NWEA's Advocacy Against Channel Deepening

NWEA has spearheaded the region's opposition to deepening the Columbia and Willamette shipping channels to 43 feet. This has taken many approaches in many arenas, including the ones mentioned below.

Litigation
Public Comment
Advocacy
Editorials

Litigation

In response to the approval issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the project, NWEA filed a lawsuit. The case requests that the court set aside the Biological Opinion approving the project and prevent others from relying upon the approval. NWEA alleged that the BiOp did not:

  • provide information detailing effects on threatened and endangered species, nor did it use the best scientific and commercial data available;
  • accurately or adequately describe and delineate agency action and related effects that are the subject of consultation;
  • adequately consider the reasonable foreseeable direct, indirect, and cumulative future effects of the project;
  • impose reasonable and prudent alternatives, measures, or terms and conditions that are adequate in substance and timing for the conservation of ESA-listed salmon; and
  • evaluate how the studies and wetland restoration it calls for will mitigate adverse effects or address the already impaired environmental baseline conditions.
  • NWEA was joined by American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, and Institute for Fisheries Research. In late August 2000, NMFS withdrew its Biological Opinion after Seattle Court Judge Rothstein rejected agency efforts to have the case dismissed. The case is still pending.
    Judge Rothstein's ruling on Motion to Dismiss


    Public Comment

    NWEA has prepared extensive public comments for several public comment periods. NWEA submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This includes comments on the Draft EIS as well as its Final EIS. NWEA also prepared comments on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's 401 water quality certification and Washington Department of Ecology's Coastal Zone Management Act consistency review.

    Advocacy

    NWEA has worked with state and local agencies that are concerned about the channel deepening project. It has sought an economic reanalysis of the project from the Corps. It has encouraged Oregon and Washington to obtain additional time for consideration of water quality impacts. NWEA has also encouraged the Northwest Power Planning Council to consider the effects of this project on the salmon recovery projects that are part of its hydroelectric dam mitigation program.

    Editorials

    Read an Editorial by the Oregonian and NWEA's response:
    Clouding Logic With Silt, Channel Deepening Fails Salmon and the Public
    Read coverage in the Daily Astorian: Trial by Lawsuit

     


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