Resigning from GreenLane

Beyond Toxics is proud to have been one of the first nonprofits to join GreenLane Sustainable Business Network, a membership group for businesses and other organizations interested in sustainability. In September, I volunteered to serve on GreenLane’s board on behalf of Beyond Toxics. Unfortunately, as the Eugene Weekly reports in this week’s paper, I will not be serving on the board despite being voted in as an alternate member at the November 8 meeting.

As EW’s Kelly Kenoyer reports, Beyond Toxics and several other businesses and organizations – including our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild – are resigning our memberships in response to a representative of Seneca Sawmill Company joining the board on the same slate. All of these groups made our concerns known to GreenLane board members well in advance of the vote.

Seneca is one of the worst environmental polluters in our community. It is inappropriate for their Senior Vice President for Public Relations to sit on the policy setting board of a sustainability organization while the company is engaged in an attempt to re-brand their destructive policies as sustainable. As I told the Weekly, “(T)he truly sustainable businesses and organizations in Eugene have worked hard for years to build social capital around sustainability. Seneca is coming in to harvest that capital, to extract that capital, just like they extract forest resources — without consideration for the effects on the community and the environment as a whole.”

Chief among our concerns is Seneca’s aerial herbicide practices. When whistleblowing forest worker, Darryl Ivy documented the company’s spraying contractor committing numerous egregious violations of the state’s paltry standards for herbicide spraying – violations that sent Ivy to the hospital – Seneca didn’t admit the problem or change their practices. Instead, they claim their neighbors are “comfortable” with their spraying expertise. As outlined in my letter of resignation to the GreenLane board, published below, instead of working towards a truly sustainable model of forestry, Seneca pushes to increase clear-cutting on state and federal forestland and participates in the ongoing assault against public lands. These are not the actions of a sustainability leader.

We at Beyond Toxics want to make it clear that our resignation does not reflect personally on GreenLane’s current board members. Board elections of this type are not typically controversial and perhaps some did not expect the level of opposition Seneca’s candidacy would generate. We understand that volunteer officers are hard to recruit. However, we believe that a full and open discussion of our concerns at the November 8 meeting would have been appropriate before voting started and would have led to a positive outcome.

Ephraim Payne,
Development and Events Manager

Read my resignation letter below:

Board of Directors
Green Lane Sustainable Business Network
1430 Willamette #181
Eugene, OR 97401

November 9, 2017

Dear Board Members,

I regret to inform the GreenLane Board that Beyond Toxics is withdrawing its membership in the organization and I am resigning my position as an alternate board member. As I stated in my email of October 31, I strongly support GreenLane’s role as a catalyst for community building around the principles of sustainable business in Lane County and Beyond Toxics is proud of its early membership in the organization. I had looked forward to adding my event organizing and advocacy skills to grow GreenLane and serve the board in any capacity.

While we support the principle of inclusivity for GreenLane general membership, to be true to our mission we cannot support an aggressive polluter playing a leadership role on the board itself. Our long history with Seneca, and those of our allies in the climate and forest protection movement, shows us that the company embraces unsustainable practices at the core of its business rather than looking for sustainable solutions. Currently, Seneca is investing heavily in a rebranding campaign to cloak its environmentally harmful practices as beneficial while paying lip service to sustainability in an effort to shape its public image and we cannot remain complacent.

Not only does Seneca engage in the highly polluting practice of aerial spraying of toxic herbicides, it employs subcontractors with known histories of violating the few aerial spraying guidelines that protect Oregon forest workers. Seneca officials have gone on record denying poisoning people they employ despite video documentation and medical records affirming the harm. Their even-age, monoculture plantations of Douglas fir reduce genetic diversity and biodiversity. Their reliance on short rotation clear-cut logging increases erosion, pollutes water, adds to carbon pollution and global climate change. It is telling that they do not qualify for even the most basic forest certification.
Seneca’s owners evince a clear antipathy to preserving public land ownership in the face of overwhelming public support in Oregon for our state forests. They label environmental groups they disagree with as eco-radical bullies in the press. People in their employ have been accused of assaulting protesters and causing illegal pesticide drift. They are currently pushing to increase timber harvest on public land under the false premise that logging reduces wildfire severity. Are these the actions of a sustainable business leader?

For these reasons, we cannot stand by while GreenLane is coopted to serve Seneca’s public relations needs. While we would prefer to remain a member in good standing, and I would prefer to volunteer my time, we value the integrity of the community enough to call attention to the problem by our resignation.

Ephraim Payne

Oregon Farm Workers Are Fighting for Their Lives

I remember, and you might too, feeling virtuous when my family took part in the California grape boycott in the 1970s. I was only a teenager, but to me it meant that I was standing in solidarity with farm workers. I felt a bond, although I’d never met a farm worker as far as I knew.

My small action, combined with the similar ethical choices of millions of others, helped farm workers position themselves to win. And what did they win? What they asked for were basic human rights: safer working conditions, less pesticide exposure, habitable housing and better wages.

History is revisiting these issues now.

Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now in the process of setting laws that impact Oregon’s farm and forestry workers. I feel strongly that these proposed new laws perpetuate the economic exploitation and human rights violations we saw back in the 1960s and 1970s when Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta stood up to the grape growers. Unless we, as Oregonians, stand up and say “NO!” to OSHA, farm workers will be exploited yet again. We can’t let this happen on our watch.
OSHA is about to make a law that says farm workers will not get protection from pesticide sprays while they and their families are sleeping in their worker housing buildings.

This is cruel. Pesticides are carcinogens and neurotoxins. People should not be sprayed in their houses, where they go to rest after a hard day’s work in the fields. It’s one thing to have to go to the fields to spray and be sprayed with toxics chemicals. That is oppressive enough. People who work all day around poisons should not have to endure pesticide drift, and worry about their children being exposed in their own homes.

