Vote Yes on Measure 88

October 7, 2014

The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club has joined dozens of other organizations in endorsing a YES position on Measure 88.

Voting yes on Measure 88 will mean that residents of Oregon, regardless of their citizenship status, will have the option to obtain a driver’s card so they can legally drive to work, take a family member to the hospital, or attend a rally. And yes, even access trails and wilderness areas accessible only by vehicle. This will make the roads safer for all of us and allow people to contribute to their own well-being and the state’s economy.

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Measure 88 is also a step toward creating a more inclusive, democratic society, something the Sierra Club is deeply committed to. It’s even stated in the National Sierra Club Board policy: 11 million immigrants in our country ultimately need a pathway to citizenship so they can participate as full members of our democracy.

As an advocacy group, we value and depend on civic engagement from all communities. Undocumented immigrants are often most affected by environmental pollution and cannot speak out without fear of deportation. All people must have a voice if we are to achieve the conservation victories that protect our natural resources and help our communities thrive.

Learn more about Measure 88 and vote YES this November!

Not yet registered to vote? There’s still time! Register here.


What’s in a Plan?

October 1, 2014

The Oregon Board of Forestry continues to explore new Forest Management Plans that will both provide financial viability to the Department of Forestry and improve conservation outcomes on the Tillamook & Clatsop state forests. On September 29th, the Board weighed two options developed by ODF. A “Land Allocation” proposal suggested putting at least 30% of the forest into a conservation zone and managing other portions of the forest for different degrees of timber production. A “Landscape Management” proposal is similar to the current forest management plan, with various types of forest structure moved around the landscape over time. The latter proposal suggests sacrificing habitat in smaller forest districts, such as the Santiam. The Board moved a motion to explore/pursue land allocation proposal, but did not move any specifics such as those in the ODF proposal.

As Ian Fergusson, Resource Director for NW Steelheaders, put it, either proposal has the potential to succeed or fail. The devil is in the details, and as of now, the details haven’t been worked out. In order to improve conservation outcomes, any plan would likely need to improve riparian buffers to provide adequate shade and wood delivery to streams, increase the amount of older forest on the landscape, reduce clearcutting on steep slopes, and decrease the forest road network, which currently is very expansive and can lead to sediment problems in streams. Both ODF proposals include expanding no-cut buffer zones on fish-bearing streams to 115 feet, reflecting current scientific literature that suggests little or no riparian management is best for stream health. 115 feet is a good start, but it is unclear that it is adequate. Non-fish bearing streams would benefit from a no-cut buffer of at least 75 feet. Current standards are much less protective.

Buster Creek in the Clatsop State Forest

Buster Creek in the Clatsop State Forest

The timber industry delivered extensive testimony asking for a zoned approach, such as the “Land Allocation” proposal. However, timber representatives asked for a significant reduction in conservation areas. Their vision would see nearly twice as much landscape clearcut as the current plan! An Association of Oregon Loggers representative urged the Board to curtail public input and not seek public approval when devising a new plan, stating that the timber industry was a more important stakeholder than the Oregonians who own these lands.

The Trust Land Counties, who receive a significant portion of revenue from state forest timber harvests, did not advocate for either proposal nor did they put forward alternative ideas. They argued against the Department pursuing a Habitat Conservation Plan, which would provide habitat and timber predictability for the long-term. The Counties’ unwillingness to meaningfully participate in the process does not bode well for a new plan being created.

Sierra Club staff and volunteers, along with our ally groups in the North Coast State Forest Coalition urged the Board to move forward keeping conservation improvements in mind. The success of either plan hinges on balance, public input, and the best science available. Dollars cannot be the only driver determining the future of these forests. These lands have been over-logged and burnt. They are just beginning to recover, and their protection is crucial to Oregon’s economy and environment.

Read the Forest Grove News-Times’ coverage of this process here.


Larry and Rhett go to DC (and survive!)

September 25, 2014

By Larry Pennington, Oregon Chapter Chair

On September 14 to 17, Rhett Lawrence (our Conservation Director) and I traveled to our nation’s capital to participate in Wilderness Week, an annual lobbying effort jointly sponsored by the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Pew Charitable Trusts. The focus this year, of course, was celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed into law by President Johnson on September 3rd in 1964.

Larry Pennington at the U.S. Capitol

Larry Pennington at the U.S. Capitol

Our first day was a lobbying training conducted at the Pew offices, featuring distinguished speakers from Pew, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and several other conservation non-profits. We also heard from Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and senior staff from the U.S. Forest Service, BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the National Park Service.

