Environmental groups recently sued the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) over its alleged failure to renew permits in a timely manner. Most permits issued by DEQ under the Clean Water Act have an initial term of five years. According to the complaint, at least 75 percent of all such permits in Oregon have exceeded their five-year term. Instead of renewing the permits, DEQ has been “administratively continuing” them. The petitioners allege that some of the permits have been continued for more than two decades (called “zombie permits” by the petitioners).
This is a concern for the environmental groups because DEQ continually updates its water quality standards and its list of impaired water bodies. Permits that are administratively continued instead of being renewed do not take these changed circumstances into account. Continue Reading