Will Portland Abandon its Pledge Against New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure?

August 8, 2016

By Ted Gleichman, policy advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Team

Last November, the Portland City Council voted unanimously for a binding policy resolution to stop any fossil fuel exports through Portland and to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure for exports or storage.  This unprecedented measure put Portland on a state-of-the-art path for regional, national, and global leadership in fighting the climate crisis.  Oregon Sierra Club was one of many leading groups* that worked hard for this.  Together, we flooded the Council hearings with more than 500 people, helping to motivate our City Council for this bold action.

BGO Overfill

Activists pack City Hall in Portland

With leadership from Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the other Councilmembers – Commissioners Nick Fish, Dan Saltzman, and Steve Novick – joined in to make it unanimous.  Next time you see any of them, be sure to thank them!  This fall, they will need to take this on again.

The Council resolution directed city agencies to develop ordinance and regulatory changes to implement this unprecedented plan.  First up to bat is the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), and they are on the verge of fouling out.  Fortunately, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) serves as the umpire on BPS work, with a public hearing set for Tuesday, September 13: save the date (time and place TBD).  We fans are going to pack the stands to root for the home team: Planet Earth!

OK, I’ve beaten that seasonal metaphor into infield dust.  But make no mistake: this is no game.  The current BPS zoning ordinance plan completely guts the clear intent of the pioneering Council resolution by giving the fossil fuels industry all-but-unlimited opportunity for growth.

MAP

When I testified to the Council last November, this was my key point: “There is no fossil fuels solution to the fossil fuels crisis.”  The audacious Portland resolution is a great reflection of that shared understanding, and we can’t let the City abandon it.

Two leading organizers, Mia Reback of 350PDX and attorney Nicholas Caleb, presented summaries of the BPS problem to the City Council on July 13, and Oregon Sierra Club joined in with an Open Letter to the Council.

Portland City Council

350PDX lead organizer Mia Reback testifying to Portland City Council last November, while attorney Nicholas Caleb tweets

Please take a few minutes to read our two-page Open Letter.  To support the Council resolution, we start with big picture, Keep It in the Ground, and move through the next three steps: Do No More Harm, Reduce the Need, and Make the Just Transition.

For more information, please see the formal comments we submitted to BPS on July 27.  Great comments also went in from our regular allies 350PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE), and Columbia Riverkeeper, among others.

We are in this for the long haul, and Portland’s leadership is vital to our metropolitan area, Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and our long-suffering overheated earth.

If you want to help, please send me a note or give me a call; see below.  We will update you regularly as this evolves through the rest of this year.

Thanks for all you do!

Ted Gleichman ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org 503-781-2498

* Great work for Oregon Sierra Club was done last year by Beyond Gas & Oil Team chair Gregory Monahan (who also testified, along with then Chapter Director Andy Maggi) and long-time ace National Beyond Coal organizer Laura Stevens.  Other key organizations included 350PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, Sustainable Energy & Economy Network (a project of CSE), Raging Grannies, Climate Action Coalition, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, EcoFaith Recovery & Beyond Fossil Fuels, Climate Solutions, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and others.  It was a terrific team effort!


Oregon Sierra Club August Events

August 7, 2016
August 17th: Time To Choose – Portland

Join NAACP Portland Chapter and Oregon Sierra Club, Columbia Network for a special screening of Time To Choose and featuring a special keynote address by social justice activist, leader, and NAACP Portland Chapter President Jo Ann Hardesty. Climate change is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced – and it is also our greatest opportunity. We have the solutions we need, but we are in a race against the clock to implement a just transition in time. Narrated by award-winning actor Oscar Isaac and directed by Academy Award®-Winning documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson, Time To Choose captures the urgency and innovation of this critical moment and leaves audiences understanding not only what is wrong, but what can to be done to fix this global threat

Wednesday, August 17th, 6:30 pm
OMSI Empirical Theater, 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland
Tickets here!
Time to Choose

August 17th: Our Fish & Our Forests – Astoria

Fish and forests command significant attention in Oregon’s vibrant dialogue. Both resources have a deep history of contributing to our culture, economy, and ecology. This talk is aimed at illuminating how fish – especially salmon and steelhead – and forest interact. How do our coastal forested watersheds impact salmonid health? How, in turn, do fish play a role in forest ecosystems? And, what are the implications of the way we manage these resources?

Wednesday, August 17th, 6:30 – 7:30
Towler Hall Room 310, Clatsop Community College, Astoria
Details here!
Trask River 2

August 20th: Rock Against the TPP – Portland

The TPP poses many threats to our climate and for that reason the Sierra Club is determined to stop the TPP from coming up for a vote in Congress this fall. There are only a handful of Democrats throughout the entire country that might vote for the TPP during the Lame Duck session and several of them are from Oregon! This means we have a major opportunity (and responsibility) to pressure our Rep’s and stop the TPP from coming to a vote.

Come show your support for trade justice!

Saturday, August 20th, 5:00 pm
Director Park, 815 SW Park Avenue, Portland
Free tickets here!
Landscape TPP

August 26th: Lummi Totem Pole Ceremony- Vancouver, WA

The Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers will showcase their latest totem pole carved in solidary with communities throughout the region fighting against fossil fuel export terminals. Earlier this spring, the Lummi Nation succeeded in blocking the construction of the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal proposed at Cherry Point, Washington. The totem pole journey is intended to build relationships and solidarity between tribes and communities pushing back against the recent flood of fossil fuel export proposals throughout the region.

The totem pole visits Longview just one month before the Army Corps of Engineers is slated to release their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export proposal.

WHO: Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers, Cowlitz County faith leaders & you! 
WHAT: A presentation of the totem pole and spiritual blessing of the totem pole and the journey. 
WHEN: Friday, August 26th, 2016 10:30-Noon, lunch to follow 
WHERE: Longview United Methodist Church, 2851 30th Ave, Longview, WA 98632

Lunch contributions: Dessert – Longview Presbyterian; Salads – St. Stephens Episcopal; Bread and beverages – Longview Methodist.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

https://totempolejourney.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/302048710136261/ 
Totem

August 26th-28th: Waldo Lake Campout

The Oregon Sierra Club Eastside Forest Committee has initiated a campaign to provide greater protection for the forested areas east of Waldo Lake, a beautiful region 35 miles southwest of Bend containing abundant old growth and roadless areas. Currently it is unprotected beyond its federal forest status. For more information on what we’re proposing, look at our Keep Waldo Wild web page. This weekend car campout is designed to introduce you Waldo Lake’s environs and treat you to its plentiful attractions. We hope you’ll become as excited about preserving the area east and south of Waldo Lake as we are!

The 2016 Waldo Weekend Campout will be held August 26-28, Friday-Sunday, at the Shadow Bay Campground on the southern end of the lake. Group Site B, Sites 25 thru 43, is reserved for Friday and Saturday nights and will accommodate 60 to 120 people.

Additional details here!
Register here!
Waldo

Rock Against the TPP Coming to Portland!

August 5, 2016
 By Alexander Harris
Rock Against the TPP - POSTER JPEG
This summer, the Sierra Club is working with the OR Fair Trade Campaign and over 40 labor and environmental groups to plan Oregon’s largest anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership event ever! On August 20, over a thousand Oregonians will come together for Rock Against the TPP, a nationwide concert tour meant to raise awareness of the threats of the TPP.
The weekend of action will begin with a community workshop on Saturday afternoon which will drill into the the fossil fuel implications of free trade. After the Fossil Fuels and Trade workshop we will march along the park blocks, stopping every few blocks for some creative street theater. We will then proceed to follow our marching band to director park, where there will be a free concert and rally against the TPP! The rock tour’s stop in Portland will feature trade-themed carnival games, a beer garden, food carts, photo petitions, and more. Get your free tickets today!
The TPP poses many threats to our climate by extending broad new rights to fossil fuel corporations that allow them to challenge public interest regulations that hinder their profits. For example, just over a month ago, the corporation behind the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada, used their power under NAFTA to sue the US government for denying their project. The company contends that Obama’s decision did not conform to their expectation, and therefore TransCanada is suing the US for $15 billion to cover what they believe they would have earned if the project had gone through. Obama cited climate change when he denied this massive infrastructure project, which goes to show that these corporate rights in NAFTA and the TPP will discourage climate leadership at a time when it is needed most!
For that reason the Sierra Club is determined to stop the TPP from coming up for a vote in Congress this fall. There are only a handful of Democrats throughout the entire country that might vote for the TPP during the Lame Duck session and several of them are from Oregon (Blumenauer, Bonamici, and Schrader)! This means we have a major opportunity (and responsibility) to pressure our Rep’s and stop the TPP from coming to a vote.
Come show your support for trade justice on August 20!
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Hood River County Votes Against Nestlé!

May 21, 2016

 

KeepNestleOutOfTheGorgeCoalition

The Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition celebrates the passage of Ballot Measure 14-55

by Francesca Varela

On Tuesday, the people of Hood River County voted to block Nestlé from building a water-bottling plant near the city of Cascade Locks. Ballot Measure 14-55—a countywide ban on commercial bottled-water facilities—passed easily, and has set an important precedent, not only for Oregon, but for the rest of the country.

