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.
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.
The Register Guard published a Nov. 30 guest viewpoint written by former Lane County Commissioner, Anna Morrison, who no longer lives in Oregon. Displaying her ignorance, she suggested that aerial pesticide sprays are nothing to worry about.
If Morrison had done her homework about aerial sprays, she could have started with Arizona, her new home state.
Recently, I had lunch in the employee cafeteria of an international corporation based in Lane County. I was somewhat amazed, but pleased, to see efforts to celebrate Farm Worker Appreciation Week. There were large colorful posters of farm workers and glossy brochures. Their handouts urged the reader to consider how their food is grown, who harvests their food and if workers are treated fairly.
In other words, consumers were being asked to evaluate the ethics of our food system and the impact our choices have on our planet and the people who work in the fields. Why aren’t we demanding the same information about the wood products we buy?
A year ago the editors of the Register Guard urged Oregon legislators to “shine a light on forest sprays.” Our low-wattage legislators did the opposite. Today aerial forest spraying continues unabated.
Communities sprayed with poisons remain in the dark while chemical lobbyists hold sway in the offices and back rooms of our legislature. The response from Oregon’s Legislature? No change to Oregon’s infamously outdated and weak Forest Practices Act.
Over the past year, the issue of exposure to toxic soups of herbicides and other chemicals from aerial helicopter sprays has spurred an outpouring of public indignation! Cases of outright poisoning or suspected harm have been reported in Lane, Curry, Tillamook and Douglas counties.
Environmental Justice: Air Agency’s Decisions Disproportionately Impact Minority and Low-Income Residents
We’re just fed up. Beyond Toxics has used all available channels to warn the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) that it is ignoring its duty to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. Now we must turn to the United States Office of Civil Rights to ask for help to ensure that LRAPA follows recognized standards of justice and public health protections for the families of West Eugene.