News Briefs: Cars Take Big Toll on Non-Drivers | Unions Rally for Rights in Oregon | Films Eye Indigenous Justice | Eugene Businesses Using Fewer Toxics | Bills Target Land Use Planning | Grow Grow Gadget Green Ganja | Small Scale Farming | Coos Bay a Dumping Ground? | Small Farms Yield More in Cuba | Movement to Amend Taking Off | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Lighten Up |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
No Clean Coal
Companies look to export coal through the Northwest
City manager pushes to blow growth boundary
CARS TAKE BIG TOLL ON NON-DRIVERS
Cars injured or killed 320 bicyclists and 141 pedestrians in a five-year period in Eugene, according to a city analysis.
Cars did the most damage on 11th and 18th avenues, Willamette Street and Coburg Road, according to the study of 2005-2009 ODOT crash data.
Drivers killed four people riding bikes and killed 11 people walking during the period, according to an analysis by a Portland consultant, Alta, for the citys new Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.
"Busy roadways designed to carry high volumes of vehicles are potentially more dangerous for walking and bicycling and may require additional treatments to decrease crash risk and improve their safety,” the consultant found. "Enhancing walking and bicycling routes that are on lower-traffic roadways may be a successful strategy to improve safety by allowing cyclists to travel on roadways that afford them lower exposure to vehicle traffic, and by increasing the numbers of Eugene residents who are cycling (by realizing the "safety in numbers” principle).”
The consultant did not identify any overall trends in the data, but the draft Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan for the city includes many improvements to increase safety at intersections and roadways identified by the consultant as having the most accidents. ã Alan Pittman
UNIONS RALLY FOR RIGHTS IN OREGON
Hundreds of union members rallied outside the state Capitol on Monday, March 7, concerned about Oregons public workers and the preservation of collective bargaining rights.
"Our message today is, •Dont balance the budget on the back of public employees,” said Tom Chamberlin, president of Oregons American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which sponsored the rally.
"Our movement is on the move, and we have captured the imagination of the American public,” he said. "We havent done that in a long time.”
Waving signs and shouting in unison, demonstrators demanded laborers rights in Oregon to be upheld. They also declared solidarity with union workers in Wisconsin, whose abilities to negotiate pensions and healthcare benefits have recently come under siege.
Gov. John Kitzhaber assured the crowd that Oregon would not be taking any cues from Wisconsin as the state attempts to tackle overspending.
"I have made it clear that Im going to ask our public employees to make some concessions to help us through these tough fiscal times,” he said. "But those concessions will be made across a bargaining table, through our collective bargaining process and with mutual respect.”
As Oregonians await the release of a new two-year budget, Kitzhaber announced plans for greater and more innovative job creation in the future. He promised to protect the interest of unions, but asked for help in passing legislation to revamp Oregons health-care system.
"Because the biggest drag on economic and job creation isnt taxes. Its the cost of health care.”
Sean McGarvey, secretary treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Department, described negotiation as fundamental to any business transaction in any state.
"Workers deserve collective bargaining rights,” he said. "Our brothers and sisters dont ask for me any more or any less that what is provided to every other entity that does business with a state, city, county or town.”
Among the rallys attendants were members of the Oregon Economic Council, Oregon Tradeswoman Inc., small business owners and several local unions.
Although the more than 700 union members at the rally represented a diverse collection of trades, from teachers to construction workers to mail carriers, each persons jacket bore a horizontal sticker: "We are One.” ã Deborah Bloom
FILMS EYE INDIGENOUS JUSTICE
Filmmaker David Martinez will screen two films during a benefit for the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) at 7:15 pm Thursday, March 10, at the David Minor Theatre. The films, Kixbal/Verguenza/Shame produced by Carlos Flores and Cuando La Justicia Se Hace Pueblo/When Justice is Made by the People produced by Tlachinollan (a legal defense group in Guerrero, Mexico), both address issues of indigenous justice in rural areas of Latin America.
"In some parts of Latin America where these films take place, if you are thought guilty of committing a crime they just douse you in gasoline and light you on fire,” says Martinez, when speaking of Shame. The film is shot almost by accident of the camera having been in the right place at the right time during a communal dispute over what to do with or to three boys caught stealing a truck in rural Guatemala.