Hidden from view, tucked away in the pear and apple orchards of Hood River and Jackson County, are the buildings where farm workers live. Farm workers live in drab shelters that are not much more than one-room shacks made of cinder blocks or worn-out wood siding with sheet metal for roofs. The interior holds little more than bunk beds and a couple of shelves and a table. There is no running water, no bathrooms. Windows are sometimes made of cardboard instead of glass. The cold seeps in through gaping cracks in the walls and doors. In the summer, the heat bakes the workers under the sheet metal roofs. In Oregon over 9,000 farm workers and their families stay in this kind of housing. It’s not uncommon for six workers to live in a single, crowded room, each one paying $100 a month in rent. Kitchens, showers and laundry are in separate communal buildings. Kids play in the grass between the buildings used for sleeping and living.

Farm workers are literally fighting for their lives. According to Ramon Ramirez, president of PCUN, Oregon’s Farm Worker Union, the average life span of a farm worker is around 50 years, compared to an average of 76 years for the rest of us. Farm workers today are like indentured servants, providing us with the feel-good, living-healthy, fresh-nature’s-bounty food we covet and consume to keep ourselves and our families nourished. We virtuously follow our Paleo diets, Atkins diets, Weight Watcher diets, vegan diets–expecting pristine food to show up in our markets in great abundance.

It is time for us to stand up for the right of farmworkers to be free of poisonous sprays. Beyond Toxics did an analysis of the most commonly used pesticides that are sprayed around farm worker housing. We found that nearly 50% of the poisons used are labeled, “DANGER! Highly Hazardous to Humans.” These types of chemicals cause irreversible eye damage, cancer, brain damage, Parkinson’s, asthma and many more diseases.

OSHA says farm workers don’t deserve a no-spray buffer zone.

Here is a shocking fact that illustrates the environmental injustice of how farm workers are not protected from pesticides: In Oregon, the use of many of these chemicals requires a 300 ft. no-pesticide buffer if sprayed near salmon habitat streams. How is it possible that we value the health of fish more than our fellow human beings?

We expect farm workers to give us their labor, skills, energy, time and generosity to Oregon’s fields and orchards – so that we may eat the way we wish. Let us give back to them. Please take action and stand with our farm workers.

I urge you to go to our Take Action Page and get involved. Come with us to one of the public hearings scheduled around the state. You can submit your testimony through our quick and easy Take Action web page. Call us to find out how you can get involved. Join us at the Tish Hinojosa Fundraiser for Farm Workers concert on Tuesday, November 21st at the EMU Ballroom on the University of Oregon campus.

To help you in preparing and providing testimony and/or email input for the OSHA-run public comment hearings, please read our Talking Points document (PDF).

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director
Beyond Toxics

Beyond Toxics Endorses Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Bill of Rights

At its August 28th meeting, Beyond Toxics’ Board of Directors voted to endorse the Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance’s charter amendment to ban the aerial spraying of herbicides in Lane County.

Oregon lawmakers and state agencies have shown an entrenched resistance to address the problem of toxic exposure to aerial spray drift. The two local charter amendments in Lincoln and Lane counties to ban spray now appear necessary to protect Oregon’s people, wildlife and waters.

I’ve spent more than a decade working side-by-side with rural communities who experience aerial spray drift. No other organization has invested more resources researching forest practices and supporting communities harmed by aerial sprays than we have. Our 2013 report on aerial spraying in industrial timber lands* in western Lane County blew wide open the secretive and dangerous use of helicopters to spray herbicides.

Using data from a public records request, this first-of-its-kind investigation showed the public that the carcinogens 2,4-D and glyphosate, along with endocrine disruptors atrazine and hexazinone, are the top four chemicals sprayed over vast acreages that are also homes to our communities and endangered salmon. We fostered the development of the state’s electronic forestry notification system. With the participation of many rural residents harmed by spray, most notably the residents living around Gold Beach, we introduced legislation in 2015 and 2017 calling for significant reform to Oregon’s forestry herbicide spray rules.

Side-by-side with dozens of poisoned Oregonians and experts alike, our tenaciousness, aided by heart-breaking stories told by rural Oregonians to inspire us, forced the legislature to take action. Still the new regulations are woefully inadequate by any standard. More must be done.

Beyond Toxics supports a ban on aerial herbicide spray because spreading highly toxic chemicals from helicopters is inherently dangerous. In fact, the law defines aerial herbicide spraying as a highly hazardous practice.

Dozens of communities have raised their voices to demand protection from herbicide drift. Rural Oregonians from Curry to Lane to Tillamook counties share the same experiences: herbicide drift that sickens family members, harms pets and livestock, and poisons the drinking water of cities and homes alike. Appallingly, when affected people take these issues to the state legislature, they find a confusing labyrinth of dead-ends. Legislators are misled by the timber and chemical lobbyists who plant a forest of deceitful “facts.”

Over three decades ago, federal agencies banned aerial spray on public timber lands. Today, state agencies and elected leaders turn a blind eye to the fact that Oregon has the weakest laws of any Pacific West Coast state for regulating timber practices and aerial herbicide sprays.

Due to the inadequate response of our state’s legislature, it has now fallen to the people to take action to stop poisonous aerial herbicide sprays in our watersheds, on private residential property and over organic farms. We urge our members to read the Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Bill of Rights and join a mainstream movement to protect ourselves from poisons sprayed from the sky.

For all these reasons, Beyond Toxics supports a ban on aerial spray. We believe that a ban must happen at the state level, and soon. Chemical trespass and pollution affects Oregonians, often in devastating ways that change our lives forever. A county-wide ban sends a strong message that people in Lane County demand action.

~ Lisa Arkin, Executive Director
Beyond Toxics

* 2013 REPORT: “Oregon’s Industrial Forests and Herbicide Use: A Case Study of Risk to People, Drinking Water and Salmon
Laurie Bernstein, US Forest Service Fish Biologist and GIS Specialist, retired
Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics
Roberta Lindberg, M.S., J.D.

Download Report (2 versions; both PDF files)


State Forest Agency Suppresses Its Own Aerial Spray Info

Photo by: Lisa Arkin

Did you know our own Oregon (ODF) is clear-cutting and chemically poisoning public state forest lands, using the same extractive methods as multi-national timber corporations?

