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:

    • preventing large-scale energy development on and industrialization of a sacred Native American site in northeastern California (see our students’ Ninth Circuit filings);
    • strengthening requirements for contaminated wastewater discharges from farms in central California (see our students’ briefs and successes);
    • protecting Monterey County from fracking and other new oil and gas development;
    • ensuring the continued protection of the endangered bi-state sage grouse (see our briefs here);
    • shutting down the last coastal sand mine in the United States;
    • defending responsible coastal land use regulation and management in Solana Beach;
    • thwarting environmentally harmful desalination projects that do not comply with state policy (see the complaint);
    • representing amici in two California Supreme Court cases, one concerning the environmental regulation of railroads and the other the devastating impacts of seawalls on beaches and coastal resources;
    • preserve the last remaining habitat of the critically imperiled Central California Coast coho salmon in Marin County, California (read the California Court of Appeal’s decision or see one of our students’ briefs);
    • 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;
    • better managing renewable energy and mining interests on federal public lands in California and Arizona (see our students’ comment letters and the results of their efforts); and
    • defending 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 (see student briefs).


In past cases, clinic students have sought to:

  • address the harmful impacts of the offshore California longline and gillnet fisheries on marine mammals, sea turtles, and sea birds;
  • 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);
  • shepherding private lands near the largest coastal lagoon in the lower 48 into permanent state conservation (read our students’ work);
  • protecting the historic Presidio in the heart of San Francisco from commercial development (see our Ninth Circuit filings and recent Ninth Circuit decision);
  • protecting California’s native fish and other aquatic species by compelling the State to study the impacts of its annual fish-stocking program;
  • improving EPA’s regulation of invasive species discharges from ships across the nation;
  • challenging inadequate environmental review for a series of liquified natural gas terminals on the Gulf of Mexico;
  • challenging 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.