Environmental Law Foundation

ELF Protects The Environment

KARUK TRIBE OF CALIFORNIA v. CALIFORNIA DEPT. OF FISH AND GAME

(endangered salmon)

ELF represented the Karuk Tribe of California in an action against the California Department of Fish and Game.  The Karuk alleged that the Department's permitting program for issuing suction dredge mining permits violates the California Environmental Quality Act as it doesn't provide protections for endangered species of fish, including the Coho Salmon.  Suction dredging is a gold mining activity which uses equipment that functions essentially like an underwater vacuum cleaner.  The nozzle sucks up the bottom of the river, harms fish and destroys habitat which prevents the future propagation of these endangered fish. 

During the litigation, in an uncharastic move, the Department unequivocally admitted that Coho Salmon were being harmed by suction dredge mining under the current regulations.  Such a bold admission from a Government agency is rare. In the end, the Tribe succeeded in requiring the Department to revise its regulations in order to ensure that endangered species of fish will not be harmed by suction dredge mining.

AVILA ALIANCE and ELF vs. UNOCAL CORPORATION

(oil pipeline leak)

Over several decades, the Unocal Corporation allowed oil pipelines to leak beneath the scenic beachfront town of Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo. Working with the California Attorney General and other local and state environmental groups, ELF broke the logjam and Unocal was forced to undertake one of the largest underground cleanups in California. Half the town was dug up, cleaned up and put back, better than before, not only removing a toxic environmental hazard, but preserving an historic town for everyone to enjoy. More information here: http://www.progressiveengineer.com/pewebbackissues2003/
PEWeb%2044%20Nov%2003-2/Avila.htm

BLUE WATER NETWORK, ELF, SAN DIEGO BAYKEEPER and SURFRIDER FOUNDATION vs. CARNIVAL CORPORATION, et al.

(cruise ship ballast water)

California alone among the states strictly prohibits ships from international waters dumping their ballast water into California waters. Such water often contains foreign invasive species that can devastate local marine environments. For instance, over 90% of the species in San Francisco Bay are non-native. Cruise ship lines were prime violators of the law, choosing to put California waters at risk over the modest costs of adopting alternatives. After the State Lands Commission documented the problem but would not act, ELF brought the cruise ship lines into court. Every line agreed to adopt changes in their hardware and/or operations to completely eliminate the problem. Moreover, some of the companies adopted solutions across their entire fleet, worldwide, proving again that California can drive positive environmental change beyond its borders.

FRIENDS OF THE RIVER and ELF vs. RUSTY AREIAS, DIRECTOR OF CALIFORNIA DEPT. OF PARKS AND RECREATION, et al.

(motorcross park)

For years, the California Parks Department built, operated and expanded an off-road motocross park in the flood plain of the majestic North Fork American River. When plans to double the size of the park’s trails – to the detriment of wildlife, hikers, birders, campers, rafters, equestrians, in fact everyone and everything else in the canyon – ELF joined with the Sierra Club not just to stop the expansion, but to scale back the park, and make the canyon available to everyone. The Parks Department agreed to limit the size of the motocross and only open it half time so that the river and canyon would be available to everyone to enjoy.