Press Kit

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FOR THE PRESS
...to contact Beyond Toxics, please call or email:

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director: 541-543-2465 | email: larkin@beyondtoxics.org


Who We Are
Beyond Toxics is a statewide environmental justice organization advancing policies that ensure meaningful participation and cultivating grassroots leadership from Oregon’s frontline and impacted communities. Established in 2001, we are a multicultural, inter-generational team dedicated to centering community leaders and building out the true diversity of our state’s vibrant Environmental Justice movement. MORE About Us

Our Mission
Beyond Toxics provides leadership to build a community-driven environmental justice movement for a thriving and just Oregon.

We envision a society where everyone has equitable access to healthy food and clean air and water, and underserved communities are included in decision making processes that affect them. Together, we move beyond the damaging environmental practices of the past and collectively work to support and maintain ecological resilience and balance.

MORE about Beyond Toxics


 

 

For July 27, 2022 Release

Eugene City Council moves toward all-electric policies for new residential, business construction

The Council has also set goals to decarbonize existing buildings by 2050.

Download the full Press Release (PDF)

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For interviews, please contact:

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics, 541-465-8860 x804, larkin@beyondtoxics.org
Bethany Cotton, Cascadia Wildlands, 503-327-4923, bethany@cascwild.org
Danny Noonan, Breach Collective, 541-653-5795, danny@breachcollective.org

 

EUGENE, OR. – The Eugene City Council, on July 27, took steps to move the city away from natural gas in favor of all-electric construction. City staff will draft an ordinance requiring new residential buildings three stories or less to be 100% electric beginning June 1, 2023 and will hold a work session in fall to discuss prohibiting natural gas and all fossil fuel infrastructure in all new commercial buildings. Furthermore, the city manager was directed to bring back a revision to the Climate Action Plan to formalize the electrification of residential, and as feasible, commercial buildings by 2035, and industrial buildings by 2050.

As summers become increasingly hot and wildfires pose a greater threat to our communities each year, it is time for our leaders to act on climate change and work for climate justice for future generations of Oregonians. This is a huge accomplishment for Fossil Free Eugene and Fossil Free Lane County, a coalition of nonprofits which has been working with the city to achieve its climate goals.
City Council also directed the city manager to return to the council this fall with a proposal for engaging the public to develop a plan for the transition of buildings to becoming decarbonized, a term referring to choosing energy sources that do not emit carbon, with an emphasis on social, environmental and economic equity, especially regarding historically marginalized communities.

Beyond Toxics plays a key role within the coalition by centering equity in the work of a Fossil Free Eugene. “We must consider what a just transition off of fossil fuels looks like and have steps in place to support impacted communities, such as BIPOC, rural and low income residents,” said Paige Hopkins, Climate Justice Organizer with Beyond Toxics.

The passage of these motions is a step in the right direction as we need to take necessary action to combat the impacts of climate change,” Hopkins said. “As we develop sensible and climate-smart policy, we move closer to the goal of a fossil free future for all.”

Download Press Release (PDF)


For July 6, 2022 Release

Eugene’s Newest Environmental Justice Mural

Ribbon cutting and honoring ceremony for “Willamette Wetlands of the Kalapuya

For interviews, please contact:

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director: 541-465-8860 x804 | Email: larkin@beyondtoxics.org 

EUGENE, OR. – Beyond Toxics will host a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, July 9, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for a new mural featuring the ethnobotany of local wetlands and the Kalapuya people. The event will take place at the Dr. Edwin Coleman Jr. Community Center at Westmoreland Park in Eugene. The mural, “Willamette Wetlands of the Kalapuya,” was created in collaboration with the Friendly Area Neighbors Equity Action Team, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Kalapuya descendants, City of Eugene Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement, and City of Eugene Parks and Open Space.

