Ban the Bag Update

April 11, 2011

Last week the Sierra Club’s Marys Peak (Corvalis/Salem area) Group submitted to the Corvallis City Council, a Resolution in support of Senate Bill 536, which bans single-use checkout bags. The Council passed the Resolution on April 4th with a vote of 8 to 1.

The Resolution not only supports Senate Bill 536, it also states that “in the event that the 2011 Legislature does not adopt legislation … [to ban single-use checkout bags], the City council may consider enacting a local ordinance regulating single-use plastic and non-recycled paper checkout bags, including prohibiting such bags, mandating recycling of such bags or other restriction methods.”

A work session on SB 536 es expected to occur this Thursday in the Oregon Senate  to make some minor amendments, and then the bill will head to the Senate Rules committee.

Support the City of Portland’s Efforts to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags!

July 18, 2011

By Scott Chapman, Conservation Chair
Columbia Group (Portland-area), Sierra Club

Mayor Sam Adams and the Portland City Council are following through on their resolution from last year to institute a ban on single-use plastic bags if the Legislature was not able to enact a statewide ban as is now the case.

Please join us for a rally at City Hall (1221 SW 4th) at 3pm this Thursday, July 21st.  We’ll gather with other members of Portland’s environmental community to encourage the Mayor and City Council to continue to take a strong stand on this issue.  At 3:45pm we hope you’ll also attend the City Council hearing with us and show your support for the ordinance.

An estimated 100 billion checkout bags are used each year in the United States including 1.7 billion in Oregon – or roughly 444 by each person. These single-use bags are made from petroleum and take hundreds of years to breakdown. They are difficult and cost-prohibitive to recycle (less than 5% per U.S. EPA estimates), and often hinder other recycling efforts when inappropriately mixed in. As a result most end up in landfills and worse, in our streams, rivers and the ocean threatening wildlife and our food supply.

Click here to learn more about the proposed ordinance, or check our the Mayor’s video below!

State Legislative Update – May/June 2011

May 20, 2011

With only about one month left in the 2011 Oregon Legislative session, things are really heating up. Here’s the latest on a few of the issues we’re most focused on in Salem:

LNG pipelines – HB 2700 B – on Monday, May 23 at 3pm, the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee will be holding a vote on HB 2700B and deciding whether to amend it or not. If the bill passes out of committee, it could be up for a vote on the Senate floor by the end of the week. This bill would expedite the application process for numerous ‘linear utilities,’ most notably controversial LNG pipelines. Please click here to send an email to your State Senator urging them to amend HB 2700B to exclude LNG pipelines, or vote against the bill.

Banning Single Use Plastic Bags – SB 536 SB 536 is currently awaiting action in the Rules  Committee – it is reported to be only one vote short of passing in the Senate. Click here to send an email to your Senator today and urge them to vote ‘YES’ on SB 536. The ‘ban the bag’ bill is facing stiff opposition from out-of-state chemical companies that make plastic bags. Oregonians currently use over 1.7 billion disposable single-use plastic bags each year. These bags often end up in landfills or our roadsides, rivers and streams. Even so-called ‘recyclable’ plastic bags are often shipped overseas where they may end up clogging landfills, entering the Pacific Ocean, or being incinerated.

Energy Efficiency in Schools – HB 2960 – Sets up a new Clean Energy Deployment program to provide grants and loans for weatherization upgrades in K-12 schools across Oregon. Such a program would increase jobs in the weatherization industry while reducing energy consumption and saving school districts money on energy bills. A top priority of Governor Kitzhaber’s, this bill awaits action in the Ways and Means Committee, and is scheduled for a hearing and possible action on May 24. Please contact your State Legislators today to urge the passage of HB 2960 to help create jobs in energy efficiency in schools.

Banning Bisphenol A (BPA) from children’s drinking containers – SB 695SB 695 passed the Senate in early April (20-9) and received a public hearing in the House Energy, Environment and Water Committee on May 10. It is now stalled and needs your support to secure a vote in the Oregon House. Send an email to your legislators today urging them to vote ‘YES’ on SB 695. BPA is a synthetic estrogen that is used to make plastic bottles and food can linings. BPA in containers can leach into foods and liquids, and growing children are especially vulnerable to its harmful effects. This bipartisan legislation would ban BPA from baby bottles, infant formula containers, and water bottles, while requiring labeling of canned foods that are lined with BPA.  Even small amounts of BPA can be harmful and numerous scientific studies have linked the chemical – banned in Canada, the European Union and nine states – to health issues such as abnormal brain development, early onset of puberty, and low sperm counts in men.