The latest herbicide sprays on our public forests took place this month along the Northwest Oregon Coast. Here are the opening lines of a July 29 article in a Tillamook newspaper:

The public forests of Oregon’s North Coast are scheduled to be aerially sprayed sometime before August 31, 2017. Spraying will potentially impact … the Kilchis, Lower Nehalem, Cook Creek, Upper Wilson, and Upper Trask watershed areas. While ODF has directly notified its employees [to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals being sprayed on clearcuts], ODF has failed to sufficiently notify the public of these toxic spray events despite potential impacts on trails, watersheds and campsites during the peak summer season.” 

Yes, you read that right! Your taxpayer dollars are supporting the promotion of harmful practices: aerial herbicide sprays, clear cutting, slash burning and planting genetically-enhanced mono-crop rows of Doug Fir seedlings.

Photo by: Lisa Arkin

We at Beyond Toxics believe you have the right to know what our state agencies are doing in our public forests. On behalf of Oregon’s frontline communities, Beyond Toxics filed a public records request asking the Department of Forestry to share information about what they spend on herbicides sprays, what chemicals are being used and who they are contracting with to do the work. That is called transparency. We filed the first public records request more than 18 months ago, in January 2016. The state agency billed us nearly $9,500. ODF told us that, to reduce the fee, Beyond Toxics needs to severely narrow our request. We’ve re-submitted our request multiple times, the most recent effort on August 7. We still haven’t seen any of the information we’ve requested.

A state agency shouldn’t be using the threat of charging us thousands of dollars to obstruct access to information that is rightly in the public domain. We need to collect relevant data to create accurate reports and properly inform the public about what’s going on their public lands.

Second, why does it take a state agency $9,500 of staff time to collect the documents? Is the problem one of mismanagement or disorganization of important public documents? If our tax dollars pay for the clear-cuts and sprays then they should also pay for the right to information about chemicals. Thirdly, this is an unnecessary hardship for grassroots organizations that work to protect and enhance public health…most of us don’t have $9,500 lying around to pay ODF.

We must act now to demand better transparency from our state government and public agencies. ODF must be willing to work with the public for better transparency. Instead, ODF has stalled, subverted, and obstructed our public records request.

The role of good government is protecting the public welfare, public resources, and public health. It follows that Oregon Department of Forestry should engage in an overhaul of the outdated and destructive Oregon Forest Practices Act. Oregon’s “Forest Laws” are nothing more than a bygone relic.

The federal government stopped using aerial sprays on public federal forest lands nearly forty years ago. Their decision was made to protect the health of government workers. Our state government is failing to protect the public by clinging to the extensive use of aerially sprayed pesticides and shrouding this fact in secrecy.

P.S. Beyond Toxics is hosting a Resilient Forestry Tour on Wednesday, August 23rd. Come experience a working forest rich in wildlife habitat and climate-friendly benefits. You’ll learn about how healthy forests yield an overabundance of rewards that extractive forestry companies steal from future generations of Oregonians.

Get on down for da’ bees!

Photo by Barbara Storey

Getting down for bees with jazz music, wine and food has everything to do with being a bee protector! We are celebrating bees with a fantastically fun event (read more about BEE JAZZY), but we aren’t joking about the real peril for pollinators. Bees are not safe in Oregon, or anywhere else in America. Eight species of native bees have very recently been put on the US Endangered Species List and are at the mercy of the Trump Administration. Trump appointees are teaming up with industrial lobbyists to take away modest protections for endangered native bees by dismantling the Endangered Species Act, a bedrock law safeguarding our nation’s special and wild creatures.

Honey bees are suffering as well. A recent national study of bee survival rates confirms that Oregon beekeepers completely lost more than 32 percent of their bee hives from June to December, 2016. This is on par with the national average of 33 percent.

That means one-third of bees in Oregon and nationwide didn’t survive last year. This startling fact is a dire wake-up call. Our ability to have fresh, healthy food is in jeopardy. Food insecurity is connected to environmental justice issues; we know that the wealthiest in our nation will always have enough money to buy imported fruits and vegetables. This is not the case for so many others in America, especially the people who work so hard to bring in the harvest. That is why Beyond Toxics fights to protect bees and workers as well, focusing on the threat of food insecurity.

Bees are also severely impacted by climate change. Rising temperatures and strange weather patterns have altered our fragile ecosystem: blossoming fruit trees and the emergence of bees are out of whack. In many urban gardens there is a shocking bareness of apple, pear and plum trees. Won’t you help us accomplish our shared goals? Get involved now! Bee Jazzy is a perfect way to support our work to protect pollinators (without having to go with us to the State Legislature or attend a lot of meetings on pesticides, climate change and water quality!). Right now, it is state and local level action that really counts!

By supporting us during a summer evening of fun, food and music, you are doing your part to make Beyond Toxics stronger. Here is what the price of your Bee Jazzy ticket supports:

1. NEVER GIVING UP: Beyond Toxics is a force to be reckoned with at the Oregon State Legislature. We took on chemical company and industrial agriculture lobbyists to champion the 2017 Oregon Pollinator Protection Act. Sure, powerful corporate interests targeted our bill for demise, but WITH YOUR SUPPORT, WE’RE NOT GIVING UP on bees. We’re tackling the root causes of bee die-offs.

2. LOCAL ACTION: We’re helping more cities pass resolutions to protect bees and ban bee-killing neonicotinoids. Did you know that Beyond Toxics was the first in the nation to start the Bee Friendly City movement? We’re partnering with more Oregon cities to do everything they can to protect pollinators!

3. EDUCATION & SCIENCE: Beyond Toxics invites you to participate in Citizen Science project, including our annual native bee count, Wildlife Science Pubs and water protection projects.

4. YOUR VOICE IN CONGRESS: Beyond Toxics is your representative at the highest national level of Bee Protection Coalitions, taking action in Washington to advocate for bees in the United States Congress, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture and more. We are working diligently to ban bee-killing pesticides, protect our food systems, and stand-up for farm workers who are harmed by these highly toxic chemicals.

