When it comes to saving the environment, lawyers and protesters often go hand in hand, so it may come as no surprise that alongside (though not an official part of) the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the UO Feb. 28 to March 3, there were acts of protest.
The annual Outlaw Bash party and fundraiser tradition, as described by longtime environmentalist Michael Donnelly in an article inCounterPunch, is “music, libations and ever-popular bonfires of mock-ups of eco-destruction.” This year’s effigy burned in the fire featured Secretary of State Kate Brown and Gov. John Kitzhaber on their knees praying before a massive chainsaw emblazoned with “salvation” on one side and “Christihl” on the other (Stihl is a popular brand of chainsaw).
The effigy was a comment on Kitzhaber and Brown’s presence on the State Land Board that governs Oregon’s state forests and their vote to dramatically increase clearcut logging on the forests. The Elliott State Forest is home to some of Oregon’s last coastal rainforests, and it houses threatened and endangered species, such as the marbled murrelett.
But they do say a picture is worth a thousand words …
"Kitzhaber" and "Brown," paying homage to the mighty chainsaw (the gov's boots and 'stache are a nice touch)
The Cascadia Forest Defenders, Deep Green Resistance and other groups held an "action against extraction" on Sunday, March 3, following the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, to call attention to global-warming inducing tar sands pipelines, fracking, coal exports and other damaging fossil-fuel projects. More in this week's EW.
Insect control made awesome. According to Oregon State University in Corvallis, "Trissolcus halyomorphae is a parasitoid wasp found in the native regions of BMSB (China, Korea, and Japan). It deposits eggs into the eggs of BMSB, where its larvae develop and kill the BMSB egg. A single adult wasp then emerges. Research is currently being done to evaluate this wasp as potential biological control agent of BMSB in the United States."
Mostly I just liked that it was bug reproduction set to cool music.
According to YouTube:
The video by Chris Hedstrom, a graduate research assistant at Oregon State University, showcases the life cycle of Trissolcus halyomorphae, an egg parasitoid of the brown marmorated stink bug, from mating to the emergence of the adult wasp from the host egg.
>B. ORDER 13-02-26-10/ In the Matter of Confirming the Appointment of Dr. Duwayne Penfold and Approving the At-Large Appointments of Tamara Banavige and Jessica Berg as Members of the Lane County Animal Services Advisory Committee. (Mike Russell, Manager) (estimated 15 minutes) (view material)
C. DISCUSSION/ In the Matter of the Status of the Lane County Animal Servicess Program and Update on Transition Issues. (Mike Russell, Manager) (estimated 30 minutes) (view material)
A big ruling for the Western Environmental Law Center: WELC, which has offices in Eugene, succesfully argued the that the Bureau of Land Mangement can't keep secret the names of corporations that want to lease public lands to drill for oil and gas. “Every community has the right to know what corporations are seeking to drill on public lands near their homes and where they recreate,” WELC attorney Kyle Tisde said. The press release is below.
Federal Agency Ordered to Reveal Identity of Corporations Seeking to Lease Public Lands for Oil & Gas Drilling
Court reverses BLM policy of keeping the nominators’ identity secret until after the lease sale
February 14, 2013
DENVER - A federal court ruled yesterday that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy and practice of keeping secret from the public the identity of entities nominating public lands for oil and gas development is unlawful.
The precedent setting ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in June 2012 by the non-profit organizations Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) and the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). The groups filed the suit after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) refused to reveal names of the entities that had nominated 30,000 acres of public lands in Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling.
“Every community has the right to know what corporations are seeking to drill on public lands near their homes and where they recreate,” said WELC attorney Kyle Tisdel. “The Court’s decision is a clear rebuke of BLM’s policy to protect industry at the expense of the public and its ability to fully engage the agency’s decisionmaking process.”
Federal oil and gas leases are issued pursuant to competitive bidding at a public sale, which is the final step in a process that starts with the submission of an expression of interest (EOI). Until now, BLM policy has allowed the identity of EOI submitters to remain secret until after the lease sale – depriving the public from participating in BLM’s oil and gas drilling decision-making on a fully informed basis.
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch rejected the government’s contention that revealing the names of the nominators would give their competitors an unfair advantage and emphasized that the identity of the nominators is important information for citizens concerned about potential contamination of their water and air during the oil and gas extraction process.
“That contention runs directly contrary to the purpose of the public sale process. Competition in bidding advances the purpose of getting a fair price for a lease of publicly owned minerals,” Judge Matsch wrote. “Moreover, the identity of the submitter may be relevant to the plaintiff and others who may raise concerns about the stewardship records of that potential owner, a factor relevant to the environmental impact of the proposed sale.”
“This is a victory for everyone who believes the government should do its business in the open, and for everyone trying to protect their community from the severe impacts of oil and gas drilling,” said Jim Ramey, director of CHC. “The public has a right to know who nominated these leases, and we look forward to receiving that information from the BLM.”
