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50 Landmark Legal Cases

  • Map of the United States.
    Badger-Two Medicine
  • Map of the United States.
    Mercury & Air Toxics Standards
  • Map of the United States.
    Agricultural Worker Protections
  • Map of the United States.
    Clean Water Case of the Century
  • Map of the United States.
    Wild Salmon
  • Map of the United States.
    Tongass National Forest
  • Map of the United States.
    National Monuments
  • Map of the United States.
    Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Map of the United States.
    Reviving Rooftop Solar
  • Map of the United States.
    Chlorpyrifos Ban
  • Map of the United States.
    The Everglades
    Purple Gallinule walking on lily pads in Everglades National Park, Florida.
Sept. 15, 2021

For 50 years, Earthjustice has fought thousands of legal cases, representing all our clients free of charge — because the earth needs a good lawyer.

See 50 of our proudest accomplishments that truly changed life for people and wildlife and set the stage for the world we live in now and into the future.

These cases encompass:

1978–today · Nationwide

Relentlessly used the Clean Air Act to close loopholes and force more protective air pollution safeguards across multiple industries.

1997–today · Nationwide

Twenty years of litigation led to the first-ever clean air protections against the nation's dirtiest polluters — coal-fired power plants.

2000–today · Nationwide

Through repeated lawsuits, pushed the U.S. EPA to update and strengthen national smog standards, making the air cleaner for all.

2006–today · Nationwide

A hard-fought lawsuit brought on behalf of 10 environmental and public health groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes resulted in the first-ever federal regulations for toxic coal ash.

2017–today · Wisconsin

Protected Menominee Tribal lands and the Great Lakes, after a legal fight successfully resulted in the mine developer relinquishing its permits.

2019 · Indonesia

Worked with our partner the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law on a citizen suit to compel government agencies to bring Jakarta into compliance with ambient pollution limits.

2020 · Nationwide

Fought a decades-long legal battle involving a Maui wastewater treatment plant all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the fate of the nation's waters hung in the balance. Clean water prevailed.

2020 · California

The law and facts were so clear that Philips 66 settled before we even filed suit and committed to reduce air pollution that has contaminated communities for years.

2021 · Nationwide

Millions of streams and wetlands regained legal protections, after a lawsuit successfully challenged a disastrous Trump-era rule that allowed industries to dump pollutants into bodies of water.

1977–today · Nationwide

From the Pacific Ocean to mountains of Montana, used the Endangered Species Act to protect hundreds of imperiled plants and animals — including the palila, an endangered bird found only on Mauna Kea, in one of the earliest uses of this visionary law.

1987—today · Pacific Northwest

Successfully defended the Northwest Forest Plan — the first broadscale ecosystem management approach to treat forests as complex, interdependent systems — from relentless attacks by logging interests.

1994–today · Washington

Fighting to restore the lower Snake River and remove four outdated dams that are driving wild salmon to extinction.

2011–today · Gulf of Mexico

Brought a series of successful court actions to ensure enforcement of legally required safeguards for endangered sea turtles.

2017–today · California

Prevented a private company from draining and selling groundwater from an aquifer that nourishes desert species and migratory birds.

2020 · Atlantic Ocean

Protected one of Earth's rarest ocean creatures — the North Atlantic right whale — and many marine species, after years of litigation resulted in fossil fuel companies abandoning seismic airgun permits.

2007 · Florida

Made way for the world's then-largest solar facility to be built where, two years earlier, we blocked the nation’s largest proposed coal plant.

2012 · Kentucky

In a watershed victory, one of the 50 dirtiest power plants in America retired after a successful lawsuit — paving the way for energy efficiency and clean energy.

2015 · Maryland

Fighting for forward-thinking policies to expand access to renewable energy, including an innovative community solar program in Maryland that opens the benefits of solar to communities of all income levels.

2016 · Nevada

Helped bring back Nevada's solar industry by successfully challenging discriminatory rate hikes for solar customers.

2017 · California

In a groundbreaking-first for the nation, successfully pushed Los Angeles Metro to invest in a full fleet of zero-emission electric buses — a win for the climate and our lungs.

2021 · California

Historic settlement to clean-up one of the world’s largest warehouses resulted in $47 million investment in electric trucks, charging infrastructure, solar, and more.

