Protecting the Climate
Climate change is the most pressing and important issue facing the environment and our communities in the modern era. Crag helps build the capacity of grassroots efforts and works collaboratively to find creative solutions with our clients and partners.
We tackle climate change from all angles, trying to address the devastating effects of this pattern while working to prevent additional stressors by opposing fossil fuel infrastructure and pressuring the government to take action. Supporting coalition efforts, we help organizations and local residents navigate the complex legal and public decision-making systems, empowering communities to fight for their futures.
We have represented and supported communities from the North Slope of Alaska all the way down to the Southern Oregon coast, and communities in between, using a multi-pronged strategy to address climate threats.
Our Climate Program is focused on climate justice, fighting fossil fuels, and water conservation.
To preserve the prosperity and safety of generations to come, Crag represents Oregon youth challenging the state’s failure to take meaningful action on climate change and supports youth in a parallel federal case. Under the Public Trust Doctrine, certain natural resources are deemed so essential for human life and well-being that our government holds them in trust for all citizens. Atmospheric Trust Litigation began in 2011 as part of an international movement to promote intergenerational justice and mitigate climate change, asserting that the atmosphere is a crucial resource that must be conserved.
We argue that the government has a duty to protect our atmosphere as a public trust resource for the benefit of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
With shifting climatic conditions, our region is experiencing lower on-average snowpack and increasing drought. Coupled with rapidly growing populations in the Pacific Northwest, our historically abundant water resources are under a great deal of pressure. Crag works with various organizations and conservation groups to protect Oregon’s precious water resources from unsustainable uses and develop policy options to ensure that our forested watersheds are preserved for future generations. This program includes our work on behalf of Bark, Food & Water Watch, and Local Water Alliance to prevent Nestlé from securing rights to Columbia Gorge spring water for its proposed commercial water bottling operation, as well as our efforts alongside Portland Audubon, Oregon Wild, and WaterWatch of Oregon to advocate for increased water flows in crucial migratory bird stopovers of the water-scarce Klamath Wildlife Refuge.
Fighting Fossil Fuels
The rapid development of fossil fuel resources in the Western United States and Canada has prompted many recent proposals for new export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2010, Crag has supported communities extending from North Slope, Alaska to the southern coast of Oregon to prevent the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure.
While those efforts have been successful, we continue to fight against new proposals for the development of large-scale natural gas, crude oil, and other fossil fuel infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest, including proposed construction of Jordan Cove, a large-scale natural gas export terminal and pipeline. We worked with a coalition of organizations to defend and implement Portland’s landmark Fossil Fuel Ordinance, which limits new development of fossil fuel infrastructure in the city, and are supporting similar efforts in other communities.
If we are to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets and address climate change within the timelines to be effective, our communities need to move away from all fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
What We’re Working On
On August 14, 2023, the incredible news broke: in a landmark decision, the Montana state court ruled that Montana’s laws promoting fossil fuels and ignoring climate change violated the youth’s state constitutional rights to a clean and healthful environment. During my internship at Crag, I got to watch part of the trial (virtually) in real time, and wanted to help chronicle this historic moment in climate litigation.
Coming to Crag as a high school intern, I was inexperienced in the world of youth climate activism. So I researched leaders who were creating change on the painstakingly long road of climate justice.
For over seven years, the fossil fuel industry and their allies have tried, and failed, to overturn the Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments. This is an important climate policy and zoning amendment passed in accordance with local and statewide land use planning laws.
Fifteen organizations joined Crag’s clients in defending the state’s Climate Protection Program.
Crag clients intervene to defend Climate Protection Program from oil and gas industry attack.
Crag and our clients stand in support of the City’s decision to deny Zenith’s LUCS and prevent further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.
On December 18, 2019, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to re-adopt a city ordinance restricting fossil fuels. Portland’s Fossil Fuel Ordinance prohibits new bulk fossil fuel terminal development and restricts expansion of existing terminals within Portland....
Crag is representing Columbia Riverkeeper and Friends of the Columbia Gorge to challenge ODOE’s unlawful decision to allow Perennial WindChaser to begin building their fracked gas power plant.