October 10, 2011
Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK)
Through the generous support of a PILP stipend, I spent the summer clerking for Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK) in Hood River, Oregon. Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to restore and protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. As a law clerk, I focused on employing legal tools to protect Columbia River water quality: writing comments on proposed pollution discharge permits, drafting legal documents urging state agencies to protect Columbia River fish and wildlife, and advocating for agencies to adopt stronger environmental rules. As a stipend recipient, I gained valuable legal research and writing skills while contributing to the mission of a grassroots organization committed to engaging the public in water quality and resource protection.
As a law clerk, I worked directly with CRK’s Executive Director Brent Foster, an alum of LC Law School, on legal assignments involving proposals to strengthen Oregon’s mercury standards, prevent the construction of a massive LNG facility in the Columbia River Estuary, and water quality lawsuits. Each assignment presented challenging questions that required talking with federal and state agencies, scientists, and other public interest attorneys. Consequently, I gained a deeper understanding of administrative rulemaking, public involvement, and wrestling new, complex legal questions.
Columbia Riverkeeper relies on the support of dedicated volunteers and, as a law clerk, I gained insight into engaging the public in environmental advocacy. Specifically, CRK offers outreach opportunities including water quality monitoring, field trips, and educational lectures. Among the highlights of my summer, I joined CRK volunteers on a kayaking trip down the Hanford stretch of the Columbia River. CRK members learned about the unique natural and human history of the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia, which flows past the Hanford Nuclear Power Plant. With the support of a PILP stipend, I spent my first summer of law school experiencing how a public interest organization operates while contributing to the goals cause I strongly support.