And did you know that every glass of wine purchased and every silent auction bid supports our Save Oregon’s Bees Campaign? Has there ever been a better reason to support bees and Beyond Toxics?

I can’t wait to see you at Bee Jazzy to celebrate this profound and effective work to save bees and food production! Come on out to have fun and make an impact in the work for a healthy future!

Lisa Arkin,
Executive Director

Farm Worker Rights in the Age of Trump

Farm worker housing, Jackson County, Oregon (May 2017)

Oregon has over 300 registered farm worker housing camps and another 200 unregistered camps. Most of these camps are located within orchards and fields that are regularly sprayed with pesticides that are human carcinogens and neurotoxins. To protect farm workers, the federal law requires a minimum 100-ft. no-spray buffer around farm worker housing.

You may be surprised and dismayed to learn that Oregon’s worker protection agency, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), wants to give Oregon farmers “a pass” on following the 100-ft pesticide buffer regulation. In March, during an OSHA policy meeting, Beyond Toxics was only one of two worker advocacy groups present. I was not surprised to see that farmers, agriculture industry representatives and OSHA employees seemed in a big hurry to get this “Oregon Compliance Alternative” option over and done with. Instead of requiring a protective no-spray buffer, OSHA wants to allow “shelter in place,” which is a euphemism for farm workers to cower inside their wooden shacks while aerial and air blast pesticide sprays swirl all around them. “Shelter in place” takes away the 100-ft. no-spray buffer.

If Beyond Toxics had not been present we may have lost the opportunity to call a halt to OSHA’s seeming willingness to put farm workers in harm’s way. Beyond Toxics sounded the alarm to get other groups to attend the April meeting where Big Ag showed up and met us with more show of force. We knew that a special voice was missing. The voice of the farm worker.

Mysti Frost (center) and members of Latino Unidos Siempre (LUS) stand ready to hand out nontoxic cleaning supplies to farm workers.

To bring forward the voices of the people most impacted by OSHA’s actions, Beyond Toxics teamed up with Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) to give a presentation at a farm worker housing complex just outside of Salem. Both LUS and Beyond Toxics are cohort members of the McKenzie River Gathering Capacity Building Initiative. In April, our two organizations held a joint outreach and training to farm workers and their families around pesticides and health. We thought this would give us the opportunity to recruit farmworkers for the OSHA rule making meetings.

During our time at the training, I met a farm worker whom we will call, Rosa, not her real name. I asked her if she could tell me about concerns she may have as a farm worker. Her first complaint was about not having access to a bathroom. She told me she is regularly exposed to pesticides on her skin and breaths in the fumes while working in the fields. I asked her if she wore gloves. She said the farm owner at a strawberry patch didn’t allow her to use gloves and told her she would be fired if she did. I asked Rosa if I could record her comments so we could present her testimony to OSHA. She said she wasn’t prepared to do that and was very shy.

Rosa’s story is all too common. Those of us who are workers’ rights activists know these stories well. These workers and their experiences are not a figment of our imaginations, although big industry would have you think so. It’s clear that these stories are not reaching the people at the top who make the rules. How do we make sure our migrant farm workers are not exploited or lose their jobs just by asking for minimal protections to protect their health? Right now, in the Age of Trump, the backbone of federal worker protection standards may be unraveled. All signs point to the very real possibility that we may lose the opportunity to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for our workers. How do we combat hopelessness? How do we battle the mindset that the current situation must be accepted because it is simply business as usual?

I’m worried that it’s only a matter of time before OSHA buckles under the pressure of Big Ag bullying. It would be best if farm workers could testify to help us make the case that, as a minimum, Oregon must adopt federal standards. But farm workers everywhere are gripped by fear because of our country’s more aggressive attacks on migrants. “We are very busy just keeping families together,” they say.

Beyond Toxics will push forward and be present and vocal at all the OSHA meetings. We will be there to defend workers’ rights, to be a watchdog for policy development and be prepared to file formal complaints if farm workers continue to be treated as modern-day slave labor.

What can you do? If you are an expert in the areas of agriculture, work place safety, organic farming and/or you are a doctor with knowledge of the long-term effects of pesticide exposure, please contact us at Beyond Toxics. We need your knowledge and expertise. We’ll help you make a difference for vulnerable workers.

Mysti Frost
Environmental Justice Coordinator for Lane County
Beyond Toxics


Why You And I Are Thrilled to Protect Oregon’s People, Pollinators and Places – Again!

I’m writing this from the bedside of my childhood friend who grew up on the same street as I. Ten days ago she was fine. Today she is transitioning to her passing. Her breathing is ragged, her eyes are unfocused. Her doctors at Stanford University Medical Center told the family they have never seen such a rare and aggressive cancer. They can’t stop it, they can’t even slow it down.

Cancer. Linked to environmental pollution from toxic chemicals and poisonous pesticides.

More than 150 people from around the state braved rain and cold to show their support for clean water and healthy wildlife on the capitol steps in Salem.


Perhaps you were at our Rally for Water and Wildlife at the State Capitol last week. We demonstrated to demand that state elected leaders BE LEADERS when it comes to protecting the quality of Oregon’s air and water. I asked the crowd of more than 150 to raise their hands if their family has a loved one impacted by cancer. Nearly every person raised their hands. The ever-rising risk of cancer correlates strongly with toxic pollution in the air you breathe and the water you drink. The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests that air pollution alone is a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths. The mountain of medical research establishing clear links between cancer and exposures to environmental toxics is enough to fill the hallways of the Capitol building!

Krystal Abrams introduces Lisa Arkin, one of the rally speakers.

Perhaps you are like me, feeling confident Oregon will be a bulwark against the destructive forces now in charge of the EPA and other federal environmental protections.

But that’s not the way things are working out – at least not yet. Pollinators are left unprotected. Aerial pesticide sprays will continue without accountability. Air toxics won’t be measured.

The good news: our bills got hearings! That is a huge step, reserved for bills that have a fighting chance and could be reintroduced in the next legislative session. The bad news: after the highest hopes for successful passage, I am frustrated to report our 2017 bills were killed in committee.

