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Law Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC)

PEAC’s Clients Litigate the CRC

July 05, 2012

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On behalf of three clients – Coalition for a Livable Future, Northeast Coalition of
Neighborhoods, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center – PEAC filed a 63-page complaint Monday challenging the Columbia River Crossing, a proposal for a new bridge between Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA. The complaint charges that federal agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the National Marine Fisheries Service, failed to adequately study the environmental and health impacts of the mega-project, including the impact on protected species like salmon, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Steve Cole of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods said, “This project would harm our neighborhoods. It would significantly increase air pollution, funnel traffic into North and Northeast Portland, and lead to poorly planned sprawl. Our community needs smart transportation options so we don’t have to drive so much and travel so far.”

Issues in the case include the CRC’s failure to include a reasonable range of alternatives. “We want to see a less costly and more well-crafted solution to improve traffic reliability, create jobs, and protect community health,” said Mara Gross, Policy Director for Coalition for a Livable Future. In addition, the complaint argues that agencies failed to properly analyze air pollution, disclose health impacts, and disclose the impact of additional traffic lanes on air and water resources, ecosystems, and greenhouse gas emissions.

On the same day as the conservation groups filed suit, Thompson Metal Fab filed suit against the CRC planners for failing to adequately consider impacts on the local economy. Some of the large products the company produces and transports would not clear the proposed 95-foot bridge.

“This litigation is fundamentally about protecting our environment and our region. The CRC project is hugely expensive and deeply ill-considered. They have already spent $140 million in taxpayer dollars, and still haven’t created a sustainable, affordable project. We deserve better leadership that will go back and do it right,” said Tom Buchele, attorney on the case, along with PEAC professor Aubrey Baldwin.

In the media:

Press release from Coalition for a Livable Future

“2 lawsuits filed against Columbia River Crossing planners” - DJC Oregon

“Thompson Metal Fab sues CRC over 95-foot bridge” - The Oregonian

“Environmentalists and neighbors file federal lawsuit against CRC” - The Portland Mercury

“Breaking: neighbors, environmentalists bring lawsuit against costly, risky CRC mega-project” - Blue Oregon