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Earthrise

Water

  • Yesterday, Earthrise and its co-counsel, on behalf of Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA), won a challenge against Oregon’s illegal water temperature standards, which change goals from cold temperatures to hot—and sometimes even lethal for salmon and other imperiled cold-water species. The federal court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failed to create pollution clean-up goals, called “Total Maximum Daily Loads” or “TMDLs”, that would protect salmon species from temperature pollution in Oregon’s waterways. A TMDL contains limits for contributions of pollution, such as temperature pollution, via discharge permits and polluted runoff from land activities such as logging and farming. High temperatures impair the vast majority of waters that Oregon has identified as having unsafe levels of pollution, and which therefore require a TMDL. 

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    Cleaning up and cooling down waterways

    Water is essential to the survival of life, elemental in the maintenance of stable ecosystems, and itself a habitat for aquatic species. Water quality is a cornerstone environmental issue, and Earthrise Law Center is committed to its protection and improvement.

    Earthrise works to clean up and cool down waterways on a regional and national scale by strengthening and ensuring enforcement of existing laws like the federal Clean Water Act. Earthrise has been working to curb vessel pollution, including the discharge of invasive species that travel from port to port in ships’ ballast tanks. Earthrise is using advocacy and litigation to strengthen the water quality standards, or goals, for waterbodies, including those waterbodies that are the home to the Pacific Northwest’s iconic and imperiled cold-water species such as salmon and bull trout. Earthrise has brought numerous legal actions against industrial facilities that discharge pollutants into waterways.  These cases are preventing the addition of mercury, lead, and other toxic pollutants into waters in which people regularly swim and recreate.  Earthrise has recently begun taking its enforcement work beyond the Northwest, by tackling water pollution problems in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Arkansas, and the Chesapeake Bay.

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    Earthrise filed a petition today on behalf of the Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA), the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), and fish advocate, Bill Bakke, seeking to force Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to address the enormous backlog of administratively continued Clean Water Act permits, known as “Zombie Permits.”
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    On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) instructing the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers (the “Agencies”) to begin a rulemaking to rescind or revise the Clean Water Rule, a 2015 regulation that defined the phrase “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as used in the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), thereby identifying those waters protected by the Act’s restrictions on pollutant discharges.
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    Today Earthrise filed a lawsuit on behalf of Oregon-based Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) challenging EPA’s failure to respond to an 88-page petition submitted to the federal agency over three years ago, in October 2013. The petition seeks EPA’s action to update Washington’s water quality standards for toxics, primarily for the protection of aquatic life, such as salmon and steelhead.
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    Last week, Earthrise brought the Green River in Illinois one step closer to being restored after decades of concrete dumping along its banks by an adjacent landowner and owner of a demolition and trucking company. In federal court in Rock Island, Illinois, on behalf of Quad Cities Waterkeeper and Prairie Rivers Network, Earthrise attorneys Kevin Cassidy and Lia Comerford presented evidence about the harm the unauthorized concrete dumping has caused to their clients and the Green River and urged federal judge Sara Darrow to order and oversee a comprehensive restoration plan.
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    Longtime partners, Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA), represented by Earthrise attorney Allison LaPlante and Seattle attorney Paul Kampmeier of Kampmeier & Knutsen filed a lawsuit today against the EPA and NOAA for their failure to force Washington State to control polluted runoff in the state’s coastal watersheds, including Puget Sound. The lawsuit aims to force the agencies to impose Congressionally-mandated funding cuts on the State of Washington for failing to comply with a law that requires the state to protect coastal water quality.
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    The Center for Biological Diversity and Northwest Environmental Advocates notified the Environmental Protection Agency last week that they plan to sue the agency for failing to consider the needs of endangered salmon and sturgeon when approving state water-quality standards in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut.