NWEA uses a mix of approaches -- including negotiation, litigation, education, community organizing, and advocacy -- to obtain the best outcome for people and the environment:
Some of NWEA's accomplishments include:
Northwest Environmental Advocates was founded in 1969 by citizens who were concerned about the imminent operation of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, located along the Columbia River at Rainier, Oregon. The all-volunteer organization quickly became involved in Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing hearings for the construction of reactors elsewhere in Oregon and Washington. After Trojan began operation, NWEA became the most active organization in the country working to shut down an operating nuclear reactor. In addition to publicizing safety problems at the plant, NWEA intervened in licensing proceedings to stop the expansion of storage of spent nuclear fuel at Trojan and to determine how to fix the reactor's failure to meet federal earthquake standards. After years of raising safety issues with federal and state agencies, and sharing information with the public, NWEA worked with the plant's owner-operators Portland General Electric (PGE) to close the reactor in 1993.
In 1988, NWEA made Columbia River water quality a regional issue by demonstrating that the states of Oregon and Washington largely ignored the interstate portion of the river, including its estuary. For seven years, NWEA conducted a regional campaign to designate the Columbia River Estuary as part of the National Estuary Program (NEP). In 1990, the States of Oregon and Washington, along with the public ports and the pulp and paper industry obtained support of the state legislatures to fund an alternative to this federal program. Called the Lower Columbia River Bi-State Program on Water Quality, NWEA's Executive Director Nina Bell co-chaired the $2.4 million dollar study. Subsequently, when funding ran out, the states agreed to NEP designation, a program now called the Lower Columbia River Estuary Program (LCREP). However, the states prevented NWEA from participating, knowing that it would have been the most effective environmental organization.
Since 1990, NWEA has pursued many other avenues to restoring the region's waters including lawsuits to stop Portland's raw sewage discharges, lawsuits to force the states to develop clean-up plans for waters with unsafe levels of pollution, and challenges to the proposed deepening of the Columbia and Willamette River shipping channels. NWEA has also been active in developing national rules and policies to support full implementation of the federal Clean Water Act.
Clean air has also been a priority. NWEA works to replace fossil fuels (oil, coal, and gas) with renewable energy resources because fossil fuels create unsafe air pollution in the region and contribute to global climate change. NWEA has been active in seeking the clean-up or shutdown of the Centralia Coal Plan, worked to ensure carbon dioxide mitigation for new natural gas facilities, and to create a range of programs that will stimulate the development of renewable energy sources. These efforts to provide the public with clean energy sources include working with public and private utilities around the region on "green marketing" approaches.
In 1987, brought about the closure of the N-Reactor at Hanford.
In 1988, made the environmental quality of the Columbia River a major regional issue, leading to the creation of the $2.4 million Bi-State Lower Columbia River Water Quality Study, co-chaired by NWEA's Executive Director Nina Bell.
In 1989, persuaded the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to bring hazardous waste users into the regulatory system. Assisted in the creation of the National Whistleblower Center, now a successful national organization.
In 1990, stopped a proposed dioxin-emitting pulp mill on the Columbia River through the administrative process and citizen organizing.
In 1991, forced the City of Portland to commit to a 20-year plan to stop discharging over 6 billion gallons of raw sewage each year to the Willamette River and Columbia Slough. Launched the Columbia/Willamette RiverWatch Program.
In 1992, published the environmental map, Portland/Vancouver: Toxic Waters. Installed warning signs on highly polluted urban waters and produced a multi-lingual fish consumption brochure.
In 1993, published and distributed the highly acclaimed environmental map, Columbia River: Troubled Waters. Organized the Ancient Forest Rally & Celebration of 75,000 people in Portland. Helped bring about the closure of the Trojan Nuclear Plant.
In 1994, obtained the Superfund-style clean-up of toxic sediments in the Columbia Slough.
In 1995, negotiated water quality standards to protect salmon and compelled Oregon to identify 1,000 waterbodies that require mandatory pollution restrictions. Obtained utility commitment to 36 megawatts of wind energy.
In 1996, won national legal precedent on citizens' enforcement of water quality standards in NWEA v. Portland..
Published the Air Pollution Action Guide to Northwest Portland.
In 1997, settled lawsuit to compel Washington to develop clean-up plans for over 600 waterbodies with unsafe levels of pollution and/or habitat damage.
In 1998, negotiated strong new federal regulations governing Clean Water clean-up program. Obtained commitment to clean-up emissions from Centralia Coal Plant, the largest source of sulphur dioxide in the West
The Environmental Restoration Program addresses the needs of human health, fish, and wildlife, in Oregon and Washington, at the national level, and at specific sites. These are some of the activities in which NWEA is currently active:
Working with Others
Education and Community Organizing
Nina Bell has been NWEA's Executive Director for over 20 years. Specializing in implementation of Clean Water Act programs, she guides the organization's litigation and represents environmental interests in regional and national negotiations.
Please feel free to contact us.
NWEA derives its income from a variety of sources including membership contributions, foundation grants, events, publication sales, business, and in-kind contributions. As a non-profit organization with IRS 501(c)(3) status, we rely upon members and contributors for our support. Please consider joining NWEA as a member today.
Updates are by Adrian Rosolie.
P.O. Box 12187, Portland, OR 97212-0187 (503) 295-0490