Martinez says that both flicks are prime displays of a previously colonized people attempting to organize and administrate law in otherwise lawless environments. The CLDC film night will be followed by brief discussion also lead by Martinez who has produced documentaries in Iraq (500 miles to Babylon) and Darfur (Songs to Enemies and Deserts). He also contributed footage to Michael Moores Fahrenheit 911. Admission is sliding scale, $2-$12, but no one will be turned away. ã Dante Zu¿iga-West
EUGENE BUSINESSES USING FEWER TOXICS
Toxic chemical use by Eugene manufacturers has declined 55 percent since 2004, according to the citys Toxics Right-to-Know (TRTK) program.
Toxic releases to the environment declined 73 percent, according to the latest TRTK 2004-2009 data.
Still, local manufacturers reported using 8.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2009 ã about 55 pounds of deadly poison for every man, woman and child in Eugene.
The departure of Hynix, which used a river of acids and solvents to make memory chips in the west Eugene wetlands, accounts for a large part of the drop in toxic chemicals. In 2004, Hynix brought in more than a third of the chemicals used in Eugene. The Korean company moved its chip production to China in 2008 after $77 million in tax breaks expired.
The largest user of toxic chemicals in Eugene is now Forrest Paint, which accounts for almost half of local toxics. But Forrest Paint has won praise from local environmentalists in the past for installing filters to reduce its air emissions. Toxic chemical use by the company has declined 40 percent in the last three years, according to TRTK data.
The Willamette Valley Company is the second largest user of toxic chemicals in Eugene, accounting for 18 percent of reported local toxics. The company makes chemical products for wood treatment and coatings in west Eugene.
Voters overwhelmingly passed Eugenes Toxics Right-to-Know charter amendment in 1996, creating the TRTK program after Hynix refused to provide an accounting of what dangerous chemicals it was bringing to town.
The charter amendment specified that the program would be entirely supported by fees based on the amount of chemicals used. But efforts to kill the TRTK law by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and Hynix allies in the courts and the Legislature led to separating the fee structure from the amount of toxics used. The Legislature and courts forced the city to decrease fees charged to Hynix by 90 percent and double the fees charged smaller companies. ã Alan Pittman
BILLS TARGET LAND USE PLANNING
Opponents of Oregon land use planning are pushing several bills in the 2011 Legislature that would undermine citizen access to land-use appeals and restrict citizen involvement in land-use decisions, according to Onward Oregon, www.OnwardOregon.org
« HB 2181would make citizens who appeal local land use decisions to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) liable for attorney fees of the prevailing party if they lose their case. Current law only holds opponents liable for attorney fees if their case is determined to be frivolous.
« HB 2182limits opponents to a land use decision to either adjacent landowners or those who can pay a large deposit to bring a case before LUBA. "Farmers leasing land, a common circumstance throughout Oregon, will likely not be able to appeal decisions that affect their farming operations, and local advocacy groups with limited funds will likely not be able to raise the necessary deposit to do so, either,” according to Onward Oregon.
« HB 2610, requested by the Oregon Home BuildersAssociation, limits LUBA appeals for housing and industrial land use decisions within an urban growth boundary, and for aggregate mining anywhere, to individuals who either own, rent, or lease property within 1,000 feet, or can show their property would be adversely affected by $5,000 or more.
Initial public hearings have already been held on these bills. Track them at http://wkly.ws/11e or contact your state representative.
In other Legislative enviro news, SB 536, which would ban plastic checkout bags and promote reusable bags, has already had its first public hearing.The farm-to-school bill, HB2800, was scheduled for a hearing March 9 in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. SB 695, which would ban toxic BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups, reusable water bottles and infant formula cans, will have its first hearing before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committeeat 3 pm Tuesday, March 15. ã Ted Taylor
GROW GROW GADGET GREEN GANJA
What do you do when growing your green is not green enough and costs too much green? Growers can use a variety of light sources to provide their plants with the light they need to green their weed, and they can take advantage of lower costs from more efficient lighting. With more than 12,000 patients in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), using less electricity for marijuana growth helps the environment, too.
According to one grower in the OMMP, who asked to be called "Scott” for the sake of privacy, growing medical marijuana with light emitting diodes (LEDs) isnt very common yet, because the lights dont have "enough penetrating power” unless someone is growing very short plants. Growers who want to lower their electric bills and save the planet while they relieve the pain of chronically and terminally ill patients can use compact fluorescent bulbs for maximum efficiency.
Scott says that his vegetation room uses entirely compact fluorescent lighting, and he sees a difference of several hundred dollars between the energy bill for his compact fluorescent room and the more expensive high-pressure sodium lights.
Different types of cannabis growth require different light, which is measured as the color temperature (the hue of a light type) in Kelvin. "Flowering for compact fluorescents is 2,700 K, for vegetative growth its 6,500 K,” Scott says. "It can be a pain in the butt to get your hands on.” He says hes seen the right type at Lowes, but not at Jerrys or Home Depot.
