Working closely with community members and environmental watchdogs, NELC attorneys carefully monitor compliance with environmental laws.  In situations where the government cannot or will not take legal action against persistent violators, NELC does, winning court orders stopping illegal discharges and imposing monetary penalties.  NELC has been a leader in efforts to crack down on violators for decades, bringing over 90 enforcement actions and winning more than $200 million in court-ordered penalties and pollution reduction measures.  

While the majority of our lawsuits have enforced the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, NELC litigation addresses other important issues as well.  

Clean Air

We should all be able to live, work, and play without suffering exposure to illegal air pollution. When a facility repeatedly violates its emission limits and the government declines to enforce the law, the Clean Air Act authorizes affected citizens to file a public interest enforcement suit in federal court. NELC represents citizen groups and their members in these lawsuits, empowering them to hold even the largest industrial polluters accountable.

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Clean Water

Water sustains our communities and provides immeasurable environmental, recreational, and aesthetic value. The Clean Water Act aims to protect this vital public resource by regulating the discharge of pollutants into waterways and establishing minimum water quality standards. Like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act authorizes private citizens and environmental groups to file their own public interest enforcement suits to hold polluters accountable when government agencies do not.

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Species Protection

The Endangered Species Act protects fish, wildlife, and plants that are at risk of extinction, and seeks to preserve our nation’s rich biological diversity for future generations. When actions by government agencies or private companies put endangered species or their habitats at risk, the Endangered Species Act authorizes citizens to enforce its protective provisions.

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Hazardous Waste

Improper handling or disposal of solid wastes can contaminate soil and groundwater and endanger public health. Whether risks arise from ongoing mismanagement of hazardous materials or from past waste disposal, NELC helps affected communities address these threats when the parties responsible and government agencies do not.

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Regulatory Challenges

NELC files legal challenges to regulations written by EPA and other environmental agencies when they fail to fulfill the requirements of our hallmark environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Conversely, when industry attempts to thwart needed environmental regulations, NELC goes into court to defend them.

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