court would again find that the Trump administration acted illegally in suspending the rule, ordering that the safeguard to be reinstated. Despite that ruling, on Dec. 8, the administration once again attempted to stay compliance for one year while it rewrites the rule. Earthjustice again filed suit, on Dec. 19, against the attempted rollback.

Earthjustice represented Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Earthjustice had already been defending the BLM methane rule in court from attempts by several states and oil and gas industry groups to overturn it, and filed a lawsuit challenging the decision to indefinitely delay the common-sense standards.

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National Harbor, Maryland August 1
Susan Stevens Miller, in Annapolis, Maryland.
Matt Roth for Earthjustice
Susan Stevens Miller Staff Attorney Clean Energy Program
Based in Washington, D.C., Susan works alongside a team of clean energy attorneys to level the playing field for clean energy and expose the true costs of dirty coal- and gas-fired power plants, clearing the way for solar and wind power to take hold.
“These will not only unlock a huge, untapped source of renewable energy, they will create thousands of new jobs in manufacturing and other sectors—all within earshot of President Trump’s White House.”

At Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Susan reflected on the prospect of the nation’s largest offshore wind farm coming to Maryland and revitalizing communities.

The Maryland wind farm project is projected to create 9,700 jobs and generate more than $1.8 billion of in-state spending. The wind farm’s many benefits give its advocates, including Earthjustice, deep wells of community support to draw on in the coming fight to save it, including from threats in Congress.

Susan continues to work to secure commitments from the developers to protect the environment during construction of the offshore wind farm. For example, she is working to ensure that any ships involved with the construction will safeguard endangered North Atlantic right whales and other vulnerable marine life.

Susan built a case for the project that went beyond environmental considerations. Representing the Sierra Club and Maryland League of Conservation Voters before the Public Service Commission, she argued for the project’s approval as a way to help modernize Maryland’s electricity system, to give the state greater control over its energy destiny—and to bring much needed economic development to a struggling part of the state.

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Commerce City, Colorado August 2
  • Joel addresses the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division.
    Matt Nager for Earthjustice
    Joel addresses the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division.
  • Colin O'Brien, in San Francisco.
    Matt Nager for Earthjustice
    Joel speaks with Drew Dutcher, president of the Elyria & Swansea Neighborhood Association, at the Suncor Refinery.
Joel Minor Associate Attorney Rocky Mountain Office
Joel grew up in a Colorado town bordered by oil fields and rigs, witnessing the toll that the fracking boom took on the health of his community. Today, he works from Denver to protect communities from the harmful impacts of energy development.
“Suncor is saying that malfunctions, like the accidents that forced community members to shelter in place last October and this March, should be considered business as usual.”

Alongside members of the community, Joel delivered oral and written technical comments to the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division during a public hearing about air pollution from the Suncor Refinery.

Emissions from the Suncor Refinery, located in Commerce City, represent one of the largest sources of air pollution in the Denver-Metro area and recklessly put the health and safety of nearby residents at risk. The refinery has a history of brazenly violating its air pollution permits. No family should have to fear the air in their community, yet last year, Denver’s air quality was so bad that federal regulators determined it unsafe for breathing.

The predominantly Latino communities near the Suncor refinery, considered the most polluted in the state, now have an opportunity to alleviate pollution burdens, as state regulators are deciding whether to approve a dozen changes to the operating permits for the Suncor Refinery. Earthjustice has been working with local organizations to protect their rights, as these modifications, and how the state regulates this refinery, could have tremendous impacts on north Denver’s air quality. A decision is still pending.

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Palau August 3
Erika Rosenthal and President Remengesau in Palau.
Richard Brooks for Earthjustice
Erika Rosenthal Staff Attorney International Program
Erika’s work focuses on climate change, at international negotiations and with U.N. Environment Programme and regional bodies, including the Arctic Council, to reduce emissions of atmospheric pollutants such as black carbon and ozone.
“We do this so we can look our children in the eyes, and tell them that we took action to reduce the impacts of climate change on their futures.” President Tommy Remengesau of Palau

Erika worked with President Remengesau of Palau during the Pacific island nation’s first National Clean Energy Summit. Earthjustice has been privileged to serve as legal advisor to Palau during the negotiations that led to the Paris Climate Agreement and is advising Palau on legislative and regulatory reform to ramp up renewable energy deployment and achieve its emissions reduction target under the Agreement.

