About Us

The National Environmental Law Center (NELC) is a non-profit litigation center founded in 1990 to enforce anti-pollution laws and promote long-term solutions to the nation's pressing environmental problems. NELC attorneys have a proven track record of bringing corporate polluters to justice. NELC works closely with state and local citizen groups, providing essential legal expertise to protect public health and the environment.  NELC helps the public to shape and uphold our core environmental laws, serving as a major force in public interest litigation.

Enforcing Anti-Pollution Laws 

NELC attorneys carefully monitor compliance with environmental laws and report violations to government agencies. When the government doesn't take legal action, NELC does, winning court orders that stop illegal discharges and that impose monetary penalties for past pollution. 

NELC has been a leader in efforts to crack down on violators of the federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. NELC attorneys have brought over 100 enforcement cases under these and other federal environmental laws, and have won more than $200 million in court-ordered penalties and pollution reduction measures. 

Strengthening Anti-Pollution Laws 

To help ensure that environmental legislation is fully and fairly implemented, NELC attorneys seek judicial review of certain agency regulations, and of agency failures to regulate, winning court orders directing the agency to apply the law as intended by Congress.  NELC also drafts amicus (friend of the court) briefs in the Supreme Court and other federal courts, focusing on cases in which the integrity of environmental laws, or the rights of the public to participate in the implementation of those laws, is threatened. 

Supporting Local Restoration and Preservation Efforts 

Attorneys at NELC work closely with local groups when bringing lawsuits to protect the nation's air and water. And NELC has been successful in supporting such groups through settlements that require polluters to fund local environmental restoration, preservation, and education programs.