Protecting the world's greatest freshwater resource
and the communities that depend on it.



The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center is a Detroit-based nonprofit that offers community education, policy support, and various legal services to address environmental, resource, & energy issues affecting communities in and around Detroit, all over Michigan, and throughout the Great Lakes region. 

Be it air, water, or land, every day decisions are made and actions are taken that impact the environment, energy, and resources on which Great Lakes communities rely. At the heart of the Center's mission is engaging with those communities. Through that engagement, community members educate us on how pollution, insufficient access to justice, and poor resource management affect their lives; and they advise us on what solutions should look like where they live, work, and play. We absorb those perspectives and work to implement educational, policy, and legal strategies that contribute to addressing the community's needs and desires. We do all this through working with law students because part of our mission is that they can and do play a major role in shaping the future of environmental law.

We fulfill our mission locally, statewide, and regionally in what we consider to be our three homes. We are based in Detroit and so naturally much of our work is focused on the city, Wayne County, and nearby counties. We also work on statewide issues that affect Michigan as a whole and issues that arise elsewhere in the state. Finally, just as our Great Lakes are all connected, we address regional issues that connect communities from the eight Great Lakes states and our Canadian neighbor provinces.

News & Announcements

Announcing the 5th Annual Blue Water Bash!

It’s fall, and that can only mean it’s time for the Center’s 5th annual Blue Water Bash! Come celebrate all of the great work done this year by the Center and all of our invaluable partners and allies with our staff and board of directors! Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased in advance on our website, or at the door. This year, we’ll be honoring Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López as the “Legislator of the Year” for her leadership in improving air quality in Southwest Detroit. We hope to see you there!

Where: Tony V’s, Midtown (5756 Cass Avenue, Detroit)

When: Thursday, November 15th, 6:30-10:00pm

Center releases report detailing how supplemental environmental projects can further environmental justice in air quality enforcement

The Center has published a report, titled "Furthering Environmental Justice in Air Quality Enforcement With Supplemental Environmental Projects." The report provides key environmental justice recommendations regarding the MDEQ's supplemental environmental project policy. Read more about the report and access it here. 

Michigan Supreme Court rules in favor of community residents and environmental groups in South Dearborn air permitting case

This week, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of community residents and environmental groups in a key case involving an air quality permit issued by the MDEQ to AK Steel. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center and Olson, Bzdok & Howard P.C. represented the plaintiffs in the case. Read more about it here. 


Announcing the addition Erin Mette as a 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Center is excited to announce that Erin Mette will join the organization this September as an Equal Justice Works Fellow! Erin’s fellowship project will focus on protecting children in Detroit and Flint from home-based environmental health hazards by providing legal counseling and representation to affected families and advocating for policy that addresses the root causes of this unique environmental justice issue. Her fellowship is sponsored by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP and an anonymous donor. You can read more about her exciting project here.