The second and third days were dedicated to meeting with the Oregon Congressional delegation and their staffs to promote conservation and environmental issues in Oregon. Several other Oregon conservation organizations joined us for some of the meetings, such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), Oregon Wild, KS Wild, American Rivers, the Geos Institute, and longtime wilderness advocate Andy Kerr.

We were privileged to meet with staff members for all five U.S. Representatives and both Senators, as well as with Senator Jeff Merkley himself. Rhett and I focused on the Keep Waldo Wild campaign and the Owyhee Canyonlands at all our meetings. Getting a universally positive response to our Waldo conservation campaign – though most of the Congressional delegation had never learned of it before – was most gratifying!

The most enthusiastic responses came from the staff members for Sen. Merkley, Sen. Wyden, and Rep. DeFazio. All posed some tough, probing questions and asked for more information – a good sign, we think. Our cause was helped by recent trips to Waldo Lake by two of Sen. Merkley’s staff and one of Rep. DeFazio’s staff, all of whom were instant converts to keeping Waldo wild. When Sen. Merkley said he wanted to visit Waldo as soon as he could fit it in (there’s an election soon, you know), ear-to-ear smiles broke out on our faces! Jumping on the bandwagon, other Merkley staff members also expressed a desire to tour the gem of the High Cascades.

For the Owyhee, Rhett and I worked in tandem with Brent Fenty of ONDA and Brett Swift of Pew to promote either Wilderness or National Monument designation, whichever can get done the soonest and provide adequate protection.

And as a wonderful side benefit to the trip, we were treated to making good new connections with the Sierra Club DC staff, as well as Pew and Wilderness Society staff, while renewing bonds with old friends from many organizations.

We concluded that it was a most valuable week for us, for Waldo Lake, for the Owyhee, and for our Congresspersons! We hope they learned something, too, and were persuaded to join our conservation efforts, so future generations will have the ability to explore and enjoy these precious wild places of Oregon.


Climate Science is Clear: LNG Export is NOT a Climate Solution!

September 23, 2014

By: Ted Gleichman

National and Oregon Sierra Club teams, as members of a vibrant coalition of many of Oregon’s most important environmental groups, have now assembled the latest climate science studies to answer one of the most important questions about liquefied natural gas (LNG):

We know that the proposed LNG terminals and pipelines in Oregon, and the fracking fields needed to serve them, would cause monumental environmental and economic damage.  

But could burning North American natural gas in
Asia actually be
good for the global climate?

NO!

Climate science now shows that both LNG export and natural gas production are climate killers – just like every other fossil fuel.

Click on the links below to read our one page science summary or the expanded eight page summary:

Climate Impacts of Gas & LNG-One page Science Summary

Climate Impacts of Natural Gas Production & LNG Export–Edition 1.3–November 2014

  .  

Gas is a Gangplank, Not a Bridge

LNG tankerNatural gas can no longer be considered a “bridge to the future.”  As Sierra Club executive director Mike Brune puts it, “natural gas is not a bridge – it’s a gangplank.”

Despite the scientific findings to the contrary, the industry continues to claim that natural gas is actually “clean.”  Industry advertising surrounds us, pitching the bright future with gas.  Even many of us who have long known that no fossil fuel is actually clean – that all fossil fuels are dirty sources of carbon pollution – thought for a long time that natural gas was “the best of the worst” – the least dirty.  But now we know that was a myth, and we must face the reality.

The Myth: “Now You’re Cookin’ With Gas!”

Here’s why this myth came to dominate our old understanding.

First, natural gas, post-refinery, is essentially pure methane.  When you burn methane, it emits only carbon dioxide and water vapor. That’s why it’s reasonably safe to burn in your kitchen, and why we’ve felt good about it, personally.

Second, at the point of combustion, burning methane puts out only about half as much carbon dioxide as, say, burning coal. It’s still putting out dirty carbon pollution, but at a lower rate.  That’s why we’ve felt good about it economically and politically.

But the key to this second point is “the point of combustion.”  That turns out to be just a small piece of a global puzzle.  It completely ignores the long, complex natural gas supply chain.

It’s like saying that milk is invented inside the supermarket in plastic jugs.  Turns out there’s a history for supermarket milk, including grass, cows, pasteurization, trucks, fossil fuels for plastic-jug manufacturers, and so on.

The same thing applies to methane, and the key issue for the climate is methane leakage.

The Reality: Fugitive Methane Emissions are Deadly for the Planet

Methane leaks at every stage of the natural gas supply chain.  It leaks at the well, during drilling and production, and wellhead leakage rates get worse as wells age and well casings decay and fail.  Methane leaks in pipeline transmission from the well fields, in processing and refining at multiple steps along the way, and in pipeline distribution to consumers after it’s been refined.

