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Sept. 15, 2021

Landmark Legal Cases to Safeguard Public Lands and Waters

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

See some of our proudest accomplishments to protect wild places by advocating for strong protections of our land and ocean ecosystems, and by reducing stressors that are forcing nature into decline.

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. After many twists and turns, the valley was saved, and later became protected within Sequoia National Park.

The case confirmed the right of citizens to take environmental disputes to court. And it triggered the creation of Earthjustice in 1971, counting among the organization’s earliest legal victories.

Our Client: Sierra Club
Work by Earthjustice’s California Regional Office
1977–today · Alaska

Earthjustice has successfully battled for more than 40 years to protect the massive trees and abundant wildlife of Tongass National Forest from old-growth logging and destructive road construction.

The Tongass is known as “America’s Climate Forest” due to its unsurpassed ability to mitigate climate-warming emissions.

Our Clients & Partners include: Ketchikan Indian Community, Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association, WECAN, SEACC, NRDC
Work by Earthjustice’s Alaska Regional Office
1988–today · Florida

Earthjustice has been involved in legal fights to restore Florida's treasured waters for decades.

Since 1988, Earthjustice has represented a coalition of environmental groups in a federal case to clean up devastating agricultural pollution in the Everglades. We negotiated a landmark settlement agreement in 1992 that required significant Everglades restoration measures and court-enforced pollution limits. Since then we have filed lawsuits to keep pollution from agricultural operations — including industrial sugar-growing complexes — out of the Everglades.

Additionally, a complex litigation campaign by Earthjustice attorneys compelled state and federal agencies to comply with the Clean Water Act and set numeric limits for phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. The pollution results in toxic algae outbreaks that cover waterways with green slime and that can harm humans and dolphins, manatees, birds, and fish.

Our Clients & Partners include: National Parks Conservation Association, Florida Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society of the Everglades, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Save Our Creeks
Work by Earthjustice’s Florida Regional Office
1996 · Montana

A huge gold mining proposal threatened Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. Earthjustice sued, using the Clean Water Act, to hold the mining company liable for future damage, which was estimated at $150 million.

National and international pressure added to the lawsuit, resulting in the company abandoning its plans for the mine. A potential disaster at one of the world's treasures was averted.

We continue to work to safeguard the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, including blocking yet another attempt to bring industrial goal mining operations to Yellowstone.

We won at the Montana Supreme Court in 2020 in a court decision that not only blocked the mining proposal, but also upheld the rights of Montanans’ to stop similar unlawful projects.

Our Clients & Partners include: Beartooth Alliance, Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Work by Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies Regional Office
1998–today · Washington, D.C.

The Anacostia River was one of America’s dirtiest rivers for many years.

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

Our Clients & Partners include: Friends of the Earth, Anacostia Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Barry Farms Residents Council, Kingman Park Civic Association, Anacostia Watershed Society
Work by Earthjustice’s Washington, D.C., Office
1999–today · Nationwide

Earthjustice has fought for 20 years to defend the Roadless Rule, which protects roughly a third of our national forests from clear-cuts and damaging road construction.

We have won in court after court, preserving vital wildlife habitat, safeguarding drinking water for millions of Americans, and ensuring quality recreation cherished by all.

At the state and national level, Earthjustice will continue to stand up for our nation’s last wild places.

Our Clients & Partners include: Greater Yellowstone Coalition Lands Council, The Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, Oregon Wild, Pacific Rivers Council
2001–today · Nationwide

Our national monuments are landscapes of extraordinary cultural, scientific, and ecological value.

Earthjustice has defended these public lands and waters for decades, from protecting Giant Sequoia National Monument from the timber industry in the early 2000s, to pushing the Biden administration to restore critical protections stripped away from Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments during the Trump administration.

Our Clients & Partners include: Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians

Earthjustice’s 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration