From Mountains to Salmon – Let’s Protect our Wild Spaces!

April 19, 2018
Perhaps the greatest aspect of living in the Pacific Northwest is the majestic, lush, and ecologically diverse wild spaces that surround us. Here at the Oregon Sierra Club, we are motivated by this beauty, especially when this natural beauty continues to be under attack by corporate interests and the federal government. From towering mountains to migrating salmon, we’re fighting for what makes our home great — making sure that wild spaces remain wild and public lands remain public, for generations to come.

In the next few weeks, we are excited to be sponsoring some important (and fun!) educational events in Portland about preserving and protecting the Pacific Northwest. Hope to see you there!

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Tale of Two Rivers

Thursday, April 26, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
The EcoTrust Building (721 NW 9th Ave, Suite 200, Portland)

An evening of conversation about Northwest salmon, orcas, and people, and rivers and dams and lessons learned—with a focus on the Elwha River in western Washington and the lower Snake River in eastern Washington. Featuring three renowned Northwest natural resource reporters Lynda Mapes (Seattle Times); Rocky Barker (Idaho Statesman) and Jeff Renner (formerly of KING5).

A reception proceeding the program will feature appetizers, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. Admission is $10 and tickets are quickly running out – so RSVP today!

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Public Lands Town Hall with Representative Blumenauer

Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 – 8:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM)
KEEN (515 NW 13th Ave, Portland)

Join Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Oregon’s 3rd District) for a Town Hall about the state of our public lands in the current political climate. Come to learn about the various anti-public lands bills in Congress, the on-going efforts to expand protections for public lands, and the current status of Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Free beer and light snacks will be available, as well as ways to get involved with groups fighting to protect our public lands. Learn more about the event and register here.


Volunteer Spotlight: Gregory Monahan

March 29, 2018

Gregory!On any given day, you can find Gregory working in the office on the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) ballot initiative, recruiting and training volunteers as the Oregon Chapter’s Volunteer Coordinator for the campaign. He’s been volunteering with the Chapter for 3 years, and found his way into the environmental movement after being tasked with teaching climate change and sustainability to engineering students at Portland Community College over a decade ago. (Later on, he made those topics a requirement for all students on the engineering track at PCC.)

Upon learning the science behind the impending climate crisis, Gregory diagnosed himself with what he calls the “green blues,” a deep despair for the vast problems plaguing our world, which can only be cured by activism. He’s been non-stop ever since. “I tend to go all in or not at all,” he laughed.

What excites Gregory about PCEF is how clearly the initiative would address the intersection of what he called the four major problems plaguing our country: racism, a broken democracy, income inequality, and climate change. “None of these problems can be solved individually,” he told me. “It will take a system-level, movement-building approach to transition to a just, equitable, and sustainable world.”

The Chapter’s Clean Energy Task Force, of which Gregory is a member of the Steering Committee, became inspired by the concept of a Beloved Community, a term popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. Their vision is to create a Beloved Community of volunteers – where all working on this historic initiative feel welcomed, supported, and valued. (Want to be one of those team members? Learn more and sign up here!)

“Let’s look at climate change this way: We’re on an airplane that we know is going to crash. Look around look at your fellow passengers: there will be people running around screaming and those raiding the cocktail bar. Then there’s the people doing something about it: moving their collective weight to the left and right of the plane so we bellyflop rather than nose dive. And while we’re going down on this plane, moving our weight back and forth, we might as well radically shift the culture we’re in and love each other.

— Gregory Monahan

Fun facts about Gregory

  • He holds a Master’s degree in engineering and a PhD in electromagnetics. He’s held a variety of different jobs throughout his life, including car mechanic, carpenter, electrical engineer, building contractor, private school manager, and engineering instructor at Portland Community College.
  • Soon he’ll be finishing up a 6-month course called Awakening to Whiteness at the Zen Community of Oregon. “If you want to change the world,” he says, “You have to start by changing yourself. I am a 73-year-old white male who has benefited from our culture of a white, male, heterosexual dominated society. I have learned so much about my personal privilege and the undeniable ongoing existence of racism in our present-day culture.”
  • He and his wife Amy have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren – all who live in Portland.
  • “I’m a deacon in the church of early!,” you may hear him say, as he always arrives at least a half hour early to events.
  • As a self-described “JewBu,” or Jewish-Buddhist, his favorite quote is from Rabbi Tarfon, who lived over 2,000 years ago: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.”
  • Gregory’s currently reading: Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, edited by Denise Fairchild and Al Weinrub and No Time to Spare, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Legislative Update: Let’s Get Clean Energy Jobs Legislation Done!

February 26, 2018

We’re now in the back half of the madness that is a short session of the Oregon Legislature. Our primary legislative priority – the Clean Energy Jobs legislation – is still moving, though its path has become a little murkier at the moment. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the Legislature will recognize the need to take climate action now and get this critical legislation passed this year!

The Clean Energy Jobs legislation is actually two different bills – House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507. After an amazing Clean Energy Jobs lobby day on February 12 that drew nearly 500 people to the Capitol, both bills passed out of their committees of origin on February 14. The Sierra Club weighed in in support of both bills in their public hearings and also noted that we would like to see the legislation become even stronger. As noted in our testimony, we agree with our equity partners that the bills should be improved to protect our most vulnerable communities.

Our hope was that such improvements to the legislation could be made in the House and Senate Rules committees, where the bills got sent. However, an amendment has been proposed in House Rules which would legislate the emissions cap now, but save much of the rest of the hashing out of the cap-and-invest program for the 2019 session of the Legislature. We believe the Clean Energy Jobs legislation is ready to move in its entirety now and submitted testimony to that effect for the February 22 hearing.

At press time, no action had been taken yet on that amendment, so we are waiting to see what happens next. But as noted in our testimony, the bottom line is that we can wait no longer, and delaying action on a climate bill is not in the best interest of our communities, climate, nation, or planet. Clean Energy Jobs must pass in the 2018 session in the strongest possible form; we’ll continue working to try to make that happen.

And while Clean Energy Jobs has been our major focus in the Legislature, we’ve also been working on a few other issues. Unfortunately, the fairly strong bill to address oil trains in our state (HB 4004) met an untimely demise in committee, though a much more timid attempt to address oil train safety remains alive as part of SB 1518. A bill to prohibit the construction of a bridge in the Deschutes River State Scenic Waterway (HB 4029) passed out of committee and went to Ways and Means. HB 4126 would address the disposal of household hazardous waste and it too is being considered in the Ways and Means committee. That committee also has the Home WRAP bill, HB 4121, which will provide Oregonians with incentives for home weatherization and solar energy installation.

So, with roughly a week and a half left of the 2018 session, much still remains to be done in the waning days of the legislature. We’re hopeful that we can accomplish some victories large and small before the final gavel falls. You can help by contacting your legislators to help push these important bills across the line! Thanks so much for your help, and stay tuned for more details!


Creating the Best Clean Energy Jobs Bill

January 18, 2018

As we gear up for another legislative session, the wheels are already in motion to pass a bill that will create good-paying jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and promote local renewable energy. The Clean Energy Jobs bill puts Oregon on the cusp of setting a new path for clean energy production that other jurisdictions will be able to follow. But like any major overhaul, the devil is in the details.

Sierra Club has worked for over a decade to reduce the climate impacts of our fossil-fuel-dependent electric utilities. And on one hand, this bill is a huge step in the right direction: it’s a robust policy that caps greenhouse gas emissions, increases the cost of pollution to big businesses, and reinvests that money into communities. The state’s largest polluters will be charged for their dirty business practices with caps on major emissions while business will continue to grow and thrive. The program will increase jobs and drive revenue to clean energy, transportation, healthier communities, and transition funds for workers impacted by climate change or policies. The Clean Energy Jobs bill will also make fossil fuel projects in Oregon more expensive and increasingly less competitive with clean energy, further tipping the scales towards our goal of 100% clean renewable energy.

While there are tremendous benefits to the current bill, we also want to  avoid the mistakes and giveaways that other states have made. For example, without additional safeguards, big polluters could continue spewing dangerous pollutants other than greenhouse gases. These mega-polluters tend to be located near frontline communities, creating concentrated “hotspots” of pollution that disproportionately impact low income people, people of color, and rural and Tribal communities. The Sierra Club believes we can fight climate change without sacrificing public health and we are working to ensure that ALL Oregonians benefit from this legislation

For now, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is working on and watching this bill closely to better understand its impact on both climate change and public health. As a grassroots organization, we’ve appointed a leadership team of smart and dedicated volunteers to meet with with various stakeholders, learn more, and determine our final position.No matter what, the path Oregon chooses on carbon emissions and greener jobs will have tremendous impact. We need your voice to make this the best bill possible. Contact Nakisha Nathan to learn more or volunteer: nakisha.nathan@sierraclub.org, 503-238-0442, x 301.


Thirteen Years of Fighting to Stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline

October 27, 2017

By Ted Gleichman

Thirteen years! This week is the 13th anniversary of the brutal fracked-gas export scheme assaulting the families, farms, ranches, woodlands, public lands, rivers, watersheds, mountains, estuaries, and coast of Southern Oregon.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of fighting to stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline from slashing a three-foot diameter explosive methane-filled pipeline, 230 miles from the Klamath River basin to Coos Bay. It would rip a clear-cut the size of an Interstate Highway through back yards and national forests; through five rivers and more than 400 streams and wetlands; through our public lands and the fragile homes of dozens of endangered and threatened species; through Indigenous burial grounds and historic and prehistoric archaeological artifacts.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of exposing the greed and insanity of the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Export Terminal plan to build on a sand spit right on the fracture line of the largest and most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zone in North America, on the edge of Coos Bay. They are aiming to run massive LNG tankers filled with explosive Canadian methane to Asia – tankers officially classified as “terrorism magnets,” so dangerous that the entire Port must be shut down by the Coast Guard when these monster ships move, disrupting recreational boating, commercial shipping and fisheries, and tourism — and costing jobs.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of Canadian energy speculators exploiting the Cheney loopholes for fracked-gas pollution, now scheming with the Trump Regime take-over of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to shove eminent domain down the throats of hundreds of Landowners along the pipeline route.

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This has gone on too long. The good news is that together, we can stop it! No matter where you live in Oregon, you can easily link up with neighbors and activists to bring this insanity to a halt. The Sierra Club has developed strong plans, solid legal and economic analysis, and tight alliances with like-minded organizations to stop Pacific Connector and Jordan Cove.

Together, we will stop these pig-headed greedy speculators and work for healthy sustainable change in our society.

Thanks so much!

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign
Member, National Strategy Team, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign
ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org


Executive Committee Elections are Approaching!

October 27, 2017
The Oregon Chapter is preparing for the upcoming annual elections, and the Nominations Committee has submitted a slate of seven candidates that are running for election for five positions on the Executive Committee.  All members will be receiving a ballot either by mail or electronically, and we encourage everyone to participate!  More information on the current seven candidates will be coming soon.

But in the meantime before we vote, our members have the opportunity to recommend their own candidates for these positions.  Per our bylaws, the name of any Chapter member proposed in writing by at least 1 percent of the Chapter members shall also be included on the ballot.  If anyone wishes to petition another Chapter member for the ballot, please get in touch with Conservation Director Rhett Lawrence (rhett.lawrence@sierraclub.org) and begin gathering the requisite number of member signatures.  The signatures must be gathered and submitted by November 10th!

Following the finalization of the slate of candidates, ballots are expected to go out by November 17th.  We are excited about the candidates this year, and look forward to the election. Again, please vote!  All votes will be due December 22nd.

Thank you for your participating and support of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club!


We would like you to meet Erika Alabarca, the unstoppable Portland volunteer!

October 24, 2017

For Erika Alabarca, volunteering at the Sierra Club was personal. In 2003, her brother Adam tragically passed away in a car accident at just shy of 30 years old. Adam had been a passionate activist for the Club here in Portland, working on the important local elections of the day. He was so strongly committed to his environmental activism, in fact, that rather than buy flowers for his funeral, people were encouraged to donate to the Sierra Club to set up a fund for environmental education.Erika alabarca 2

That year Erika flew out from New York City, planning to visit Portland temporarily to get to know her brother’s life — meet his friends, see where he worked, and connect with everyone and everything he had been involved in. That visit became a permanent move; Erika, originally from Wisconsin, has been in Oregon ever since and has dived head first into the advocacy role that her brother had filled.  

Though Erika met the Club’s regional director when she first moved west in 2004, she spent the majority of that year concentrated on national projects, working for the eight months prior to the presidential election on the Environmental Voter and Building Environmental Communities campaigns. In 2007 Erika embarked on a new project: increasing awareness of all the environmental issues still afflicting New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Distressed that the situation was fading from the media spotlight while there was still enormous need for sustainable rebuilding, she and a small group of others hatched an idea for a three-part awareness campaign. Through an art exhibit at City Hall and panel discussions in the newly renovated Armory building regarding themes of environment, home, and displacement, Erika and her partners raised $8,000 for the Alliance for Affordable Energy.

Erika Alabarca

For the past year-and-a-half, Erika, who is a Portland Public School teacher by day, has been part of the Columbia Network Steering Committee, and is closely tying those two worlds together. The opportunity for her to do so is the sweeping Climate Justice Resolution, endorsed by many of the city’s teachers, the Club, and now adopted by the Portland Public School Board.  

The resolution is the first of its kind from any school system in the country and instructs the district to look at both new and current curricula in order to teach the severity, human causes, and human influences of climate change. Not only that, but the resolution dedicates time for professional development for teachers and administrators to bring climate justice education into their schools so that students will be empowered to develop climate literacy and look at environmental issues through an equity lens.

As with any resolution, Erika cautions that the work is ongoing. But with the resolution turning a new page for Portland Public Schools, we have the opportunity to look forward to another generation of young people who not only understand the climate crisis and perils facing the environment, but have the energy, passion, and relentless drive to do something about it; just like Adam and Erika Alabarca.