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Professor William H. Rodgers Jr., Water Hero 2016

William, a Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Washington, is widely recognized as a founder of and leading expert on U.S. Environmental Law. Instrumental in writing some of the nation’s earliest environmental laws that ushered in the “environmental revolution” of the 1960’s and 70’s, his four volume Treatise on Environmental Law and Hornbook on Environmental Law are still considered foundational texts for law schools nationwide. A dedicated mentor, he has educated thousands of passionate advocates and students at law schools across the country.

In Washington State, William’s work has had a profound impact on water resource issues. Most notably, he acted as lawyer and witness in the “Smelter Cases” of the 1970s and 80s that brought suit against companies spewing pollution into the air across the country. At that time ASARCO’s copper smelter in Tacoma was pumping roughly 186,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the air every year leading to acid rain burning the leaves of plants and crops across the Puget Sound region, and arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals settling into the soil and sediment across more than 1,000 square miles. Thanks to the work of William and others, the site surrounding the smelter was declared one of the first EPA Superfund sites in 1982 and the smokestack shut down in 1985. William has also represented tribes and activists on numerous occasions, often working alongside CELP’s co-founder, attorney Ralph Johnson, to protect Indigenous fishing rights under the Boldt decision.

Water Heroes
1. Rachel Paschal Osborn, Water Hero 2001
2. Benella Caminiti, Water Hero 2004
3. Nancy Rust, Water Hero 2006
4. Mickey Gendler, Water Hero 2008
5. Russ Busch, Water Hero 2010
6. Harriet Bullitt, Water Hero 2011
7. NW Indian Fisheries Commission, Water Hero 2012
8. Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Water Hero 2013
9. Ann Aagaard, Water Hero 2014
10. Upper Columbia United Tribes, Water Heroes 2015
11. Professor William H. Rodgers Jr., Water Hero 2016
12. Dr. John Osborn, Water Hero 2017
13. Water Heroes 2018
14. Larry Wasserman, Water Hero 2019
15. Professor Emeritus Robert Anderson, Water Hero 2020
16. Sharon Haensly, Water Hero 2021
17. Kimberly Ordon aka KO, Water Hero 2021
18. Daryl Williams, Water Hero 2022
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