Palau like many other Pacific islands—including the island of Hawaiʻi—is making bold strides toward a 100 percent renewable energy future. President Trump’s announced intention to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris Agreement has only served to galvanize the resolve of the rest of the world to recommit to climate action. They are joined by businesses, communities and cities and states across the U.S. that are pushing forward to keep America’s Paris pledge. The clean energy transition is unstoppable.

Earthjustice is working in statehouses and at local public utility commissions across the country to advance clean energy policies and challenge decisions that would lock us into decades of fossil fuel dependence. In court, we are defending rules that limit climate pollution. And we are helping international partners in South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia and Kenya who are working to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming August 13
Trip Van Noppen and George Martin, Board Chair.
Brad Boner for Earthjustice
Trip Van Noppen President
Growing up near the Linville Gorge and the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, Trip developed both a love of the outdoors and a passion to fighting the economic and social injustices of the segregated South. He has served Earthjustice as its President since 2008, leading the organization's staff, board, and supporters to advance its mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people's health.
“We have a message for President Trump: this fight is far from over. Earthjustice has already met President Trump’s unprecedented attacks on public health and the environment with the full force of law. Any time President Trump tries to blow a hole in crucial environmental protections, we will be ready to take him to court and hold him accountable every step of the way.”

Trip (right) and George Martin, chair of Earthjustice’s Board of Trustees, share a rare quiet moment in Jackson, Wyoming, a week before the solar eclipse would traverse the country.

Los Angeles, California August 28
Sara Gersen, in Los Angeles.
Lany Le for Earthjustice
Sara Gersen Staff Attorney Clean Energy Program
Based in Southern California, Sara (@sara_gersen) works in states across the country to advance reforms that are essential to shifting business models so that we can power our grid with 100% clean electricity.
“California communities breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation. Southern California won’t have clean air or a stable climate until we make a complete switch to zero-carbon energy. We deserve a California free of fossil fuels, and SB 100 will help us get there.”

Sara spoke at a press conference for Senate Bill 100, legislation that will fast-track California to a zero-carbon grid by 2045.

Renewable energy makes up about 28 percent of California's energy grid, but the Golden State is still the second largest CO2 emitter in the country. Communities pay the price for that fossil fuel pollution, as 9 out of 10 Californians still live in areas afflicted by unhealthy air. The only way to fix California's climate and air quality problems is to start planning for a healthier energy future, and SB 100 is key to that future.

The bill is now headed for round two, after being held up in the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy this year. The chair of that committee, Assemblymember Chris Holden, has now committed to moving this legislation forward in 2018.

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Honolulu, Hawaiʻi September 6
Summer Kupau-Odo, interviewed by Hawaii News Now.
Courtesy of Hawaii News Now
In an interview with Hawaii News Now, Summer explains the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court decision. Watch video.
Summer Kupau-Odo Senior Associate Attorney Mid-Pacific Regional Office
As a child and young adult, Summer witnessed her hometown of Lahaina, Maui, experience rapid development at the expense of local culture and values. She decided to go to law school to empower herself to give a voice to local and Native Hawaiian communities throughout the islands.
“The law demands and Hawaiʻi’s people have every right to expect more from the agency charged with conserving our natural resources.”

Summer spoke with media the day that the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court unanimously sided with citizens and conservation groups in their five-year legal battle to protect the state’s coral reefs from the aquarium industry’s unlimited collection and sale of reef fish and other wildlife.

The aquarium industry strips vast numbers of fish and other marine animals from Hawaiʻi’s reefs and sells them outside the state; the catch may be in the millions of animals every year.

In 2012, plaintiffs Rene Umberger, Mike Nakachi, Kaʻimi Kaupiko, Willie Kaupiko, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi, The Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity—all represented by Earthjustice—sued the State Department of Land and Natural Resources for failing to comply with Hawaiʻi’s Environmental Policy Act and undertake environmental review before issuing dozens of aquarium collection permits annually. 

