California has long been at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment. As the fifth largest economy in the world, we are uniquely situated to effect positive change for both people and the planet. Earthjustice’s California Regional Office is not only ensuring key environmental and health protections stay in place and are strengthened, but we are advancing some of the most ambitious climate and energy policies in the country.
Earthjustice’s work in California is particularly important because even though California is a public health and climate leader, it is still one of the largest producers of oil, home to some of the worst air in the country, and faces some of the most challenging water issues.
With teams located in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Earthjustice’s California Regional Office fights for the rights of all to a healthy environment, including:
Spurring a Transformational Shift to a Zero-Emissions Future
Earthjustice has teamed up with community, conservation, health, labor, and clean-tech business groups to transform California to a zero-emissions state where we no longer rely on fossil fuels — and the pollution and carbon they emit — to power our homes, building, and cars.
Our “Right to Zero” campaign is using tools at its disposal, including existing federal laws and new state laws we support in Sacramento, to push California for a complete shift away from dirty fossil fuels to “zero-emitting” clean fuels in its transportation, building, and energy sectors. “Electrifying everything” is the only way to make the air breathable again across California, and the only way to reach the state’s ambitious greenhouse reduction targets.
Fighting Dangerous Pesticide Use
California, one of the nation’s top agricultural producers, is also a major user of agricultural pesticides. These pesticides cause significant harm to both people and wildlife, including the all-important honeybee that is responsible for pollinating one third of our food crops in the U.S.
Earthjustice works with partners including farmworkers and fenceline communities, to phase out and ban where necessary the most dangerous pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos, which has been proven harmful to children and babies, and to impose safeguards on those that remain in use. We are also working with beekeepers and others to limit the use of the group of pesticides linked to bee colony collapse disorder which threatens both our food crops and the honeybees survival.
Preserving the Wild
Nearly 50 years ago, Earthjustice’s first court fight helped preserve the Sierra Nevada’s magnificent Mineral King Valley from development. We’ve been winning victories for the wild and wildlife in California ever since.
Recent victories include ensuring protections for the State’s beloved sea otter to the gray wolf, who has returned to California almost 100 years after their extermination, to the fisher and marten, ferret-like creatures who are integral to a healthy forest ecosystem and on the brink of extinction here in California due to largescale timber activities and habitat encroachment, to protecting the Mojave Desert from a devastating water project that had the backing of Trump’s new head of the Department of Interior (who was the former lobbyist for the project).
Shifting Beyond Oil and Gas Production
Earthjustice is working with a broad coalition of partners, including frontline communities, to address the fact that despite being a climate leader, California is also the seventh largest producer of oil in the country. California’s oil and gas industry is historically underregulated, and the state has a dark history of neighborhood drilling right next to homes and schools. Kern County in the Central Valley is home to some of the worst air pollution in the country and bears the health impacts of the fifth largest U.S. oil field.
Our goal is simple: work to stop the continued extraction, transport, and refining of fossil fuels in the State of California. We focus specifically on addressing new large-scale projects that would lock us into decades of fossil fuel dependence, and on establishing health buffers for the millions of Californians who live, go to school, or receive healthcare near oil and gas drill sites. While we spur the transition to zero emissions and end our reliance on fossil fuels, we can phase out the production of oil and gas in the Golden State too.
Clearing The Air on Los Angeles and The Central Valley
Los Angeles and San Joaquin Valley cities consistently rank among the worst in the nation for air quality. In neighborhoods across Southern California, millions of people are exposed to levels of smog and soot pollution so dangerous that it may be unsafe even for a healthy person to go outside.
Partnering with conservation, health, and community groups, Earthjustice pressures the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators to do their jobs and give people the clean air they deserve and have a legal right to breathe.
Safeguarding River and Ocean Ecosystems
California’s rivers and coastline offer important economic and recreational opportunities for people and critical habitat for fish and wildlife, including imperiled salmon populations.
For decades, Earthjustice has worked to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta from the chronic over-pumping of freshwater from our rivers to supply unsustainable agribusiness. That fight continues today.
Earthjustice is also using the power of the law to protect ocean ecosystems, including imperiled marine life, from the harms caused by both commercial fisheries and climate change. In California, Earthjustice is improving management of Pacific Coast forage fish that are vital to the health of an ocean ecosystem, to protect keystone species such as sea otters, and to reduce harmful impacts to whales and other marine mammals from military training and entanglement in fishing gear.
Taking on Other Threats to California
Our California team also acts as the frontline of defense against some of the biggest threats facing California, many of which may come unexpectedly.
For the past several years, California Regional Office attorneys have successfully litigated a string of cases challenging rollbacks the Trump administration has ordered. For example, one recent case stopped the administration from blocking the implementation of a key pesticide protection rule that ensures pesticides are applied properly was kept on the books.