State Forests – HB 2001 and more – HB 2001 would make timber production the primary purpose of publicly owned state lands like the Tillamook, Clatsop, Elliott, and Santiam State Forests. It is currently stalled in the Ways and Means Committee and though it would mark an extreme shift away from from a balanced management on state lands, it has been identified as a top ‘jobs’ bills for a coalition of industry groups. This means it could be alive until the final days of the legislative session, with our state forests once again becoming a political football. To underscore this, a similar bill to ramp up logging in the Tillamook State Forest that was presumed dead months ago, SB 464, was pulled to the Senate Floor for a vote on May 18 for some posturing by Senate Republicans on logging. Thankfully, their effort failed. Nonetheless, HB 2001 is still a major threat, please contact your State Legislator today and urge them to oppose HB 2001.

Wolves and Cougars– In late April, the House passed HB 3562 by a 51-7 vote to clarify that wolves can be shot in self-defense. Largely symbolic, this bill plays on the myth that wolves pose a threat to humans, but as written could be exploited by poachers looking for an excuse to kill one of Oregon’s fewer than 25 gray wolves. The good news is that two other bills to allow for the shooting of wolves within 500 feet of a residence, and another to reduce goals for wolf management both died without a vote in the House. HB 3562, however, is currently stalled in the Senate but could receive a hearing and possible vote before June 1. Also passing the House in late April by a 45-14 vote was HB 2337, which rolls back the voter-approved ban on hunting cougars with dogs. This too is stalled in the Senate but could receive committee hearing and possible vote before June 1. Contact your State Senators today and urge them to oppose HB 3562 and HB 2337 and protect Oregon’s wolves and cougars.

For other legislative updates, please visit our legislative tracker blog.

An Update from the Marys Peak Group

February 24, 2011

Sierra Club volunteers educated the public about important conservation issues at the Blue Ocean Symposium at the Oregon State University earlier this month.

from Sierra Club volunteer Lon Ottersby

The Sierra Club’s Marys Peak Group (Corvallis/Salem area) educated the public about Beyond Coal, the dangers of LNG, successes with marine reserves, and the Ban the Bag campaign at the Blue Ocean Symposium on February 18 amd 19. The Symposium was held at Oregon State University and featured nationally recognized authors, scholars and scientists exploring the state of the world’s oceans through science, the arts and ethics. Commercial fishing folks from the Oregon’s coast joined with us in sharing a vision for “350” or less. As of yesterday the CO2 content of our atmosphere was 391 parts per million and the ph level in the near ocean shore was 7.5. The critters and plants that feed the rest of us are melting in the acid soup we call our ocean.

Upcoming Event:

The Marys Peak Group will have their table out again this Friday, February 25 at the Eco-film festival in Downtown Corvallis (223 SW 2nd St, Odd Fellows Hall). The films will begin at 7:30pm, however the doors will open at 7:00pm and we welcome you to come early to meet to meet local businesses and organizations who are dedicated to sustainability! Click here for more information about the event.

Some good, some not-so-good in the 2014 session of the Oregon Legislature

March 12, 2014

state capitolWe can all breathe a sigh of relief now, as the 2014 “short session” of the Oregon Legislature wrapped up on Friday, March 7.  The frantic pace of the short session – with its tight deadlines and quick turnaround times – was a real eye-opener for us and made it even harder than usual to keep up with everything that was happening.  As an example, on one day in the first week of the session, we had four bills up for a hearing in three different committees at the same time!

