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Defending the Environment

In our pro bono work, we represent a number of innovative environmentally-focused organizations.

Many of these clients collaborate with governments, corporations, and local communities to advance the health of our planet, offering our lawyers the opportunity to have a positive impact on environmental sustainability and support efforts preventing deforestation, addressing climate change, and expanding renewable energy.

Representative Matters

Increasing Energy Access in Africa

OnePower Lesotho is an energy startup and social business whose mission is to bring electricity to underserved communities across the developing world and provide affordable, reliable electricity services to off-grid villages. A team of London and Seoul-based Covington lawyers helped OnePower submit to the Government of Lesotho suggested amendments to improve draft regulations for Lesotho’s renewable energy mini-grid market.  Mini-grids involve small-scale electricity generation and offer a cost-effective solution for electrifying rural communities. The project underlines Covington’s commitment to sharing its market-leading knowledge and experience of the energy sector to help build an international best practice energy market in Africa, in particular utilizing renewable energy sources. The cross-office team was nominated for Trustlaw’s 2019 Lawyer of the Year Award for its work for OnePower Lesotho.

Protecting Rainforests

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is an intergovernmental organization providing diplomatic leadership to address the complex environmental sustainability issues specific to tropical rainforests. The firm advises on policy initiatives undertaken in global climate change negotiations where the Coalition supports the inclusion of credits for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Protecting Public Lands

Covington represents conservation and scientific organizations in a lawsuit challenging a 2017 Presidential Proclamation reducing the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah—a national monument established in 1996 by President Clinton to preserve one of America’s last wild and undeveloped areas and to protect its unparalleled archeological, paleontological and geologic resources.

The 2017 Presidential Proclamation removed approximately 900,000 acres from the Monument (representing almost 50% of the land), claiming authority under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 public lands conservation statute championed by President Teddy Roosevelt that grants the President the authority to declare and preserve objects of scientific and historic interest. The use of the Antiquities Act to reduce the size of a national monument was unprecedented, and the plaintiffs sued the Trump Administration for acting outside of the statutorily delegated authority.

On October 8, 2021, President Biden signed a Presidential Proclamation restoring the original 1.87 million acre boundaries of the Monument and reinstating protections for the extensive and irreplaceable resources contained within, a key part of the relief sought by Covington's suit. In his speech, President Biden noted the historic mobilization and opposition to the 2017 Proclamation as one of the reasons influencing his decision to restore the Monument, and the official Proclamation expanding the boundaries referenced the litigation challenging the prior reductions. Covington continues to work with these clients to develop legal strategies to preserve the full scope of the monument resources in any future litigation challenges.