Here are the three reasons why:

1. The Budget: Oregon has gotten itself into a multi-million dollar deficit. Bills with a “price tag” are being unceremoniously dumped, regardless of their merit. Here’s a secret that the public rarely hears: a state agency can give a bill an astronomical price tag, which is a sure way to stop a bill in its tracks. The Department of Forestry put a price tag of more than $300,000 on SB 892, to expand their online notification system to accommodate advanced warnings of aerial pesticide sprays. An overblown number for sure! The Department of Agriculture put a $70,000 price tag on OPPA, SB 929. That’s more realistic. The whopper was the DEQ’s claim that they needed an additional 6 full time positions to administer the Toxics Right to Know bill, SB 995. That price tag amounts to nearly $700,000. Budget battles (outside of our control) played a significant role in the demise of our bills on pollinators, aerial spray and air toxics reporting.

2. Rampant Industrial Lobbying: Our legislators let themselves fall prey to the same worn-out, old gimmicks by industrial lobbyists, the very same tactics used to fuel the current demise of the US Environmental Protection Agency. After intense lobbying about “job killing regulations” or “fringe environmental agitators,” legislators decided that bees don’t need help to survive the ongoing pollinator crisis. Legislators were somehow convinced that providing advanced warning before an aerial spray is not “fair” to the pesticide applicators. Beyond Toxics brought truth backed by science to the state capitol. We submitted a raft of peer-reviewed scientific studies into the public record – only to hear that a key legislator didn’t bother to read the bill or the record before his NO vote!

3. Sacrificial Lambs: We were told that our toxics reporting bill was “sacrificed” to gain industry’s support for other bills, such as the Clean Diesel bill. That means that lawmakers promised to drop one bill as a bargaining chip to garner support for another bill. Don’t you wonder why any legislator would continue to fall for this ploy? Industry is fighting vehemently against all the clean air bills, as well as trying to block the DEQ air toxics budget! They are eager to accept a “bargain” that will kill one bill, and then demand more bargaining chips for each other bill.

Specifically here’s the wrap-up on our 2017 bills:

Pollinators will be doomed to further die-offs and extinctions. The Oregon Pollinator Protection Act (SB 929) was pulled off the agenda an hour before the committee vote. The bill, an important strategy to reduce bee-killing neonicotinoids, would have removed this class of pesticides from general consumer store shelves. The bill garnered support throughout the State Legislature as well as over 35+ businesses and organizations. Thanks to many of you, the bill’s hearing drew overflow crowds.

The Bee Protectors at the State Capitol in Salem. In March people from all over Oregon traveled to speak in favor of SB 929, Oregon Pollinator Protection Act.

Legislators left science behind when they succumbed to false claims by Big Ag that “honey bees are making a comeback.” However, the bill does much more than protect domesticated honey bees. Native bees, butterflies and birds need our help now. Aren’t we all shocked to learn that eight species of native bees are declared in danger of extinction? Neonicotinoids are also being found in our food, our drinking water and our bodies, a threat to food justice and health.

Rural Oregonians will continue to be poisoned on their own property and have their property rights denied. Beyond Toxics introduced the concepts for a set of bills comprising the Aerial Spray Protection and Right to Know legislation (SB 499, 500 & 892). The key bill, SB 892, required giving advanced notice to residents of imminent aerial pesticide sprays and required that chemical mixtures be reported five days after the spray. At the public hearing, committee members heard heart-wrenching testimony from folks coming from as far south as Gold Beach and as far north as Rockaway Beach. Senator Dembrow, the bill’s sponsor, worked hard to find compromise, but in the end the key vote, Senator Roblan (Dist. 5 – Coos Bay) voted against the bill, showing his disdain for the science on pesticide drift and for rural residents who have come to the legislature for years begging for relief.

Polluters get to cloak their toxic air pollution in secrecy, while your lungs get clogged. Beyond Toxics’ popular bills to require polluters to report their toxic air emissions (SB 995 and HB 2669) had good hearings, but were two of our “sacrificial bills” that legislators leveraged for support for other environmental bills.

Our bills didn’t advance for political reasons, not because they lacked merit! e will continue to fight hard to pass environmental protections for Oregonians and pollinators, for drinking water and neighborhood air. It means a lot to me, as a grandmother, to ensure that future Oregonians will never ask, “What does a bumble bee look like?”

As I look down on my friend’s face, grey pallor in her morphine-induced sleep, I am hit hard with the reminder that chemical trespass and pollution affects all of us, often in devastating and random ways that change our lives forever. I will fight to make it standard behavior for lawmakers to consider the costs and burdens of environmentally-induced illness first and foremost. It is time to put a halt to the false dichotomy of jobs versus the environment. We are the environment and the environment is within each of us. It is imperative to keep Oregon healthy for the sake of our loved ones.

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director
Beyond Toxics


Photos by John Jordan-Cascade

Senator Michael Dembrow champions the health of rural Oregonians

Senator Michael Dembrow first championed the rights of rural Oregonians in the matter of aerial
herbicide spray exposures in 2014. As Chair of the Senator Environment and Natural Resources Committee, he convened a public information hearing in Dec. 2014 and hosted residents from Curry, Douglas and Lane counties to offer testimony of their experiences with pesticide drift from aerial herbicide spray operations on timber land. For the current legislative session, Senator Dembrow is the bill sponsor of SB 892, a bill that would require advanced warning before an aerial spray and the filing of complete spray records with the Dept of Forestry. There are insufficient words of gratitude for Senator Dembrow and his laser-sharp focus on the critical issues of rural community health and accountability in forest practices. Here is the moving testimony he presented in front of his Senate colleagues on March 22nd at the first hearing for SB 892.

~ Lisa Arkin

Sen. Michael DembrowTestimony from Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Dist. 23 – Portland) given in support of SB 892 in front of the Senate Committee On Environment and Natural Resources on March 22, 2017:

March 22, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

During my earlier stint as Chair of this committee, I became aware of the serious concerns that many Oregonians have about aerial application of pesticides on forestlands and their fear of being the victims of misapplication.