At any rate, it’s safe to say the outcome of the session was a mixed bag, without a significant amount of either progress or setbacks.  Here’s a quick summary of what happened to some of the bills we were tracking:

  • We had a minor loss on Senate Bill 1510, which would have created a process for a more coordinated and comprehensive environmental review of large projects in Oregon by essentially implementing a state-level version of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  While the bill did not make it out of committee, there is still likely to be an interim workgroup to work on the issue and report back to the 2015 Oregon Legislature.
  • One nice victory was Senate Bill 1516, which establishes a planning process for turning an old railroad corridor between Banks and Tillamook into a “Salmonberry Trail.”  Since we are active members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition, we are enthusiastic about such a trail and strongly supported SB 1516.  It passed the Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
  • In sad news, Senate Bill 1569 failed to move.  This bill would have begun the process of phasing out certain toxic chemicals from children’s toys sold in Oregon.  Unfortunately the bill was first scaled back to just require the creation of a list of chemicals of concern and require manufacturers to notify Oregon public health officials when their children’s products contain these chemicals.  Then, even that watered-down bill failed to make it out of the Ways and Means Committee, which was a major disappointment.  It’s hard to believe that a bill designed to keep toxic chemicals out of our kids’ toys cannot pass in Oregon, but these proposals will be back.
  • We had another minor victory in the stalling of Senate Joint Memorial 201, which was merely a statement from the Legislature to the U.S. Congress and to the Administration that reforms are necessary on Oregon’s “O&C Lands”.  While such a measure is essentially meaningless, we believed the language of the memorial was heavily slanted toward timber production on our backyard forests and neglected the important functions the O&C Lands provide for recreation, tourism, and clean water.  And fundamentally, decisions about O&C Lands are simply outside the purview of the Oregon Legislature.  We opposed SJM 201 in its original committee hearing and it was sent to the Senate Rules Committee, where it remained at adjournment.
  • Another important win was the passage of House Bill 4126 – a critical bill to help defend Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).  A very destructive ballot measure had been proposed for 2014 ballot to incorporate large-scale hydroelectric power into the RPS, which would have rendered the RPS essentially meaningless and dramatically undercut the development of real renewable power in the state.  HB 4126 was the result of a settlement between many parties to the debate over the hydro ballot measure and its passage removes the specter of that ballot measure.  The settlement was not perfect, but we supported it as a way to make the ballot measure go away.  It passed both houses essentially unanimously and is now with the Governor.
  • House Bill 4042 extended net metering to wave energy in Oregon.  While wave energy technology is still in its infancy in Oregon, we believe that it could offer another viable source of renewable energy for our state.  Since net metering is a well-established mechanism to help facilitate the distributed generation of power, we supported HB 4042, which passed both houses without objection and was signed by the Governor on March 6.
  • We were disappointed in the Legislature’s failure to move House Bill 4100.  That bill would have required labels for products containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and would have created a legislative referral to allow Oregon citizens to sign off on that proposition in the November 2014 election.  We have concerns about the potential impacts of GE foods on our environment and on public health, but also fundamentally believe that this is a right-to-know issue that will allow consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase.  The bill was still sitting in the House Rules Committee at adjournment, but there will very likely be a similar initiative measure on the ballot in November 2014 anyway.
  • Finally, we were pleased to see the demise of House Bill 4113 – the bill to move forward on the Oregon-only funding approach for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC).  While we did have some concerns about potential environmental impacts of the current version of the CRC, we also opposed HB 4113 because we believe the project is simply fiscally irresponsible as it is currently proposed. Notwithstanding the tremendous amount of political momentum behind the bill, the opposition was even greater and the legislation never really got moving.

So all in all, things could have been a lot better in the 2014 session, and they certainly could have been worse.  Now, with this session barely in our rearview mirror, we will begin the process of determining our priorities for the 2015 full-length session!  It’ll be an exciting year, so stay tuned.

Making Peace with the Willamette River

November 21, 2012

By: Tierra Curry

This is the summer I fell in love with the Willamette.

Admittedly, like many relationships, my love is based on the potential for good that I see in Portland’s troubled, yet improving, water vein. I’ve been in Portland for more than a decade without so much as sticking a toe into our river. I suspect this may be true of most Portlanders. We drive over it, bike across it, walk beside it, and wish there were more places to dine on the banks and take it in. Some hardy folks row on it. Even braver ones fish from it. But ask people if they swim in the Willamette and they’re likely to say something like, “Eew. Gross.”

