Earthjustice: Legal Defense for Our Right to a Healthy Environment
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Earthjustice: Legal Defense for Our Right to a Healthy Environment

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm based in the United States that specializes in cases protecting natural resources, safeguarding public health, and promoting clean energy.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public-interest law firm based in the United States that specializes in cases protecting natural resources, safeguarding public health, and promoting clean energy.

Earthjustice has nine regional offices across the United States, an international department, and a policy team in Washington, DC. “We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities,” their website states.

Initially established as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund in 1971 (though fully independent from the Sierra Club), Earthjustice has a legal staff of more than fifty personnel in eight offices around the country. Changing its name to Earthjustice in 1997 to better reflect its role as a legal advocate representing the hundreds of regional, national, and international organizations who seek their advocacy, Earthjustice takes government agencies to court for failing to enforce our nation's environmental laws, and corporations for breaking these laws.

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As of January 2009, Earthjustice has provided free legal representation to more than 700 clients ranging from the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, and the American Lung Association, to smaller state and community groups such as the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the Friends of the Everglades.

Earthjustice’s work is divided into three major campaigns:

> Protecting Our Natural Heritage focuses on cases that protect endangered species, national forests, national parks, and other public lands.

> Safeguarding Our Health focuses on cases that protect public health, in particular clean air and water, toxic chemicals, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and mercury.

> Promoting a Clean Energy Future focuses on cases that encourage clean energy and energy efficiency while challenging the reliance on coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.

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In the US, Earthjustice has played a critical role in a number of important, precedent-setting cases regarding environmental protection.

For example, in the 1972 Supreme Court case, Sierra Club v. Morton, Earthjustice (functioning as Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund ) helped establish the right of citizens to sue for environmental damages. The case ultimately forced the Walt Disney Corporation to drop its plans to develop an enormous ski resort in Mineral King Valley in California’s Sierra Nevada Range. Thanks to Earthjustice’s extraordinary efforts, the valley was preserved and has since been incorporated into Sequoia National Park.

In 1998, Earthjustice helped local community groups convince the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw an approval to construct a uranium enrichment plant between two low-income, predominantly African-American communities near Homer, Louisiana. It was the first time a government agency had formally supported the principle of environmental justice in its decision-making process.

In the 2006 Supreme Court case, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, Earthjustice attorneys helped a coalition of state governments and conservation groups force the EPA to fight global warming by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. It was the first Supreme Court case to ever address the issue of climate change.

Earthjustice also partners with numerous organizations from other regions of the world including Latin America, Russia, Japan, and China to promote the development of environmental law in their respective countries. Every year, Earthjustice submits a country-by-country Report on Human Rights and the Environment to the United Nations.

Earthjustice was named one of America’s 100 best charities by Worth magazine and received the highest--4-star--rating from Charity Navigator (


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Comments (3)

Earthjustice has really done commendable work in advocating the cause of environment.

Thank you for this valuable info for an organization worthy of much admiration.

sounds like a wonderful organization