2022 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference



Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC)
March 3 - 6, 2022

This year's Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) will take place between Thursday, March 3 and Sunday, March 6, 2022. Beyond Toxics staff are excited to lead two panels and participate in a workshop during the conference--details to follow. This year’s PIELC will be a virtual conference again. 

The theme of this year’s PIELC is “A Different Normal” The whole world has been shaken after nearly two years of a pandemic. While the world is itching to return to normalcy, we must take this opportunity to progress toward and embrace a different normal. 

With wildfires raging around the world, coastlines vanishing, and food systems collapsing, the world we inhabit is changing every day. Our work as environmental advocates is at its most crucial point. This year’s PIELC will focus on harnessing this unique moment in history to shape a better normal.

Beyond Toxics team members will be hosting and participanting in 2 panels and 1 workshop this year:




Dorris Ranch Panel
WHEN: Friday, March 4th, from 1:30-2:30 pm 
Title:Water, Pollinators & Public Spaces: A Local Model for Collaborative Pesticide Policy Reform”  

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84432623439

Dorris Ranch is a highly prized and popular community asset for residents of Eugene and Springfield, Oregon. A public park used for recreation, summer day camps, public tours, photography shoots and botany study, Dorris Ranch is also the oldest commercial filbert orchard in the Pacific Northwest. After hearing community concerns about the use of harsh insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, local environmental justice nonprofit Beyond Toxics filed a public records request revealing contracts confirming harsh chemical use. After urging Willamalane Parks and Recreation District to respond to community concerns, a collaborative effort ensued and a new plan for non-toxic management was put into motion. While exploring deficiencies in state-level laws and regulations governing the actions of private operators in public parks, this panel aims to explain and celebrate the ways in which a local entity listened and effectively responded to community concerns about toxic chemical exposure in a public area and how other local entities can use this approach as a model for resolving conflicts, preserving historically significant areas, and prioritizing public and environmental health.

Panelists: Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics; Jennifer Eisele, Pesticide Program Manager, Beyond Toxics; Michael Wargo, Superintendent, Willamalane (read bios)


Dyrty smoke


West Eugene Panel
WHEN: Saturday, March 5th, from 4:45-6:15 pm
Title: “Tackling Toxicity: Environmental Justice in West Eugene

Zoom Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81524173974

In West Eugene, 550,000 pounds of toxic emissions were released in 2019 alone, accounting for 96% of all the emissions released in the entire city of Eugene, Oregon, that year. Polluted air in West Eugene persists due to outdated zoning laws, housing located near major polluting sources, and inadequate air quality protections. Air pollution levels like those in West Eugene are linked to heart ailments, lung disease, asthma attacks, cancer, and an overall reduction in life expectancy. These conditions have become the lived experience of the West Eugene community. This panel will share the history of major sources of pollution in West Eugene and how community members formed a “Core Team” to fight for better air and soil quality, increased livability, and healthier families and neighbors. 

Panelists: Lisa Arkin (Intro & Moderator), Executive Director, Beyond Toxics; Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault, West Eugene Community Organizer, Beyond Toxics; Travis Knudsen
Public Affairs Manager, Lane Regional Air Protection Agency; Lin Woodrich, Co-Chair, Active Bethel Citizens; Mira Mason-Reader, West Eugene Community Member; Matt Walton, West Eugene Community Member; Josey Heston, West Eugene Community Member (read bios)


Old Growth


PIELC Workshop: "How to build collective power between the forest & climate movements"
WHEN: Saturday, March 5th, from 12:30-2:30 pm

Zoom link: https://uoregon.zoom.us/j/96638072678
The two-year old Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance is a vibrant regional network that functions at the intersection of forest and climate defense. This workshop will explore why it is essential to connect these movements with a social and economic justice vision. We will share how the PNW Forest Climate Alliance began, how it operates, and how coordinated on-the-ground campaigns bridge the forest and climate movements and build our collective power. Attendees will learn about various campaigns led by grassroots members of the PNW Forest Climate Alliance and have an opportunity to discuss and strategize on where to go from here - both in the PNW and wherever participants are working.

Grace Brahler, Oregon Climate Action Plan & Policy Manager, Beyond Toxics
Brenna Bell, 350PDX
Andrew Collins-Anderson, Oregon Coast Range Association



Panelist Biographies

Dorris Ranch Panel - Friday, March 4th, from 1:30-2:30 pm

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics

Lisa is the Executive Director of Beyond Toxics. She has provided innovative policy leadership and grassroots organizing for this statewide environmental justice organization since 2007. Under her guidance, Beyond Toxics embraced the principles of diversity and equity and adopted an anti-racist ethos to become Oregon’s first environmental justice organization. Lisa is dedicated to placing human rights, racial and social justice at the forefront of all environmental protection and climate resiliency policies.

Jennifer Eisele, Pesticide Program Manager, Beyond Toxics 

Jennifer Eisele is the Pesticide Manager for Beyond Toxics. She received her Tribal FIFRA Inspector credential from US EPA Region 9 and was formerly a Tribal Pesticide/Solid Waste Program Coordinator for Shoshone Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Idaho/Nevada. Jennifer also serves on the Oregon Division of Land Conservation and Development Citizens Involvement Advisory Committee and is passionate about equity and environmental justice.  

