The PEAC Ascent
Spring 20

The Newsletter of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center at Lewis & Clark Law School

PEAC Logo Full 

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219-7799
tel: 503-768-6600
fax: 503-768-6642

In This Issue
Ballast Water Settlement
PEAC: On Video
PEAC Welcomes New Clinic Director and Staff Attorney
Student Spotlight

Quick Links



Founded in 1996, PEAC is the domestic environmental legal clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Our staff of six is passionate about achieving two goals: using the law to protect and restore the environment, and producing highly skilled environmental advocates by providing law students with real-world experience working on important cases.


PEAC provides free legal services for nonprofit conservation organizations. Our clients range from small grassroots groups - the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, for example - to large national groups such as the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. Regardless of size and geographic scope, our clients rely on our services as a key legal tool to help secure needed environmental protections, both due to the quality of our legal representation and because there are few non-profit, pro bono law firms in the Northwest.


PEAC provides hands-on legal experience to law students and summer clerks. We educate and train the next generation of public interest environmental attorneys, who receive valuable experience in client contact, legal research, drafting legal briefs and even arguing cases in court. Many of PEAC's former students now work for local, regional and national conservation organizations; others work for a variety of governmental entities to implement and enforce environmental laws. By providing students with legal experience they do not get from textbooks, PEAC helps ensure that the environmental community and those charged with carrying out laws to protect the environment will continue to have excellent legal representation in the future.

Not Yet a Supporter? Please Join Us!

In addition to training the next generation of environmental advocates, PEAC provides pro bono legal representation for environmental organizations in the region.  


As a self-funded clinic, we rely on the generosity of individuals, foundations and local businesses to help us deliver expert services to PEAC students and clients. Your contributions are critical to sustaining PEAC and its commitment to protect the natural resources of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  


Click Here to Donate Online.


Click Here for more ways to give to PEAC.

Happy Spring! 

We invite you to peruse this issue of the PEAC Ascent and catch up on our recent achievements, including a significant victory in the Ballast Water case on behalf of our lead client Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA). A new video features PEAC Of Counsel Dan Rohlf and students Jessica Johnson and John Krallman, and we are pleased to let you know about PEAC's exciting growth as we welcome Professor Craig Johnston as our new clinic director and Kevin Cassidy as a staff attorney.

All the best,
PEAC Staff


PEAC Leads Conservation Groups to Major Invasive Species Settlement 

Ballast Water
Ballast Water Discharge

PEAC recently settled an environmental law case that may stem the tide of invasive species brought into U.S. waters from international ships. The victory is part of a decade-long battle PEAC and its clients have had with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Allison LaPlante and Dan Mensher, clinical professors at PEAC, represented a group of conservation organizations, including lead client Northwest Environmental Advocates, in a case regarding the EPA regulation of pollution from vessels. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the agreement requires the EPA to complete two in-depth scientific reviews to identify and encourage the development of effective ways to eliminate invasive species from ballast water discharges, and issue a new permit based on this science to regulate ballast water discharges from vessels. 


Ballast water, discharged by ships for stabilization, is a major source of invasive species and other pollutants in waters of the United States. Invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels, mitten crabs, and the so-called "fish Ebola" virus in ballast water threaten the natural environment and destroy human infrastructure, costing governments billions in remedial costs each year.


"Through our settlement, EPA has for the first time in 35 years agreed to require ships to control their discharges like other industries," said LaPlante. "We know technologies exist to control the spread of invasive species-it is time that our government ask ships to use them to safeguard the public and the environment."


PEAC, the nationally recognized, domestic environmental legal clinic of Lewis & Clark Law School, is comprised of environmental lawyers who work in collaboration with law school faculty, staff, and students in pro bono representation, litigation, training, and education. In 1999, a PEAC intern working with Professor Craig Johnston petitioned the EPA to repeal a regulatory exemption from the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program for vessel discharges. After years of litigation, PEAC obtained a ruling from the Ninth Circuit in 2008 confirming that EPA's exemption was illegal and the EPA was ordered to withdraw the illegal exemption.


"The longevity of this case is a testament to the commitment of so many in the conservation field," LaPlante said. "Our clients, our legal team, and the numerous law students who have played a role in this case have worked hard challenging the EPA to uphold the Clean Water Act and stop turning a blind eye to the environmental devastation caused by invasive species."


To replace the illegal exemption, EPA issued a permit in December 2008 to cover vessel discharges, but many environmental organizations and states alike viewed the permit as far from adequate under the Clean Water Act. In their view, the permit failed to meet federal requirements because, among other reasons, it still allowed ships to discharge untreated ballast water containing invasive species.


As a result, in January 2009 PEAC filed a petition in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Northwest Environmental Advocates, Center for Biological Diversity, and People for Puget Sound. This petition was later consolidated with other cases pending in the D.C. Circuit and finally resolved this March.


LaPlante said the case was a win for the environment and for the many Lewis & Clark law students who worked on the case over the years. Given its complexities, students had the opportunity to engage a number of conservation groups, as well as collaborate with numerous environmental legal experts and attorneys who helped in the case, particularly the Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford Law School.


"The clinic is fortunate to be able to successfully serve its clients while preparing future environmental law attorneys," LaPlante said. "Our law students are taking what they learn in the classroom and applying it to real cases. It not only enriches their understanding of the law through hands-on experience, it allows the clinic to better serve its clients in the process."

New Video about PEAC

We are pleased to invite you to view the new video about PEAC. Our faculty and students discuss our work, mission, and the real-world positive change that we help bring about.

Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC)
Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC)


PEAC Welcomes New Clinic Director and Staff Attorney

PEAC is growing! In January 2011, PEAC welcomed Professor Craig Johnston as its new clinic director, and Kevin Cassidy as its newest staff attorney.

Craig Johnston
PEAC Clinic Director
Craig Johnston 

Professors Dan Rohlf and Craig Johnston co-founded the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC) in 1996 and co-directed it during its early years. For the past twelve years, Professor Rohlf has served as clinical director. Now, after leading PEAC through a period of remarkable growth and success, Professor Rohlf has moved into an Of Counsel position with the clinic and Professor Johnston has returned to PEAC as its new clinical director. We are fortunate to have both of PEAC's co-founders involved with the clinic. Professor Rohlf has increased his academic course load - which focuses on biodiversity management and conservation, sustainability, and the intersection between science and law - and is working with the law school's growing LL.M. program. He continues to work on cases for PEAC that seek to protect and restore imperiled species and their habitat, work with students, and provide other support to PEAC.


Professor Johnston is now overseeing PEAC's legal and educational program, teaching the Law School's introductory environmental law course and upper-level pollution courses, and leading PEAC's expansion into new areas for the clinic such as the development of a national-level practice (including a specialty in appellate work). In March 2011, Craig traveled to both Delhi and Bangalore, India, together with Lewis & Clark Law School Professors Brunet and Harmon, to continue to build relationships with the National Law Schools of India in both locations. Notably, professors at the National Law School of India in Bangalore indicated a strong interest in having PEAC representatives assist them in developing the first environmental clinic in India. Plans are already being developed for future visits, with the hope being that Professor Rohlf and others will soon be traveling to Bangalore to provide advice and support.


Kevin Cassidy BW
PEAC Staff Attorney Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy is PEAC's newest staff attorney and is also its first out-

of-state employee. By hiring Kevin (who is based in Massachusetts), PEAC has taken a first step toward implementing its model of advocacy and education on a national scale. Lewis & Clark Law School has a formidable network of alumni public interest environmental lawyers working on the East Coast and in the Midwest. By expanding to open an East Coast office, PEAC is much better situated to tap into that network, providing PEAC students with a more diverse legal experience.


"I've been in touch with many alums," Cassidy says. "Without exception, they are happy to hear PEAC is in the neighborhood, so to speak, and are looking forward to finding ways we can collaborate. They know the value that PEAC brings to a case, because many of them are former PEAC students, too. Each year, some percentage of Lewis and Clark grads will come east, so the opportunities to find partnerships in the future will continue to grow."


In April 2011, Cassidy, along with PEAC attorney Dan Mensher, teamed up with Hackensak Riverkeeper Staff Attorney Chris Len ('03) to petition New Jersey, on behalf of three Riverkeeper organizations, to revoke its General Clean Water Act Permit governing Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in the state. "The New Jersey CSO petition is a great example of PEAC-East finding a natural partner in Chris, an alum working in-house for a great client organization on the East Coast," Cassidy says.


Prior to joining PEAC, Kevin was a senior trial attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section of the  United States Department of Justice. In his eight years as an environmental crimes prosecutor, Kevin was co-lead counsel in several significant prosecutions, including the 2010 trial of Profish, Inc., et al., the 2007 trial of Southern Union Company and the 2005 trial of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, et al. Cassidy received a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2002.


Student Spotlight  

In each issue of the PEAC Ascent, we like to introduce you to current student.

PEAC provides its clinic students with the ultimate combination of classroom learning and real-world work experience. Our students contribute mightily to PEAC's success by working closely with staff attorneys and being involved in all aspects of our legal work. 


Lizzy Zultowski

Cincinnati, Ohio


Lizzy Student
Why is Lizzy smiling? Is she contemplating finals week? 

Why did you choose Lewis & Clark Law School?

I knew that Lewis and Clark would give me the best education in environmental law and provide me with access to awesome practical programs, including moot court, clinics, and clerkships. Plus, I knew that I'd fall in love with Portland!


Why were you interested in PEAC?

I wanted to learn about a broader range of cases and litigation issues than I have as a law clerk for other public interest environmental organizations. I also wanted to take advantage of the focus that PEAC's attorneys place on teaching students.


What are you working on in PEAC?

Primarily, I helped with briefing of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act issues in the Temperature Water Quality Standards case. Throughout the year, I also helped draft motions, participate in discovery, and review documents for other cases and issues related to Clean Water Act permits for suction dredge and gravel mining, PGE Boardman, and the Columbia River Crossing.   


Favorite educational moment at PEAC?

During a weekly class session, attorneys from different agencies spoke about environmental litigation and issues that often arise between the government and public interest groups. I found the session to be an extremely informative experience, providing me with a unique and helpful perspective on my career path.


How do you think PEAC experience will impact your future goals?

Through weekly class discussions about litigation strategies and issues, PEAC helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills and understand a wide variety of cases. By participating in various aspects of the litigation process, PEAC gave me the confidence to work independently and tackle difficult problems that often arise in litigation.  Wherever my career takes me, I know that these skills will serve me well.


What are your post-graduate goals?

I want to use my knowledge of environmental science and law to help communities and people reduce pollution problems and protect human health.


Favorite trips and places in the Pacific Northwest:

My favorite trips have included biking around Crater Lake, backpacking in Olympic National Park, cross-country skiing in Bend, and relaxing on the beach at Westwind!