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State of Oregon Law Library Legal Research Blog

Earth Day: Collection Highlights

by Georgia Armitage on 2021-04-21T16:07:00-07:00 in Oregon History, Electronic Database, Legal Research | Comments

Image: Mt. Hood from Lost Lake. 1900. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mitchell and Nancy Steir. 

April 22, 2021, is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day is a chance for us to learn more about our environment and the threats facing it. To mark the day, we have complied a selection of environmental law resources and a brief history of environmental policy in Oregon.  

Environmental Policy in Oregon

Oregon enacted its first pollution laws in 1889. The laws established drainage rules and animal carcass disposal rules. For the next forty years, Oregon passed a variety of piecemeal laws to prevent water pollution. They were ineffective. According to the Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) history, the 180 mile "Willamette River had become so polluted that during low stream flows, it resembled an open sewer.” 

Image: Willamette River, Portland, Oregon. 1901 Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mitchell and Nancy Steir. 

Frustrated with the state of the Willamette River, Oregonians voted for the "Water Purification and Prevention of Pollution Bill" in 1938. The law also created the State Sanitary Authority. In 1951, Oregon passed an air pollution control law and created the Air Pollution Authority. These laws made Oregon an environmental leader. According to the DEQ's history, the water control bill was "one of the first state comprehensive water pollution control laws in the nation."  Similarly, Dr. Arthur C. Stern -- writing for the Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association -- noted that the air pollution control law was the first in the country to control air pollution at the state level. Other states only allowed control at the county level or created city-focused regulations. 

Environmental awareness swept the country in the 1960s. The book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson highlighted the dangers of pesticides. In 1969, 2 environmental disasters – the Cuyahoga River Fire in Ohio and the Santa Barbara Oil Spill in California– drove Congress to establish the Environmental Protection Agency and pass Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.  

In Oregon, the legislative assembly created the DEQ in 1969. It replaced the State Sanitary Authority (and the Air Pollution Authority which the State Sanitary Authority absorbed in 1959).  During this time, Oregon passed the 1967 Beach BillGovernor Thomas McCall’s successful effort to make all Oregon beaches public – and the Bottle Bill (1972) – the first law in the country establishing deposits for bottles. In 1973, the Land Conservation and Development Commission was created to regulate land use. 

More recent environmental legislation in Oregon includes an environmental justice law that took effect in 2008. According to the EPA, minorities and low-income communities “are more likely to be impacted by environmental hazards and more likely to live near contaminated lands.” Oregon’s law established an environmental justice task force, as well as requirements to increase engagement and communication between natural resource agencies and communities impacted by their policies.

In the last few years, Oregon enacted the Single Use Bag-Ban and Oregon Environmental Protection Act in 2019. The Oregon legislature passed the Environmental Protection Act, because of increasingly lax federal environmental protections. The act made earlier and stricter federal environmental protections Oregon law.

Image Credit: Rooster Rock, Columbia River, Oregon. 1900. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mitchell and Nancy Steir. 

Today, Oregon is the 6th greenest state in the country according to a 2021 WalletHub report. The report ranked Oregon so highly, because of the state's environmental quality and eco-friendly behaviors. 

To learn more about environmental law and policy, dig into the library's resources listed below. To find bills before the current legislature search this database by subject or keyword. 

Resources

Databases (Limited to State Employees):

Lexis Advance -- Environmental Law

WestLaw -- Energy and Environment

HeinOnline -- Environmental Law and Conservation Journals (including Lewis & Clark and University of Oregon). Browse subjects to find them. 

Oregon Resources: 

Environmental Law Volume 1: Regulation and Permitting edited by Ms. Laura Maffei et. al. (2013).

Environmental and Natural Resources Law edited by Mr. Jas Jeffrey Adams et. al. (2002 edition with 2006 supplement).      

Water rights in Oregon: an introduction to Oregon's water laws (2018).

General Resources: 

Climate change and indigenous peoples: a synthesis of current impacts and experiences by Kathryn Norton-Smith et. al. (2016).

Endangered and other protected species by Richard Littell (1992) 

Environmental law in a nutshell by Daniel A. Farber (2014) 

Treatise on environmental law by Frank P. Grad (1973). 

Water law in a nutshell by David H. Getches (2009). 

Waters and water rights edited by Robert E. Beck and Amy K. Kelley (2009) 

Wildlife law, regulation, and falconry: an analysis of legal principles by William J. Murrin & Harold M. Webster, Jr., J.D (2013) 

Need more specific materials? Browse the catalog! 

If you are looking for a more specific topic, try browsing the catalog. Browsing the catalog is like browsing the bookshelves. The browse portion of the catalog is organized by subject – search for the subject you’re interested in, say environmental law, and click on it to see a list of relevant resources. 

Bibliography

Boissoneault, Lorraine. “The Cuyahoga River Caught Fire at Least a Dozen Times, but No One Cared Until 1969.” Smithsonian Magazine, June 19, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/cuyahoga-river-caught-fire-least-dozen-times-no-one-cared-until-1969-180972444/

Department of Environmental Quality. “Oregon’s 2008 environmental justice law.” Department of Environmental Quality, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Pages/index.aspx

Department of Environmental Quality. “Oregon's Evolving Bottle Bill.” Department of Environmental Quality, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Pages/index.aspx. 

Department of Environmental Quality. “Single-Use Bag Ban.” Department of Environmental Quality, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Pages/index.aspx. 

Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Coastal Management Program. “Public Access to the Coast.” Oregon Coastal Management Program, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.oregon.gov/lcd/OCMP/Pages/index.aspx. 

Governor Kate Brown. “Oregon Environmental Protection Act - HB 2250 Bill Signing,” last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/index.aspx. 

Hamilton, Jon. “How California's Worst Oil Spill Turned Beaches Black And The Nation Green.” NPR, January 28, 2019. https://www.npr.org/. 

Hillegas-Elting, James V. “Department of Environmental Quality.” Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon Historical Society, last modified May 28, 2019. https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/. 

Howe, Deborah. “Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC).” Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon Historical Society, last modified March 17, 2018. https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/

Kiernan, John S, editor. "2021’s Greenest States." WalletHub, Evolution Finance, last modified April 14, 2021. https://wallethub.com

Office of the Secretary of State. Archives Division. Department of Environmental Quality Administrative Overview. Oregon Secretary of State, last modified November 2009. http://records.sos.state.or.us/ORSOSWebDrawer/Search. 

Oregon State Legislature. Oregon Laws 2007, Chapter 909. Oregon State Legislature. Last accessed April 19, 2020. https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/

Oregon State Legislature. Oregon Laws 2019, Chapter 138. Oregon State Legislature. Last accessed April 19, 2020. https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/

Robbins, William G. “Willamette River.” Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon Historical Society, last modified January 20, 2021. https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/.  

Stern, Arthur C. “History of Air Pollution Legislation in the United States.” Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association 32, no. 1 (1982): 44-61. Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.1080/00022470.1982.10465369.  

“The Story of Silent Spring.” NRDC, last modified August 13, 2015. https://www.nrdc.org

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Earth Day.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/

United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Annual Environmental Justice Progress Report FY 2020. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/. 

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Evolution of the Clean Air Act.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “History of the Clean Water Act.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Origins of the EPA.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, last accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/.  

Walth, Brent. “Thomas William Lawson McCall (1913-1983).” Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon Historical Society, last modified January 22, 2021. https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/


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