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Washington, D.C. September 14
Eve Gartner Staff Attorney Northeast Regional Office
Based in New York, Eve is a litigator in the Healthy Communities Program, heading efforts to protect human health from toxic chemicals.
“These chemicals are unsafe, and they serve no purpose. So why are we taking the risk of having them in our products?”

A week after Eve (left) testified, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, for the first time ever, called for banning an entire class of flame retardants used in consumer products that don’t protect against fires but do cause harmful effects in humans.

On Sept. 20, federal regulators responded to a petition filed in 2015 by Earthjustice and Consumer Federation of America on behalf of 10 groups and individuals, taking critical steps toward protecting consumers and firefighters from the hazards posed by a class of flame retardant chemicals, known as organohalogens. The following week, the CPSC issued a strongly worded guidance warning the public of the hazards posed by this class of flame retardants in children’s products, mattresses, electronic casings and furniture.  

Over years of proceedings before the commission, the only people who supported the continued use of these flame retardants were from the chemical industry itself.

This entire class of flame retardant chemicals has been associated with serious human health problems, including cancer, decreased IQ in children, impaired memory, learning deficits, and hormone disruption. Because these chemicals migrate continuously out from everyday household products into the air and dust, more than 97% of U.S. residents have measurable quantities of toxic organohalogen flame retardants in their blood.

Regulators will now start working out the details of this comprehensive ban.

The President’s pick to fill a seat on the commission, Dana Baiocco, has devoted her career to defending defective or dangerous products in lawsuits filed on behalf of people either severely injured or killed by these products. If confirmed by the Senate, one of the biggest decisions Baiocco could make as commissioner is whether to implement the commission’s groundbreaking decision on organohalogens.

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Wishtoyo Chumash Village, California September 21
Angela Johnson Meszaros.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Angela Johnson Meszaros Staff Attorney California Regional Office
Based in Los Angeles, Angela’s docket focuses on working with communities of color on issues related to air pollution, energy, and the urban environment.
“How can we stand by when a project threatens the health of our community and the survival of an entire species? At a time when California is moving toward clean, renewable energy, why would we knowingly take a step backward toward obsolete fossil-fuel infrastructure?” Mati Waiya, a Chumash ceremonial elder, is founder and executive director of the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation

Angela talks with Mati Waiya, after attending a ceremony at the Utom—also known as the Santa Clara River—that the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, a Native-led environmental nonprofit, is working to protect.

The banks of the river are sited for the Mission Rock Energy Center, a 275-megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant. The Wishtoyo, in partnership with Earthjustice, has intervened to prevent approval of the power plant. If approved, the power plant would emit a variety of harmful toxins, including 400,000-plus tons of carbon dioxide emissions, into the air every year.

Utom, “phantom river” in Chumash, is a sacred place where Chumash people have lived since time immemorial, building villages, holding ceremonies and burying loved ones. It is the last free-flowing river in Southern California. Learn about the Wishtoyo’s fight.

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Los Angeles, California September 29
Angela Johnson Meszaros.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Angela Johnson Meszaros Staff Attorney California Regional Office
Based in Los Angeles, Angela’s docket focuses on working with communities of color on issues related to air pollution, energy, and the urban environment.
“In Los Angeles, we love to drive, but powering our cars cannot come at the expense of fellow Angelenos. We cannot allow South Los Angeles to be a sacrifice zone. The city can and should do far more to protect this community—and we will keep fighting until they do.”

A week after meeting with the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, Angela headed over to the Jefferson Oil extraction site with Richard Parks, President of Redeemer Community Partnership.

The drill site is located in a neighborhood in South Los Angeles. Residents have been fighting against it for years. They smell pungent fumes with a stench like oil and diesel exhaust. They see bright spotlights kept on late into the night. And they hear thunderous noises that make it nearly impossible to hold a conversation. 

Two weeks after Angela and Richard spoke, the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Zoning Administration issued a determination in response to the June 2016 petition for abatement of public nuisance submitted by Angela and Earthjustice attorney Oscar Espino-Padron on behalf of Redeemer Community Partnership.

