Bruce L. Benson has a great article explaining how environmental groups use lawsuits to raise money rather than to cure environmental ills.
Private prosecution of crimes has a long and sordid history, and that history isn't over. Bounty hunters no longer hound innocent people to death as some did in England in the mid-18th century, but environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have modified the tactic. They use "citizen suits" to reap rich rewards for themselves with little positive impact on the environment. ...
An indication that self-interest, not environmental stewardship, propels these suits comes from comparing citizen suits filed under two different laws. Between 1995 and 2002, 1,371 citizen suits were filed under the under the Clean Water Act but only 143 under the Clean Air Act. Do environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund think that water violations are more serious than air pollution? Probably not. They do know, however, that the Clean Water Act mandates record-keeping that makes suing under it easy and allows large fines that make settlements lucrative; the Clean Air Act does not.
Another sign that the goals are financial, not environmental, is that the Clean Water Act suits are disproportionately targeted at private firms, not municipal governments. Yet municipal governments generate much more water pollution.
Trial lawyers are the financial engine behind most of the crazy, hypocritical (Al Gore) leftist causes these days, and environmentalists are no different.