Ear to the Ground
Ear to the Ground
Our attorney contributors share relevant and timely insight into real estate, energy law, water law, and environmental issues.
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Oregon Rethinks the Future of Recycling

Even though Oregon is considered the third greenest state in the United States, and a national leader when it comes to recycling, Oregon’s waste-management programs are not actually recovering all of the state’s recyclable wastes. The cause of this…
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Cranes and Cows

Usually when you think of cranes on urban land, you picture yellow tower cranes signaling the newest high rise on the horizon. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of representing Columbia Land Trust (CLT) when it acquired about 500 acres of bottom…
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Efforts Continue to Address Toxic PFAS in the Pacific Northwest

In February 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a comprehensive action plan to address toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). In February 2020, EPA released a program update discussing its progress.
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Three Overlooked Ways to Reduce Development Costs

A recent study evaluated three overlooked steps that developers can take that will often result in surprising savings in development costs. The study focused on the development of wind energy generation facilities, but the lessons offered seem…
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Supplemental Environmental Projects Have Been Eliminated, Local Communities to Feel the Pain

On March 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) ended its Environment and Natural Resources Division’s long-standing policy of allowing the use of supplemental environmental projects (“SEPs”) to offset monetary penalties assessed to private…
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The Battle Continues Between Residential Landowners and Industrial Polluters

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court published their opinion in Atlantic Richfield v. Christian, further tangling the rules of engagement in the fight between residential property owners and industrial polluters.
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More Proof that Environmental Site Assessments Are Critically Important in CERCLA Cases

In 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), frequently referred to as Superfund. This legislation was passed in response to mounting concerns regarding releases or threatened…
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Due Diligence for Messy Commercial Property Purchases

As we continue our look at the legal environment for Oregon Real Estate we’re going to get a little messy and explore the due diligence recommended for buying property that may have environmental contamination. In the Sale and Purchase section of the…
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The List You Don't Want to Be On

Everybody loves lists—at least when the list ranks something positive. We can celebrate that Oregon ranks second for the most craft breweries per capita (Vermont eked out the top spot). And that Bend topped a list of best ski towns, while Portland…
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There Really Is Enough Sunshine to Go Around, People

Crops need sun. Solar panels need sun. One would think there is enough sunshine, even in rainy Oregon, for everyone. But at the urging of some strict farmland preservationists, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission recently adopted…
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Green Infrastructure: Is There an App for That?

Portland is a leader in managing stormwater runoff with green infrastructure. Nearly 20 years ago, the City began a serious effort to adopt green infrastructure – such as pervious surfaces, bioswales, vegetated infiltration galleries, and other…
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Nation's Largest Living Building Is Coming to Portland

A team of Portland's heavy hitters has proposed a new five-story structure in Skidmore/Old Town that could be certified as Portland's first living building. The project team for the PAE Living Building include Gerding Edlen, Walsh Construction…
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Thoughtful and Controlled Pollution: Oregon Likely Next in Line for Carbon Cap-and-Trade Program

This year, Oregon lawmakers will likely pass an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, introduced as House Bill 2020, which would make Oregon the second state after California to adopt such a sweeping law.
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Daimler Portland Takes Lead in Automated Trucking

Daimler Trucks North America, headquartered in Portland, recently added 200 jobs to its Automated Truck Research and Development Center here in Rip City. Daimler announced the job growth while unveiling its new Freightliner Cascadia automated truck…
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A Fresh View of Sichuan's Air Pollution Solutions

I recently had my ear to the ground in and around Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province. Two things struck me about the air quality in the city. First, the air seemed far cleaner than during my last visit in 2007 despite a…
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The “Wet” is Returning to the Oaks Bottom Wetlands

After almost completely drying out this summer, water has begun to return to the 140-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in southeast Portland, as work wraps up on an extensive wetlands rehabilitation project. Oaks Bottom is the largest remaining…
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Urban Onion: The City of Beaverton Seeks Livable Core

The latest efforts to transform the City of Beaverton into…well, Portland, apparently shape the city into an onion, made up of distinct layers. The outer layer, formed from offices and residential developments, encloses the inner core areas of the…
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The Skyscrapers of the Future Will Be Made of Wood

On August 8, the Oregon Building Codes Division approved a new state building code called a Statewide Alternate Method. The new code authorizes the construction of wood buildings taller than six stories, which was the previous limit. Taller wood…
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In Defense of Public Transit

The arrival of market disrupters Uber and Lyft has spawned many think pieces on the future of transportation. While we may think technology will solve our transportation problems, instead of focusing on new technology, state and local governments…
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Drink Up, Portland!

Last week, a colleague and I went on a field trip hosted by the Portland Water Bureau to the Bull Run Watershed, which is the primary water supply for the City of Portland and its multiple wholesale customers (including the City of Beaverton). The…
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