June 01, 2009
Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK) is a nonprofit organization based out of Hood River, Oregon whose mission is “to restore and protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.” To fulfill this mission, CRK conducts various activities including grassroots community organizing, public education, hands on volunteer involvement, and enforcement of environmental laws. Among CRK’s major initiatives are fighting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility siting along the Columbia River, advocating for toxics reductions in the Columbia River Basin, ensuring public involvement in the Hanford Nuclear site cleanup, and enforcing the provisions of the Clean Water Act.
As a law clerk, I was able to assist the CRK with ongoing litigation under the Clean Water Act through legal research and memo writing on issues related to enforcement actions brought by CRK. I was also able to attend site visits and settlement negotiations for various ongoing lawsuits, research possible claims under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, and conduct file reviews with various state agencies in Washington and Oregon. I also had the opportunity to research the potential impacts that pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have on receiving waters, and in particular the impacts on the Columbia River. During my research I was able to speak to EPA scientists and outline some of the practices currently in use to help prevent PPCPs from ending up in sewage treatment facilities.
My clerkship also provided me with a better understanding of how a small nonprofit groups works. I conducted water quality monitoring, attended weekly staff meetings and assisted in organizational outreach activities.
This summer provided an amazing opportunity to get involved with the efforts of CRK and help them work towards their mission of restoration and protection of the Columbia River Basin. The PILP stipend helped make this amazing opportunity a reality.