The specific misapplication that made me aware of this problem was a notorious incident in Curry County that ultimately proved to be a case of misconduct on the part of the applicator. We heard from a number of local residents who were harmed by this misconduct, some really terribly stories.

Any time aerial pesticide drifts into a neighbor’s property, that’s a misapplication and a cause of concern. Neighbors legitimately fear that the application nearby will harm their children, their pets, or they themselves.

Applicators may say that they have no reason to fear, but I would argue that their concern is real and it is legitimate. If an application is scheduled to occur, they should know that and be able to plan for it, taking whatever steps they feel are necessary to make sure that their children and pets are kept indoors or kept safely away from the property.

Ideally, people should be able to receive notification just before the application was going to happen, allowing them to make these plans. In an ideal world they would receive a phone call or a knock on the door, or a leaflet when an application was scheduled or, as often occurs, rescheduled due to weather or other problems. Some timber owners have a practice of doing this, but most do not. And expecting them all to do this kind of personal contact every time would be too much to ask.

But in reality we’re not limited to doing things the old-fashioned way. Thanks to improvements in technology, we have a pathway to providing Oregonians with the notification that they desire, while not putting an undue burden on owners and operators. The Department of Forestry’s new electronic FERNS system is that pathway, and SB 892 as amended will allow us to utilize this technology to give neighbors and visitors to state parks the notification that they need.

We did not have that technology in 2015, but we do now. I’ve been following the development of FERNS over the last couple of years and talking about it with the good people at the Dept. of Forestry. FERNS is designed to collect the information that is already required of landowners, operators, and applicators and available to the public through a paid paper subscriber service. I believe that FERNS will soon be ready to provide the real-time notification that many Oregonians desire, while doing so with minimal impact on forestry owners and operators. While the Department must of course remain neutral on the policy behind SB 892, I believe that you’ll hear from them the details on how FERNS is ready to accomplish these goals.

We’ve drafted SB 892 to be as close to the existing ORS 527.670 and current Board of Forestry rules, to make it easier for industry to adopt the requirements of the bill.

The -2 amendments seek to address some of the concerns that we heard from industry. The landowner, operator, or applicator will file their written plan for an operation with the same information currently in rule. The notification to the Department will include the planned date of the operation. This information will be posted on the FERNS system and made available to all those who have subscribed
to the FERNS service. Then, within five days after the operation has been completed, the report on the application, which the operator is currently required to complete, must be submitted to the Department. This will also be submitted electronically, by scan or photograph, or whatever is easiest for the operator.

In an ideal world, the operation will always occur on the anticipated date, and in many cases, they will be able to do the operation on the planned date. But in other cases they will not. Weather, equipment issues, illness can interfere with the best-laid plans. We heard a lot of concern from industry about that. So the bill provides a five-day window for them to do the operation without having to notify the Department of any changes. They can do it two days before the planned date or two days after. If that window doesn’t work, they can submit a new date via FERNS or simply call the department or their forest steward contact. That new information will then go up on FERNS to keep the neighbors up to speed. Or, if the decision is made to cancel the operation entirely, that information will also be communicated as it currently is and posted.

Colleagues, we have heard in the past and you will hear again why this kind of transparency and timely notification is important to people. However you feel about the necessity of pesticide use in our forestland, we can all have a shared commitment to keeping people healthy, safe, and free from worry.

Colleagues, you do not see an emergency clause on this bill because we want to give landowners a lot of lead time to prepare for these modest changes. The operative date for the new system is September 1, 2018, more than a year after what I hope will be the passage of this sensible bill.

——————–END of testimony

The entire hearing is available on video (via the state legislature website) here.

More about SB 892 from Beyond Toxics->>

Oregon Forestry Agency Suppresses Science

The above photo is what legal stream protection in Oregon looks like. This photo was taken at an oxbow clearcut site in the Oregon Coast Range.


It is all of our duty to hold our elected leaders accountable for actions that put the health of our communities at risk. Beyond Toxics has been working for 4 years to bring sound scientific reporting and analysis of forestry pesticide applications into the decision-making processes at our state capitol.

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) did an investigative report and found that the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) suppressed a scientific water quality assessment by the Department of Environmental Quality. Read the full OPB report

In Oregon, surface water, drinking water, and human health is poorly protected, or not protected at all, especially compared to the regulations and policies in place in our neighboring states of Washington and Idaho. This is why it’s so important to review and consider scientific data and facts when making decisions about the impacts of industrial forestry practices on Oregon’s drinking water and salmon streams. Read the Oregon’s Industrial Forests and Herbicide Use report to learn how The Oregon Forest Practices Act prevents the public from knowing about pesticide use and potential threats to human and wildlife health.

This is but one way Oregon’s timber industry bullies government agencies into disregarding environmental health and safety for Oregonians in favor of driving timber profits higher. Coastal towns have struggled with contaminated drinking water for years after herbicide sprays and increasing amounts of sediment in streams from the landslides that result from clear-cutting on steep slopes. See the video Timber’s Cover-Up to learn more about how forest ecosystems are interrupted and destroyed by conventional industrial forestry.

The following letters were sent to The Board of Forestry and Governor Brown in response to the issue of the Department of Environmental Quality & Oregon Department of Forestry ignoring an important scientific report on public resources and drinking water in the Oregon Coast.

*Please consider writing your own letter voicing your concerns to Governor Brown and also the Board of Forestry.*


Oregon Board of Forestry
2600 State Street
Salem, OR 97310

Dear Members of the Board of Forestry,

On behalf of our 50,000 members from all across Oregon, the eight undersigned organizations write to you today with serious concerns over recent revelations that the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) suppressed an important scientific report aimed at protecting human health and clean drinking water on the Oregon Coast.

On January 6, Oregon Public Broadcasting featured an investigative report which described how lobbyists from the logging industry and staff with the Oregon Department of Forestry, specifically State Forester Peter Daugherty, pressured the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to suppress a scientific report on the risks that industrial clearcut logging practices may pose to clean drinking water in Oregon’s coastal communities.

