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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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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Kickstarting New Brownfields Development in Portland

For a city as deeply steeped in all things sustainable, organic, gluten-free, and vegan as Portland, Oregon, it is surprising that the city does not have more of a thriving Brownfields program. Brownfields are the contaminated properties (and…
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"Infrastructure Week" – In Case You Missed It

For those of you who may have been distracted by other events in the news, let me recap the Trump Administration’s "Infrastructure Week" for you. Monday, June 5: President Trump kicked off the week with a formal East Room signing ceremony, complete…
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Beware Environmental Regulations Lurking in City Codes

When most people think of environmental regulations, they think of the federal government (United States Environmental Protection Agency or "EPA") and state agencies (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality or "DEQ"). However, environmental…
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Forward-Thinking Senior Living Community Blazes Net-Zero Neighborhood Trail

By their nature, senior living communities are forward-thinking, always keeping an eye on 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Rose Villa, a Portland, Oregon nonprofit continuing care retirement community (CCRC), exemplifies this forward-thinking strategy…
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Resilient Design: Preparing for Disruption

In January and February, the New York Times ran a series of articles on resilient design. The concept of resilient design is just what it sounds like — incorporating features in the design of the built environment that help make buildings…
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Gunderson Marine Barge Launch — More than Just a Vessel

Last month, I attended Gunderson Marine's launch of the OneDREAM, an articulated barge built for Harley Marine Services with a capacity of over 80,000 barrels and a length of 428 feet. What struck me most about the whole affair, standing amidst 200…
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It Doesn’t Take a Weatherman...

Actually, sometimes it does take a weatherman. Or a weatherwoman, as long as he or she is a real meteorologist, with an actual degree in SCIENCE, as Bill Nye the Science Guy might say. A month ago, when record snow was dumping on Portland and across…
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Toxic Air Emissions-Time to Tally

On January 6, I attended a Q&A session by lawyers and technical experts designed to help business entities prepare responses to an information request by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality ("DEQ") under the agency's new air toxics program…
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Five Jaw-Dropping Reasons to Read "Ear to the Ground"

Despite that headline, it's not clickbait. ONE. We are attorneys at Tonkon Torp LLP, a full service business law firm in Portland, Oregon. We have our ears to the ground as to what is going on in the real estate development community in the Pacific…
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