The free event features speakers, music, and a tour of the wetlands. Speakers are Rayna Viles, member of the Confederated Tribe of the Siletz Indians, Mayor Lucy Vinis, Senator James Manning, Kalapuya elder and cultural consultant Esther Stutzman, Dr. David Lewis, Assistant Professor in the School of Language, Culture and Society at Oregon State University, and mural artist Susan Applegate. Additionally, The Splachta Alla Singers will perform drumming and songs of the Willamette Valley tribal people during the ceremony.

The mural illustrates a Kalapuya storyteller speaking about her people and their ancient and contemporary uses of native plants for food, medicine and spiritual observances.

“Visual representation of Kalapuya lifeways through public art is a gift to the community,” said Viles, who is also a Beyond Toxics board member. “It is important that we recognize the first peoples of the region and the sustenance that the land provides through seasonal round practices. Holding a reciprocal relationship with the land has always been the way forward.”

This mural is part of a larger project called the “Kalapuya Cultural Project and Wetlands Preservation” sponsored by Beyond Toxics and Friendly Area Neighbors Equity Action Team. The project includes an informational kiosk, an online resource, environmental and cultural curriculum resources, and ongoing preservation of the park wetlands to protect the significant native plants within Westmoreland Park.

Download Press Release (PDF)


For March 23, 2022 Release

Eugene City Councilors to Host Forum on Pollution

Councilors will Discuss 3 Proposals to Tackle Chronic Polluters Following Closure of JH Baxter Plant

For interviews, please contact:

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director: 541-465-8860 x804 | Email: larkin@beyondtoxics.org
also:
Councilor Randy Groves
RGroves@eugene-or.gov
and
Councilor Claire Syrett
Claire.m.syrett@ci.eugene.or.us

 

EUGENE, OR. – In order to address growing concerns about public health and industrial pollution, City Councilors Claire Syrett and Randy Groves will speak at a Community Public Forum on Tuesday, March 29th at 7 p.m. Participants will discuss three proposals that have received unanimous support from the Eugene City Council. The purpose of all three of these proposals is to reduce local industrial pollution and improve public health for the entire community.

"I am very concerned about the release of toxins in our environment and their effect on our health, safety, welfare and the environment. The J.H. Baxter dioxin contamination is just one example of outcomes we must avoid in the future," says Eugene City Councilor Randy Groves.

Councilors Syrett and Groves have organized this forum to elicit community feedback on the following proposals:

● Requiring risk bonds or liability insurance for industrial users of fossil fuel or hazardous chemicals.
● A public health overlay zone.
● Chronic toxic polluter solutions.

Councilor Syrett stated, “It is long overdue for the city to take stronger action to protect and promote our community's well-being when it comes to polluting industries." She also expressed her gratitude to “the mayor for her leadership in promoting the idea of a public health overlay zone and to my fellow councilors for their strong support for looking into this and the other regulatory measures we will be considering.”

A Public Health Overlay Zone is an additional land use zoning code that applies to established residential neighborhoods and industrial zones. These types of zones are designed to ensure that future land development projects promote a healthy environment and improved quality of life for surrounding neighborhoods. The City of Eugene adopted a similar land use concept in 2017 when it annexed lands to add acres for industrial and manufacturing jobs in the Clear Lake Road area in West Eugene.

Risk Bonds are used to ensure financial responsibility for the impacts of future releases on surrounding neighborhoods and public infrastructure.

City councilors also agreed to ask the staff to determine how a local government could implement meaningful solutions to address chronic toxic polluters.

The Community Public Forum has enlisted several local experts on the topics slated for discussion, including:

● Laura Allen, Member, Eugene Sustainability Commission
● Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics

"To better address these issues Councilor Syrett and I pushed for three council work sessions,” said Councilor Groves. “We must explore tools and strategies for addressing chronic toxic polluters."

Councilors are eager to receive questions and ideas from the community during the public forum.

The Community Public Forum is sponsored by Beyond Toxics, and will be held virtually on Zoom on Tuesday, March 29th at 7-8:30 p.m. Those who wish to join the event can pre-register.