IMG_2511Methane also leaks throughout the LNG process: during pipeline delivery from wellhead to terminal; during liquefaction, ocean transport, re-gasification, and redistributing by pipelines and tanker trucks in the destination country.

These fugitive methane emissions are critical factors in the overall life-cycle pollution of natural gas because, molecule for molecule, methane is MUCH more dangerous to the planet than carbon dioxide.  Unburned methane is a much more potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses methane impact over a twenty-year period as having a global warming potential 86 times greater than carbon dioxide. Over a 100-year period, methane presents a global-warming effect 34 times that of carbon dioxide – still a massive imbalance, with dangerous ramifications.

Because methane is such a devastating greenhouse gas, even tiny leaks have an enormously destructive climate impact. Variations that may superficially seem small – say, from a rate of 1.5% spiking to 3% – drastically increase overall pollution.

As the new science shows, methane leakage is endemic, and so severe that natural gas production and LNG export are inherently deadly to the planet.  They offer no advantage over other fossil fuels.

The LNG Export Assault on Oregon

We face two sets of massive LNG export terminals and the pipelines needed to feed them, aimed at the corners of our coast:

— Oregon LNG, Warrenton.  For this $7 billion project, the pipeline would run 220 miles, from the Canadian border to Woodland, Washington, then under the Columbia River for one mile (!), and across Columbia and Clatsop counties.  The industrial terminal, with its two twenty-story liquefaction tanks, would be built on dredged land, just inside the mouth of the Columbia, in Warrenton, on the Youngs Bay steelhead and salmon breeding grounds, across from Astoria.

— Jordan Cove, Coos Bay.  For this project, another $7 billion, the pipeline would run 234 miles from Malin (near Klamath Falls), across Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties, traversing more than 400 rivers, streams, and wetlands, and crossing the most rugged and dangerous part of the Coast range.  The industrial terminal, with two 22-story liquefaction tanks, would be built on a Coos Bay sand spit.

Both projects would suck massive quantities of fracked gas out of the entire western half of North America.  These methane exports would ship to Asia under 20-year contracts.  Proponents cite two good reasons to build them: jobs, and helping the climate.

LNG Jobs are NOT “Good” Jobs

Now we know the climate claim is bogus.  The jobs argument is false too.  LNG jobs are not “good” jobs because LNG export is bad for the planet – as well as being bad for Oregon, environmentally and economically.  No job that damages the climate, the environment, and the broader economy can be considered a good job.

What the Oregon Coast needs, instead of $14 Billion of fossil-fuels investment in the two destructive and dangerous LNG pipeline and terminal projects, is a two-fold alternative:

  1. Invest in Seismic and Tsunami Safety.  First, we sit on the most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zone in North America, the Cascadia subduction zone.  We are guaranteed to suffer a catastrophic break, the mirror image of the 2011 Tohoku-Fukashima fracture, at a minimum of Magnitude 8, and an eventual Magnitude 9.  The odds of that massive earthquake, and the huge tsunami that will result, happening during the planned lifespan of the proposed LNG export projects are well over 50%.
  2. Invest in Decentralized Renewable Energy and Energy Reform.  Second, we all know the climate requires the complete conversion away from fossil energy to sustainable renewable energy.  And renewable energy is completely ready for prime time, technologically and economically.  The only barriers to a sustainable energy economy are political: the destructive subsidized power of the fossil fuels companies.

Therefore, half this $14 Billion of investment needs to be channeled into seismic upgrades, earthquake-proof reconstruction, and relocation out of the tsunami zone.  The other half needs to go for the development of decentralized, community-based renewable energy, with smart grids for resilience and a universal upgrading of efficiency and conservation in energy use.

This two-part jobs program is feasible.  Financing for it can be structured. It would dwarf these LNG projects in short- and long-term jobs, and would provide a vital permanent contribution to our economic and environmental health.

We Need Genuine Good Jobs

We’ll talk in detail about jobs over the next few months.  Genuine good jobs are vital; hundreds of thousands of people here in Oregon are still suffering from the 2008 Great Recession brought on by the megabanks. But LNG jobs are not “good” jobs: we can do better, and we must.

In the meantime, the climate science is clear: No longer can anyone say that LNG export is good for the planet.

Please check it out and pass it on.

# # #

Ted Gleichman has chaired the Beyond LNG Team of the Oregon Sierra Club since 2011, and served on the National Leadership Team of Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign from 2012-14.


50 “Cheers” to Wilderness photo event, a huge success!