That’s exactly what my companion said, standing on the banks one fine day this July, when I declared that I was going to jump into the river, for the very first time.  We were standing on the river bank in Sellwood. It was hot out, really hot. My labrador retriever was out enjoying the water. Little kids were out enjoying the water.

“Do their parents know about the persistent organic pollutants?” I wondered. “Where exactly are these alleged PCBs? Are they here in the mud at Sellwood?” If the little kids were splashing around in them, they didn’t seem to mind. Blue, my lab, didn’t seem to mind either. He swims in the river most days. He took is first Willamette plunge in January, downtown by the park strip where the geese are plentiful and the mud is green. He came out smelling horrendous and was so happy that he tore around in high speed circles in the one small patch of grass downtown between the Hawthorne and Marquam bridges where the river is accessible for swimming.

Standing on the bank in July, sweating, weighing pollutants and the ghost of combined sewage overflows against the pure joy of a good swim, and against my companion’s advice, I dove into the Willamette. And it was wonderful.

As far as swimming goes, our troubled Willamette is actually a lovely river. I can tell you this with certainty because I swam in 31 rivers this summer and consider myself to be somewhat of an expert at river bagging. Jump in the LewisRiver in July and your only coherent thought will be, “I gotta get out of this water, or I’m gonna die of hypothermia.” Jump in the White Salmon and you’ll come out covered in silt. But swim out to the middle of the Willamette, and you’ll realize what a great view of the skyline there is, how pleasant it is to laze in the water, how fun the waves from the boats are.

Lots of wildlife live in and feed from our river– otters, beavers, bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, herons, mussels, sturgeon, dragonflies, red-legged frogs, long-toed salamanders. Having lived in Arizona for the past few years, I realized that we really are spoiled in Portland. Some of the Southwest’s most treasured rivers are way more contaminated, and have way less water, than the Willamette. Swimming in the uranium-contaminated Little Colorado, the cow-pie infested Gila, and the thicker than soup muddy waters of the San Juan made me less squeamish about our own Willamette.

And so, after twelve years of hesitancy, the Willamette and I spent a wonderful summer together. I rented a kayak and paddled around RossIsland and saw a beaver with a mouthful of branches, more great blue herons than I could count, and an osprey with a fish in its talons. I had a blast failing miserably at wakeboarding on Multnomah Channel. I rented a stand up paddle board and putzed around the river at WillamettePark. The jet boat tour came tearing by and added some excitement to my first try at paddle boarding, and I put it on my to do list to get out on the jet boat myself someday soon. Most fun of all, I starting racing Blue to the stick from the dock at Sellwood Riverfront Park. I invited a group of six friends to join Blue and I in our stick racing competition. Three plunged merrily in; three stood on the banks saying, “I can’t believe you’re getting in that water.”

I completely understood their refusal to be immersed in the Willamette. On a glorious summer day a few years ago, a friend and I jumped in the Molalla, Clackamas, Sandy, Columbia, and Washougal rivers in a single day, and then drove out to Elk Rock Island, stood on a pretty beach on the Willamette, and just could not make ourselves jump in, even if it would mean bragging rights for swimming in six rivers in a single day instead of five.

I had a similar moment years ago on the beach at the Columbia at SauvieIsland. I was sitting in the shade, frowning at the stinky dioxin-laden pulp smell coming from St. Helens, frowning at uv-b radiation from stratospheric ozone depletion, frowning at the contaminants and radioactive particles that lurk in the Columbia. Meanwhile, my friends were in the river, playing beach ball, drinking PBR, having a wonderful day. In my defense, I’m particularly sensitive about contaminants because I spent a year in Anchorage doing research on persistent organic pollutants and their terrible effects in the Arctic ecosystem. Sometimes having so much information in our brains about all of the world’s environmental problems can just take all the fun out of life.

The day I chose to swim in the Columbia was a turning point for me. I realized that I have to keep my mind, and heart, open to the world’s woes without becoming so weighed down that I become paralyzed. I think we all must work to remain intentionally aware and compassionate without becoming so overwhelmed that we shut the door to joy; or worse, become so weary that we become apathetic. The author Wendell Berry advised, “Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.” We have to stay informed, do all we can to make the world a better place, and avoid getting caught up in sadness and indifference. Ed Abbey offered similar advice, “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.”

