December 2023

Dear Friends,

Our Board and staff wish you a happy holiday season.  Thank you for helping us help the public advocate for clean air, water, and energy, environmental justice, and open space.   This year we are fundraising so that we can devote a full-time attorney to clean energy solutions, including the challenging development of offshore wind energy, and we ask for your support.

Attorneys are EELC’s greatest asset because they bring people in the community to the table with big developers and powerful government agencies.  An attorney allows the public to bring their knowledge to the complicated processes that govern these decisions.  Without the power of the rule of law, environmentalists can find themselves unable to surface environmental data and science, and local knowledge.  Surprisingly, or not, it is often the public that brings expert knowledge to the process.

Meet our attorneys and learn a few of the things they and clients accomplished this year:

Kaitlin, whom we welcomed this year to EELC, is using her legal skills (honed at Columbia University and the NRDC) to represent a coalition of NJ and national environmental organizations before the NJ Board of Public Utilities on proposals to  electrify or “decarbonize”  buildings.   Electricity can be produced without greenhouse gases—even high efficiency natural gas boilers emit carbon dioxide—, and electrification of buildings and transport is a means towards 100% clean energy.  Kaitlin also filed a protest over Transco’s attempt to maintain the company’s federal right to build a pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the Appalachians to the coast.  (EELC was instrumental in stopping the pipeline once, and Transco may try again to build it.)

Maggie and the NJ Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition addressed the cumulative impacts of lead exposure in overburdened communities.  The Coalition’s voice was heard in public comments she submitted on the EPA’s proposed finding that certain leaded-aircraft fuels endanger public health and safety.  Aircraft using leaded fuel are the dominant source of lead emissions to air in the U.S,  and the EPA’s endangerment finding means these leaded fuels must be regulated.

Dan led on two major court wins. Sometimes you have to be in front of a judge before important facts and legal arguments are heard. After the public’s right to appeal the green light for a large-scale development was denied by the DEP due to their own lengthy delays, Dan challenged the agency in court.  Without the Musconetcong Watershed Association’s “graphic depictions and analysis” (the court’s words), the agency would have missed a tributary of the wild and scenic Musconetcong River in the midst of the planned development.  The  important published decision establishes the public’s right of appeal even if the DEP does not make timely decisions. 

A second win stopped Tennessee Gas from getting away with a Highlands Act exemption by calling the building of a new pipeline compressor station that enables higher gas flow a routine upgrade.  The court insisted that the company must follow the ordinary permitting requirements in the Highlands and would not allow Tennessee Gas to claim the “construction of a new compressor station .. at a cost of over $100 million” only “constituted a ‘routine upgrade’ of its gas pipeline system.” (In the Matter of the Proposed Construction of Compressor Station, Aug 31, 2023)  

On a somber note, this summer we mourned the passing of EELC’s founder and long-time contributor to our law center.  Ed Lloyd was a nationally recognized environmental attorney, and a leader of the environmental movement in New Jersey.  He played a role on the world stage at Columbia University where he was an endowed professor and founded the university’s Environmental Law Clinic.  We miss him dearly, his wisdom, his knowledge of the law, and his understanding of the non-profit legal space.

We are a small team of well-regarded and sought-after attorneys who serve NJ’s environmental organizations, as well as the big greens, environmental justice organizations, and community groups. Would you consider contributing to EELC so we can continue to expand our team and meet the pressing environmental needs we face?

With best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Alexi Assmus, Ph.D                                                               Chris Miller, Esq.

Chair, EELC Board of Directors                                            Executive Director, EELC