1976 · Utah

Legal pressure forced the withdrawal of plans to build a goliath coal mine and power plant in an irreplaceable area that would eventually be designated as part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

1980s–today · Arctic

Relentlessly fought to protect the Arctic from drilling. Despite numerous attempts by industry, there is no offshore oil and gas drilling today in America's Arctic Ocean.

2008 · Montana + Alberta

Saved one of the most wild, beautiful landscapes remaining in North America — Montana’s Flathead River and the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park — from dirty energy development.

2010–today · Pacific Northwest

Prevented the Pacific Northwest from being turned into a hub of fossil fuel transport and export terminals.

2011–2014 · New York

Successfully upheld the Town of Dryden's right to stop the oil and gas industry from fracking within town limits, setting the stage for a statewide ban on fracking.

2013–2020 · Montana

Succeeded in a decades-long fight to prevent oil and gas drilling on illegally leased lands that are sacred to the Blackfeet Nation and critical for wildlife habitat.

2016–2022 · North Dakota

Represented the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its years-long legal fight to protect its homeland from the Dakota Access Pipeline.

2019 · South Africa

Partnered with Centre for Environmental Rights, which secured a court victory shutting down the proposed Khanyisa coal-fired power plant.

Successfully challenged a proposed billion-dollar gas-fired plant that would have locked consumers into fossil fuel infrastructure for the next 40 years.

1989 · Louisiana

In the first time a federal agency made environmental justice a basis for its decision, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied a permit to build a uranium enrichment plant in Homer, La., following legal pressure.

1989–2018 · Hawaiʻi

One of Hawaiʻi's spiritual havens is healing after decades of being bombed and shelled.

1998–today · Hawaiʻi

Hawaiian streams are flowing again, after long-running legal fights by local and Native Hawaiian communities established the precedent that water is a public trust, not private property.

Supported the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in the development of the first-ever petition linking climate change and human rights — the impetus for the now-global recognition that climate change is a fundamental human rights issue.

Fighting alongside communities across the country to enforce the law that forbids agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating based on race.

2017 · Nationwide

Protecting the 177 million people, schoolchildren, workers, and emergency first-responders who live and work near chemical facilities, with commonsense safeguards against chemical disasters.

2019 · Arizona

A company tried to bend the rules to dig a mile-wide copper mine on sacred lands, until a lawsuit brought by the Tohono O’odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe blocked the plan.

2006–2020 · Nationwide

Joined farmworker, labor, and environmental groups to compel the U.S. EPA to finally strengthen pesticide protections for people who grow and harvest the nation's food.

2007–2021 · Nationwide

Under a court-ordered deadline, the U.S. EPA finally banned all food uses of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos that is widely used in U.S. agriculture.

2008–today · Nationwide

U.S. EPA must now consider the full range of ways that people may be exposed to harmful chemicals, following a successful lawsuit.

2011–2016 · West Virginia

Defended the historic veto of the massive Spruce No. 1 Mine, which would have used a mining method that brings devastating health consequences to neighboring communities.

2017–today · Nationwide

Working to stop contamination of this class of 5,000 toxic chemicals that don’t break down and can remain in drinking water and our bodies for decades.

2019–today · Louisiana

Representing residents of St. James Parish — part of “Cancer Alley” — who are fighting a petrochemical complex that would double toxic air emissions and more than triple the levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

1972 · California

To preserve the spectacular Sierra Nevada valley called Mineral King from being developed into a large ski resort, a small band of lawyers filed suit. The case confirmed the right of citizens to take environmental disputes to court.

1977–today · Alaska

Successfully won multiple legal battles to protect the ancient trees and abundant wildlife of “America's Climate Forest” from old-growth logging and destructive road construction.

1988–today · Florida

Negotiated a landmark settlement that required significant Everglades restoration measures and court-enforced pollution limits.

1996 · Montana

Averted a potential disaster at one of the world's treasures — Yellowstone National Park — when plans for industrial gold mining were abandoned in the face of legal and national pressure.

1998–today · Washington, D.C.

The river is coming back to life due to sustained community pressure and Earthjustice litigation, requiring the U.S. EPA to set strong pollution limits and the creation of one of the most effective sewage overflow control programs in the nation.

1999–today · Nationwide

Won in court after court to defend the Roadless Rule, which protects roughly a third of our national forests from clear-cuts.

2001–today · Nationwide

Defended national monuments across the country, from the timber industry during the Bush administration, to the largest federal land rollback during the Trump-era.

Earthjustice’s 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration