Our Impact

For more than 35 years, we’ve worked to secure landmark environmental victories for this beautiful, complex region we call home. These wins consistently strengthen protections and policies around the country and the world.

Solutions start in the South.

Thanks to our donors, 2021 was a monumental year for SELC.

Cleaning up 270 million tons of coal ash and counting

We force utilities to remove coal ash waste from the banks of our rivers and streams to protect clean water and the communities and businesses that depend on it.

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Defeating the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

By challenging rushed permits, halting construction, elevating environmental injustices, and exposing obsolete fossil fuel investments, we defeated the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a massive 600-mile methane gas project. The 6-year collaborative campaign developed a roadmap to success for defeating unnecessary pipeline proposals and clears the way for the South’s clean energy future.

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Securing the largest power plant cleanup in history

In April 2007, after seven years of sustained legal efforts by SELC, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed that power companies could no longer continue to extend the lives of old, coal-burning power plants without installing modern pollution controls—catalyzing the largest power plant cleanup in history, still keeping our air cleaner today.

Protecting the Atlantic coast from offshore drilling

SELC has successfully helped prevent the Southeast coast from being opened to offshore drilling by working closely with partners, local governments, elected officials, and countless others.

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Returning red wolves to the wild

Our work in the courts is saving the last wild population of red wolves and holding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accountable. As a direct result, a group of red wolves bred in captivity were reintroduced to the wild in eastern North Carolina during the spring of 2021.

Stopping industrial chemical pollution in our water

Through legal action, we stopped industrial polluters on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River from dumping toxic synthetic and manufactured chemicals, with known health risks, into the local drinking water source for hundreds of drinking water wells, and the river that provides water for more than 300,000 North Carolinians.

Protecting our public lands

Working alongside our partners, we have protected millions of acres of our Southern Appalachians national forest and parks, the largest tract of public lands east of the Mississippi River. We defend these natural areas from logging, fracked gas production, and other destructive land management processes.

Retiring coal-fired power plants

When utilities are forced to bear the full costs of coal-generated power, from cradle to grave, their plants quickly become too expensive. So far, we’ve helped retire 154 coal-fired units at 50 plants in six states and we’re not done yet.

Expanding access to solar power

We break down policy barriers like discriminatory fees to make solar power a viable option for all Southerners, both at home and at work.
Since SELC’s solar program launched in 2014, our advocacy has been a powerful force in moving from 1GW of installed or planned solar power in our region to 18GW, and growing, today.

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Defending cornerstone environmental protections

SELC went to bat for our nation’s bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act when the federal administration tried to put profits over people and gut the safeguards in favor of big polluters. We’re still engaged in court to ensure the laws are protected.

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Conserving our natural treasures

Our mission statement recognizes the key role preserving natural treasures and our region’s biodiversity plays into a resilient future for us all. We’ve had that focus from our inception and the fruits of our labors are visible across the Southeast, from the wilderness designation for Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest to our ongoing work to protect Georgia’s Cumberland Island.

Be part of the solution. Take action today.