Using litigation and the courts to protect human health and our planet (interview with Abbie Dillen of Earthjustice)

Green Dreamer - Podcast on Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration
If no one cares, it’s hard for any winning lawsuit to change our society. But when people do care, the law can be an incredible tool for social change and to check the kinds of injustices we’re seeing in this administration.

This is a conversation on Green Dreamer with Kaméa Chayne, a podcast exploring environmental regeneration and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app to stay informed and up to date on our latest episodes.


Abigail Dillen (@abbiedillen) is the President of Earthjustice, an organization that uses the courts to protect our environment and people’s health.

Throughout her career, she's litigated many precedent-setting cases that have held polluters accountable and cleared the way for clean energy nationally, which is why we're honored to be able to share her expertise and thought leadership with you on this podcast episode.

Throughout the interview, Abbie sheds light on the implication of nature's place within society based on the values the United States was founded on; how litigation can support the environmental movement; how environmental policies, laws, and regulations differ and how we can get involved in them; and more.

To start, get a glimpse below into the conversation between Abbie and Green Dreamer Podcast's host, Kaméa Chayne.

On using existing environmental laws to protect our earth:

"We tend to internalize a sense of despair around the future of the environment, and we forget that we, as a society—in this country and around the world—have come together [to create] very strong laws to protect our air, water, and the natural world.

We need stronger laws to protect the climate, but many of the laws that we have on the books already give us purchase to be able to force change and win asymmetrical fights."

On litigation’s role in powerful social movements:

"The most powerful movements are built through aggressive litigation.

Think about the Civil Rights Movement—it would never have moved as far and as fast as it did without great lawsuits, great lawyers, amazing, courageous plaintiffs, and relatively fair courts.

So litigation is always a piece of the puzzle, but it makes its greatest impact when it's accompanied by elected officials who follow suit and change the laws and when you have a really activated public who is holding its officials accountable.

When we're talking about the environment and climate change, [we need to] make those things a voting issue."

Abigail’s closing words of wisdom:

"Dreams can become reality, and it's our power to make that so."


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