“Why haven’t I been enjoying the Willamette for the last decade?” I’ve been asking myself. Oh yeah, the pollutants, the sewage overflows, the toxic algae. Here’s the good news. Lots of folks have been very busy working hard to make the Willamette a cleaner river. And they are succeeding. Portland completed the Big Pipe project in 2011, which will keep sewage from entering the river as it did in times past during heavy rainfall. Those menacing PCBs are mostly trapped in the sediment and generally not lurking in the water and waiting to cling to us when we’re swimming. There’s now a “Big Float” event put on by Willamette Riverkeeper, a day in summer where people make their across the Willamette by inner tube, pool float, rubber ducky, or whatever means a creative Portlander can come up with to stay afloat. There’s also now a Portland Bridge Swim, for those adventurous enough to give it a go swimming from the Sellwood to the St. John’s bridge. We have a long ways to go, and we should all pitch in, but meanwhile, let’s enjoy our waterway. Everyone should fall in love with the Willamette and join the effort to make it a cleaner river.

Tierra Curry is a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity and can be reached at

2011: An Environmental Year in Review

December 19, 2011

2011 was a great year for the environment in Oregon, and the Sierra Club played BIG role in a number of key victories!

This year we have much to celebrate.  We’ve brought an and to an era of burning coal for electricty in Oregon.  We’ve helped homeowners across the state invest in rooftop solar and energy efficiency projects for their homes.  We’ve stopped the development of liquefied natural gas facilities and pipelines along Oregon’s coast.  We held the line during a challenging state legislative session– fighting to protect Oregon’s wolves and advance energy efficiency programs that will create jobs and save money for schools.  And, we led the fight against efforts to ramp up unsustainable logging on our state lands.

Here’s a look back at a few of our key success in 2011 and a look at the struggles we’ll contineu to face in 2012.  For a more complete review of our successes in 2011, check out the annual report that we released last month!


After years of effort from the Sierra Club and our allies, the Pacific Northwest’s only two coal plants and biggest sources of harmful air pollution are on the path to being phased out.

In September, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement between the Sierra Club and Portland General Electric addressing the company’s violations of the Clean Air Act at the company’s coal plant in Boardman, Oregon. The agreement secures a court enforceable shutdown date of 2020 for Oregon’s only coal fired power plant, significant reductions in haze causing pollution in the near term, and the creation of a $2.5 million fund for restoration in the Columbia River Gorge and Hells Canyon, air pollution reduction, and the deployment of distributed renewable energy such as rooftop solar panels.

With a date-certain phaseout plan for Oregon’s only coal plant, the Sierra Club is now focusing on helping people across Oregon be part of shaping Oregon’s renewable energy future. Over the summer, our members have installed over 100,000 watts of solar on their roofs through our Go Solar with the Sierra Club Program! We have also reached out to thousands of homeowners to sign them up for Clean Energy Works, a program to weatherize homes across Oregon.

In 2010 we also worked with the Sierra Club’s Washington Chapter and other allies to secure a coal-free future for the Pacific Northwest.  On the heals of the announcement that the Portland General Electric’s Boardman coal plant would be shut down, the Governor of Washington announced a deal to close the Transalta coal plant in Centralia, Washington (just 90 miles north of Portland) in two phases beginning in 2020. One boiler for the 1,460 MW plant will close in 2020, the other in 2025, with interim pollution controls for haze being installed in 2013. Additionally, the company proposing to export as much as 80 million tons of coal from the Port of Longview across the Columbia River from Oregon has withdrawn its permits after getting caught misrepresenting the scope and impacts of its operation.

We will remain vigilant in 2012 to stop a variety of potential coal export schemes from Columbia River ports in Oregon and Washington.


In 2011, the Sierra Club and our allies defeated multiple proposals for liquified natural gas (LN G) terminals on Oregon’s coast and hundreds of miles of LNG-related pipleline that would have harmed forests, farms, and waterways across our state.

