Our Communities Program is focused on preserving the places where Pacific Northwesterners live, work and play. Since 2001, Crag has worked with clients to protect their communities from unsustainable development that could damage the scenic beauty, local environment, and character of population centers across the region. Many people lack tools to effectively engage in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives. Communities of color and low-income communities often experience a disproportionate share of the negative impacts of pollution and industrial development.
Our work supports public participation in local decision-making, helping to elevate the voices of those most impacted by governmental decisions.
Our Communities Program is focused on land use advocacy, environmental justice, environmental health (pollution), and protection of Oregon’s coastal resources through the Coastal Law Project.
Over 40 years ago, Oregon adopted a land use system that aimed to protect farm and forestlands from urban sprawl, ensure fact-based review of land use decisions, and encourage community participation in the land use process. We support local residents and conservation groups who are invested in making sure Oregon’s farm and forestlands are maintained for rural uses through litigation and local action. In recent years, we have been working with a variety of community-based organizations to explore ways Oregon’s iconic land use program can be implemented as a tool for achieving environmental justice.
Communities of color, Tribes, and low-income communities often experience a disproportionate share of the negative impacts of pollution and industrial development. Taking the lead from our clients and partners who are working in these communities, Crag helps strengthen organizing efforts by educating and advocating for legal solutions to remedy disparate impacts of environmental pollution. Crag’s first environmental justice case challenged under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to respond to complaints from the Rosemere Neighborhood Association in Washington. We have continued environmental justice work since that first landmark victory, including representing native communities in Alaska and Oregon to protect subsistence hunting and cultural values.
Crag works with local residents, community organizations, and conservation groups to hold industry and local governments accountable for polluting our air, land, and water. When industrial facilities violate permit requirements under the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act, risking the health of local communities by degrading water and air quality, Crag seeks to enforce permit requirements in court. Additionally, Crag advises clients on state-wide efforts to reform pollution prevention and control regulations. By working to reform state legislation and enforce current laws and regulations, Crag strives to protect human and environmental health of current and future generations.
What We’re Working On
Crag represents the Nez Perce Tribe’s interests in cleaning up contamination and restoring habitats in the Portland Harbor Superfund project on the Willamette River.
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.
Whether fighting shoreline armoring projects that degrade and encroach on our beaches, or defending against over-reach by private landowners seeking to limit the public’s use of beaches, rivers, and streams, Crag is fighting alongside our partners to protect our access to the shore.
While it’s soon too to tell, here are five reasons why we are hopeful agencies will implement this Environmental Justice executive order to create meaningful change.
In theory, we have federal laws on the books that should advance environmental justice, but in practice, they fall short. That’s why Crag’s work supporting community based organizations in advancing Environmental Justice legislation is so important.
Rebeka joined Beyond Toxics staff Arjorie and Teryn to discuss environmental justice, environmental racism in West Eugene, and how each of them started doing environmental justice work in the first place.