Meet Earth’s Legal Team: Earth Justice
“Because the earth needs a lawyer”, the tagline of the United States nonprofit EarthJustice, was recognized as one of the best taglines out of 1,702 entries in 2010. But the organization is more than just a clever slogan. Earthjustice has also been named one of America’s 100 best charities by Worth magazine and has made considerable contributions in environmental law and community groups.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the legal organization – whose main objective is environmental initiatives – has nine regional offices across the U.S. with an international presence and a communications and Washington, DC team, though the organization does not receive any funds from government entities. Instead, Earthjustice receives its funding from individual and foundation donations.
Founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (though not officially affiliated with the Sierra Club), Earth Justice’s moniker was changed in 1997 clarifying its role as a legal entity dedicated to the aid nonprofit and humanitarian clients who need pro bono representation (with 700 clients as of 2009).
The nonprofit focuses its efforts on three major programs:
Health and Toxics advocacy of healthy communities
Climate and Energy advocacy of clean energy and combating climate change
The Wild advocacy of preserving bio-diversity of wildlife and lands
Though up against great odds, Earthjustice has become a formidable player in the United States legal system for setting precedents involving environmental laws.
Some important Supreme Court cases have included:
- In the 1972 Supreme Court case, Sierra Club v. Morton, Earthjustice — established the right of citizens to sue for environmental damages. The Walt Disney Corporation was forced to abandon development of a ski resort in the Mineral King valley in California’s Sierra Nevada Range – thusly, preserving the Sequoia National Park.
- In the 2006 Supreme Court case, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, Earthjustice attorneys helped a coalition of state governments and conservation groups force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (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 continues to add in keeping communities and the environment protected and preserved, and continues to receive honors such as a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator