The Sierra Club has been the nation's leader in environmental litigation since the beginning. In 1971, the pioneering Sierra Club v. Morton lawsuit - a case challenging a proposed Walt Disney Resort in the Mineral King Valley - gave citizens the right to sue to enforce environmental laws. Since then, the Sierra Club has used legal actions in the courts and administrative tribunals to fight for environmental protection at the national, regional, and local levels, giving citizens the means to enforce our hard-won environmental laws and protect our water, air, and wilderness. The law books are filled with watershed decisions won by the Sierra Club over the years.
Fast forward to 2023. Sierra Club's Environmental Law Program (ELP) has perfected the art of campaign litigation and "lawyer-organizing." Our team of top-notch attorneys and legal staff leverages all of the Club's tools of democracy, integrating legal advocacy with grassroots organizing, sophisticated communications, a state-of-the-art digital strategies team, and administrative lobbying. With the strength of our nation's first, largest, and most powerful environmental organization, the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
We lead the charge against climate change and polluters, and our unparalleled success is a testament to our ability to carry out a bold, ambitious mission. In the past year alone, we launched more than 200 legal actions to challenge the fossil fuel industry's destructive effects on our air, water, and climate. We also filed over 100 actions to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency. With our allies nationwide, we have stopped more than 175 new coal plants from being built, and we've secured the announced retirements of 300+ existing, heavily polluting plants. We have also beat back numerous fossil fuel pipelines, gas power plants and other climate-disrupting fossil fuel projects. And all the while, we’ve focused our work around the communities most burdened by environmental injustices, thus accomplishing our goals through a more equitable lens.
Our legal program has also served as a mission control for a host of environmental groups nationwide. Since 2010 we have trained more than 400 attorneys from our allied organizations and cultivated a network of expert engineers and scientists to confront the fossil fuel industry on a broad scale - and win. We have set up conferences, listservs, and websites to enhance our collective power. Altogether, our most recent legal victories will help keep more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere every year - equivalent to taking more than 22 million passenger vehicles off the road.