Earthrise Law Center opens office in California’s bay area
Earthrise Law Center, one of the law school’s legal clinics, has opened a satellite office in the San Francisco bay area and hired staff attorney Nina Robertson to oversee it. Earthrise also has a satellite office in Boston, MA.
Nina comes to Earthrise from Golden Gate University Law’s Environmental Law and Justice Clinic. While at Golden Gate, Nina represented groups advocating for communities disproportionately burdened by pollution. In one important civil rights case, Nina represented Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice in its efforts to ensure that California agencies comply with civil rights laws when they regulate hazardous waste facilities, including the Kettleman Hills hazardous waste facility, the largest hazardous waste facility in the western United States.
In coordination with El Pueblo Para el Aire y Agua Limpia/People for Clean Air and Water in Kettleman City, Greenaction filed a complaint with the U.S. EPA’s Office of Civil Rights alleging civil rights violations in California’s approval process for the expansion of Kettleman Hills. After many months of intensive negotiations, the parties reached a settlement this summer. The agreement obligates California agencies to issue civil rights and public participation policies geared at equitable language access and to adopt criteria for hazardous waste permit issuance. This is one of the first civil rights settlements reached before the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights, and Nina was glad to have played a role.
“I became an environmental attorney because I believe that the law is an important tool for protecting the natural systems that sustain us,” said Nina, adding “I’m excited to join Earthrise because it has a stellar team of advocates who are making a difference for the planet and because it is training the environmental leaders of the future. This combination of advocacy and education inspires me.”
Nina chose to live and work out of California because of her connection to its places and people. She went to college and law school in the Bay Area and has spent nearly every summer exploring the state’s natural areas. California is also a great place to be an environmental lawyer. The state has been a national leader on many environmental issues, even as it confronts a range of ecological problems such as drought, catastrophic wildfires, species extinction, and pollution, especially in the state’s most disadvantaged communities. “There is much environmental work to be done in California, and I am honored to lead the Earthrise office here,” she said.