ELC Cases

The clinic is currently handling about 20 litigation and policy matters involving marine and coastal resource protection, public land management, water quality, and threatened or endangered species.

Current cases are aimed at, for example:

In past cases, clinic students have sought to:

  • Protect desert tortoise habitat in Southern California from human development (including a huge landfill on the flanks of Joshua Tree National Park), grazing, and off-road vehicle activities;
  • Address the harmful impacts of the offshore California longline and gillnet fisheries on marine mammals, sea turtles, and sea birds;
  • Defend the City of Oakland’s efforts to ban the storage and handling of coal at Oakland facilities based on health and safety concerns to local residents;
  • Defend responsible coastal land use regulation and management in Solana Beach;
  • Challenge California’s failure to analyze environmental impacts from oil and gas wells;
  • Thwart environmentally harmful desalination projects that do not comply with state policy (see our complaint);
  • Improve the management of renewable energy and mining interests on federal public lands in California and Arizona (see our students’ comment letters and the results of their efforts);
  • Shut down the last coastal sand mine in the United States;
  • Conserve marine species and habitats along the California coast from the effects of power plant cooling systems and in-shore fishing activities;
  • Preserve water quality in the San Francisco Bay and Delta from unlawful discharges by municipal treatment systems, oil refineries, agricultural interests, the timber industry, and shipping vessels (read the recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision restricting shipping vessel discharges);
  • Shepherd private lands near the largest coastal lagoon in the lower 48 into permanent state conservation (read our students’ work);
  • Protect the historic Presidio in the heart of San Francisco from commercial development (see our Ninth Circuit filings and recent Ninth Circuit decision);
  • Protect California’s native fish and other aquatic species by compelling the State to study the impacts of its annual fish-stocking program;
  • Improve EPA’s regulation of invasive species discharges from ships across the nation;
  • Challenge inadequate environmental review for a series of liquified natural gas terminals on the Gulf of Mexico;
  • Challenge the absence of environmental review for a desalination project on California’s central coast; and
  • Enjoin unsustainable logging activities along the north coast of California.

Students have also written many amicus briefs and shaped local and state policy through written and oral participation in countless administrative hearings. Recent examples include:

  • Written and oral comments to the California Coastal Commission regarding the Cambria desalination project;
  • Written and oral comments at the Central Coast Regional Water Board regarding agricultural pollution;
  • Amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal to support the continued historic public access to Martin’s Beach;
  • Amicus brief in the California Supreme Court on behalf of Surfrider Foundation supporting the Coastal Commission and documenting the negative impacts from seawalls (read the opinion here);
  • Amicus brief in the California Supreme Court concerning the environmental regulation of railroads;
  • Amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a coalition of environmental organizations in the Florida v. Georgia interstate water war to make clear that Georgia’s unchecked use of the river system has resulted in substantial ecological injuries to the unique Apalachicola ecosystem and compel the Court to step in to rectify the ongoing harm occurring to this precious resource; and
  • Amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of two professors in this case challenging Los Angeles County’s compliance with its stormwater discharge permit.