Neighbors for Clean Air and the Northwest Environmental Defense Council announced today they intend to sue Intel over the chip giant's alleged failure to obtain the proper permits for it multi-billion D1X expansion in Washington County.
Neighbors for Clean Air has previously been in the news because of its efforts to force ESCO, the Northwest Portland steel maker, to reduce emissions. The Northwest Environmental Defense Council, which is based at Lewis & Clark Law School, has a long and successful history of pursuing polluters.
Here's the announcement the groups made today:
Neighbors for Clean Air (NCA) and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) initiated a citizen enforcement action against Intel for violations of the Clean Air Act concerning the company’s D1X expansion project in Hillsboro and Aloha.
The Clean Air Act requires that the public provide 60 days notice to alleged violators of the law before filing a federal lawsuit. Copies of the 60-day notice letter were also transmitted to state and federal officials. “This is a straight forward case,” said NCA Staff Attorney John Krallman. “Oregon law requires polluters to get an Air Contamination Discharge Permit before beginning construction or operation of a modified facility that increases pollutant emissions above certain thresholds. The D1X expansion at Intel clearly meets these thresholds, and the company failed to apply for or obtain the required permit. Every day that they were constructing or operating the facility is a separate violation of the law.”
Instead of going through the permitting process, which would have required an open public notice and comment period, the D1X expansion was incorrectly given the go-ahead by Oregon DEQ without any public notice. “Public involvement is extremely important for projects like this one that increase the amount of dangerous and toxic chemicals that a company puts into the air that we breathe,” said NCA President Mary Peveto. “There is growing awareness and concern from communities around Oregon that air pollution is a significant threat to our health and we have to do a better job of limiting the amount of air toxics in our communities.”
Violations of the Clean Air Act can subject a polluter to civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day per violation. “Civil penalties serve an important purpose in environmental compliance,” said NEDC Executive Director Mark Riskedahl. “Penalties serve as a punishment for violating federal law and also as a deterrent against future violations.”
NCA and NEDC are represented by Aubrey Baldwin of the Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark Law School.