Sambhav Sankar

Senior Vice President of Programs

Sambhav Sankar Earthjustice’s Senior Vice President for Programs.

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Lauren Wollack
Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications

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Sambhav (Sam) Sankar is Earthjustice’s Senior Vice President for Programs. He leads the development of Earthjustice’s strategies for carrying out its mission, and coordinates the work of our Litigation, Communications, and Policy and Legislation departments.

Sam has been working on environmental issues throughout his career, which has included service as an engineer at Superfund sites, a senior executive at General Electric, an attorney at the Justice Department, and counsel to the presidential commission that investigated the Deepwater Horizon spill. (Along the way, he also worked as a boat captain and a machinist.)

As a litigator, Sam has argued civil and criminal cases involving the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Magnuson-Stevens Act, CERCLA, FIFRA, RCRA, and NEPA. He has also argued cases arising under adjacent laws like the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act and Offshore Continental Lands Act.

Sam has environmental engineering degrees from Cornell and Stanford, and a J.D. from Berkeley Law. After law school, he clerked for Judge William Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Louis Pollak of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sam lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

Download photos of Sam Sankar for media use.

The Latest from Sambhav Sankar

May 20, 2024

In the News: The Guardian

Biden Administration Under Pressure to End New Deepwater Oil Export Facilities

"We think that building massive terminals to export fossil fuels, and putting them where people are already living with terribly polluted air, violates the policies that President Biden laid out in his executive orders."
April 11, 2024

In the News: Financial Times

Republican states step up legal threats to Joe Biden’s climate agenda

“This is the most right-wing court we’ve seen in almost a century, and that’s emboldening conservative legal activists to swing for the fences with legal claims that would have been laughable just a few years ago. The legal landscape has shifted, and it’s profound.”
February 21, 2024

In the News: CNN

Supreme Court signals skepticism over Biden ‘good neighbor’ smog plan

“Polluting industries always challenge pollution regulations because it costs them money to protect our health. We’re hoping that a few members of the court’s right-wing supermajority will remember that they shouldn’t be second-guessing sound judgments about what’s best for our kids’ lungs.”
February 20, 2024

In the News: USA Today

Good neighbor? Polluting states want Supreme Court to pause Biden’s plan to reduce smog

“The Supreme Court’s taken a particular and distressing interest in environmental laws. It's sort of saying, `Look, these things are guilty until proven innocent.’ And that's a new way for courts to be treating environmental regulations.”
United States Supreme Court (front row L-R) Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, (back row L-R) Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson pose for their official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building on October 7, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court has begun a new term after Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was officially added to the bench in September.
September 26, 2023

Here’s What to Expect From the Supreme Court This Term

Recent environmental rulings from the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority have revealed a dangerous agenda, but we still have strong legal tools to protect people and the planet.
May 29, 2023

In the News: Strict Scrutiny

A Wrecking Ball to Environmental Law

Sam Sankar, Senior VP of Programs at Earthjustice, explains the Supreme Court’s opinion in Sackett v. EPA. Millions of acres of wetlands risk losing federal environmental protections, threatening the future of the nation’s clean water.
A California spotted owl perches on a tree
March 24, 2023

Protecting the Sierra Species

The California spotted owl is the last of four native Sierra Nevada species to receive Endangered Species Act protection in the culmination of a 30-year legal fight.
A few hundred supporters of clean water rallied outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 3, 2022, as the court heard oral arguments in Sackett v. EPA.
February 23, 2023

Justices’ Clean Water Act Queries Hint At Search For Balance

At oral argument in Sackett v. EPA, some justices struggled to square simplistic industry arguments with science and common sense.
Workers install solar panels on a parking structure at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
August 19, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act is the Biggest Climate Investment in History. The Fight Doesn’t Stop Here.

We must work to secure the positive potential of the IRA’s investments and prevent new fossil fuel subsidies from harming communities that have already suffered too much.

June 5, 2022

In the News: The New York Times

The Supreme Court Is Pursuing a Very Dangerous Strategy for the Environment

"If the Supreme Court chooses this moment to pursue an agenda of limiting federal regulatory power, it will serve the interests of corporations — particularly fossil fuel companies — while pushing people and the planet closer and closer to the point of no return."

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.
April 20, 2022

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Anniversary Is a Grave Reminder of Why Not to Trust the Oil Industry

The only thing we can truly trust this industry to do is fight to preserve its business model and secure profits for its shareholders.
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
March 23, 2022

The Earth Needs Good Judges. Here’s What That Means.

3 questions to ask about any judicial nominee.
A coal-fired power plant.
March 16, 2022

A Hostile Supreme Court Threatens Environmental Progress

The court’s ‘Major Questions’ doctrine could block regulators from protecting species or tackling climate change.
Sambhav Sankar is Earthjustice's Senior Vice President for Programs.
November 17, 2021

How an Environmental Lawyer Stays Motivated to Fight the Climate Crisis

Sambhav Sankar, Earthjustice’s senior VP of programs, shares his perspective on what environmental litigation can achieve.
Smoke billows from controlled oil burns near the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in June 2010.
October 15, 2021

I Investigated the Deepwater Horizon Disaster. When Will We Learn From Our Mistakes?

As we find ourselves in the grip of another catastrophe, it’s worth reflecting on how the nation and the oil industry responded to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
October 9, 2021

In the News: The Guardian

Fossil fuel companies paying top law firms millions to ‘dodge responsibility’

“In the future nobody is going to think twice about making career decisions with an eye to whether it aligns with their climate ethics. ... The [fossil fuel] industry is paying law firms tons of money in an effort to dodge responsibility and block regulatory reforms that could help avert this crisis.”
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in the House chamber for the State of the Union address on February 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
June 22, 2021

‘Conflicts Checks’ and Biden’s Judicial Appointees

Will Biden follow through on his promise to rebalance the federal bench? Here’s what to watch for.
An EPA contractor collects a water sample from the site of a coal ash spill on the Dan River in North Carolina.
April 28, 2021

Making the Law More Than Words on a Page

Environmental enforcement is environmental protection.
Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building
March 16, 2021

You’ve Probably Never Heard of This DOJ Division, but It’s Key to Rebuilding Our Environmental Policy

The Biden administration has selected their nominee for AAG of ENRD at DOJ. Here's what that means.
January 23, 2021

In the News: Bloomberg Law

Ex-DOJ Official Called ‘Radioactive’ After Alleged Election Plot

“It’s sort of nice that the whole world finally gets to see the insanity we’ve been fighting for the last four years.”
January 19, 2021

In the News: Bloomberg Law

Divisive Top Trump Environment Lawyer Reviews ‘Challenging Job’

“Mr. Clark wasn’t kicking tires, he was slashing them.”
Photo of judge Amy Coney Barrett
September 25, 2020

The Planet Cannot Afford a Risky Choice for the Supreme Court

We need Justices who will make sure our courts remain a place where science and the law beat corruption and privilege.
Amy Coney Barrett, una jueza incondicionalmente conservadora de la Corte de Apelaciones del Séptimo Circuito, ha sido seleccionada por Trump para reemplazar a la recién fallecida jueza Ruth Bader Ginsburg con un proceso de confirmación acelerado del Senad
September 25, 2020

El Planeta No Puede Permitirse Una Elección Arriesgada Para La Corte Suprema

Necesitamos jueces que garanticen que nuestras cortes sean lugares donde la ciencia y la ley venzan la corrupción y los privilegios.
Photo of people gathered at a makeshift memorial for late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., on September 18, 2020.
September 22, 2020

What the Environment Needs in a Supreme Court Justice

As we mourn the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we must sadly also prepare for a contentious debate over her replacement.