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WATCH: “Zombie Permits”, a student-produced video about the backlog of Clean Water Act permits

March 08, 2017

Earthrise Law Center, led by Ryan Shannon ’15, filed a petition 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.” 

Under the Clean Water Act, water pollution discharge permits are issued for five-year periods. However, as long as a discharger submits a timely application for renewal, the old permit stays in place and is considered “administratively extended” indefinitely.

As noted by Nina Bell ’91, Executive Director of NWEA, “these zombie permits are based on outdated science from the last century and lack the pollution restrictions needed to protect human health and salmon from toxics and a host of other pollution effects.”

Hopefully this suit will force DEQ to address Oregon’s severe backlog because, as Mark Riskedahl ’00, Executive Director of NEDC, observed, “it is time for Oregon’s oldest permits to modernize as well.”

This video, produced by Lewis & Clark Law students, Sangye Ince-Johannsen and Michael Burleson, explains what zombie permits are, where they came from, why they are harmful and a lawsuit has been filed to address them. 


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