Many of Oregon’s biggest polluters are allowed to pour wastes into the state’s rivers and streams using outdated permits.
The state agency responsible for protecting Oregon’s waters, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), has allowed 75 percent of large industrial and municipal plants to discharge wastes despite having expired permits. Some permits haven’t been updated for more than two decades, agency documents show.
According to the city of Eugene, roughly 3,000 people in the community have no home to return to on any given night, and many others are on the brink of becoming homeless.
Yet for the past four years, the city has poured money, time and energy into designing a new City Hall that has yet to come to fruition, while the unhoused continue spending their nights on the streets.
Air quality concerns — after revelations about Portland’s glass factories — bee die-offs and longtime worries about the dangers of aerial sprays, are hopefully being addressed via bills introduced into Oregon’s Legislature this session.
House Bill 2921 would repeal Oregon’s sanctuary state law and mandate that Oregon law enforcement agencies assist in federal immigration enforcement. The bill would also prohibit cities and counties from establishing sanctuary protections.
But Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican from Independence, who is one of the bill’s chief sponsors, says he doesn’t expect HB 2921 to receive a hearing, instead Nearing is working on a petition to make the repeal a ballot measure to put before the voters in 2018.
Indivisible Eugene is playing defense against the Trump administration. The local chapter of a grassroots effort of politically active individuals looks to pressure Oregon’s political representatives in Congress to continue their opposition against the new president.
Late last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency tried adding an obscure herbal leaf with narcotic effects called kratom to its list of banned substances. Public outcry in support of the mysterious painkiller, as well as a September 2016 letter penned by a small handful of U.S. senators — including Oregon’s Ron Wyden — convinced the DEA to back down for the time being.
Rumors are flying in the immigrant community: What is going to happen to undocumented members of the Lane County community under Donald Trump’s presidency? In the Portland area, the Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) has stepped up raids and arrests since January.
George Orwell’s 1984, as well as other novels envisioning a dystopian future, have made their way to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list since the election of Donald Trump. In Eugene, readers are supporting their local bookstores and pumping up the sales of political books as well.
Congressman Peter DeFazio got a rousing reception Feb. 25 at Lane Community College, with attendees chanting “Thank you! Thank you!” when he entered the gymnasium. The standing-room-only crowd of more than 2,000 repeatedly voiced its appreciation for DeFazio’s vociferous opposition to the Trump Administration and its chaotic, backward agenda.
The community forum was followed by a health care rally with Sen. Jeff Merkley.
Oregon has been home to standoffs over public lands during the past few decades. Armed militias carried out the takeovers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016, the Sugar Pine Mine in 2015 and the headgate standoff during the Klamath water crisis in 2001, says Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild.
“These militia groups are homegrown — this isn’t something that was imported to Oregon from somewhere else.”
Advocates for the Elliott State Forest had high hopes in February when Gov. Kate Brown released her plan to keep the state forest in public hands. But that optimism was dashed when newly elected Democratic State Treasurer Tobias Read voted with Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to go ahead with a sale proposal to Lone Rock Resources.
The Elliott is a coastal rainforest and home to the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird species. It is also tied to the Common School Fund, which provides money for K-12 school children.
Local marijuana retailers have been waiting close to a year for the city of Eugene to adopt an ordinance requiring a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries.
Eugene remains the only major municipality in the state that has yet to adopt a buffer, and while City Council is deliberating the issue, corporate-owned dispensaries with out-of-state money are flooding into the market, and local businesses say they are being displaced.
Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden entered a crowded Lane Community College gymnasium Feb. 19 with the statement that “no topic is off limits.” He was met with loud applause and cheering from the packed town hall meeting.
An estimated 1,500 people showed up at LCC on Sunday afternoon. Since the inauguration, thousands of people in the Eugene community have shown up to protests, marches and activism workshops to denounce recent actions taken by President Donald Trump.
Threats to the environment, immigration raids, attacks on Planned Parenthood. The Muslim ban, attacks on people of color and LGBTQ. Businesses in Eugene targeted with Nazi graffiti. Locally and across the nation, the Trump administration’s first 100 days have been marked with anger and dissent.
The couple-week-old pit mix — named for the flame red Dodge Charger in the ’80s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard — peeks out from behind the zipper of Annamay Bertholf’s jacket.
Bertholf’s friend, who prefers to remain nameless, just sold his iPod to scrape together enough cash to pay for the pit bull pup’s parvovirus shot this morning. Lee yawns himself awake and passes back out.
“Nonviolent direct action”: This bit of political jargon might sound like some kind of anarchist crap, but it’s probably what you’ve been doing since the inauguration if you’re newly politically active.
Those rallies you’ve attended, phone calls to senators, and petitions you’ve signed are all non-violent direct actions — actions taken by a group with the aim of revealing a problem, highlighting an alternative or demonstrating a solution to an issue. On Feb. 4, 350 Eugene put on a daylong series of training sessions attended by about 150 people to introduce new activists to the frontlines of making change.
Marijuana is a crutch on which many were hoping to lean for the next four years.
That alone explains why our bronzed chief executive might be looking to snatch it away. Why else would President Donald J. Trump select unabashed marijuana-phobe Jeff Sessions to run the Department of Justice?
From Nazi swastikas on Old Nick’s Pub to fliers proclaiming “Diversity is white genocide” on cars, Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood was plastered with hate in the early hours of Feb. 4, and many in the area are up in arms. Some in the Whit are discussing doing their own policing.
In 1994, Oregonians voted to ban the use of dogs to hunt cougars and bears. In legislative sessions following the passage of that ballot measure, however, lawmakers have introduced bills aiming to dismantle and weaken Measure 18.
What, we wondered, will happen around here exactly if the Trump regime manages — as he promised in January — to abolish the 62-year-old National Endowment for the Arts? Oregon — and Lane County — will lose a bunch of money.
Lynne Fessenden is stepping down from her decade-long position as the executive director of the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, a nonprofit focused on developing a sustainable food system in Lane County. But she says her passion for educating the community about local foods is still as strong as ever. “It’s been ten years, and that’s long enough,” she says.