Is Economic Justice or EarthJustice More Important?

A recent article in the LA Times claims that a coalition of environmental groups, led by Earthjustice, have accused Southern California air regulators of allowing heavy polluters to avoid federally mandated financial sanctions of hundreds of millions.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (AQMD) decision to allow so-called heavy polluters of smog to avoid financial penalties is a positive and reasonable step.

Before I tell you why, let me give you some context.

Earthjustice is a group of wealthy environmentalists that uses litigation to earn a lot of money. The organization’s description is quite different.

Earthjustice is a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental law. Earthjustice is the leading nonprofit environmental law organization.

We are here to help the Earth find a good attorney.

Earthjustice, make no mistake, is a for-profit organization that makes money by suing government agencies at all levels, including local, state, and federal, to push its radical green agenda. It’s an impressive extortion operation.

According to their IRS 990 forms for FY2019/20, 20/21, and 21/22 (FY22/23 isn’t available for review), this “nonprofit public interest law organization” has taken in nearly $650 million in income, while paying its top 12 employees an estimated combined annual salary of $5 million. The organization, as of 2022, employed just shy of 600 people.

According to the IRS 990 form for 2021/22, Abigail Dillen was paid $536.931 as Earthjustice president in 2022 and Margaret Marsh Heine, Senior VP Development, received $491.775. The group’s Senior VP for Operations received $428,400.

Here are three ultra-green activists in Los Angeles who wage war against the energy industry while each earning almost $1.5 million.

Data USA reports that the median income for Los Angeles in 2020 was $65,290. According to ZipRecruiter as of September 2023, Los Angeles’ average hourly wage is $15.86.

Why is that important? Why does that matter?

Today, it was reported that the price of gas in Los Angeles has reached $6 per gallon. I live in Santa Barbara and have been paying a little less than $6 per gallon for the past few weeks.

The AQMD’s decision to use a controversial rule of accounting to forgive pollution charges in exchange for funding initiatives to reduce emissions demonstrates a dedication to finding practical solutions while supporting economic growth.

The green lawyers of law firms such as Earthjustice don’t care about this because they are already wealthy. In fact, they are quite wealthy, and they will continue to get richer, especially with the support of wealthy donors including limousine Liberal celebrities.

While arguing that AQMD actions have robbed the communities of the chance to force polluting plants to clean up emissions, they ignore a broader context.

The South Coast air basin includes Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside, and a part of San Bernardino. It has some of the poorest air quality in America. It’s not due to nonmobile sources. The region’s air pollution problem is mostly caused by mobile sources, such as cars and trucks.

The AQMD takes a proactive approach by focusing on the biggest source of pollution. This is a proactive way to address the root of the problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved this approach, which is as strict as collecting pollution charges. Do we believe that the EPA has an anti-environmental agenda?

It is also important to note, that even if all emissions from large facilities in the greater LA region were eliminated, the air basin of Southern California still would not meet federal benchmarks because of emissions from federally regulated sources, such as cargo trains, planes, and heavy-duty trucks.

The AQMD has also demonstrated a commitment to leveraging its resources by using funding from public sources such as motor vehicle registration and bond sales to support emission-reduction initiatives. The broader community will share the cost of these initiatives, as opposed to the private sector.

Earthjustice also receives tens and tens of millions of dollars from public sources. This is somehow justice for Mother Earth. What about economic justice for the working mothers who are the victims of these environmental law-fare nonprofit groups?

The AQMD also argued in the past that emissions from facilities under its jurisdiction only accounted for a small fraction of smog.

It would be counterproductive to impose punitive charges on these facilities. This includes essential public services, medical facilities, and other facilities that are unable to reduce their emissions through their current operations.

The AQMD, in addition to addressing pollution issues in the region, has also taken legal action against EPA. They claim that the federal agency did not do enough to reduce pollution at ports, airports, and railyards. The District is committing to holding all parties responsible accountable for their actions and ensuring that they are doing their part to improve the local air quality.

The AQMD’s actions should be viewed as a balanced strategy that places equal importance on environmental protection and blue-collar job protection.

The AQMD takes practical steps to improve air quality by focusing on the biggest source of pollution and leveraging funding from the public sector for emission reduction projects. The complexities of this issue must be recognized, as well as the need for sensible solutions that are both environmentally and economically beneficial.