Climate Change Fuels a Run For Governor

Although new to public office, Dr. Julian Bell decided to aim high

Dr. Julian Bell
Dr. Julian Bell

Dr. Julian Bell is all fired up about climate change. But rather than lobby politicians to enact laws cracking down on fossil fuels causing greenhouse gas, he’s decided to dive right into politics and run for governor against incumbent Kate Brown in the Democratic primary.

Although new to public office, Bell, who is a critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at a Medford-area hospital, decided to aim high. As he tells EW, “It’s just as easy to lose the governor’s race as it is to lose the school board race,” and at stake, he says, is the environment.

Bell has not yet officially filed, but he has formed a campaign committee, which is currently under his middle name, William Bell for Governor. The secretary of state’s Orestar website shows he has contributed $2,000 of his own money to the campaign.

Bell says Brown has had a “bully pulpit” since taking office after former governor John Kitzhaber stepped down, but she hasn’t advanced environmental and climate change issues. Avoiding controversy for a year and half, he says, is not something to be proud of when talking about accomplishments as governor.

According to Bell, our dependence on cheap fossil fuels not only hurts the environment, but it also has other effects, such as contributing to the disenfranchisement of workers — Walmart, he says, can only sell its cheap products because of cheap fossil fuels. Use of ATVs and four-wheelers in wild places and roadless areas would be reduced if fuel were $7 a gallon, he adds.

Bell says that one goal of his campaign is to bring together the disparate groups working on the issue of climate change to develop a “network of people as the engine that drives Oregon to a future clean energy economy.”

While in Eugene, Bell met with 350 Eugene, Our Children’s Trust and other groups fighting climate change to talk about his campaign. After his trip to Eugene, Bell was headed to Coos Bay to participate in the Sept. 26 “Seize the Day, Save the Bay” rally and kayaktivist protest against the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal.

Organizers say the anti-LNG protest attracted 200 marchers and 30 people on the water. The LNG project has been estimated to produce 2.1 million metric tons of CO2 a year, according to its federal environmental analysis, and could become one of Oregon’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. On Sept. 30, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued notice of its final environmental approval while noting that the project would cause some some environmental damage.

Bell is just starting his campaign, and his web presence is under construction.