Michael Wargo, Superintendent, Willamalane 

Michael Wargo became Willamalane’s superintendent in 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from The College of New Jersey and a master’s degree in Education and Sports Management from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. He has more than 25 years of experience in athletics, parks, and recreation and worked in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana prior to moving to Oregon in 2016. He enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with his wife, two sons, and three dogs.

West Eugene Panel - Saturday, March 5th, from 4:45-6:15 pm

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics (see above)

Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault, West Eugene Community Organizer, Beyond Toxics

Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault is Beyond Toxics’ West Eugene Community Organizer. She became interested in pollution in her neighborhood after her 13-year old daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2018. After researching the air, water, and soils in the West Eugene area, she discovered the work of Beyond Toxics. Arjorie says, “Joining the environmental justice team at Beyond Toxics gives me the ability to help be a voice for West Eugene’s community. My passion is to speak up for those individuals who have not been heard. My goal with Beyond Toxics is to help and serve as an example for the West Eugene Community, because I am one of those families harmed by the poor air quality in Eugene.”

Travis Knudsen, Public Affairs Manager, Lane Regional Air Protection Agency  

Travis Knudsen is the Public Affairs Manager for the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) in Lane County, Oregon. LRAPA is responsible for ensuring Lane County meets federal National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the Clean Air Act. The agency does this by monitoring ambient air and implementing programs to protect air quality. It issues home wood heating advisories, regulates outdoor burning, responds to air quality complaints, and issues operational air permits to industrial and commercial business in Lane County. LRAPA is also responsible for implementing Cleaner Air Oregon – Oregon’s Air Toxics program – in Lane County. Prior to his role at LRAPA, Travis was a broadcast meteorologist for over 10 years. He received his degree in meteorology from the University of Northern Colorado.

Lin Woodrich, Co-Chair, Active Bethel Citizens 

Lin Woodrich is the co-chair of the Active Bethel Community (ABC), which consists of 12,000 households in West Eugene. She leads the Civic Engagement, Events and Bethel Business Alliance teams. In addition to partnering with Beyond Toxics to hold polluters in West Eugene accountable for their actions, Lin is working with the City of Eugene Urban Foresters and Friends of Trees to plant trees to build up the area’s tree canopy to reduce heat island effects in West Eugene with three big plantings schedule for this year. Lin also served on the Spreading Kindness Campaign Steering Committee for Neighborhoods and “planted” 100 CHOOSE KINDNESS signs in Bethel yards during 2020.

Mira Mason-Reader, West Eugene Community Member

Mira Mason-Reader has lived up and down the West Coast and is proud to call Eugene, Oregon, her current home. She works for a national environmental non-profit that fights for a world that's green for all, not just green for some. Her passion for environmental justice led her to volunteer with Beyond Toxics to help clean up her neighborhood--a neighborhood that has the worst pollution in the entire county. 

Matt Walton, West Eugene Community Member

Matt Walton is a native Oregonian who strives to make his community better, wherever that may be. He works to increase access to tech certifications and tech job growth for a local IT training company. His passions include sandboarding on the Oregon Coast, protecting dune habitats for generations to come, and working hard to clean up his neighborhood with his wife, Mira.

Josey Heston, West Eugene Community Member 

Josey Heston is a first time home-buyer in the Trainsong neighborhood of West Eugene, or what some would call part of the last affordable housing in Eugene. An avid gardener, Josey loved the big beautiful yards characteristic of homes in the neighborhood. She was immediately concerned when she learned of the elevated levels of dioxin in the soils in Trainsong Park and the Bethel Neighborhood. Her journey to have her own soil tested showed her how little the public actually knows about what is going on literally right underneath us and how difficult it can be to find out. Her ultimate hope is to help with a plan of action for cleaning up West Eugene, spreading information throughout the community, and helping the neighborhood heal. 

PIELC Workshop: "How to build collective power between the forest & climate movements"
Saturday, March 5th, from 12:30-2:30 pm

Grace Brahler, Oregon Climate Action Plan & Policy Manager, Beyond Toxics

Grace Brahler studied environmental science as an undergraduate and earned a law degree with a concentration in environmental and natural resources from the University of Oregon School of Law. As a law student, Grace served as a co-director for the 2019 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference and worked for Lincoln County, the Oregon Clean Water Action Project, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center.

Brenna Bell, Forest Climate Manager, 350PDX

Raised on Muckleshoot Prairie in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, Brenna started advocating for forests in 1997. Her journey of advocacy took her up to tree sits, into lumber mills, across timber sales, though law school, to meetings, rallies, webinars and more. In 2020, while staff attorney for Bark, Brenna helped launch the Pacific NW Forest Climate Alliance, bringing together over 60 groups across the NW to share resources and take action improving forest management to build climate resiliency and mitigate climate change.

Andrew Collins-Anderson, Co-Director, Oregon Coast Range Association