EWEB has a rebate plan for compact fluorescent and light emitting diode fixtures, but they only apply to hard-wired fixtures on the list of Energy Star qualifying products, which may disqualify a lot of marijuana growers. If anyone could figure out a way around the EWEB qualifications, it would be the activists who managed to lessen the legal impacts of medical pot in the face of a draconian federal drug policy. ã Shannon Finnell
SMALL SCALE FARMING
Farmers gathered in the Coquille Room of the EMU on the first day of the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference to discuss subsistence rights, the faults of monoculture and agrichemical agriculture, and how to reinvigorate small-scale farming in this country.
"Food is the center of our society, our culture,” said Jorge Navarro of Huerto de la Familia, a group that provides organic farming opportunities for Latino families in need throughout Lane County. "Everything begins and ends” with food, he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of farms in the country has declined from four million to 2.2 million since 1959. This is the result of monoculture farming, the practice of farms growing one specific crop, and the rise of the "industrial farming complex.” The lack of diversity in major commercial farms is bad for farming because it opens up the entire farm to danger from swarms of pests and creates an economy dependent on just a few specific crops, the panelists said.
"When you simplify an ecosystem, you weaken it,” said Larry Brewer, program director for the Oregon Biodynamic Group.
The panel offered some positive examples of sustainable and non-consumerist farming working on a small-scale. Paul Atkinson, who owns Laughing Stock Farm off of Territorial Highway, shared his experiences exchanging turkeys with other small-scale farmers for meals instead of money. Michael Moss discussed the benefits of herd sharing, in which consumers pay farmers a fee for a farmer to board a cow, obtaining milk ã or in this case, cheese ã in exchange.
"I dont like to talk about ownership; I like to talk about taking care of the land and animals,” Atkinson said.
While these practices have worked on a small scale, agriculture as a whole in this country remains driven by monoculture and consumerism. When the Earl Butz-led USDA provided large subsidies to massive corn farming operations, small-scale farms couldnt compete with the low prices and were bought up or failed.
"Nothing is sustainable if practices are being committed that could bring the whole ecosystem down,” Moss added. "I dont believe in insular activism.”ã John Locanthi
COOS BAY: A DUMPING GROUND?
Coos Bay has long been an important site for the timber industry with its strategic positioning along the Coos River, the Pacific Ocean and lush forests. However, as discussed at the "Rural Oregon: Not a Dumping Ground for Dirty Development Projects” panel at the Public Interest in Environmental Law Conference, logging is no longer the only environmental issue facing this coastal community.
Efforts by the Australian-owned Oregon Resources Corp. to set up chromium mines in the Seven Devils area of Coos County threaten the county with potential exposure to hexavalent chromium, the same chemical that became famous in the movie Erin Brochovich. A proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline could also put the bay and surrounding forests in danger.
"What we do with land use is going to make or break our future,” said Cameron La Follette of the Oregon Coast Alliance.
Chromite mining operations near Coos Bay began in the mid-1940s. The mines were eventually closed, but the aesthetic reminder of these operations is the barren patches in the middle of thick, lush forested hills.
The other lasting reminder of those chromite mining operations is the prevalence of the carcinogenic isotope hexavalent chromium in the nearby water. It has been measured at 9 parts per billion in surface water in the region and 7.8 parts per billion in the groundwater. At 11 parts per billion, it becomes dangerous to fish. All four proposed mines are near Threemile and Fivemile creeks and are a mere two miles from the ocean. Due to increased concerns about the effects of hexavalent chromium in drinking water, EPA released new guidelines in January to guide utilities in testing for the chemical.
The proposed LNG pipeline would require clear-cutting through 3,035 acres of forestland to connect from Malin, Ore., to Jordan Cove near Coos Bay. Jody McCafree, executive director of Citizens Against LNG, said that the pipeline could result in 5.6 million cubic yards of dredged materials in the water. Coos Bay is Oregons largest commercial producer of shellfish.
"We need to move from extraction to sustainability,” McCaffree said, pointing out the economic benefits of recent environmental actions in the region, such as recovering metals from the Coos County landfill dump.
All three panelists emphasized the need to develop a water monitoring system and find a baseline for Coos Bay. ã John Locanthi
SMALL FARMS YIELD MORE IN CUBA
Not all movements towards sustainable small-scale farming are the products of an organic, idealistic viewpoint ã some are created out of sheer necessity. Humberto Rios Labrada, winner of a 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize (aka the "Green Nobel”), spoke about the transformation of farming in Cuba at the March 5 keynote speech at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba had to drastically change its agricultural system as it no longer had access to petroleum, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, heavy machinery and other staples of agrochemical farming.