Massive corporations like Nestlé are not invulnerable; they can be challenged by citizens, by people. Environmental groups like the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, and BARK joined with the Alliance for Democracy, AFSCME, and several others to create the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition, which has led the effort against Nestlé. It’s been a long fight, one spanning almost eight years, but well worth the effort.

Nestlé’s plan was to bottle 100 million gallons annually from state-owned Oxbow Springs. A public resource turned into a commodity; fresh, wild spring water entrapped on grocery store shelves, branded as Arrowhead and Pure Life, and sold at a steep profit. Shipping trucks would have rumbled continuously through the Gorge, carrying away the water that once wove through its hills. In a time of increasing droughts, this just didn’t seem right. Why should we have our own water sold back to us?

Climate change is making droughts more common throughout the Pacific Northwest, and, ironically, the bottled water industry is contributing to the situation; just think of the shipping, the energy intensive factories, and the bottles themselves, which are made of petroleum-based plastic. These bottles, once empty, usually end up in our oceans, or our rivers, until they’re eaten by aquatic life and leach plastic chemicals into all layers of the food web, or lie tangled in a mass of floating garbage for millennia.

Farmers, orchardists, fishermen, and Native peoples from varied backgrounds supported the measure, citing their worries about water depletion and the chance that, if Nestlé’s plant was built, other companies might follow their lead, bottling up the cold, clean water needed for agriculture, salmon, and life in Hood River County.

With their supposed omnipotence, multi-national corporations like Nestlé are difficult foes to face, but, as we’ve seen, they’re far from unbeatable. Rather than Oregon being the first state to transfer state-owned water rights to a private entity, we’re the first to house a county ban on water bottling. This is thanks in part to the efforts of Sierra Club members Joy Keen and Nancy Hatch, and their work with the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition. They kept Nestlé at bay long enough that, despite spending $105,000 to defeat the measure, citizen voices have still been heard, saying that water is life— and our lives are not for sale.


Join us in Salem on May 23 to speak out for the Owyhee!

May 18, 2016

The Owyhee needs you NOW.

South Fork Owyhee (photo credit: Chad Case)

South Fork Owyhee (photo credit: Chad Case)

Will you join us in Salem on Monday, May 23, to ensure our Oregon lawmakers know Oregonians want the Owyhee Canyonlands protected?

The House Rural Communities, Land Use, and Water Committee will meet to discuss permanent protection for the Owyhee. A group opposing protection will be there in force, so it’s critical that supporters like you show our leaders how much you care about protecting the Owyhee.

We’ll meet at Oregon Capitol Building’s main entrance (900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301) at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 23. See map.

Schedule
8 a.m. Arrive at Capitol
8:30 a.m. Committee session starts
Noon: Owyhee Rally!
1:30 p.m. Grab a slice of pizza and head for the bus or your car to travel home!

Getting There
Drive yourself: Arrive at Capitol Building’s main entrance (900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301) at 8 a.m. Get parking information here.

Get on the bus: We’ll have coffee and pastries for early risers!

 

  • Bend Bus: Departs Oregon Natural Desert Association’s office (50 SW Bond St. Ste #4, Bend, OR 97702) at 5 a.m. Monday. Returns by 4:30 p.m.

 

What to bring
Please wear bright blue to show you’re an Oregonian who is #WildForTheOwyhee! We’ll have buttons and posters for everyone. Birder? Kayaker? Backpacker? Bring the gear you love to use in the Owyhee. And bring family and friends!

RSVP!
Let us know you can make it AND if you’ll be hopping on the Portland or Bend bus. RSVP here by noon on May 20.

Thank you for being a strong voice for the wildlife, lands and waters of the Owyhee. Together, we’ll ensure this Oregon treasure is protected, forever!

P.S. Can’t make it? Please send an email telling the House Committee that you love the Owyhee and want to see it protected, now! Send your note to hrcluw.exhibits@state.or.us


Stopping LNG Export through Oregon: Both Projects Collapse!

April 18, 2016

By Ted Gleichman

They seemed insurmountable at first: two massive methane export projects in under-employed Oregon, one on the south bank of the Lower Columbia, and the other grabbing a struggling industrial port on the southern Oregon Coast.  Each $7 billion-plus plan required hundreds of miles of new pipelines, feeding fracked gas from the Rockies and Western Canada into enormous new processing plants for liquefied natural gas (LNG) at minus-261° Fahrenheit, for “terrorist-magnet” tanker export, with mandatory Coast Guard protection, embargoing other shipping hundreds of days per year, to ship LNG to Asia.

LNG tanker

Long-term profits would be tens of billions, with thousands of construction jobs.  And natural gas was the bridge to the future, twice as good as good ol’ coal.  Developers rolled in with instantaneous political support.  Lonely enviros and community activists fighting LNG faced epic headwinds: quixotic struggles by definition.