Many aspects of this investigative report are troubling, not the least of which is State Forester Peter Daugherty’s denial of long-settled science regarding clearcutting, steep slopes, and sediment washing into streams that supply drinking water. Mr. Daugherty’s comments in the OPB story and in the public records the story references demonstrate efforts to suppress concerns about landslide risks from clearcutting, despite the fact that DEQ specifically included scientific references to landslide risks in its study.

We urge this board to take action to ensure that ODF, and the State Forester refrain from such behavior in the future, and take the following steps:

  • Have Mr. Daugherty explain himself in a public meeting, and then consider disciplinary action using available Administrative Guidelines.
  • Develop guidelines and policies that provide greater oversight in the area of drinking water protection.
  • Provide complete and unbiased support to DEQ to complete and release the 2015 drinking water report.
  • Ensure ODF respects the mission and work product of other state agencies and science related to forest practices, water quality and ecosystem impacts.

The people of Oregon must be able to trust that regulatory bodies tasked with protecting clean drinking water and human health in this state are working in the public interest, and not at the whim of corporate lobbyists. Please act quickly to address the grave concerns many have voiced over the behavior of this Board and ODF, and take meaningful steps to regain the trust and faith of the many Oregonians who depend on Oregon’s forests for our drinking water.


Oregon Wild
Portland Audubon Society
Cascadia Wildlands
Beyond Toxics
Oregon Coast Alliance
Coast Range Association
Umpqua Watersheds
Citizens of Rockaway Beach for Watershed Protection
Native Fish Society
WildEarth Guardians
Center for Biological Diversity


The Honorable Governor Kate Brown
State Capitol Building
900 Court Street NE, #160
Salem, Oregon 97301

Dear Governor Brown:

On behalf of our 50,000 members from all across Oregon, the eight undersigned organizations write to
you today with grave concerns over recent revelations that an important scientific report by the
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) aimed at protecting human health and clean drinking water on the Oregon Coast was suppressed through political and agency pressure. We urge you to instruct DEQ to complete and release the 2015 drinking water report, direct your staff to develop and implement policy changes needed to address the issues the report identifies, and appoint a member to the Oregon Board of Forestry who is qualified to bring an understanding of hydrology and water quality to ODF that is currently lacking.

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) featured a story on January 6 from reporter Tony Schick which
described how logging industry lobbyists, Oregon Department of Forestry staff, and some legislators
applied pressure on DEQ to suppress a scientific report on the risks that industrial clearcut logging
practices may pose to clean drinking water in Oregon’s coastal communities. The OPB story raised many concerns which we hope you share. From the story:

The fate of that report offers a glimpse at what can happen when a state environmental agency’s
work runs afoul of a politically influential industry. It also shows how, on certain forestry issues, the
agenda of state regulators aligns more closely with the timber industry than with concerned citizens.

Many aspects of this investigative report are troubling, not the least of which is State Forester Peter
Daugherty’s denial of long-settled science regarding clearcutting, steep slopes, and sediment washing
into streams that supply drinking water. Mr. Daugherty’s comments in the OPB story and in the public
records the story references demonstrate efforts to suppress concerns about landslide risks from
clearcutting, despite the fact that DEQ specifically included scientific references to landslide risks in its
study. That a senior leader in the agency would deny the very existence of this science is deeply

There is a growing accumulation of evidence which leads us to question the behavior of ODF staff and
the Board of Forestry that oversees the agency. This pattern of denying science and evidence that proves inconvenient to the logging industry is akin to the tobacco industry’s denial of cancer links, and the oil industry’s denial of climate change. This is the same pattern that led to the air toxics scandal in Portland and lax oversight of a host of other environmental and human health concerns in our state.
Additionally, the OPB story draws attention to the cozy relationship between ODF and timber industry
lobbyists. Rather than working to protect Oregonians and the environments we live in, some ODF staff
appear to operate on guidance to shield the very industry they regulate from Oregon citizens who expect the agency to enforce forestry rules that keep them and their drinking water safe.

In the past few years OPB, The Oregonian, and many other local news outlets have featured stories that highlight concerns from places like Rockaway Beach, where clearcutting and aerial pesticide spraying have severely damaged the town’s drinking water supply; or Triangle Lake, where the local school, surrounded by clearcuts, found forestry herbicides in the children’s drinking water; or Gold Beach where over three dozen residents complained of illness, property damage and contaminated drinking water from chemicals released by aerial herbicide spraying. These stories give voice to towns like Yachats, whose Mayor went on the record in 2015 to state that clearcut logging dried up the town’s drinking water source a statement supported by research from Oregon State University (OSU). (Jones, Perry 2016)

Governor Brown, Oregonians are counting on you to break this inappropriate relationship between
corporate interests and the agencies that are supposed to oversee them. We believe it is important at
this time that the Governor’s office take action that demonstrates this behavior is unacceptable, and that Oregon will act decisively to protect human health and clean drinking water regardless of where affected communities are located. We cannot allow Oregon to become a state with one set of rules for polluters in Portland, and a second, weaker standard for polluting industries in the Coast Range.

You can restore confidence in DEQ and other state agencies by acting quickly and decisively to address this situation. Specifically, we urge you to take three actions as soon as possible:

  • Direct DEQ to finish and publish the 2015 report titled Oregon Coastal Drinking Water
    Protection Planning, instructing them to release the report in its entirety, including portions that
    ODF and logging lobbyists sought to suppress. DEQ, and all regulatory agencies, need
    direction to implement strategies which prevent the undermining of good science, public
    concerns, or potentially protective regulatory mechanisms.
  • Develop administrative and legislative policy changes to address the issues identified in the
    DEQ report, specifically addressing the lack of drinking water protections for rural Oregon.
  • Appoint a member to the Board of Forestry who is a hydrologist or similar water specialist
    qualified to understand the science regarding drinking water (both quality and quantity issues),
    and who can effectively understand and communicate with agencies like DEQ.