The determination said, in part: "Following the public hearing, the Office of Zoning Administration researched the claims and found that the Jefferson Oil drilling operation was in violation of several of the conditions of approval imposed by the initial Zoning Administrator's grant and subsequent Plan Approvals. Also, it was learned that some of the initial conditions of approval imposed on the oil drilling and production operation were not sufficient to preserve the health, safety and general welfare of the nearby residential neighborhood. It was also discovered that the oil drilling and production operation had violated several regulations established by other government agencies as detailed in the Petroleum Administrator’s [attached report]." 

The City is mandating changes to operations at the site requested by residents in petition.

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San Francisco, California October 10
Abigail Dillen.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Abigail Dillen Vice President of Litigation for Climate & Energy
Based in San Francisco, Abigail (@AbbieDillen) leads Earthjustice’s litigation and legal advocacy to achieve the essential shift from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy.
“If Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump want to pretend that climate change is a hoax and do nothing about it, we will see them in court—and that’s where facts matter.”

The day EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took the first step toward reversing the Clean Power Plan, the largest single action the U.S. has ever taken to combat climate change, Abbie issued a video response. As EPA Administrator Pruitt made his announcement, Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were still without clean water, electricity, phone or internet, or reliable access to food and medicine, after two brutal category 5 storms in a row.

Who loses if we lose the Clean Power Plan? Everyone. Because the Clean Power Plan is a key driver for climate solutions around the world. By 2030, it would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent from their 2005 levels. That reduction embodies our commitment to China and 190 other countries to act on climate change, a crisis that we, more than any other country, are responsible for creating.

Earthjustice is already in court defending the Clean Power Plan.

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Charleston, West Virginia October 10
Michael Soules.
Roger May for Earthjustice
Michael Soules Staff Attorney Coal Program
Based in Washington, D.C., Michael works to end our nation’s reliance on dirty, expensive, and outdated coal-fired power plants, and to achieve a just transition to a clean energy economy.
“West Virginians should not have to bail out FirstEnergy and its shareholders.” Crystal Dempsey, West Virginians For Energy Freedom

Michael confers with clients Emmett Pepper and Karan Ireland, outside the Public Service Commission, after attending a hearing at the commission earlier in the day.

In West Virginia, FirstEnergy is attempting to shift the financial burden of the aging and obsolete Pleasants coal plant from its shareholders onto West Virginia residents. Under a proposal before the PSC, Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers would be forced to cover all of the costs associated with the Pleasants coal plant, assume its financial risks, and pay FirstEnergy a guaranteed profit.

Emmett and Karan are part of West Virginians For Energy Freedom, a coalition of economic and ratepayer advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, businesses and elected officials, joined in opposition of FirstEnergy's plan. Earthjustice has been working with groups in the state since 2015 to challenge overreach by FirstEnergy.

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Moss Landing, California October 10
Andrea Treece.
Clare Major for Earthjustice
Andrea Treece Staff Attorney Oceans Program
Since her first plunge into the Atlantic at barely 3-years-old, the ocean has been home, cathedral and playground to Andrea.  Her choice to pursue a career in ocean protection evolved from a sense that she owes something to these marvelous parts of the planet. Based in San Francisco, Andrea has worked to conserve the food base for sea lions, sea birds, and other marine predators off the West Coast and protect coral reefs in the Caribbean.
“In the case of the otter, if we lose the Endangered Species Act, and we lose otters, we lose kelp forests and sea grass meadows. We could lose commercial fisheries that depend on both of those habitats. There could be a whole negative cascade, which I think many people don’t realize. They think it’s just protecting one thing at a time—but we’re really protecting an entire ecosystem.”

Off the shore of Monterey, Andrea kept a keen eye out for sea otters. She has been in court for several years to defend recovery of the species, which was presumed extinct until a startling discovery in 1938 revealed that several dozen had survived.

Sea otter recovery has come a long way, but federal safeguards must be maintained because the species is still very much at risk of being lost. And extinction is forever.

Yet, in recent months, members of Congress have launched an assault on the Endangered Species Act, the federal law that helped California sea otters gain the foothold they needed to survive. The Endangered Species Act is one of the most popular and effective environmental laws ever enacted. More than four decades later, 99% of species protected under the Endangered Species Act have not perished.