The BLM announced in December 2011 that 30,000 acres of public lands in the North Fork Valley had been nominated for oil and gas leasing and development. The nominated parcels were included in the BLM’s August 2012 oil and gas lease sale; however, due to overwhelming public opposition spearheaded by CHC and WELC, BLM has twice deferred the lease of these parcels, most recently on February 6, 2013.
Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley is home to the largest concentration of organic farms in the Rocky Mountain West, and also home to West Elks American Viticultural Area’a 12 wineries. The region’s still growing sustainable local economy had been threatened by the nominated BLM leases.
Despite extensive objections from Oregon's vegetable seed growers who fear canola, aka rapeseed, will contaminate their crops, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has approved "some canola production in the Willamette Valley." The press release is below.
ODA adopts Willamette Valley canola control area rule
February 7, 2013... The Oregon Department of Agriculture has adopted an administrative rule that allows for some canola production in the Willamette Valley while continuing to protect specialty seed crop production. Under the rule, a majority of specialty seed production remains in a rapeseed exclusion zone in which canola is not allowed to be grown.
“Following the extensive amount of public comments received, we have made modifications to what was proposed in order to give greater assurance that our specialty seed growers in the Willamette Valley are not harmed by canola production,” says ODA Director Katy Coba. “At the same time, we feel it’s important to give some producers an opportunity to grow canola under the restrictions and safeguards put in place by this rule.”
The administrative rule establishes the Willamette Valley protected district, which includes portions of Lane, Linn, Benton, Marion, Polk, Clackamas, Yamhill, Washington, Multnomah, and Columbia counties. The protected district will have two zones. The first is a fully protected zone of more than 1.9 million acres that prohibits the growing of canola and contains the highest concentration of specialty seed growers in the valley. The second zone of about 1.7 million acres, located outside the exclusion zone, allows the growing of canola but production is limited to a maximum annual total of 2,500 acres. Producers desiring to grow canola are required to apply for a contract with ODA that contains specific requirements for managing the crop. The rule also establishes a minimum field size of 25 acres for canola.
In general, ODA’s rule limits how much canola can be grown in the Willamette Valley, where it can be grown, and requires significant management practices for production by controlling inadvertent spread of canola seed. It is important to note that the cap of 2,500 acres is a small fraction– just 0.13 percent– of the approximately 1.9 million acres of farmable land in the valley.
The rule and its new boundaries go into effect immediately. ODA will award contracts for canola planting by September 1 of each year for requests received before July 15. Each contract will describe the responsibilities and obligations of the producer.
Four and half year old Fela Colbert has gone missing, and her father, Steve, is desperately trying to find out what happened. Colbert says when he went to pick Fela up from her mother, Deanna Lane, at the end of January at their weekly exchange location — the Eugene downtown public library — neither Fela nor her mother was there.
Colbert says the fact that Fela's mother has custody has made it difficult for him to get help from law enforcement in tracking his daughter down. He says he is worried not just about his daughter, but about Lane. When he went to their house to find them, he says the landlord told him Lane had walked away with just a suitcase and left all her other belongings behind. She told the landlord she was moving because she felt threatened. Colbert says it's not just that his daughter is missing, with her mother gone too, it's a "missing persons problem."
"It's a child, " he says, "If there's a 4 1/2-year-old girl missing, you do everything you can to find her." And he says under the agreements made through the courts, Lane is supposed to give 30 days notice if she moves, and Colbert the same, "even if you are just moving into the house next door."
"He's like you know what, I've come to realize I'm Jesus Christ and I can do anything I want to."
"I grabbed the hatchet and I was like smash, smash, SMASH."
The PG&E worker is going to be ok; he has a broken leg. The driver is in jail, charged with attempted murder. Not sure where the hitchhiker wound up, but if he makes his way to Eugene (chances are good) then I say someone should buy him a drink.
The recent fights over access to downtown Eugene's traditional public forums — the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and the federal building plaza — are headed for the courts to debate the constitutionality of telling protesters that their free speech is limited to certain hours of the day. Tuesday marked a skirmish in the battle as activist Alley Valkyrie again tested the bounds of the exclusion order put on her by County Administrator Liane Richardson and County Counsel Stephen Dingle that is intended to keep her out of county buildings after she was charged (not convicted) of trespass for staying in the Free Speech Plaza after it was closed.
Mayor Kitty Piercy has told Valkyrie and county staff that Valkyrie can come to city meetings, but in emails back and forth with Valkyrie, Dingle has maintained that she will be arrested if she enters the building without written permission and an escort. In an email written after Valkyrie attended a "name-clearing hearing" for former county attorney Marc Kardell, Dingle wrote:
I want to make sure that you understand that your presence at the Marc Kardell name clearing hearing did not result in your arrest for trespass because of a miscommunication. Specifically, I want to make sure that you understand this is not a waiver of the previously imposed exclusion order. I have now had the opportunity to check with the City of Eugene regarding the assertions you made in your last email and I learned nothing that would change the County’s position. If you are present in the Public Service Building or Harris Hall for County functions without specific written permission from either the County Administrative Officer or County Counsel you will be subject to arrest.