Download Press Release (PDF)


For February 9, 2022 Release

Ecological Threats, Wildfires and Health Burdens are Top Priorities in First Local Climate Assessment in Lane County

The Climate Vulnerability Assessment reveals that Lane County residents are primarily concerned about climate impacts on respiratory health, housing availability, wildfires, and extreme heat. Nearly 70% of locals do not know how to prepare for changes.

 For interviews, please contact:

Paige Hopkins, Climate Justice Organizer:
(541) 543-2454| Email: phopkins@beyondtoxics.org
Meet Panchal, Environmental Justice Statewide Projects Manager:
(541) 543-2448 |Email: mpanchal@beyondtoxics.org

 

EUGENE, OR. – Lane County residents have identified housing availability, health and extreme wildfires among the top concerns as the climate continues to change in dramatic and unpredictable ways. Now, the results from the First Climate Vulnerability Assessment are in (Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - PDF). The goal of this assessment is to understand how Lane County residents are affected by climate change now and in the future.

National research and local experiences have shown that the impacts of climate change tend to disproportionately impact marginalized communities, such as communities of color, low-income communities, the elderly, and people experiencing disabilities. The report reveals that Lane County residents are primarily concerned about the following:

  • 85% are concerned about the way climate change impacts their health. Reduced air quality and increased smoke are expected to amplify chronic respiratory problems.
  • 63% are concerned about the way climate change threatens their safety. Increased wildfires in Oregon combined with poor forest management practices are likely to contribute to more intense wildfire seasons.
  • 62% are concerned about the way climate change threatens housing availability as the environment becomes more inhospitable and more climate refugees, from multiple socioeconomic statuses, move to Lane County.
  • 47% are concerned about the way climate change threatens their jobs. Specifically, people are concerned about shifts in job supply and demand due to climate change.

The Lane County Vulnerability Assessment is a report created by the 2021 Climate Equity and Resilience Task Force, a joint project of Beyond Toxics, the NAACP Eugene-Springfield, The Geos Institute and Lane County Public Works Department. The Task Force, a 16-member advisory group made up of county residents from rural and marginalized community groups, met throughout 2021 to gather input from across Lane County.
 
Lack of water availability is a concern, along with the potential increase in water rates associated with reduced access to water. There is a concern that poor forest management is going to lead to an increase in fire frequency and intensity. The assessment reveals a lack of hope among younger residents and all ages with increasing anxiety about the future.

This report is a call to action that sends a clear message: We must continue to develop strategies to address these vulnerabilities to provide a strong and equitable framework for climate resilience in Lane County,” said Paige Hopkins, the Climate Justice Organizer at Beyond Toxics.

The Lane County Climate Equity and Resilience Task Force is accepting new members from rural and BIPOC communities. The Task Force will host a workshop to develop equitable and resilient strategies for the next phase of the Lane County Climate Resilience Plan. A report on Climate Adaptation Strategies will be presented to County Commissioners later this year.

Those interested in more information or becoming a Task Force member may contact Beyond Toxics.

Download Press Release (PDF)


For January 26, 2022 Release

POLLUTER JH BAXTER SHUTTING DOWN

Discovery of dioxin contamination in the soil and intense pressure from Beyond Toxics and the West Eugene community leads to JH Baxter closing down

 

EUGENE, OR. – After intense public pressure and mounting evidence of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, JH Baxter, a creosote manufacturer and chronic polluter in West Eugene, announced it is closing its doors on January 31st. The company will keep a skeleton crew onsite to manage clean up requirements.

Last week, Beyond Toxics, in collaboration with the Active Bethel Community organization, sent letters to Eugene's Mayor and City Council demanding that our elected officials ask Governor Brown and the DEQ to issue a Cease and Desist order. The goal of this order was to force JH Baxter to immediately halt all actions that emitted pollution or contributed to contamination.