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Capitol Hill October 11
Andrea Delgado Legislative Director, Healthy Communities Policy & Legislation
Andrea joined Earthjustice in 2012 to develop and implement legislative and administrative strategy for Earthjustice’s environmental health issue priorities. She works with Congress and federal agencies to strengthen our national chemicals policy to protect the public and the most vulnerable segments of our population from hazardous waste and pesticides that threaten their health and well-being in their workplaces and communities.
“The chemical industry can and must do better than continue to push for the use of nerve agents in our food. The most exposed and vulnerable among us are our children, farmworkers and families in rural communities, and they deserve action now.”

Andrea spoke at a briefing on the toxic pesticide chorpyrifos, held by Reps. Keith Ellison and Nydia Velázquez.

Earthjustice, alongside other groups, has for years pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the dangerous pesticide, which can damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders. Chlorpyrifos is used on a wide variety of crops including apples, oranges, strawberries, corn, wheat, citrus and other foods families and their children eat daily.

In March, the Pruitt-led EPA refused to ban chlorpyrifos, and Earthjustice responded in court. Rep. Velázquez, with Rep. Ellison, has introduced legislation, H.R. 3380, to rid the toxic chemical from fields across the country. Legislation in the Senate to ban chlorpyrifos, S. 1624, has also been introduced.

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Juneau, Alaska October 24
Juneau, Alaska.
Rebecca Bowe / Earthjustice
Alaska Regional Office
Established in 1978 and with locations in Anchorage and Juneau, Earthjustice’s Alaska regional office works to safeguard public lands, waters and wildlife from destructive oil and gas drilling, mining and logging and to protect the region's marine and coastal ecosystems.
“When we first started this, it never crossed my mind we would still be litigating the Roadless Rule 16 years later.” Tom Waldo, staff attorney on the long-running battle to defend the Roadless Rule

Amidst the rapid pace of the year’s work, attorneys in the two locations of the Alaska regional office assembled in Juneau for a meeting. A month earlier, attorneys welcomed a win for the wildest, untouched roadless areas of our nation’s forests, when federal courts again upheld the Roadless Rule. The state of Alaska and timber interests have been trying—unsuccessfully—for years to overturn the protections.

Since the beginning of the year, attorneys in the Alaska office had been working to defend the region from a flood of new and renewed threats, including challenging the administration’s reversal of a drilling ban in the Arctic and Atlantic, defending Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine, protecting the Arctic Refuge from renewed threats of drilling, and many more.

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Bears Ears National Monument, Utah October 29
Yvonne Chi, at Bears Ears National Monument.
Courtesy of Nathan Leefer
Yvonne, climbing at Indian Creek in Bears Ears National Monument.
Yvonne Chi Associate Attorney Rocky Mountain Office
Based in Denver, Yvonne spent her childhood in China, where she was exposed daily to water and air pollution. The blue skies and wildlife of her new home in America inspired her to help protect the natural environment.
“When I visit places like Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante national monuments, I feel gratitude for the magnificent cliffs and canyons that support my weight and provide a feast for my eyes as I climb and hike. I am determined to fight to protect every inch of these special places so that everyone has the opportunity to marvel in them.”

Yvonne is part of a team of Earthjustice attorneys who have been working throughout the year to defend our national monuments after an April executive order directed that 27 national monuments be considered for the chopping block.

Four days after visiting Bears Ears National Monument, Yvonne filed a lawsuit, on behalf of six organizations, against the Interior Department, Bureau of Land Management, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality for repeatedly failing to answer the public’s Freedom of Information Act requests for information related to the administration’s ongoing review of national monuments—protected federal lands and waters that belong to the American people.

Following Presidential proclamations on Dec. 4 that axed Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, Earthjustice attorneys filed two lawsuits, charging that the president violated the 1906 Antiquities Act and the U.S. Constitution by eviscerating the monuments.

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Washington, D.C. November 2
Patrice Simms.
Lawrence Jackson for Earthjustice
Patrice Simms Vice President of Litigation for Washington, D.C.
A leading environmental attorney and legal scholar, Patrice began his career as an attorney in the EPA's Office of General Counsel. In the Obama administration, he served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. As a Howard University School of Law professor, Patrice taught, wrote, and spoke on various subjects related to environmental law and environmental justice.
“The role of the courts as a check on the power of Congress and the executive branch is more important than ever. But powerful special interests have taken notice, and are now engaging in a concerted and coordinated effort to strip people of their legal right to seek justice in a court of law.”