The year got off to a great start with a major decision on January 12.  The Clatsop County Commission voted 4-1 to withdraw its previous approval for 41 miles of gas pipeline intended to serve the proposed Oregon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal near Astoria. Sierra Club volunteers were actively involved in efforts to influence Clatop County decision-makers, and the vote wass a major setback for LNG development on the Columbia River – it was the first vote for three new commissioners swept in last November in a tide of anti-LNG sentiment. Then, in another victory in the struggle to prevent LNG development in Oregon, on March 9th, the Clatsop County Commission voted 4-1 to revoke Oregon LNG’s land use approval for its controversial pipeline and LNG import terminal.

Similarly, the federal Ninth Circuit Court on March 2nd threw out Bradwood Landing LNG’s license, finally killing its proposed LNG import terminal 20 miles up the Columbia River in Astoria. In late March, thanks to the tireless work and actions of thousands of Sierra Club members and citizens across the state, NW Natural Gas finally withdrew plans for the controversial Palomar Gas Transmission line which would have crossed the Mt. Hood National Forest and was initially proposed to import LNG from the proposed Bradwood Landing LNG terminal.

But, we weren’t just working to stop natural gas pipeline in Oregon!  In November, President Obama made a decision to delay the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This massive pipeline would bring oil mined from the tar sands underneath the wild boreal forests of Alberta to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, further hooking the US on the dirtiest of fossil fuels. The Sierra Club was instrumental in this effort, participating in events from Portland to Washington, DC.

Nonetheless, LNG companies are now moving full steam ahead on plans to export gas from Wyoming and Colorado overseas through Oregon’s ports.  For example, Jordan Cove Energy plans to export from Coos Bay and build more than 200 miles of pipeline across wild rivers and old growth forests in southwest Oregon.  Similarly, the Oregon LNG company is eyeing export from a proposed site near Astoria, which could revive the 217-mile Palomar Pipeline that would stretch from central Oregon to the Pacific Coast. The Sierra Club will remain vigilant in 2012 to block these LNG export proposals.


In 2011, the Sierra Club and our friends at the Wild Salmon Center, Northwest Steelheaders Association, and Trout Unlimited turned the tide in the effort to protect core wildlife and salmon habitat in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests.

In May, following intense efforts to educate Clatstop County Citizens about the value of their state forest lands, the Clatsop County Commission voted to send a letter to the Oregon Board of Forestry calling for them to use the ‘best available science’ in decision making and pressing for a more balanced approach to management in the Clatsop State Forest than what was decribed in a draft 10-year implementation plan developed by the Department of Forestry.  Because Clatsop County receives the most money from logging state forests, their stand for sound science and balance is significant, and marked a break from neighboring Tillamook County which has called for weakening forest protection rules. In the days before the Commission vote, the Sierra Club organized a community meeting attended by local members and supporters, many of whom later testified before the Commission in a hearing attended by roughly 200 people – one of the largest in Clatsop County history!

The Clatsop County letter also came about two weeks after a scathing report from OSU’s Institute for Natural Resources on the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) draft plans which noted that the ODF consistently failed to used the ‘best available science.’

And, in November, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber issued a call to the Oregon Board of Forestry to create first-ever protected conservation areas on state forests. Such conservation areas would be managed primarily for values like clean water, fish, wildlife, and recreation. The Board of Forestry is now considering creating such protected areas as part of its work plan for 2012. Currently, Oregon’s state owned forests contain no significant areas off-limits from logging and roadbuilding for the long term, a fact the Sierra Club has been working to change. Over the past year, we have collected over 1200 signatures on a petition calling for the creation of state forest conservation areas, led hikes to state forest areas deserving of greater protection, and testified at numerous Board of Forestry meetings to help change management on state lands.


In late July, the Portland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that prohibits plastic shopping bags at checkstands of major grocers and certain big-box stores. The new rules took effect October 15. Mayor Sam Adams introduced the ban after the 2011 Legislature declined to enact Oregon-wide restrictions. Sierra Club staff and volunteers worked with our partner organizations to lobby and testify before the City Council in favor of this ordinance. Click here to learn more.