Governor Brown, we know that you share our concern for clean drinking water and human health in
Oregon. As a state we must not allow corporate lobbyists to dictate what scientific evidence our
regulatory agencies are allowed to consider in protecting those values, or allow them to completely
capture a major state agency to the point where it advocates against public health rather than for it.
Please act quickly to address both the scandal around this report, and the urgent need for stronger rules to protect clean drinking water and community health in our coastal communities.


Oregon Wild
Portland Audubon Society
Cascadia Wildlands
Beyond Toxics
Oregon Coast Alliance
Coast Range Association
Umpqua Watersheds
Citizens of Rockaway Beach for Watershed
Native Fish Society
WildEarth Guardians
Center for Biological Diversity


Lisa Arkin, Executive Director
Beyond Toxics

Frontline Communities Need Air Data

Murphy Plywood Mill in Eugene, OR

Air Toxics in West Eugene, OR

All communities need their voices heard and their rightful place in the decisions to strengthen Oregon’s air quality laws. In order to be effective advocates for their own communities and their families’ health, impacted residents need accurate and complete data about toxic pollutants in the Air.

The following letter was submitted on Jan. 10 & 11 to legislators to let them know the will of communities and to ask them to commit to strong toxics reporting laws. Good air follows from accurate data, strong policy and regulations.

Dear Senator Riley, Senator Taylor, Representative Nosse and Representative Helm,

We are writing to follow up with you on your commitment to introduce and pass a Toxics Reporting bill in 2017.

The undersigned groups represent impacted Oregon communities who want legislation that upholds their fundamental right to know what’s in the air and water in their neighborhoods. The principles of environmental justice insist that our communities deserve full public engagement, agency transparency and factual information that we can access easily.

Oregon already has a Toxics Reporting (aka Community Right-To-Know) statute on the books, used successfully since 1996 by the Eugene Fire Marshall’s Office. However, community-level reporting is not enough to satisfy the principles of environmental justice. Some local governments may adopt a Toxics Right-to-Know program if engaged constituents are organized and vocal. Other local governments may not adopt any such program, again leaving some vulnerable communities at a disadvantage to engage in meaningful discussions about their quality of life.

On December 1, 2016, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality launched its own toxics reporting program when Interim Director Whitman sent a letter to regulated industrial facilities requesting “inventories” of substances they use from a list of 633 toxic chemicals. This new action suggests the DEQ recognizes the need for statewide toxics reporting for better regulatory effectiveness. However, the DEQ inventory requirement is deficient in two core areas.

First, the emissions inventory is based on estimations and modeling. This method lacks accuracy. Regulators need data generated by a precise system based on materials balancing. Materials balancing is the system used by the Eugene Fire Marshall that requires exact mathematical input-output calculations for air, water and land. Materials balancing is critical, particularly in cases where toxic emissions are caused by non-stack activities such as grinding, cutting, shredding, off-gassing, evaporation and other fugitive emissions, all of which can be substantial.

Secondly, the DEQ is not planning to make emissions data accessible to the public. This violates Governor Brown’s directive to provide communities with air quality information. Governor Brown promised that the DEQ will be “providing Oregon families ready access to information about industrial emissions near their homes.” Truly, our communities deserve full public engagement grounded in factual information that we can access in a straightforward manner. The solution is access to data via a public website.

In light of these needs, we urge you to adopt these four critical components of Statewide Toxics Reporting legislation:

1. Stable Funding: “Polluter Pays” based upon quantity of toxic chemicals emitted;
2. Statewide Reporting: All Oregon industrial manufacturers with air or water quality permits are required to report toxics emissions to the DEQ. Statewide reporting is necessary because local reporting programs are inequitable;
3. Accurate Data-Not Estimated Data: Require annual materials balancing, a comprehensive mathematical reporting of toxic releases to air, water and land by the pound, or in the case of a hazardous or extremely hazardous chemicals and radioactive substances, less than a pound;
4. Environmental Justice and Community Engagement: Establishes public and user-friendly online access to toxics reporting data to assist community right to know and informed stakeholder input.
When Governor Brown announced a new statewide initiative, Cleaner Air Oregon in April 2016, she issued a clear commitment to vulnerable communities that“[c]ontinued public engagement as the regulatory reform process moves forward will be critical to achieving cleaner industrial air emissions in our neighborhoods throughout Oregon.”

However, we feel at a disadvantage in the public engagement process without the ability to inform our own communities about the toxics exposures they actually face. Without accurate data and the ability to locate the sources of toxics emissions, our participation is merely subjective estimations of public health risks.

We ask you, as our elected representatives, to address community vulnerability and the principles of environmental justice. Please work with us to introduce and pass a 2017 State Toxics Reporting bill.

Our community organizations promise to sustain your efforts.

We would appreciate a reply to representatives of the following organizations describing your plans to work towards toxic emissions reporting. Thank you very much for your work on protecting air quality and reducing health risks to vulnerable communities.


Seventeen Community Groups Who Want Clean Air and Healthy Families:

1. Beyond Toxics

2. Eastside Portland Air Coalition (EPAC)

3. Corvallis Clean Air

4. The Dalles Air Coalition

5. PDX North Harbor Neighbors

6. Linnton Neighborhood Association Board

7. Cully Clean Air

8. South Portland Air Quality (SPAQ)

9. Citizens of Rockaway Beach

10. Portland Clean Air

11. NWDA Air Quality Committee

12. Environment and Human Health Advisory

13. McPhillips Farms (McMinnville)

14. Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (Lincoln County)

15. Cleaner Air Grants Pass

16. Hillsboro Air and Water

17. Stop the Dump Coalition (Yamhill County)

6. Linnton Neighborhood Association Board

7. Cully Clean Air

8. South Portland Air Quality (SPAQ)

9. Citizens of Rockaway Beach

10. Portland Clean Air

11. NWDA Air Quality Committee

12. Environment and Human Health Advisory

13. McPhillips Farms (McMinnville)

14. Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (Lincoln County)

15. Cleaner Air Grants Pass

16. Hillsboro Air and Water

17. Stop the Dump Coalition (Yamhill County)