Labrada, nicknamed the "Seed Man,” started a collaborative effort between scientists who championed the agrochemical farming strategies and farmers to decentralize the farming industry. Unable to maintain and run large-scale farming operations, Cuban agriculture had to switch to smaller, traditional methods, and yields increased. Under the older system, one hectare would yield enough food to feed six people per day. Labrada showed examples of smaller farms producing enough food to feed 30 people per day from a single hectare.
Cuban universities drastically changed their agriculture curriculum towards a "dynamic education” program that actively engaged farmers in the process of educating and cultivating a functioning system.
A musician as well as a scientist, Labrada sang a song, showed a music video, and showed photos of artwork to illustrate how farming and seeds had become an important part of Cuban culture. Labrada encouraged farmers to mix seeds in order to develop truly Cuban (and productive) crops. ãJohn Locanthi
MOVEMENT TO AMEND TAKING OFF
Former Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb spoke at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference March 4 and said the national campaign to shelve the Citizens United case is gaining momentum and the petition hes circulating has already surpassed 105,000 signatures. He spoke at a panel on "Green Politics & the Green Future,” organized by Corvallis resident Blair Bobier of the Pacific Green Party.
Cobb is associated with Democracy Unlimited and Move To Amend and speaks nationwide on the need for systematic change in U.S. politics and policy. "The U.S. is a racist, sexist, classist society, and we are destroying this planet,” he said, "and transnational corporations have hijacked our food system.”
One big change he is calling for is the elimination of "corporate personhood,” or the power that business and industry have grown to wield over public policy. Move to Amend would put an amendment to our Constitution before the American people to "make all corporate rights subject to the democratic process.” He said, "people have rights and governments have duties,” but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have many of the same rights as individuals, including free speech, which in turn includes unlimited campaign spending.
Cobb doesnt expect reforms to come from the courts or Congress. "Change has to start at the local level,” he said, "and we need to start with resolutions by local groups to build discourse, and make it a core political issue, and even a litmus test for candidates.”
« Noted innovator and author Stewart Brand will speak at 7 pm Thursday, March 10, at the LaSells Stewart Center
at OSU in Corvallis. Brand is the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, founder of The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation, and is the author of several books. See http://wkly.ws/11h
« Jewish author Richard Forer, a former AIPAC member with ultra-Orthodox relatives in Israel, will speak at 7 pm Thursday, March 10, at the UO Chiles Hall, Room 128, on the topic of his new book, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion ã A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
« A roundtable discussion on Immigrant Rights featuring Rogers Smith,Hiroshi Motomura and Dan Tichenor, is planned for 5:30 pm Thursday, March 10, at 175 Knight Law Center at UO.
« A workers solidarity rally to "help create a Wisconsin-Oregon connection” will begin at 4:45 pm Friday, March 11, behind the Hilton in downtown Eugene. A march will proceed down Oak Street to the Free Speech Plaza at 8th and Oak for brief remarks. The march will then continue to state offices at 165 E. 7th Ave. to support AFSCME and SEIU members in their current contract bargaining talks.
« Oregon House and Senate committees on redistricting are beginning public hearings around the state. The first will be from 11 am until 2 pm Friday, March 11, at Tillamook Bay Community College, Room 214, in Tillamook. Local hearings are planned for 10 am to 1 pm Saturday, April 16, at UO in Eugene, and from 3:30 to 6:30 pm at Linn Benton Community College in Corvallis, locations to be announced. Find more information at http://wkly.ws/11g
« A public hearing on the six-story Casanova Center expansion next to Autzen Stadium is planned for 5 pm Wednesday, March 16, at the Atrium Buildings Sloat Room across from the downtown bus station. Construction will be paid for by donor Phil Knight, but the nearly $100 million football facility and Nike museum will cost the UO an estimated $1 million to $2 million a year to operate and maintain.
« Project Homeless Connect is preparing for its fifth annual event March 17 at the Fairgrounds. Organizers are collecting coats, hats, gloves, scarves, socks, sleeping bags and backpacks, along with personal hygiene products. Donations may be dropped off at any St. Vincent de Paul store. Checks can also be sent to United Way of Lane County, 3171 Gateway Loop, Springfield 97477.
« The invasion of Iraq March 19, 2003 will be remembered by a demonstration and procession of coffins at noon Saturday, March 19, at Central Park on Monroe Street in Corvallis. Wear black.