Lane County does not have the resources to provide an escort. You may continue to enter the PSB or Harris Hall for city-related business as outlined in my earlier email.
In a return email, Valkyrie pointed out the irony of the county not having the resources for an escort while at the same time proposing giving Dingle a "huge" raise (the proposd 14 percent raise that has been declined for now would have taken Dingle's salary from $145,995 to $166,400).
On Jan. 29, Valkyrie attended a County Commission meeting to give public comment.
Filmed by Joe Tyndall, edited by Dustin Ross
After the public comment period ends, commissioners can respond to the commenters. Commissioner Faye Stewart responded to a constiuent who had concerns over a flooded roadway and to Dexter resident Pam Driscoll who discussed mining at Parvin Butte, the firing of Kardell, and concerns about the county's participation in the Association of O&C Counties and its recent problematic use of "executive session." Commissioner Pat Farr commented briefly on the the AOCC issue.
Commissioner Pete Sorenson addressed Valkyrie's remarks and said that "Every government in our country has a responsibility to allow people who want to peaceably assemble and speak to do that" and that it was a protected right under the state and federal constitutions. He said it was important for elected officials to respect the right of people to speak out.
Commissioner Jay Bozievich told Valkyrie, "We did recognize who you were and allowed you to stay and speak because we don't want to limit your rights," adding, " That is not the intent of the order." Then he gave the example of the state Legislature and said, "There are time, place, manner, restrictions to some free speech to allow goverment functions to continue," and said Valkyrie can address the board when she wishes to in the future.
To see the full remarks go here and click on the Jan. 29 HACSA meeting.
A salary of $175,656 for embattled County Administrator Liane Richardson and $166,400 for County Counsel-to-be Stephen Dingle (his contract has not been voted on). Those are the salaries on the table for Richardson and Dingle if proposed raises go through, according to The Register-Guard in a story Jan. 24. Materials related to the upcoming votes are available here on the county's website.
That's about $40,000 in raises at a time when the county is strapped for cash, irate readers point out on the R-G's page and in Letters to the Editor EW is already receiving. Ironically the Lane County Board of Commissioner's vote on the raise is the same day as a public hearing on a possible public safety tax, according to the agenda.
Those interested in making comments to the county, either about the proposed raises or about the public safety proposal should attend the County Commissioners' meeting during the 1:30 pm public comment period and the 5:30 pm public safety hearing, also on Tuesday Jan. 29, at Harris Hall. For more details, see the agenda. No idea if the commission is interested in more creative cookie-baking.
The Sierra Club is going to break 120 years of tradition and policy and get all civilly disobedient on the Keystone XL's ass, according to blog posts and press releases from the conservation organization that has long tried to stay out of the get-arrested-for-the-environment fray. A blog post from Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune says, "For 120 years, we have remained committed to using every 'lawful means' to achieve our objectives. Now, for the first time in our history, we are prepared to go further."
The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. We've worked hard and brought all of our traditional tactics of lobbying, electoral work, litigation, grassroots organizing, and public education to bear on this crisis. And we have had great success -- stopping more than 170 coal plants from being built, securing the retirement of another 129 existing plants, and helping grow a clean energy economy. But time is running out, and there is so much more to do. The stakes are enormous. At this point, we can't afford to lose a single major battle. That's why the Sierra Club's Board of Directors has for the first time endorsed an act of peaceful civil disobedience.
In doing so, we're issuing a challenge to President Obama, who spoke stirringly in his inaugural address about how America must lead the world on the transition to clean energy. Welcome as those words were, we need the president to match them with strong action and use the first 100 days of his second term to begin building a bold and lasting legacy of clean energy and climate stability.
That means rejecting the dangerous tar sands pipeline that would transport some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, and other reckless fossil fuel projects from Northwest coal exports to Arctic drilling. It means following through on his pledge to double down again on clean energy, and cut carbon pollution from smokestacks across the country. And, perhaps most of all, it means standing up to the fossil fuel corporations that would drive us over the climate cliff without so much as a backward glance.
In an interview last week (see the upcoming Jan. 24 issue for a story), noted economist Jared Bernstein told EW that he doesn't think the Keystone XL will be stopped. "There is going to be a pipeline someday," he said. And said instead of starting from a place where we assume there isn't going to be a pipeline we should "be smart about where it goes."
Is the Sierra Club big enough to be a game changer? Also today, the governor of Nebraska approved the pipeline through his state and sent a letter to that effect to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. Who knows, now that the Sierra Club's gone wild.
Obama spoke in a White House ceremony to formally unveil the proposals and to sign executive orders and paperwork initiating immediate administrative actions, including steps to strengthen the existing background-check system, promote research on gun violence and provide training in dealing with “active shooter situations.”