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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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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Conserving the White Oak Tree

I grew up in the middle of an Oregon White Oak grove, perched on about a 900' elevation foothill of the coast range. A large tree with an enormous horizontally extending branch was perfect for hanging a rope swing for my little sister. Acorns…
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New Clean Energy Jobs Bills Seek to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Oregon

The Oregon legislature is currently in the process of figuring out how the state will (or won't) deal with the greenhouse gas emissions made by Oregonians that are negatively impacting the world's climate. Substantially similar drafts of the Clean…
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The "Disastrous" Costs of Climate Change

"Natural" disasters cost the United States a record amount of $306 billion in 2017, topping the previous record of $215 billion in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. This past year also tied with 2011 for the highest number of billion-dollar…
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Portland's Fossil Fuel Terminal Ban Upheld by Court of Appeals

On January 4, 2018, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued its decision in the case brought by Petitioners Columbia Riverkeeper, Portland Audubon Society, and Center for Sustainable Economy, among others, to attempt to uphold the City of Portland's new…
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Willamette Falls Riverwalk Moving Forward Despite Adversity

Willamette Falls, between Oregon City and West Linn, is the second-largest waterfall in the US by volume. Home of the nation's first hydroelectric project in 1888, the falls have largely been cut off from public view since then by industrial…
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Mass Timber Products Take Center Stage in Multi-Story Construction

Governor Brown has declared October 15-21, 2017 as "Oregon Forest Products Week" and asked all Oregonians to join in observance. In her signed proclamation to designate this week, Governor Brown recognizes Oregon's forest sector as the state's…
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Eagle Creek Fire Threatens More Than Just Trees

This past week brought a smoky smell, floating ash, and a hazy, deep red sun to downtown Portland. School athletics were cancelled and people advised to stay indoors. Pedestrians walk about in face masks as if this was Beijing, and our primary…
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Shining a Positive Light on the Willamette River with Portland's New Urban Plan

Growth and development in Portland's central city – comprised of 10 neighborhoods adjacent to or near the Willamette River, including South Waterfront, Lloyd and downtown – will soon be governed by a new urban development plan. A draft of the new…
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