While many questions remain about the company's accountability for the damage they have caused in terms of health, property safety, property values and environmental quality, JH Baxter's shutdown will mean that West Eugene residents will be spared the noxious and nauseating creosote fumes that neighbors have complained to agencies about for decades. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality assures the public that the agency will hold JH Baxter responsible for the costs of remediating the contaminated soil in residential yards and on the facility’s site.

JH Baxter, a creosote manufacturer in the heart of the Bethel neighborhood, has been found culpable of burning off 1.7 million gallons of creosote waste water, violating their air and waste pollution permits and emitting dioxin that has now contaminated multiple residential and public properties. Dioxin, a highly poisonous chemical compound that is known to cause cancer and serious illnesses, was the primary chemical that poisoned soldiers and civilians during the Vietnam War because of exposure from Agent Orange.

This recent news about the closing of JH Baxter is very rewarding after the hard work the community has put into demanding clean air!” said Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault, the West Eugene Community Organizer for Beyond Toxics. “We will gladly take this victory and continue to work towards holding them accountable for their damage. The saying is ‘if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ Well, the community and our supporters have brought the heat and are going to keep cooking!

Download Press Release (PDF)


For November 17, 2021 Release

Oregon Board of Forestry Approves Agency’s First
Climate Change and Carbon Plan

EUGENE, OR. – The Oregon Board of Forestry approved a first-of-its-kind climate plan for the state’s forest management agency, marking a transformative shift for forest management in the state.

The plan was developed in response to Executive Order 20-04, which directed state agencies to “prepare and plan for the impacts of climate change and to take actions to encourage carbon  sequestration and storage.” The plan envisions the Board and Department of Forestry as “national leaders in climate-smart and socially equitable forest policies that promote climate health, resilient forests and watersheds, community wellbeing, and a viable forest products industry.” The plan also aims to incorporate principles of equity and environmental justice in agency decision-making, including the requirements of SCR 17 (2021).

By approving the Climate Change and Carbon Plan, the Board signals that continuing business as usual in Oregon’s forests amidst changing conditions is unsustainable. Oregonians are already feeling the
weight of severe climate change impacts, including heat domes, increasing wildfires and water scarcity for personal or agricultural use. The unanimous vote of approval indicated the Board takes these
impacts seriously and acknowledges that Oregon’s forests can be a powerful tool to help us take up and store carbon and adapt to climate change.

Advocates with the Oregon Climate Action Plan Coalition are celebrating the plan’s approval and are committed to working with the Board, incoming State Forester Cal Mukumoto, and ODF staff to ensure
climate and equity considerations are central to all levels of the Department’s decision-making. Leaders from the Oregon Climate Action Plan Coalition released the following statements:
Transforming Oregon’s forest practices will markedly improve environmental and climate justice outcomes, especially access to clean water and air,” said Grace Brahler, Oregon Climate Action Plan and Policy Manager for Beyond Toxics. “The Climate Change and Carbon Plan represents a big step forward for the agency and can make our communities and forests more resilient to climate change.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s new plan is a critical first step to positioning the state at the forefront of natural climate solutions,” said Lauren Anderson, Oregon Wild’s Forest Climate Policy Coordinator. “Our best near-term option to reduce the future impacts of climate change is to sequester and store more carbon in our forests. Oregon’s remaining intact mature temperate rainforests store more carbon per acre than the Amazon rainforest and should be a top climate priority for the state.”

More information is available on the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Climate Change page. | Read the full plan.

Contacts: Co-Leads of the Oregon Climate Action Plan Coalition Forest Policy Table
● Lauren Anderson, Forest and Climate Policy Coordinator, Oregon Wild (la@oregonwild.org)
● Grace Brahler, Oregon Climate Action Plan and Policy Manager, Beyond Toxics (gbrahler@beyondtoxics.org)

Joint Press Release (PDF)


For April 5, 2021 Release

Two Oregon nonprofits to host Oregon’s first Environmental Justice Summit
Summit to feature two nationally-renowned environmental justice advocates

EUGENE, OR. – Beyond Toxics and the NAACP Eugene/Springfield will be hosting Oregon’s first Environmental Justice Pathways Summit on April 9th and 10th. The Summit will host nationally and internationally renowned environmental justice advocates and will be held in conjunction with the University of Oregon’s Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Lecture. Both events are virtual.

