On May 9th, Oregon became the first state in the country to restrict the use of Aminocyclopyrachlor (ACP), an herbicide marketed to kill weeds that ends up killing trees. In Oregon, ACP killed 2,000 majestic old-growth trees. This deadly chemical reportedly travels underground along tree root systems, passing the poison from tree to tree, and continuing to kill trees long after and far away from the original pesticide application.
Clatsop County Commissioner Kathleen Sullivan delivered a message from her rural county to the Oregon Legislature during legislative hearings on two bills addressing two controversial pesticides.
“I remember when I was a kid in 7th grade being told the American Bald Eagle was on the brink of extinction,” she said. “Today I can look up over the Columbia River and see the eagles flying. That is the result of policy makers banning DDT.”
Have you noticed the red and white emissions stack to the east of I-5, just north of Salem? That is the Covanta Marion Municipal Solid Waste Incinerator. Covanta is a large corporation owning Oregon’s single trash incinerator.
If you care about climate and resiliency, then you’ll want to know about the poison pill Covanta has inserted into this year’s legislative deliberations on the Clean Energy Jobs bill and renewable energy programs.
It may be easier to be concerned about wolves, salmon and eagles perishing than it is to feel remorse over dying Ponderosa pine trees. Yet, the presence of giant, old growth Ponderosas in central Oregon is as emblematic of a place as any furry, swimming or flying creature.
Oregon state and county agencies have breached the law and the majestic Ponderosa pines of Eastern Oregon are dying as a result. The already-parched and receding aquifers are at risk as well.
Environmental bills don’t always make it through the "gauntlet," known as the Oregon legislative battlefield. There are more obstacles in our State Capitol than any Quixotic environmentalist could hope to vanquish. The Cleaner Air Oregon bill, SB 1541 B-Engrossed, sailed through the Senate today (passing with a unanimous vote!), despite having its own burden of impediments.
On February 12th, the Eugene City Council overwhelmingly adopted a resolution to endorse the International Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change. Our Council and Mayor are standing on the precipice of a new direction to address climate burdens! Foregrounding human rights at the heart of green energy conversations is a response to the ethical quagmire in which our nation is stuck. Placing the dialog into a framework of human rights changes the underlying assumptions of the climate movement from political concerns to principled action, from marketplace considerations to morally-based decision-making.
Going head-to-head with corporate lobbyists and lawyers is a fine way to keep your environmental advocacy skills honed! During the nearly two years I served on the Cleaner Air Oregon rule-making committee, I got lots of practice dissecting the duplicitous arguments and twisted claims proffered by industry’s public relations people.
More than 1 billion pounds of poisonous pesticides are applied on farms annually in the United States, resulting in as many as 20,000 physician-diagnosed poisonings annually among agricultural workers. University of Oregon environmental studies scholar Sarah Wald puts the number of farmworkers exposed to toxic levels of pesticides closer to 300,000, more than 10 times the official number.