What a difference a decade makes.  Suddenly this spring, our long-term opposition has blended with global market reversal on oil and gas pricing, scientific evolution on fossil fuel climate impact, and comprehensive evidence of irredeemable ecological destruction to put both projects on the edge of oblivion.  

On Friday, March 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) quietly published an unprecedented decision: the commissioners voted unanimously to deny licenses to the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (PCGP) and the Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP).  In Oregon and nationally, almost all observers were shocked: FERC has been widely seen as just a rubber stamp.

If this decision holds, 232 miles of 36-inch explosive pipeline will not slice along a new perpetual clearcut as wide as an interstate highway, and the Port of Coos Bay will not be dominated by gargantuan towers built on a sand spit for LNG that Asia can now get more cheaply elsewhere.

And then, on Friday afternoon, April 15, an unnamed official for Oregon LNG (OLNG), requesting anonymity, telephoned the mayor and planning director of Warrenton, the small town on the Lower Columbia where OLNG planned to build their LNG export terminal on dredging spoils.  The OLNG staffer said their struggling parent company, Leucadia National Corp., would no longer fund their development, so they will withdraw their land use application and abandon terminal and pipeline permitting fights. Simultaneously, an OLNG lawyer emailed the state Department of Environmental Quality, withdrawing state permit requests, and copied the Oregon Attorney General.

If this decision extends to every aspect of OLNG, they will withdraw their pending Final Environmental Impact Statement with FERC, cancelling their planned 87-mile pipeline across Northern Oregon (and perhaps killing another 130 miles of new gas pipeline from Canada through Washington State) to feed a terminal on unstable soil.

Each project was planned, insanely, for the largest, most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zone in North America, the Cascadia subduction zone.  The Pacific Northwest is guaranteed to experience a Magnitude 8-9 seismic monstrosity; coastal elevations may change by some 30 feet in about eight minutes.  This last hit in 1700; it averages every 250 years; and has about a 1/3 chance of striking during the projected lifespan of these projects.

Together, OLNG and JCEP/PCGP planned to export more than two billion cubic feet of refined methane per day: about three times the Oregon daily use.  But now we know there is no fossil fuels solution to the fossil fuels crisis: fugitive methane is a much worse climate disrupter than carbon dioxide.

windmillsSo the jobs and climate arguments are now flipped.  Oregon needs a two-part sustainability program: resilience and renewables.  We must rebuild First-Responder, transportation, and community infrastructure for resilience against our earthquake, and we must convert our energy economy to decentralized and utility-scale smart-grid renewables, bolstered with conservation and efficiency.

The impending demise of the only two LNG export projects on the US West Coast is giving us a teachable moment to help heal our corner of the world, for the better: maybe forever.

————

Ted Gleichman is former chair of and current policy advisor for the Oregon Chapter Beyond Gas & Oil Team, and a member of the national strategy team for the National Sierra Club Stop Dirty Fuels Initiative.


Volunteer Spotlight: Dian Odell

March 25, 2016

SI Exif

Dian Odell has been volunteering with the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club since August 2014. She comes in twice a week to help out in the office. “Usually entry of donations and event attendance into Helen (the central Sierra Club database), preparing for mailings, research, procedure documentation. But also computer support, ‘cleaning’, optimizing, [and] upgrading,” Dian said.

When she saw a posting for the Sierra Club on a local volunteering website, she knew it would be a good fit for her. “I certainly support the work of the Sierra Club, and the work they wanted done was certainly within my skill set,” Dian said.

As a retiree, Dian enjoys having a schedule and a routine, and maintaining structure in her days. “My objectives are to be useful, learn new things, and work with nice people,” Dian said. “I certainly have all those working with Hilary and the others at the Ankeny office.”

Dian grew up in Oregon, attending primary school in La Grande. “[It was a] small town, in the 1950’s—idyllic for kids,” Dian said. In middle school she moved to Portland and, aside from four years of college in California, and two years of the Peace Corps in South Korea, she’s been a Portlander ever since.

Dian keeps active in her daily life; she takes swimming and yoga classes; she’s an usher for Portland’5 and Portland Center Stage; and she spends ample time with her friends and grandchildren. These days she said she does “more ‘walking’ instead of ‘hiking’”, but she still loves being outdoors. She enjoys traveling to Central Oregon “for the different weather and smells there”, to the mountains for downhill skiing, and to the Columbia and Willamette for water skiing and sailing.

Each week Dian spends 10-12 hours donating her time and talents to the Sierra Club. Volunteers like her breathe life into the Sierra Club and make our accomplishments possible. Thank you for your dedication to the environment, Dian!

 

 

 

 

 


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