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Sept. 15, 2021

Landmark Legal Cases to End the Extraction and Burning of Fossil Fuels

For five decades, Earthjustice has fought thousands of legal cases, representing our clients free of charge.

See some of our proudest accomplishments to target every stage of fossil fuels’ life cycle: extraction, transportation, burning, waste disposal, and export.

We are fighting for the right of local communities to keep dirty energy out of their lives and open their doors to a cleaner energy future.

1976 · Utah

The Kaiparowits Plateau in southern Utah is wild and beautiful. It also contains a vast supply of coal.

In 1976, a collection of utilities proposed building a huge coal mine on the plateau, along with a goliath power plant that would emit massive amounts of air pollution. Legal pressure from Earthjustice forced the withdrawal of plans. Kaiparowits was spared.

With the plateau preserved, in the ensuing decades, paleontologists discovered dozens of previously unknown dinosaur species in lands at and around the plateau. Much of the Kaiparowits Plateau was later included in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Earthjustice continued to defend Grand Staircase-Escalante, first from destructive off-road vehicle use and more recently from Trump-era efforts to eviscerate the monument's boundaries.

We will never rest in the fight to safeguard our public lands.

Our Clients & Partners include: National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Work by Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountain Regional Office
1980s—today · Arctic

There’s no place on Earth like the Arctic. And the Arctic lands and waters targeted for oil and gas drilling remain wild today because people took a stand to protect them.

Since the 1980s, Earthjustice has been relentlessly fighting to protect the Arctic from drilling.

Thanks in large part to our legal work and vigilant advocacy by our clients and partners, there is no offshore oil and gas drilling today in America's Arctic Ocean.

We have also worked to successfully block oil and gas drilling in the region’s most sensitive landscapes, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Western Arctic.

We must keep all Arctic fossil fuels in the ground if we want to avert a climate catastrophe.

Our Clients & Partners include: Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace USA, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, National Audobon Society, and more
2008–2010 · Montana & Alberta

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

Earthjustice took action, and development proposals in the region were banned by the Canada and the state of Montana in 2010.

The Flathead River flows from British Columbia south into Montana and forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park. Coalbed methane gas extraction and open-pit coal mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Flathead River threatened to fragment the Flathead's abundant habitat for grizzly bears, wolves, and wolverines, and to pollute the river's pristine waters.

Earthjustice engaged with international and domestic agencies to advocate for the Flathead River’s headwaters and the rich region they support. In 2010, British Columbia, in partnership with the state of Montana, agreed to ban mining, oil and gas development, and coalbed gas extraction in the valley.

Our Clients & Partners include: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (British Columbia Chapter), Dogwood Initiative, Flathead Coalition, Forest Ethics, Headwaters Montana, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Society, Wildsight, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
2010–today · Pacific Northwest

Alongside our partner and clients, Earthjustice prevented the Pacific Northwest from being turned into a hub of fossil fuel transport and export terminals.

The work included an eleven-year legal campaign to block every single one of the seven proposed coal export terminals and the defeat of the largest proposed crude oil terminal in North America.

As the United States moves away from fossil fuels, dirty energy companies seek to send their products overseas, but Earthjustice is defending local communities and the global climate from these polluting facilities.

Our Clients & Partners include: State of Washington Department of Natural Resources, Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Work by Earthjustice’s Northwest Regional Office
2011–2014 · New York

Earthjustice represented the Town of Dryden through several rounds of litigation — up to the New York's highest court — to succesfully uphold the town's right to stop the oil and gas industry from fracking within town limits.

This victory not only gave Dryden the right to use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry, but also set the stage for a statewide ban on fracking a year later, ending this harmful extraction of fossil fuels.

Our Client: The Town of Dryden
Work by Earthjustice’s Northeast Regional Office
2013–2020 · Montana

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration issued 47 oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area adjacent to Glacier National Park. The leases were granted without consultation with the Blackfeet Nation, review of significant cultural values, or proper evaluation of environmental impact — all required by federal law.

Some companies voluntarily relinquished their leases over the years; a coalition represented by Earthjustice fought the remaining holdouts in court.

In 2020, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., rejected a Louisiana company’s bid to keep the last of the leases. The decision settled the decades-long fight to protect lands and waters sacred to the Blackfeet and critical for wildlife habitat.

Our Client: Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance
Work by Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies Regional Office
2016–today · North Dakota

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe remains steadfast in a years-long legal fight to protect its homeland from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Earthjustice represents the Tribe in their legal fight.

Courts have affirmed the Dakota Access Pipeline is operating against federal law. But oil is still flowing, as the federal government assesses the risk of a spill, impacts to Tribal sovereignty, and harm to drinking water supply.

The Biden administration can permanently shut down Dakota Access Pipeline.

Earthjustice has spent decades challenging pipelines as a legal partner for communities whose right to clean air, safe drinking water, and unspoiled lands are being denied by the harmful excesses of the fossil fuel industry.

Our Clients & Partners include: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Work by Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies Regional Office
2019 · South Africa

Earthjustice partnered with the Centre for Environmental Rights, which secured a court victory shutting down the proposed Khanyisa coal-fired power plant in the Mpumalanga province.

At a time when coal and other fossil fuels generate more than 90% of energy in South Africa, this win builds momentum for a cleaner energy system and speaks to the growing movement fighting climate change around the world.

Our Partners include: South African NGO groundWork
Work by Earthjustice’s International Program

In Indiana, we successfully challenged a proposal for a new billion-dollar gas-fired power plant that would have replaced aging, inefficient coal-burning units. Utility customers — who already have some of the highest rates in the nation — would have been on the hook for the costs.

With Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, we documented how the utility's plan was based on shoddy modeling with little to no consideration of less risky, lower-cost alternatives. The new gas plant would have locked consumers into a fossil fuel energy infrastructure for the next 40 years and not allow flexibility to employ clean energy alternatives.

We are working in 20 states and over a dozen countries to force the overdue retirement of dirty coal plants, fend off a rush to gas, and hasten the clean energy solutions that are essential to our future.

Our Clients & Partners include: Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Sierra Club and Valley Watch, NRDC, Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life
Work by Earthjustice’s Coal Program

You’re invited

Earthjustice’s 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at 4pm PT / 7pm ET

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