School navigation

Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC)

Lawsuit Filed to Address “Zombie Permits”

March 08, 2017

NEDC has joined Northwest Environmental Advocates in a lawsuit seeking to require Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to address the enormous backlog of administratively continued Clean Water Act permits, also 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As noted by Nina Bell, Executive Director of NWEA, “these zombie permits are based on outdated science from the last century and lack the pollution restrictions needed to protect human health and salmon from toxics and a host of other pollution effects.”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, Executive Director of NEDC, observed, “it is time for Oregon’s oldest permits to modernize as well.”

The groups are represented by the Earthrise Law Center and the Law Office of Karl G. Anuta.

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