NWEA divides its programs into Environmental Restoration Programs & Green Power Programs
Environmental Restoration Programs:
THE PROBLEM: Too Much Pollution & Too Little Habitat
Increased listings of salmon under the Endangered Species Act serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, reflecting a combination of harmful land practices -- such as logging, farming, mining, and urban development -- and excessive water withdrawals, dredging, dams, and pollution that make the region's waters unsafe for fish. Reproductive failures and deformities in wildlife such as birds and mammals likewise are indicators of the effects of pollution on human health. In Oregon and Washington, more than 1,500 waterbodies have been identified as degraded by unsafe pollution levels or habitat damage. Pollution problems include raw sewage and animal wastes , toxic chemicals and radioactive materials, and high temperatures . In addition, 85 percent of threatened and endangered species rely upon wetland habitats for survival reflecting the loss of nearly 50 percent of Oregon's total wetlands. The promise of the Clean Water Act to protect aquatic life and human health has not yet been achieved.
THE SOLUTION: Implementation of the Nation's Environmental Laws
NWEA's Environmental Restoration Program relies on implementation of federal environmental laws in combination with state programs. The Clean Water Act establishes mechanisms to reduce pollution, clean up unsafe levels of pollution, and to protect and restore habitat, including wetlands. The Clean Air Act restricts emissions of air pollution. The Superfund program provides for the clean-up of abandoned toxic wastes, while the Resource, Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) addresses current production of solid and hazardous wastes. However, each of these federal laws is only as good as the policies and rules created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and only as good as the laws and programs established by the states to carry out federal statutes. Likewise, while the Endangered Species Act provides protection for threatened and endangered species on the verge of extinction, its strength lies in the willingness of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) to carry it out. The failure of state and federal agencies to meet legal requirements and to adopt environmentally-protective policies, and the refusal of state legislatures to create additional restrictions and fund existing programs severely limit protection of human health and the environment.
NWEA's ACTION: Advocacy and Litigation to Restore the Environment
Strengthen Clean Water Act Programs to Protect Water Quality and Habitat in the Northwest
Clean Up Pollution and Restore Impaired Habitat of Lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers
Green Power Programs
THE PROBLEM: Environmental Impacts of Energy
As utilities attempt to keep costs low and satisfy growing energy demands they rely increasingly on fossil fuels and nuclear power, resulting in a virtual halt to the development of renewable resources in the Northwest. Both regulators and policy makers seem content to leave the development of renewable power to utilities while failing to address the region's growing dependence on fossil fuels. Although "green marketing" -- giving citizens the opportunity to purchase power produced by renewable sources -- should not be the only path to development of clean power sources, it is one approach, one that is hampered by the general public's apparent indifference to energy production. Before a significant portion of the public will pay more for these resources they will have to believe that it is important.
THE SOLUTION: Stimulating Renewables While Illuminating the True Costs of Dirty Power
NWEA's Green Power Program seeks to use federal laws to shut down and clean up dirty energy sources, such as coal and nuclear power plants. It also works with utilities to enhance the development of clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. Finally, NWEA seeks to limit the development of new natural gas facilities and to require mitigation of their effects on global climate change.
NWEA's ACTION: Replacing Dirty Power with Renewable Energy
Secure a Place for Environmentally-Sound Energy in Utility Choice Programs
Seek Accounting for Environmental Costs of Coal and Nuclear Facilities
P.O. Box 12187, Portland, OR 97212-0187 (503) 295-0490 FAX 295-6634