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Slant 7-19-2012

Photo by Julie Coop.

• At least 50 Eugeneans, young and old, showed up at the downtown library July 16 to hear the “Coal Hard Truth” about more than 1-mile long coal trains shedding dust and diesel fumes that might be making their way through Eugene if Coos Bay succeeds in becoming a coal export terminal. The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution against coal trains, Missoula, Mont., has asked for an environmental assessment as did Vancouver, Wash., and where’s Eugene on this? The Eugene City Council delayed its vote on a resolution proposed by Councilor Alan Zelenka against the trains until September, apparently after being asked by the Port of Coos Bay to let it weigh in first. Public dialogue is great, everyone should get a voice — too bad the port decided not to come speak at City Club about the issue — so when’s the Port of Coos Bay going to come clean and tell us what coal company it’s dealing with? 

• As long as we’re on open and fair government, what’s with Commissioner Rob Handy still being locked out even after the DOJ has released his office? We’re hearing that he’s been offered a computer in a public conference room elsewhere in the building, which is not acceptable for public representative who needs to meet with his constituents. Handy’s been meeting with people anyway, but this is getting silly. And where’s the R-G on this? The conservative commissioners are behaving badly, and there’s barely a peep out of the daily. 

• And while we’re on Rob Handy, in last week’s Slant, we mentioned his call to raise the absurdly low taxes on the massive holdings of private timberlands in Lane County and elsewhere in Oregon. It is a logical, commonsense proposal that deserves continued attention and local support for action in Salem. The Legislature giveth unfair tax breaks and the Legislature can taketh away. Handy’s not alone. Conservationist and political strategist Andy Kerr of Ashland has been battling the timber industry for decades and says in his most recent “Monthly Musings” that “It’s more unjust than even I suspected. If you aren’t generally outraged by private timberland logging practices, you should be about the favorable tax treatments they receive, because you’re paying more taxes and getting fewer government services as a result.” Find Kerr at www.andykerr.net

• The enviro-internet’s been flooded with emails and blog posts (EW! A Blog included) about Rep. Kurt Schrader trying to add a “stealth rider” to the 2012 farm bill that that would open up 1.5 million acres of public lands to clearcut logging in a version of the controversial Schrader-DeFazio-Walden logging trust legislation. Oregon Wild says the rider proposed to drop the limited Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers protections promised in previous legislation and provided for no public notice or hearings. Schrader’s amendment was ruled out of order in committee. Decisions made and legislation put forth about our public forests need to be made in the light of day and with full public input. 

State Rep. Val Hoyle last week was named “one of the nation’s top pro-growth progressive leaders” by The NewDEAL, a national organization dedicated to “Developing Exceptional American Leaders” (DEAL). The words “pro-growth” and “progressive” appear to be an oxymoron, so we asked Hoyle about the award. She says pro-growth for her “means investing in the type of infrastructure that supports healthy communities,” and she cites a “high quality education system, smart growth infrastructure and our economy.” She tells us she hopes to learn from other like-minded pro-growth progressives around the country and “put people back to work while making smart use of our limited resources.” State Sen. Chris Edwards is another NewDEALer. This designation is fine, but when it comes to the environment, actions are more important than awards. Edwards earned a 92 percent favorable rating by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters in 2011, based on his voting record, while Hoyle came in lower at 80 percent.