Legal Advocacy

"Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water – whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger – must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with destruction….."

–Sierra Club v. Morton (1972) (Douglas, J., dissenting)

MWK is one of the few environmental organizations in Miami that is willing to use one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to protect our Bay: the law. Using State and Federal laws, MWK – along with our community allies – can stand up to any person or organization, no matter how big, powerful, or well-funded, who might seek to harm our Bay or its surrounding waters.

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Our Legal Team

We are honored to be represented by a team of dedicated attorneys on our PortMiami litigation who are committed to using their legal skills and acumen to fight for the protection of our natural resources. They have shown an incredible amount of passion, donating countless hours representing us and our environment. We simply could not do this type of effective advocacy without their commitment to service. We are exceptionally grateful.

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James M. Porter, James M. Porter P.A.
Paul J. Schwiep, Coffey Burlington P.L.
Eric Glitzenstein, Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks L.L.P.
Gary M. Pappas, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
John A. Camp, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt

 

Current Litigation

PortMiami Endangered Species Act Litigation

For almost two years, Miami Waterkeeper and co-plaintiffs have been pursuing legal channels to protect Miami’s threatened coral reefs from the impacts of dredging. The Port Miami expansion, spanning from Nov 2013 through Sept 2015 and led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, produced massive sedimentation that smothered over 250 acres of Miami’s coral reefs and designated critical habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed staghorn corals. Over 98% of these corals have disappeared since the 1970’s, leading to their listing in 2006. We have already catalyzed an Army Corps-funded rescue by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of more than $400,000 which relocated some, but not all, of these threatened corals. We now continue the fight to get restoration of this reef for our community and the wildlife that depend on these diverse, rare, and productive ecosystems.

Read more about this litigation.

Read some of our press about this litigation.

Law360

New York Times

National Geographic

Miami Herald

CNN

Port Everglades Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act Litigation

The Army Corps is now also planning a similar deepening and widening project at Port Everglades near Ft Lauderdale, just 30 miles up the coast from PortMiami. However, agencies failed to correct erroneous environmental assessments and did not include “lessons learned” from PortMiami into their environmental assessments. After sending NOAA and the Army Corps letters for over a year detailing the deficiencies in their assessments (which also violate the law and fail to use "best available science", we filed a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and ESA citizen lawsuit against the Corps and NOAA in August 2016.  We recruited an Earthjustice legal team and Jim Porter to represent us and a balanced Plaintiff group, which includes local, state, and national non-profits and business interests. In response to our legal action, the Corps has now agreed to rescope its NEPA analysis and to delay dredging until the new assessments are complete. The Corps will also reinitate its Endangered Species Act consultation with NOAA. A public meeting is being held on Feb. 22nd, and Miami Waterkeeper will also be providing technical comments. We will closely watch the process to ensure that the same "dredgeful situation" doesn't happen again.

Read more about this litigation.

Read some of our press about this litigation:

Miami Herald

WLRN

The Guardian

Learn more about our Legal Fund and support our ongoing efforts to use our powers as citizens to enforce environmental laws.

Learn more about our legal advocacy work:

Miami deserves a sewage-free bay that is ready for the challenges of the future.  
"We’ve had bleaching of corals due to high temperatures; we’ve had a really terrible regional disease event last summer,” Silverstein said. “A lot of these things feel like they’re too...  
We are thrilled to announce that we were awarded a Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grant from the Waitt Foundation. These grants provide quick-turnaround funding to address emergent conservation issues. This...  
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