Similarly, in April the Sierra Club volunteers in Corvallis submitted to their City Council a Resolution in support of Senate Bill 536, which would ban single-use checkout bags. The Council passed the resolution on April 4th with a vote of 8 to 1. After the state legislature failed to act, Sierra Club volunteers launched a high profile campaign to ban disposable bags in Corvallis.  The ban is now being reviewed by a committee established by the Council and will be voted on in 2012.


After years of denial, in 2011 the Bureau of Land Management finally conceded that it’s Western Oregon Plan Revision was fatally flawed. Originally proposed by the Bush administration to double logging across over 2 million acres of public land, the BLM’s Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) would have significantly increased clearcutting in old growth forests.

But in early July, the BLM finally conceded that the WOPR (pronounced ‘whopper’) is fatally flawed in a court filing in response to timber industry litigation to put the plan back in effect. Though Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar originally voided the WOPR in 2009, calling it legally indefensible, the timber industry won recent court rulings to put it back in effect, and until this week, it was unclear how the Obama administration would react. The Sierra Club has campaigned for years to stop the WOPR, which was originally approved by the outgoing Bush administration amidst a cloud of political tampering from the White House.


In early August, for the third time, federal judge James Redden rebuked the federal government’s inadequate plans to restore Columbia and Snake River salmon. In a case the Sierra Club has been involved in for years, the judged referred to the federal government’s “lack of, or at best, marginal compliance” with the Endangered Species Act and called their plan “neither a reasonable, nor a prudent, course of action.” The judge has ordered the government to present plans that include a wide range of options, including breaching salmon killing dams on the Snake River, by 2013.


Want to help us succeed in 2012?

Please consider making a donation to the Oregon Chapter.



State Legislative Update – End of Session Edition

June 16, 2011

The Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

The 2011 Oregon Legislature is entering its final days. Scheduled to wrap up work by June 30, some are predicting the session will end as early as the week of June 20. Many major budget bills are done and on the way to the Governor’s desk. The Sierra Club will be scoring the votes of legislators and the legislature as a whole once the session is over, but based on work completed so far, this is shaping up to be a fairly lackluster session for the environment.

While there have been some positive accomplishments, most notably a significant overhaul of Oregon’s bottle bill, and strong prospects for passage of school weatherization legislation early next week (see below), the Sierra Club and other conservation groups have had to focus on defense, stopping bad bills that would: ramp up unsustainable logging on state forests; make it easier to shoot wolves; overturn voter approved bans on hunting cougars with dogs; stop the DEQ from adopting new water quality protection rules; exempt biomass energy from greenhouse gas reporting programs; and expedite state permitting for proposed LNG pipelines.

Meanwhile, many positive bills have stalled, including a ban on single use plastic bags; an expansion of Oregon’s marine reserve system; a ban on the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s food containers; the creation of a system of protected conservation areas on state lands; and an effort create jobs through energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings.

Despite this, a key priority of the Sierra Club and Governor John Kitzhaber is on the right path in the legislature’s last days. HB 2960, the ‘cool schools’ bill, will set up a fund to allow schools across the state to weatherize and upgrade their heating and cooling systems. This will create jobs, save school districts money on utility bills over the long term so that more money can be invested in education, and make schools more comfortable and better learning environments for kids. This bill passed the House early last week, and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Monday, June 20. Please email your Senators in support of HB 2960 TODAY!

Thank you for your support this legislative session. Check out our legislative tracker for more specific status updates on a range of environmental bills we’ve worked on this session.

State Legislative Update: Wolves, Forests, Weatherization and more

April 15, 2011

Ivan Maluski from the Sierra Club addresses a crowd of citizen lobbyists at the annual Oregon Conservation Network environmental lobby day in Salem on April 7, 2011.

The 2011 Oregon Legislative session has reached the halfway mark. As committees race to meet April deadlines for action on hundreds of bills, the level of intensity on environmental legislation has increased dramatically.

Unfortunately, there are far more environmental threats moving forward than good pro-environment legislation. By the end of the week of April 18, the Oregon House will have potentially passed legislation to make it easier to shoot Oregon’s wolves, make timber production the primary purpose of our state lands, and rollback of voter-approved protections for cougars. Other bills getting hearings include an effort to restrict the Department of Environmental Quality from implementing new water quality standards meant to protect public health, and legislation that would declare biomass energy to be ‘carbon neutral’ while exempting biomass energy producers from greenhouse gas reporting rules.