Patrice speaks during the Our Country, Our Courts event. Four of the country's leading environmental, civil and human rights, health and safety, and civil liberties organizations—Earthjustice, ACLU, Public Citizen, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—convened the event to call urgent attention to growing and concerted efforts by the administration and some in Congress aimed at undermining access to the judicial branch of government.

The groups  released a short brief explaining the need to defend the public’s access to justice from the directives issued by the administration and more than 50 pieces of legislation that Congress has introduced in the first ten months of 2017 that would restrict people’s ability to take a grievance to court. Some of the bills would force individuals into binding arbitration clauses, ban or limit class action lawsuits and demand unfair limitations on cases and settlements. Earthjustice is committed to representing the public interest and facing these attacks on the courts that place Americans’ judicial rights at risk.

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Los Angeles, California November 13
Adrian Martinez.
Photo by Earthjustice
Adrian Martinez Staff Attorney California Office
Based in Los Angeles, Adrian (@LASmogGuy) works on clean air, clean energy and environmental justice issues. Originally from North Carolina, he joined Earthjustice in 2013.
“Angelenos are refusing to treat fossil fuel infrastructure as a necessary evil.”

At the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, Adrian (far left) speaks alongside a panel of local leaders in energy, transportation and environmental justice to answer the question “What does a zero-emissions California look like—and how is Los Angeles leading the way?”

The speakers included Matt Petersen, chief executive officer of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator; Rebecca Schenker, BYD director of strategy; Lauren Renger, principal manager of air at Southern California Edison; and Taylor Thomas of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, demonstrated that a zero-emissions California is possible, necessary and coming soon.

The speakers called attention to a series of accomplishments over the past year, including LA Metro, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and LA City Council committing to switch to entirely zero-emissions electric buses by 2030; three California utilities investing $1 billion to overhaul our infrastructure and better power electric vehicles; and many more.

Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign is transforming the way we use energy and transport goods, services and ourselves across the Golden State. From our power grid to ports, buses to garbage trucks, Californians are pushing to end use of fossil fuels and leading the shift to zero-emissions technologies.

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Denver, Colorado December 12
Ted Zukoski Staff Attorney Rocky Mountain Office
Ted (@TedZukoski) joined Earthjustice's office in Denver in 2002. He works to protect some of the most iconic landscapes in the West, roadless areas and the planet's climate.
“My heart hurts knowing that these companies will stop at nothing to make a profit for themselves today, with complete disregard for the consequences for those of us left to live with their mess.” Edmond Tilousi, Havasupai Tribal Vice Chairman
Ted Zukoski, after oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Ted (right) met with supporters of the uranium ban on Dec. 15, 2016, after oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Nearly one year to the day of presenting oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on one million acres adjacent to Grand Canyon, Ted received welcome news when the court issued a decision upholding the ban. It was a significant win for clean water, wildlife, and sacred lands.

The court ruled that the ban, adopted in 2012, complies with the Constitution and federal environmental laws, and that the protected area was not too large, as plaintiff mining companies had argued.

The ban protects the aquifers and streams that feed the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon from toxic uranium-mining waste pollution and water depletion, and is supported by tribes, regional businesses and the public. Uranium pollution already plagues the Grand Canyon and surrounding area; more than 500 abandoned uranium mines still pollute land and water on the Navajo Nation, which has banned uranium mining.

Earthjustice, representing the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and National Parks Conservation Association, intervened in the case in 2013.

But threats to the Grand Canyon continue. On the same day as the court’s ruling, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing where lawmakers considered lifting the ban. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who spearheaded the attacks on national monuments, has called for lifting the Grand Canyon uranium-mining ban. In November, the Trump administration also recommended rolling back the ban in a U.S. Forest Service report

Earthjustice is committed to protecting this irreplaceable icon of the American West.

The new year will bring with it new challenges—and new gains. Earthjustice is committed to advancing and defending everyone’s right to a healthy environment. When wealthy industries hold too much sway, the courts can level the playing field. In court, facts matter. It will not be an easy fight, but our resolve has never been stronger.

With you by our side, we are ready for it. Thank you.