In 1970, NRDC became America’s first litigation-focused nonprofit dedicated to making dirty industries clean up their pollution. Since then, our attorneys have been at the forefront of protecting our nation’s air, land, water, and wildlife. In 2006, we established a specialized team of litigating attorneys to bolster our trial expertise and target opportunities where courtroom pressure can have the biggest impact. These areas include environmental justice, air and water pollution, public health, and marine mammal protection. The litigation team now includes lawyers and paralegals in New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Chicago.

We take on powerful companies—from giant oil corporations to mining conglomerates—when they contaminate the air or dump toxic waste. And we help to assure justice to people living next door to dangerous pollution. We develop novel cases and train new generations of lawyers in all aspects of litigation. In the spirit of transparency, we protect and expand public access to the courts and government records. And we collaborate closely with policy experts and scientists to determine how litigation can assist broader advocacy campaigns, such as removing antibiotics from livestock feed or preventing oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.


Litigation at NRDC



  • Joining forces with nontraditional allies to broaden the definition of an environmental law case, including advocating on behalf of prison inmates exposed to toxic pollution, helping workers protect themselves against unsafe conditions, and protecting public housing residents from mold
  • Strengthening public access to the courts on food and agriculture issues, especially through lawsuits on antibiotics in animal feed and other hazards
  • Building on our courtroom accomplishments through any kind of litigation, on any issue, including trials that require intensive fact and expert discovery



A landmark class-action lawsuit settlement has 400,000 New York City public housing residents breathing easier.


An NRDC lawsuit has led to the comeback of the Golden State’s second-largest river (and its salmon).

Press Release

A Maine court held the former owners of a chlorine bleach plant accountable for tons of mercury it dumped into the Penobscot River over the course of four decades.

Press Release

NRDC sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in federal court in New York today to force it to set limits on perchlorate.

Blog Post

The Michigan city's water was contaminated with lead—and public officials knew about it. NRDC is heading to federal court to demand justice.


How we got the U.S. Navy to finally agree to stop conducting harmful sonar testing in sensitive whale migration and breeding areas.