September 15, 2014

Venue – check

Beer – check

Snacks – check

Music – check

Twenty photographs of wilderness areas in Oregon not yet protected – check

Displays and brochures from Oregon Wild, ONDA and Oregon Chapter Sierra Club High Desert

Committee – check

Then we waited for people to come. And they did come!

Keen_Photo_Contest

The event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act hosted by KEEN at its flagship store in Portland, Oregon was a great success. About 300 people came to see the photo exhibit, enjoying the snacks, beer and music provided by KEEN. It was also a great time to catch up with friends and meet new ones. The stunning photographs of Oregon wilderness highlighted the many amazing and magnificent places in Oregon that need wilderness protection. Many people were also interested to hear the on-going efforts to protect these areas by the Sierra Club High Desert Committee, ONDA and Oregon Wild. Both ONDA and Sierra Club High Desert Committee have been focusing on protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands in the southeast Oregon. To find out more about the campaign, check out our brochure here: http://oregon.sierraclub.org/conserv/hidsrt/media/pdf/Owyhee%20Brochure.pdf

Take action! Visit these wilderness places and see for yourself these splendid wild places of Oregon!

Anniversary of the Wilderness Act hosted by KEEN at its flagship store


2014 Desert Conference: Sept 19-20

August 12, 2014

Deschutes Wychus confluence Come join desert wilderness advocates for the 2014 Desert Conference to be held in Bend on Sept. 19-20!

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the Oregon Chapter and High Desert Committee are again pleased to help sponsor this conference as a way to educate and excite people about the possibilities for wilderness in Oregon’s renowned and beautiful High Desert.

This event is being organized by the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and will include a mixture of informative break out sessions on a variety of topics on Friday as well as several preeminent keynote speakers. The speakers include Roderick Nash, author of the classic, Wilderness and the American Mind. Panels topics include Sage Grouse, Riparian Ecology, Desert History, Art in the Desert and more.

Painted Canyon OwyheeOn Saturday there will be an opportunity for day outings and a 50th anniversary celebration of wilderness block party in the evening.

Thursday evening will also offer a separate (but related) event, the showing of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

Registration for the conference is $60 and more information (schedule and speakers) can be found at: http://onda.org/2014desertconference

This is an incredible opportunity to learn about and get involved in desert wildlands protection and to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. We hope you will be able to join us in Bend!


North Coast State Forest Happenings

August 7, 2014

Late summer is a magical time in the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests. Refreshing swimming holes provide families fun relief from summer heat; spring chinook and summer steelhead return up the north coast rivers and streams, offering anglers young & old the opportunity for iconic pursuit; and hikers rejoice on trails to University Falls, up Kings Mountain, and along the Wilson River. Mountain bikers are found throughout the forest. Horeseback riding is prevalent near Reehers camp. Hunters gear up for the Fall deer season.

Fish 2

Just one reason to protect the Tillamook & Clatsop

 

These yearly rituals are all the products of forests that are hanging in the balance. The Board of Forestry is in the process of writing a new Forest Management Plan. In early September, the Board will receive science reviews indicating the best way forward. We are hopeful that the best available science will guide the Board towards a plan that protects fish & wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and abundant recreation opportunities. Along with good science, it will be crucial that the public weighs-in over the next few months, explaining to the Board what we value on these lands. Sign up for the North Coast State Forest Coalition’s email list to receive important action alerts!

In the meantime, here are some good ways to be involved in the future of these forests:

  • The Salmonberry Corridor Coalition is group of public and private partners (including Oregon Parks and the Oregon Department of Forestry) that is working to develop a new trail through the Tillamook State Forest along the old Salmonberry Railroad. We and our state forest protection partners (Northwest Steelheaders Association, Northwest Guides & Anglers Association, Trout Unlimited, and the Wild Salmon Center) think it’s a terrific vision with great promise. It would be a tremendous boost to the region and would improve recreation opportunities on Oregon‘s north coast. But it has to be done in a way that does not harm the Salmonberry River and its iconic steelhead run. Click here to share your comments in support of a primitive trail through the Salmonberry canyon!
  • Trygve Steen is a professor of Forest Ecology, Environmental Sustainability, and Photography at Portland State University. Trygve has joined several North Coast State Forest Coalition outings, generously contributing his contagious energy and knowledge of our forest landscapes. On Thursday September 18th, Trygve will be sharing his thoughts on Forest Ecology and Photography with us at the Columbia Group’s monthly program night. This evening should prove to be a fascinating and beautiful introduction to forest ecology and the numerous ways that forest management impacts us. Click here for more details!

 

Trygve Steen considering an old growth Douglas Fir in the Clatsop Forest

Trygve Steen considering an old growth Douglas Fir in the Clatsop Forest


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