Since NRDC’s founding in 1970 as America’s first litigation-focused environmental nonprofit, our attorneys have been at the forefront of the environmental legal movement. In 2006, we established a specialized team of litigating attorneys to bolster our trial expertise and target opportunities where courtroom pressure can have the biggest impact. We litigate across a broad range of environmental and public health issues, often working closely with NRDC’s subject-matter experts. In addition to representing NRDC, our attorneys may also represent other nonprofit organizations, community groups, and individuals.
Today, the litigation team includes about 40 attorneys and assistants in Chicago; New York City; San Francisco; Santa Monica, California; and Washington, D.C. In federal and state courts across the country, we advance and defend environmental protections and hold polluters accountable when they break the law. Our recent work includes:
- Helping secure safe drinking water for people whose water was contaminated with lead in Flint, Michigan; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Newark, New Jersey;
- Crafting a proposed settlement requiring industry to fund the cleanup of mercury contamination in Maine’s Penobscot River;
- Securing the closure of a coal-fired power plant outside Peoria, Illinois, with a settlement of millions of dollars for job training, public health, and clean energy projects in the surrounding communities;
- Halting illegal approvals for the Keystone XL pipeline;
- Restoring and defending national monument protections, offshore drilling bans, and wildlife and endangered species protections; and
- Battling unlawful rollbacks and agency inaction on clean water safeguards, fuel efficiency and energy efficiency standards, pesticides and toxics regulations, and government accountability rules.
Winning a case and translating that victory into real-world results may take years, or even decades. It may involve intensive discovery, evidentiary hearings, or complex remedy implementation efforts. But we persist as long as it takes because we’re fighting for healthy people, healthy ecosystems, and a just, climate-resilient future.
Each year, NRDC hires third-year law school students and recent graduates who are committed to justice and interested in building litigation skills.
These four NRDC lawyers would finish each other’s thoughts—at any odd hour of the day or night—in their quest to help victims of the city’s lead crisis.
The Postal Service's disastrous decision to spend as much as $11.3 billion on polluting vehicles came from an opaque public process overseen by a Trump-era appointee, a deeply flawed analysis, and a clear bias against electric vehicles.
NRDC Chief Counsel Mitch Bernard takes on big polluters, climate deniers, and their powerful allies—including those who sit in the West Wing.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service unlawfully removed protections for gray wolves across the country.
The upcoming case is a last-ditch effort by coal companies and coal-friendly states to keep the agency from doing its job.
An investigation by NRDC and our partners at the Southern Poverty Law Center reveals persistent and continuing drinking water and wastewater violations at the notorious Parchman prison in Mississippi.
The science shows that TCVP flea control products harm developing brains—yet the EPA is allowing them to stay on the market. So NRDC is taking the agency back to court.
Our Clean Air Act settlement with the owners of the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant outside Peoria, Illinois, provides for the plant to close by the end of 2022—and makes $8.6 million available for local job training, lung-health, energy-efficiency, solar-energy, and bus-electrification projects.