Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.29.10


In last week’s EW (7/22), the article on LTD’s response to the claims of an EmX-critical flyer says “the information … is less than accurate …. [and] creates fear … anxiety and anger.”

Spokesman Andy Vobora then says LTD’s Gateway path in Springfield was “enhanced” by paving and lighting — by suddenly taking out 58 trees and paving over the grass.

LTD touts “negotiations” with business property owners, but I’ve talked with several of them on 11th who’ve never heard anything from LTD. They talk about maintaining driveway access, but you can only do that by not building the concrete EmX lanes or by widening West 11th by 24 feet, destroying 12 feet of parking or buildings right on the sidewalk already, or better, by not doing EmX on 11th at all.

LTD “seeks input” from people, but that does not mean they heed what citizens say. There are no checks on LTD except the City Council. LTD board members are appointed by the governor. LTD gets tax money from businesses with no representation on their part. They’re after the federal dollars to further build the LTD empire to serve 5 percent of the population.

LTD is less than accurate and spreading fear, anxiety and anger.

Richard Adams, Eugene


Regarding Camilla Mortensen’s article “Biomess” (7/22), I am an expert on anaerobic digestion and biogas. There are more than 50 million households in China using clean-burning, carbon-neutral biogas, and the torch at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was fueled with biogas from the city wastewater system. Hundreds of cities in Europe, primarily Sweden, run their entire transit bus fleets off biogas. And for all you pot-smoking technophobes, the ancient Assyrians used biogas to heat their baths in 3,000 BC. The micro-organisms we use to make biogas are among the oldest life forms on earth. 

Biogas is different from biomass burning in a number of important ways — none of which Lane County officials are aware of with their ill-conceived Junction City bioenergy park or Short Mountain Landfill projects. Most importantly, burning biomass leaves unusable ash, but the biogas process produces high-quality, nitrogen-rich fertilizer that can be used to replace chemical fertilizers and soil amendments. Compost does not retain nitrogen, and unlike compost, biogas slurry is a liquid and can be applied on a farm scale with existing farm equipment. 

The biogas process does not require “poo” as Mortensen indicates; all organic matter contains methanogenic micro-organisms to generate biogas. The most gas of all per ton is generated from ordinary grass clippings — yes, you could easily run your lawnmower with the grass clippings you cut. Unlike forest biomass, biogas is self-regulating by the availability of wet waste, which occurs only in cities and farms. 

Warren Weisman, Project Director, Complejo de Energía Renovable, México, Eugene


I’m glad the Weekly finally covered the burning issue of forest incineration (“Biomess,” 7/22). Why did EW wait until after Seneca got its permit to pollute our air?

Seneca states they will burn 280 thousand tons of trees per year in their incinerator (it’s not a “plant,” it will burn lots of plants). Seneca owns 165 thousand acres of tree farms (which they clearcut and helicopter spray with 2,4-D, aka Agent Orange). Therefore, they need 1.7 tons per acre per year. This is roughly the growth rate of “marginal forest” under Oregon state law, so the incinerator will need much more than discarded branches and mill trimmings.

Three people profiled in the article spoke at the “Clearcutting the Climate” conference in January 2008 — Mark Harmon, Samantha Chirillo and Doug Heiken. I was a co-organizer of that event and gave a presentation on “Peak Forests.” 

The forest activists against this new motive for deforestation are generally volunteers not dependent on foundation grants. Oregon Toxics Alliance was the only foundation-funded group that objected to the Seneca incinerator, but they’re focused on pollution, not deforestation. Heiken’s Oregon Wild is promoting Sen. Wyden’s awful logging bill to accelerate deforestation on public lands in Eastern Oregon, even though Heiken’s presentation at “Clearcutting the Climate” noted that logging increases carbon pollution. It is greenwashing to call logging “carbon neutral.” 

One reason timber barons want to burn trees for electricity: They’ve lost their market for building condos in the desert.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: We did run numerous news stories, op-eds and letters against the plant. We editorialized repeatedly against its construction and urged LRAPA to deny a permit. Search our archives for “Seneca biomass.”


In front of the downtown library, I witnessed an interaction that disturbed me. A man was walking by while another man and a young girl unlocked their bikes. Hearing the bikes make a noise, the walker stopped and turned around to look. The biker immediately responded with a loud, threatening command to “Keep on walking,” and observed, “You got problems.” Insulted, the walking man questioned the aggression. The bicyclist then assumed an aggressive posture, and kept repeating his two phrases louder and more forcefully. After a few more seconds of verbal escalation, I intervened to defuse the situation. This conflict could have become violent.

Why did this happen? The biker felt threatened by the walker’s “street person” appearance (none of the walker’s words or actions were threatening) and went into protect-the-child mode: He felt the need to control the situation (i.e. give orders, be obeyed) and was frustrated by his inability to do so.

I suggest anyone similarly intolerant should stay away from all public areas (downtown, parks, sidewalks) lest they lose control and assault innocent people who have the “wrong” look.

Cooper Otte, Eugene


Every spring my wife and I go to Ashland. When I read your review (7/15) of Ruined, which we’d seen, I was surprised to find myself cringing. I realized I was prepared for the cynicism of a Weekly movie review … but this was positive!

Certainly, writing a movie review as if it were for a film history class is in line with your sister publications in Portland and Seattle, but what if your readers are capable of something more?

At one time, shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater was a rationale for censorship, but I don’t believe it’s true today. People would just look around for themselves. We are not cattle.

Here’s another example: 1984 never happened. If a cop abuses someone on the streets, a dozen people film him with their cell phones. We are not slaves.

Truly, you only give high marks when the movie itself is cynical. But your readers continue to fall in love, have children, laugh and be productive. We are not zombies.

Cynicism in a news article can inspire us to action, but cynicism in a movie review just makes us cringe. The Ashland reviews prove what’s possible; we’re ready for you to be enlightened about that.

Steve Downey, Eugene


Attacking an atheist viewpoint that he does not understand, Roy Keene’s letter (“Dull Atheist Realism,” 7/15) argues that his brand of Judeo-Christian mysticism is popular and has been revered by erudite persons for a long time; therefore, it is rational to believe that it is more than a myth. Unfortunately for this feeble argument, appealing to popularity and to antiquity are two distinct informal logical fallacies. 

If the mystic is trying to establish that faith is rational, he will need to appeal to reason instead of irrelevancies, and he will need to contend with the definition of faith: irrational belief. Arguing for the rationality of faith is a contradiction in terms; the mystic’s argument is therefore rendered unsound and invalid.

If Keene would take a little time to understand what atheism actually is, instead of relying on presupposed stereotypes, he could easily see that there is a great deal of wonder through the spectacles of reason and science. Seeing something that we are unable to explain is the engine of wonderment that drives science; if we could explain everything, science simply would not be. Keen’s mysticism is, for me, too subjective and at odds with observable reality.

 Séamus Corbett, Eugene

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