April 9th – Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples (CCIP) Keynote Lecture:
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, former President and International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Moderated by Don Sampson, Director of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Climate Change Program. | Photo of Ms. Watt-Cloutier (.jpg) | Read Ms. Watt-Cloutier’s full bio

The pandemic has given a pause, a time to reflect on new possibilities. It is a time to shift from apathy to empathy and see how we are all interconnected. What happens in the Arctic affects us all,” says Sheila Watt Cloutier.

April 10th – EJP Summit Keynote Lecture:
Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate & Community Revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation and Founder & CEO of Revitalization Strategies. He is also the former Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization at the US EPA under the Bush and Obama Administrations. Moderated by Michelle J. DePass, President & CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust and founding executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. | Photo of Dr. Ali (.jpg) or a portrait of Dr. Ali (.jpg) | Read Dr. Ali’s full bio

We can’t win on climate change unless we win on environmental justice. Together, we can help vulnerable communities move from surviving to thriving,” says Dr. Ali.

The Summit will also feature interactive discussions with the goal of supporting a collaborative network and crafting policy guidelines dedicated to Environmental Justice in the state of Oregon.

Oregon’s history of exclusionary and racist land-use policies has dramatically shaped the way our communities live, work, and play today,” says Haley Case Scott, environmental justice organizer for both Beyond Toxics and the NAACP Eugene-Springfield. “This Summit will help expose and find solutions to the history of forced separation and dispossession between land and people that has played a significant role in the environmental and climate injustices.”

For more information: ejpsummit.org.

Read the FULL Press Release (PDF)

 

 

 

January 14, 2021

Full Press Release (PDF)

Leading Oregon Environmental Justice Organizations Announce 2021 Legislative Agenda

Environmental justice joint resolution and land use reform bill have support of a strong group of legislators and community leaders


EUGENE, OR – State elected leaders are joining with Beyond Toxics and the Eugene/Springfield and Portland chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to champion a suite of environmental justice legislation to be introduced in the upcoming session of the Oregon state legislature. | Summary of our Environmental Justice Legislative Priorities (PDF)

HB 2488, the “Equity and Climate in Land Use” bill, calls upon Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development to update statewide land use planning goals, in order to make equitable planning decisions for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, and establish measurable climate targets associated with land use. LC 1894/2902, the “Environmental Justice for Oregon” Joint Resolution, calls on the state legislature to adopt a vision and set of principles for achieving environmental justice in Oregon, including recognizing the right of all people to clean air and water.

In the wake of the 2020 Oregon wildfires, and nationwide protests against systemic racism, we argue that Oregon needs a major shift in its approach to land use decisions, prioritizing the needs of impacted communities.

Representative Karin Power, who is introducing both the bill and Joint Resolution, explains:  

“I’m proud to be introducing these two pieces of legislation this session, which will help equip Oregon to tackle the monumental challenges facing our State: the climate crisis and systemic racial inequities. The events of the past year put into sharp relief just how deeply intertwined these issues are. There’s a growing recognition among my colleagues in the legislature that, going forward, Oregon needs a holistic reimagining of who deserves to have a say in the future of our communities. This legislation will put our State on the path to achieve this.”

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Beyond Toxics, said: “Oregon’s land use planning goals have stood the test of time in many ways, however laws that are nearly fifty years old need updating to address two of the most pressing issues of our time, climate impacts and the exclusion of those who bear the heaviest burdens of public health problems related to environmental pollution.”


 

 

 

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Lisa Arkin, Executive Director

Victories