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Public Interest Law Project

Andrea Kopecky

October 10, 2011

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Columbia Riverkeeper

Columbia Riverkeeper (Portland, OR)

Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK) is a non-profit organization that works to protect the water quality of the Columbia River, all the way from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. They accomplish this primarily by educating and working with the public and by bringing lawsuits against polluters. One of the things that inspired me to go to law school to study environmental law was reading the book “Riverkeepers” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. It is about the original Riverkeeper group started in New York to help clean up the Hudson River. I was inspired by the amazing accomplishments that Riverkeeper made and wanted to be a part of it here in Portland.

While clerking at CRK, I worked on several projects. One of CRK’s main focuses right now is to stop a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal that has been proposed for the Columbia River. I helped out with research and writing, and even did a little protesting! It was interesting to meet with so many people in the community that have an interest in stopping the LNG terminal. In addition to the LNG project, I also helped out with some enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act. Basically, CRK finds facilities that are violating their stormwater permits and then files 60-day notices to sue in order to get the facilities to clean up their practices. We filed notices against two facilities that had been violating their permits continuously for over 5 years. One of the cases has settled already and resulted in a closing of the facility.

I am very grateful to have received a PILP stipend because it definitely made working at CRK possible. I learned so much and really enjoyed working at CRK. It was fantastic to work with people that are passionate about environmental issues. It was also great to know that a very small non-profit group can make a huge difference. For more information about CRK, go to http://www.columbiariverkeeper.org.

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