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
« Eastside aerial spray: Weyerhaeuser will aerially spray 82 acres using one or more of 11 different herbicides including ester of 2,4-D next to Richie Creek near Leaburg and near the EWEB Canal (Eugenes water supply) in Section 11 of Township 17S, Range 1 East starting March 12 (ODF Notice No. 2011-771-00166); and 50 acres near the Mohawk River tributaries in Section 30 of T16S, R1W starting March 15 (771-00170).
To comment on Weyerhaeuser aerially spraying toxic herbicides near Eugenes water supply, call Marvin Vetter, stewardship forester at ODF in Springfield at 726-3588; Debbi Dalrymple at Weyerhaeuser at 746-2511 or 988-7502; and Gov. Kitzhaber at (503) 378-4582.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
If life were fair, a county commissioner would be hauled into court for consorting with lobbyists rather than for meeting with other commissioners.ã Rafael Aldave, Eugene
« Out-of-state interests dont often pay attention to Eugene politics. But the newly empowered Tea Party is out for blood, particularly now that Strong Schools Eugene has kicked off its campaign to pass a temporary city income tax to support two Eugene school districts (see www.StrongSchoolsEugene.org).
Jeff Lozar is the Lane County leader of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the advocacy wing of the ultra-right-wing Koch brothers of New York. Lozar and his Tea Party buddies are calling the local tax for schools "a ridiculous idea,” and saying "Eugene looks to raise taxes for something thats not even its responsibility” (see http://wkly.ws/11d). The local AFP is in lock-step with the national group which opposes unions, health care reform, stimulus funding, green jobs, mass transit, concerns for climate change and other environmental issues. The local AFP opposes the West Eugene EmX, but supports the lawsuit against progressive county commissioners.
The AFP had a national budget of $40 million in 2010, which is not a lot of money, but we suspect a chunk of AFPs 2011 budget will be directed against the Eugene school tax. After all, the nation is watching little Eugene and what we do here could inspire a very different kind of taxpayer revolt all over the country.
We spotted only a handful of AFP protesters at the Strong Schools kick-off Tuesday afternoon at Kelly Middle School. They were far outnumbered by parents and kids.
« Turnout for the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference last weekend was impressive and EW sent half a dozen staffers and interns to the panels and talks. As usual we will be running PIELC stories for the next few weeks as space permits; and story ideas we gleaned will keep us busy for the next year. The success stories presented at PIELC provide inspiration and encouragement at a time when the challenges seem overwhelming. As Bruce Nillis of the Sierra Club told one gathering at PIELC, "Change is coming even if Congress is not ready.”
PIELC is touted as an environmental law gathering, but the topics discussed are much broader in scope, addressing some of the key issues of our day. Climate change, energy, resource management, food security, justice, communication ã these issues and their high level of discourse are worthy of a much larger audience. Most meeting rooms at PIELC were packed to standing room only and crowds were turned away from some keynote talks. We would love to see PIELC evolve into a truly global conference drawing many more than 3,000 people, and packing every available venue on campus, even Mac Court or Matt Court. The valiant volunteer law students who organize this event would need year-round staff support, and a much bigger budget.
«It sounds like a headline from The Onion: "Area Dad Mad, Thinks Teachers are Mean to His Kids.” Art Robinson is trying to grab headlines again with an attack on Peter DeFazio and Oregon State University that OSU calls "baseless and without merit.” Robinson has largely been out of the news since his Wall Street billionaire-funded attempt to win DeFazios seat in Congress failed last November. Robinson claims that "DeFazio supporters” at OSU, which he calls a "Democrat stronghold,” are trying to prevent three of his home-schooled progeny from getting their doctorates in nuclear engineering. OSU says theyve investigated the claims and found nothing; and DeFazios office says the congressmans support of higher education has nothing to do with whatever problems the Robinson clan might be having at OSU.
Whats not getting media attention is that Robinson has attacked schools before, the last time to draw attention to his online home school business. He went after Southern Oregon University, which required his daughter Arynne to take a humanities course. Robinson claims the school was intimidated by his threats of a costly telephone, fax and letter campaign by his "subscribers and home-schooling friends.” Robinson campaigned on a platform that included defunding public education.
« We hear donations are slow coming in for Project Homeless Connect, while the need is greater than ever. This years event is March 17 at the Fairgrounds. Last years event served 1,402 guests with the help of 581 community volunteers and 301 service providers, from medical and legal professionals to bike mechanics and hairdressers. See Activist Alert this week for information on how to help.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com