Meanwhile, legislation to ban single-use plastic bags appears to be stalled, as is a bill that would stimulate green job creation by requiring energy performance scores for all buildings. Legislation that would speed state wetland crossing permits for LNG pipelines passed the House earlier this session, and will likely be taken up in the Senate in May.

As the cold and rainy weather continues to linger in Oregon this spring, only a few bright spots are emerging at the Oregon legislature – a key initiative of Governor Kitzhaber’s to create jobs by weatherizing Oregon schools appears to be moving forward, as is a ban on the chemical BPA in certain children’s food containers.

There is no time like the present to make your voice heard for Oregon’s wolves, forests, clean water and the climate! Click on the links above to learn more information about the legislation mentioned and find out how you can take action TODAY!

Oregon Legislature 2011

February 1, 2011

For info and updates on other bills the Sierra Club is tracking in the 2011 Oregon legislature, visit our State Legislative Tracker blog.

Environmental Fights Ahead

The Oregon Legislature got down to work for its 2011 session on February 1. With a deadline of ending legislative activity by late June, and nearly 2000 bills already introduced, it will be a busy five months.

A number of environmental bills have already emerged. With the House in a historic 30-30 split between parties, and operating with Republican and Democratic co-Speakers, as well as co-chairs of every committee, we expect some real challenges with environmental legislation this year.

Unfortunately, the 30-30 split probably makes it more likely for anti-environmental legislation to pass the House. And the state’s more than $3 billion budget shortfall and job creation will dominate the discussion, which will inevitably have implications for bills relating to the environment.

The Sierra Club will be tracking legislation throughout the session on our new legislative blog, weighing in on bills related to forests, energy, wildlife, LNG and more.

A few of the bills already on our radar screen include:

HB 2736 – This bill sets up a pathway for the Department of Forestry and counties to designate ‘natural resource conservation areas’ on state forestlands like the Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam and Elliott State Forests for the protection of clean water, recreation, fish and wildlife and carbon sequestration. The Sierra Club has been working for the protection of natural resources and special places on state forest lands for years. Sierra Club position: Support.

HB 2597 – This bill would require that state forestlands like the Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam and Elliott State Forests be managed at 90% of the level you would see on private industrial forestlands, essentially maximizing logging and roadbuilding on publicly owned state forest lands at the expense of fish, wildlife, recreation, clean water and carbon sequestration. The Sierra Club and fish conservation groups have worked successfully to stop this type of legislation in numerous times in the past. Sierra Club position: Oppose.

HB 2700, SB 261, SB 265, HB 2206, HB 2589 – These bills all change the definition of the word ‘applicant’ for the purposes obtaining state issued wetland fill and removal permits needed to build linear energy facilities (ie. LNG pipelines) across wetlands, rivers and streams. These are essentially versions of the LNG fast-track bills the Sierra Club, small farmers and woodlot owners, and our allies have stopped in previous sessions. Sierra Club position: Oppose.

SB 536 – This bill would ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and some other retail establishments, which would help reduce the number of plastic bags entering our waterways, polluting the food chain, and and clogging our landfills. Sierra Club position: Support.

HB 2960 – Sets up a new Jobs, Energy and Schools fund to provide grants and loans for weatherization upgrades in K-12 schools across Oregon. Such a program would increase jobs in the weatherization industry while reducing energy consumption and saving school districts money on energy bills. Sierra Club position: Support.

HB 2337, SB 474 – these bills would bring back the practice of hunting cougars with packs of dogs, a technique banned by Oregon voters since 1998. There may also be legislation allowing ranchers to shoot wolves they believe threaten their livestock, but such a bill has not been introduced yet. Sierra Club position: Oppose.

We will be posting more details and updates on all of these bills in the coming weeks.

Here are some resources for you to do some of your own research on the 2011 legislative session.

The Oregonian newspaper has an easy to use bill tracker at

Also, the Oregon Legislature’s website allows you to track bills, view committee schedules, and contact your legislators.

Stay tuned, and watch the Sierra Club’s legislative blog for the updates and action alerts throughout the session.


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