Earthrise Updates

Earthrise is an environmental and natural resources litigation clinic serving nonprofit conservation organizations

Improving Oregon’s and Washington’s TMDL Program

When Congress passed the modern-day Clean Water Act in 1972, it anticipated that all impaired waters nationwide would have a TMDL (total maximum daily load, or cleanup plan) in place and be on the way to becoming pollution-free within a decade. Sadly, 50 years later, that is not the case across the country, including in Oregon and Washington. Earthrise represents Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) in two separate but related cases against the EPA seeking to improve and accelerate the TMDL waterbody cleanup programs in the two states. When based on sound science and implemented with vigor, TMDLs provide a holistic tool for watershed-based restoration. Earthrise is optimistic that the twin lawsuits will kick the Oregon and Washington TMDL programs back into gear.


Protecting Washington’s Waters

Earthrise recently secured another victory on behalf of NWEA for Washington waters and aquatic species—this time specifically related to toxic pollution. At the end of 2021, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman issued a sweeping ruling finding that the EPA acted arbitrarily in denying NWEA’s petition to update water quality criteria intended to protect Washington’s aquatic species from toxic pollutants. Earthrise attorney Lia Comerford ’13 and co-counsel (and alum) Bryan Telegin ’10 at Bricklin & Newman LLP represent NWEA in the lawsuit. Many current and former Lewis & Clark students provided invaluable support on the case, including Dylan Sollfrank ’23, Eddie Kelinsky ’22, Rico Vinh ’22, Victoria White ’22, Jenny Davies ’21, Victoria Frankeny ’21, Alex Houston ’21, Michael Benjamin Smith ’21, Audrey Leonard ’20, and Destiny Shelton ’20.


Earthrise Protects Idaho’s Waters

In September 2021, the Ninth Circuit held that the EPA’s CAFO permit for the State of Idaho unlawfully allowed factory farms to escape monitoring of their pollution into waterways. In securing this victory, Earthrise teamed up with Food & Water Watch as co-counsel, including Earthrise alum Tarah Heinzen ’09 and law alum Tyler Lobdell ’17.


Interim Victory for the Rogue River Watershed

On September 30, 2021, Judge Michael J. McShane of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon granted in part Earthrise’s motion for summary judgment, finding the City of Medford liable under the Clean Water Act for contributing to in-stream violations of Oregon’s “biocriteria” water quality standard, and holding that Medford was not entitled to a “permit shield” defense.


Summary Judgment in Case Against “Dinosaur of the Dam World”

A declining snowpack, increasing water demands, and a prevalent “hot drought” in the Colorado River Basin threaten both Glen and Grand canyons, and have made Glen Canyon Dam obsolete. Earthrise filed a summary judgment motion challenging the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Long-Term Experimental Management Plan for the Colorado River’s Glen Canyon Dam on behalf of Save the Colorado, Living Rivers, and the Center for Biological Diversity in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The Colorado River's Glen Canyon Dam. The Colorado River's Glen Canyon Dam.


Audubon Alaska Brings Earthrise Student to Alaska

As Earthrise student Matt Campa ’22 approached the end of his last law school semester, David Krause, director of conservation at Audubon Alaska, invited Matt to Alaska to present some of his legal research done under the supervision of Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Cassidy ’02. Krause noted that “working with Audubon Alaska over the past year, Matt became a true expert on the implementation of the Clean Water Act’s compensatory mitigation requirements. It was wonderful to host him in Alaska, where Matt got a chance to share his knowledge and insights with tribal governments, conservation organizations, and scientists.”

Matt Campa '22, David Krause of Audubon Alaska, and River Gates, the Pacific Shorebird Conservati... Matt Campa ’22, David Krause of Audubon Alaska, and River Gates, the Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative Coordinator for Audubon Americas.


Public Lands: Halting Old Growth Logging

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) recently started actively logging in Yosemite National Park and didn’t bother to tell the public why. After Earthrise clients noticed this, the clinic persuaded the NPS to stop all questionable logging until the court can hear and decide the amended complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction from Earthrise. The agreement will allow fire prevention work to continue to occur around existing buildings, homes, and camping areas.


Victim Rights and Environmental Crimes

A special two-hour combined clinic class titled The Intersection of Victims’ Rights and Environmental Crimes, created by Earthrise and the Crime Victim Litigation Clinic, was inspired by recent, renewed nationwide focus on environmental justice, and the clinics’ common understanding that environmental crimes (as well as noncriminal environmental violations) often disproportionately affect low-income communities of color. Criminal law Professor Susan Mandiberg joined NCVLI Director and Professor Meg Garvin and Earthrise attorney Kevin Cassidy ’02, providing essential information to this emerging area of legal discussion.

More Clinic Updates

Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment Update

The Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment (GLA) provides a clinical experience for JD students interested in environmental and/or animal law and a specialized clinic for the Center for Animal Law Studies international LLM students interested in wildlife issues. Students worked on these issues and more:

Small Business Legal Clinic Update

The Small Business Legal Clinic (SBLC) served 415 clients, with 60 percent BIPOC-owned businesses and 57 percent women-owned businesses this past year. This was a new record and the first time the clinic served more than 400 clients in a year!

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Updates

The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) provides free need-based legal representation in federal tax matters, specializing in client controversies with the IRS.

Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) Updates

The clinic and its students work on issues including clemency, parole, access to courts for incarcerated youth, and forensic science in criminal cases.

Green Energy Institute Updates

The Green Energy Institute (GEI) develops smart and comprehensive legal and policy strategies to address climate change and support a swift and equitable transition to a sustainable, carbon-free energy grid.