Northwest Environmental Defense Center

Northwest Defense is the Northwest Environmental Defense Center's blog (and newsletter). Learn about NEDC's latest work, current issues related to air and water quality, and conservation measures in the Pacific Northwest.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Liquefied natural gas exports: not the answer for Oregon

By Marla Nelson, Staff Attorney

Two major liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects are proposed for Oregon's coastline: (1) Jordan Cove LNG, and (2) Oregon LNG. Natural gas is a cleaner energy source that oil or coal. But that does not mean LNG is a sustainable option, or the right option for Oregon. Concerns about the LNG export terminals proposed in Oregon include harm to property rights, wildlife, water resources, air quality, and the climate. LNG production requires lots of energy and freshwater. And although LNG may be a cleaner energy source than coal, the proposed LNG export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, would become one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Oregon once PGE Boardman shuts down in 2020. LNG export is simply not the answer for Oregon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mining in our National Forests deserves greater scrutiny from the U.S. Forest Service

By Marla Nelson, Staff Attorney

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is considering the approval of 28 Plans of Operations for mining activities in the Granite Creek Watershed (collectively called the Granite Creek Watershed Mining Project). The proposed area covers approximately 94,480 acres in the Whitman Ranger District of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the North Fork John Day Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest. Much of this area is already degraded from historic mining practices, road-building, and other surface-disturbing activity. Does it really make sense to allow the proposed in-stream mining, suction dredging, and road-building activities in a region that has already experienced degradation from human disturbance?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New and Improved Suction Dredge NPDES Permit in Oregon

By Becca Fischer, Law Clerk

On March 27, 2015, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a revised water quality permit for wastewater discharges from small-scale suction dredge mining operations used to recover precious metals and minerals from streambed sediments.  The Northwest Environmental Defense Center and collaborating organizations have worked hard to improve the terms of this 700PM National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System  (NPDES) general permit to ensure it protects Oregon’s high quality waters and the uses that depends on them.

Suction dredge sediment plume
Photo: Oregon Wild,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NEPA and the Navy: a supplement that is hard to swallow

By Jeff Speir, Student Director

The Department of the Navy and environmental advocates are no strangers to conflict. Actions aimed at military preparedness are often at odds with environmental protection. From Puerto Rico to California, the military and environmentalists have litigated many fundamental issues of environmental law through the years. In each scenario, governmental decision-makers face the difficult task of delicately balancing competing interests. The Navy’s recent plan to increase training and testing activities off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and California proposes to disrupt the balance by harming endangered leatherback sea turtles and marine mammals.

The Navy's operations will impact leatherback sea turtles and humpback whales. [Public domain]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Port of Longview Ponders LPG

By Marla Nelson, Staff Attorney

Enough about crude oil. Let's talk LPG. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or LP-gas) consists of propane, propylene, butane, and butylenes. Suppliers obtain LPG mostly from gas wells but it is also a refinery by-product. The gas is stored as a liquid under moderate pressures. LPG is sold in the domestic commercial market as a heating fuel, but it is also used by the chemical industry, as a petrochemical feedstock, and the agriculture industry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Global Partners and the Great Deception

By Marla Nelson, Staff Attorney

If you drive along Highway 30 you can’t help but notice when a unit train carrying crude oil barrels past.  The community of Rainier certainly can’t help but notice as the crude oil trains slice through their downtown, bisecting and cutting off the Cornerstone Cafe on one side of East A Street from Hometown Pizza on the other.  And of course the neighbors of the crude oil transloading facility located at Port Westward in Clatskanie, Oregon notice the activity: they hear every train as it approaches the facility and every broadcast made from the facility’s announcement system.  Cascade Kelly Holdings and its owner, Global Partners LP (Global), had quietly transformed a former ethanol production facility into a terminal for transloading millions of gallons of highly explosive Bakken crude oil.

The Clatskanie crude oil terminal is right next to the small family farm of one of NEDC’s members, with Mount St. Helen’s in the distance

Thursday, December 4, 2014

5 ways Northwest Innovation Works' proposed methanol export facility will change our landscape

By Marla Nelson, Staff Attorney

Northwest Innovation Works has proposed a methanol manufacturing, storage, and marine export facility for the Port of Kalama. The Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County are preparing an analysis of the likely impacts of the project under Washington's State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). NEDC and Columbia Riverkeeper submitted comments on December 4, 2014 suggesting the Port complete a full and accurate scope for its SEPA analysis.