Chuck has been litigating environmental and public health cases since the late 1970s, when he led a team of lawyers in the successful representation of more than 100 nuclear power plant protesters accused of criminal trespass in the Pacific Northwest. After becoming partner in a private civil litigation firm in Olympia, Washington, he obtained a master’s degree in Public Health from Harvard University, and joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught courses in environmental law and policy since 1983.
Wanting to put his academic training to use on behalf of the public, Chuck established a litigation project at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group in 1985, where he brought environmental, public health, and constitutional law cases. In 1988, on behalf of the affiliated Center for Public Interest Research, he brought a series of Clean Water Act enforcement cases in federal courts in Ohio and Illinois. In order to bring this multi-state litigation under one roof, and to build a staff of attorneys to expand the scope of the work, Chuck helped found the National Environmental Law Center in Boston in 1990. Within two years, NELC was litigating Clean Water Act cases in the northeast, in the Midwest, and on the Pacific coast.
As Litigation Director, Chuck oversees and participates in all aspects of NELC’s team-oriented litigation. Chuck has litigated scores of environmental and public health cases in federal district and appellate courts under the Clean Water and Air Acts, federal hazardous waste laws, and the Endangered Species Act, and has authored a number of influential amicus (friend of the court) briefs in federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court in support of the rights of citizens to enforce federal environmental laws.
Chuck has brought successful enforcement actions against a variety of defendants, including chemical companies, refineries, steel companies, seafood companies, municipalities, and the military, and has brought successful litigation against EPA to ensure that the agency adheres to the letter and spirit of federal environmental statutes.
In addition to his work at NELC’s Boston office, Chuck staffs NELC’s office in Seattle, where he endures his status as a long-suffering Seattle Mariners fan. He is also the co-author (with MIT Professor Nicholas Ashford) of two textbooks – Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Reclaiming the Environmental Agenda (MIT Press 2008) and Technology, Law, and the Working Environment (Island Press 1996) – and several journal articles and book chapters on health, safety, and the environment.
Chuck’s representative reported cases with NELC include: Env’t Tex. Citizen Lobby, Inc. v. ExxonMobil Corp., 968 F.3d 357 (5th Cir. 2020); Env’t Tex. Citizen Lobby, Inc. v. ExxonMobil Corp., 824 F.3d 507 (5th Cir. 2016); Friends of Merrymeeting Bay v. Hydro Kennebec, LLC, 759 F.3d 30 (1st Cir. 2014); Louisiana Environmental Action Network v. City of Baton Rouge, 677 F.3d 737 (5th Cir. 2012) (amicus curiae); National Cotton Council of America v. US EPA, 553 F.3d 927 (6th Cir. 2009); Oregon State Public Interest Research Group v. Pacific Coast Seafoods Co., 374 F. Supp. 2d. 902 (D. Or. 2005); Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers Int’l Union v Continental Carbon Co., 428 F.3d 1285 (10th Cir. 2005) (amicus curiae); Fort Ord Toxics Project v. California Environmental Protection Agency, 189 F.3d 828 (9th Cir. 1999); Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Chevron Chemical Co., 129 F.3d 826 (5th Cir. 1997) (amicus curiae); Ohio Public Interest Research Group v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc., 963 F. Supp. 635 (S.D. Ohio 1996); PIRGIM Public Interest Lobby v. Dow Chemical Company, 44 Env. Rptr Cas (BNA) 1300 (E.D. Mich. 1996); Washington Public Interest Research Group v. Pendleton Woolen Mills, 11 F. 3d 883 (9th Cir. 1993); California Public Interest Research Group v. Shell Oil Co., 840 F. Supp. 712 (N.D. Cal. 1993); Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group v. ICI Americas, Inc. 777 F. Supp. 1032 (D. Mass. 1991).