Debbie Chizewer

Managing Attorney Midwest Office


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Timna Axel
Public Affairs and Communications Strategist
(773) 828-0712

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As the Managing Attorney for Earthjustice’s new Chicago office, Debbie has been building a Midwest team and a docket of cases across three program areas — climate and energy, healthy communities, and wild lands and wildlife. This team’s work includes representation of Tribal Nations in the fight against the risky Line 5 oil pipeline and advocacy on behalf of Black, low-income communities facing disproportionate environmental harms from air and water pollution.

This work builds on Debbie’s experience over the last two decades where she advocated for environmental protection across many issues — fighting for environmental justice in the Midwest at Northwestern Law’s environmental law clinic, promoting Great Lakes health at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and protecting wildlife and public lands in the Rockies for the National Wildlife Federation. While at Northwestern’s Environmental Advocacy Clinic, Debbie led the clinic’s representation and a legal coalition that represented a community group living on a Superfund site, contaminated with lead and arsenic, in East Chicago, Indiana. The work not only led to improved outcomes for the impacted community members but also led to the publication of the Poisonous Homes report which advocated for policy changes to protect residents living in public housing near contaminated sites.

Debbie also recently completed ten years of service, including five years as the Board Chair, for the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, a national non-profit dedicated to promoting economic and racial justice.

Debbie graduated from Princeton University and Boston University School of Law. After graduation from law school, she clerked in the U.S. District Court in the District of Delaware.

The Latest from Debbie Chizewer

April 18, 2024

In the News: Associated Press

Republican AGs attack Biden’s EPA for pursuing environmental discrimination cases

“I think it is a perversion of our civil rights laws to say otherwise, to say that you can’t account for these past harms by creating policies that protect communities that are disproportionately harmed.”
April 10, 2024

In the News: The New York Times

An Oil Company Is Trespassing on Tribal Land in Wisconsin, Justice Dept. Says

“The courts passed the mic to the U.S., and the U.S. handed the mic right back to the courts.”
February 20, 2024

In the News: Inside Climate News

Enbridge Wants Line 5 Shutdown Order Overturned on Tribal Land in Northern Wisconsin

“It would really limit the ability of state governments and tribal nations and others to protect the interests that have been widely accepted for many years. If you can’t protect your land from a trespass because of the oil pipelines, what’s the point of having your own land?”
May 12, 2023

In the News: Wisconsin Examiner

Bad River tribe and allies call for emergency Line 5 shutdown

“We are extremely alarmed to see the shrinking distance between Line 5, which is operating in trespass of the Bad River Band, and the raging river current. If government officials don’t use their power to shut down Line 5, this disaster will be on their hands.”
May 11, 2023

In the News: Michigan Advance

As the anniversary of Enbridge’s refusal to shut down Line 5 approaches, groups press Biden admin

“This 70-year-old pipeline is operating a full 20 years past its design lifetime. Line 5 threatens Tribal Nations and violates the State of Michigan’s shutdown order. It’s time to retire Line 5. Every day that oil flows through the pipeline is another day we risk unacceptable environmental, economic and cultural disaster for Bay Mills and across the Great Lakes."
March 23, 2023

In the News: AP News

Army Corps further delays decision on Great Lakes oil tunnel

“It needs to be redone or completely thrown away.”
October 14, 2021

In the News: Peninsula Press

Indigenous groups demand shut down of Michigan pipeline

“It doesn’t make sense for Enbridge to invest half a billion dollars into infrastructure that wouldn’t be needed in 10 years or less, after Michigan transitions away from fossil fuels.”
August 21, 2021

In the News: NBC News

Raw sewage polluted this Black community. Now residents are fighting back.

"They literally have to start from the beginning."
June 13, 2021

In the News: Michigan Live

Michigan’s indigenous tribes ramp up efforts to shut down oil pipeline through sacred waters

“The most important takeaway is that this is a critical part of Bay Mills and other tribal nations’ identity. This area is a place of cultural significance [and] economic viability.”
February 15, 2021

In the News: Northwest Indiana Times

EPA Conducting Five-year Review of Superfund Site in East Chicago

"The USS Lead site is a case study in environmental racism. Governmental officials knew about the lead and arsenic contamination for decades but failed to act, and the low-income, Black and Latinx residents suffered grave harm as a result."

February 9, 2021

In the News: Keweenaw Now

EGLE approves some permits for Enbridge tunnel project; tribal, environmental groups challenge EGLE decision

"EGLE’s permitting lacked the rigor needed for such a massive project involving the precious Great Lakes. On behalf of Bay Mills Indian Community, we will continue to urge the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake a more comprehensive and rigorous review."