The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is a left-of-center litigation group that opposes energy infrastructure projects in the southeastern United States. It receives substantial funding from the Foundation for the Carolinas and other left-of-center environmentalist institutional grantmakers.
The SELC employs more than 70 attorneys across ten offices located in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.  It has been involved in numerous high-profile lawsuits that have increased regulations on energy production, prevented off-shore drilling, and halted road construction. The organization opposes many of the Trump administration’s environmental deregulations.
Opposition to Coal
Southern Environmental Law Center has supported legislation and filed lawsuits to prevent the expansion of the coal industry and to increase environmental regulations on existing plants. In December 2000, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Duke Energy after the company modified a dozen coal plants allegedly without abiding by Clean Air Act environmental regulations. A few years later, in response to the George W. Bush administration’s easing of environmental regulations, the SELC took over the lawsuit’s prosecution on behalf of the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Environment North Carolina. 
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled against Duke Energy. The Court required Duke (along with American Electrical Power) to pay a multi-billion-dollar settlement, shut down three coal plants, and retrofit the remaining plants up to current regulatory standards. As of 2015, Duke Energy has fulfilled its settlement. 
The SELC claims that due to the enforcement of regulations, since 2007, carbon dioxide emissions from electric power have dropped by 29% in the southeast US. 
The SELC opposes all offshore drilling in the southeast United States and uses lobbying and community organization to pressure politicians into blocking offshore construction efforts.  The organization claims responsibility for the Obama administration stopping all seismic exploration and offshore leasing in the southeast in 2006. 
North Carolina Route 540
In 2018, on behalf of N.C. Department of Transportation and Sound Rivers, Center for Biological Diversity, and Clean Air Carolina, the SELC filed a lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The suit charged that the Service failed to uphold its legal obligations by approving the N.C. Transit Authority’s expansion of State Route 540 through a creek which housed two endangered mussel species. 
The next year, the suit settled with the North Carolina Transit Authority agreeing to implement numerous new environmental regulations to offset the impact of the highway’s expansion. 
In 2019, the SELC filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for violating the 2015 Clean Water Rule. The Trump administration narrowed the rule’s parameters to allow for fewer environmental regulations on the industrial use of public waterways. The SELC intends to secure application of the Obama administration regulations through a victory in the courts. 
After the Obama administration stopped offshore drilling, the Trump administration has spoken out in favor of resuming prospecting and drilling offshore. The SELC is preparing to oppose the Trump administration’s unreleased 5-year offshore leasing plan which will likely contain the southeast within its parameters. 
The SELC opposes the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget cuts of $2.4 billion to passenger rail and alternative-energy busses, and the administration’s changes to Endangered Species Act regulations. 
The Southern Environmental Law Center engages in lobbying to support federal bills, mostly laws to increase environmental regulations. Up until 2015, lobbying was a small part of the organization’s affairs, amounting to no more than $58,000 in any single year. In 2016, the SELC greatly increased its lobbying efforts by spending $270,000. Over the following three years, the organization spent between $320,000 and $430,000 per year on lobbying. 
Three of the eleven seats on the Southern Environmental Law Center’s President’s Council belong to billionaire Fred Stanback, his wife Alice Stanback, and his son, Bradford Stanback.  Fred Stanback is a “known proponent of anti-humanist environmentalism” who supports population controls and strict immigration restrictions.  Stanback is a large-sum donor to dozens of left-of-center groups. His largest recipients last year, each of which received at least $1 million, include the SELC, the Sierra Club Foundation, multiple Planned Parenthood funds, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. 
Stanback is one of the largest account holders in the Foundation for the Carolinas, a donor-advised fund that manages more than $2.5 billion worth of assets for 3,000 charitable families, individuals, and organizations.  Historically, the Foundation has given more than a third of its donations to left-of-center causes supported by Stanback. The SELC has been the single-largest recipient of the Foundation’s donations since 1997. From 2001 to 2017, the Foundation gave a total of over $175 million to the SELC. 
From 2007 to 2014, the SELC received almost $4.5 million across 11 grants from the Energy Foundation, a “passthrough” organization which funnels charitable donations towards left-of-center environmentalist political causes. 
In 2016, the SELC received two separate grants of $375,000 from the Bloomberg Family Foundation, billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s grantmaking foundation which primarily gives to left-of-center causes. The SELC also received $500,000 from the Robertson Foundation, a left-of-center environmentalist grant-making group founded by fund investor Julian H. Robertson Jr. In same year, the SELC received $15,000 from the William B. Wiener Jr. Foundation, the private grantmaking foundation of liberal activist, William B. Weiner Jr. 
In 2017, the SELC received $65,000 from the Falconwood Foundation, a left-of-center grantmaking foundation run by investor Henry G. Jarecki. The SELC also received $165,000 from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, a left-of-center grantmaking foundation. 
From 2017-2019, the SELC received $750,000 from the WestWind Foundation, a nonprofit grantmaking foundation which supports pro-abortion and environmentalist groups. Edward M. Miller, a member of the SELC’s board of trustees, is an investment manager at Westwind. 
In 2018, the SELC received $80,000 from the Turner Foundation, a grantmaking foundation founded by Ted Turner which tends to donate to left-of-center environmentalist causes. The SELC also received a currently undisclosed grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a left-of-center grantmaking foundation established from the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune. David L. Neal, a senior attorney at the SELC, sits on the Foundation’s board of trustees. 
In 2019, the SELC received $25,000 from the Conservation Alliance, a left-of-center grantmaking foundation that funds environmentalist efforts to block energy projects.