Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, February 12, 2021, Page 3, Image 3

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    Friday, February 12, 2021
CapitalPress.com 3
Washington Senate Democrats
champion environmental justice
By DON JENKINS
Capital Press
OLYMPIA — Senate
Democrats propose that an
unelected “environmental jus-
tice council” with 12 voting
members control spending
and policy decisions by sev-
eral agencies, including the
agriculture department.
With council oversight,
agencies would be required to
implement recommendations
in a recent report by a legis-
lative task force. “The state
should focus on the unpaid
debts from slavery and col-
onization,” according to the
report.
The Senate Environment
Committee was scheduled to
approve Senate Bill 5141 on
Tuesday. The bill also would
create the Office of Environ-
mental Justice Advocate to
enforce the new council’s
orders.
Washington
Farm
Bureau director of govern-
ment relations Tom Davis
said the proposal’s disregard
for democratic norms was
“unprecedented.”
“The reason it’s unprece-
dented is that because up until
now our democratic form of
government would not have
entertained or allowed this
approach of governance to
proceed,” he said.
The legislation was intro-
duced by Sen. Rebecca
Saldana, D-Seattle, and
is co-sponsored by 13
Democrats.
The environmental justice
council, appointed by the gov-
ernor, would include seven
members picked from “com-
munity-based organizations.”
Two members would
be “environmental justice
experts” and one would be
picked “based on applied and
demonstrated work and focus
on environmental justice.”
Rounding out the panel
would be a representative of
Indian tribes and the envi-
ronmental justice advocate,
who would head up the Office
of Environmental Justice
Capital Press File
Opponents of a trail across farmland in Oregon’s Yamhill County protest against
the project in this file photo. The county’s commissioners have voted 2-1 to with-
drawn the proposal for the three-mile Yamhelas-Westsider trail.
Courtesy Washington Senate Democrats
Washington state Sen. Rebecca Saldana, D-Seattle,
sits at her desk on the Senate floor in Olympia in 2019.
She has introduced a bill to create an environmental
justice council and an Office of Environmental Justice
Advocate.
Advocate.
The office would mon-
itor whether agencies are
complying with the coun-
cil’s guidelines. The guide-
lines would not apply to tribal
lands, though tribes would
have a voting member on the
council.
The council would have
three state agency representa-
tives, but they would not have
votes.
The bill enjoys support
from environmental groups,
climate activists and repre-
sentatives of minority groups.
The bill’s stated intent is
to implement the recommen-
dations of the environmen-
tal justice task force created
by the Legislature in 2019.
Saldana said her bill was the
result of two years of work,
much of it done by the task
force.
According to the task
force’s report, “racism is
ingrained in our history and
deeply embedded in our insti-
tutions today, leading to the
inequities we see across all
sectors.”
The task force asserted that
the “historic origins of Amer-
ican policing are traced to
slavery” and adopted study-
ing “opportunities for repara-
tions” for “historical harms”
as one of its “model” policies.
Farm Bureau CEO John
Stuhlmiller said Monday he
agreed to be on the task force,
hoping to talk about problems
such as access to health care
in rural areas.
He said he went to one
meeting, but opted out after
that.
“The whole process was
about a deconstruction of our
society and rebuilding it in a
new system,” he said. “To
say, ‘everything that has gone
on before is a failure,’ is not a
premise we agree with.”
Stuhlmiller called the envi-
ronmental justice legislation a
“political science experiment,
basically.”
“I’ve never seen anything
quite like this,” he said.
At a minimum, the depart-
ments of agriculture, natu-
ral resources, transportation,
commerce, ecology health
and the Puget Sound Part-
nership would answer to
the Environmental Justice
Council.
Other state agencies, how-
ever, could opt in and place
themselves under the council.
Washington Friends of
Farms and Forests execu-
tive director Heather Hansen
said the environmental justice
advocate would have more
power than the governor.
“This single unelected per-
son could stop any agency
action,” she said.
The advocate appointed
by the governor would not be
subject to confirmation by the
Senate.
Oregon county withdraws its
controversial farmland trail proposal
By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI
Capital Press
Oregon’s
Yamhill
County will stop pursuing
a controversial rail-to-trail
project that’s encountered
repeated land use problems
and objections from farm-
ers along the route.
The county’s board of
commissioners voted 2-1
to withdraw its land use
application to build the
three-mile recreational trail
between the towns of Carl-
ton and Yamhill during a
Feb. 4 hearing. The project
is along a longer 12-mile
portion of rail property
bought by the county for
$1.4 million.
Farmers opposed to the
project argued the Yam-
helas-Westsider trail would
restrict pesticide spray-
ing, invite trespassers
and endanger food safety,
among other issues.
Oregon’s Land Use
Board of Appeals blocked
the project’s approval three
times, most recently find-
ing that Yamhill County
didn’t sufficiently analyze
the trail’s impacts on agri-
cultural practices.
Although
abandon-
ing the project will likely
mean repaying a $1 mil-
lion state grant for a near-
ly-completed bridge and
other project components,
commissioners Mary Star-
rett and Lindsay Ber-
schauer said they didn’t
want to continue spending
money on litigation over
the project.
“It doesn’t look like
there’s an end in sight,”
said Starrett, the board’s
chair. “I believe it would
be in our best interest to cut
our losses.”
Starrett said the decision
was “regrettable” but that
it wouldn’t make sense to
“throw good money after
bad,” especially since there
is no assurance the proj-
ect would ever pass muster
under state land use law.
“We have been fighting
this litigation with other
people’s money,” she said.
The predicament regard-
ing state grant money was
“foreshadowed and warned
about” for years, yet the
county plowed ahead with
the project despite the
adverse legal decisions, said
Berschauer, the board’s vice
chair.
“Just because you want
something doesn’t mean it’s
going to be legal or possi-
ble,” she said. “You can stop
the bleeding and regroup
and focus on the lessons
learned.”
Commissioner
Casey
Kulla voted against with-
drawing the land use appli-
cation for the trail, arguing
the county should continue
with a “master planning”
process that could resolve
legal questions posed by
LUBA.
The Oregon Department
of Transportation has been a
“good partner” in planning
for the trail and wouldn’t
likely require the immediate
repayment of grant funds if
the county proceeded with
the project in good faith,
Kulla said.
“That is a way out of
this box, legally,” he said.
“I still think there is a path
forward.”
Starrett countered that the
county should have sought
input from affected landown-
ers and thoroughly planned
for the project before mov-
ing ahead with the grants
and land use process.
“That train has left the
station,” she said.
Berschauer said that
continuing with the mas-
ter plan wouldn’t be a
responsible use of taxpayer
money and would disregard
serious problems with the
project.
“That comment ignores
the wreckage in the middle
of the road,” she said. “We
can’t just drive around it
and continue with the mas-
ter plan.”
DISCOVER
THE SECRETS
OF THE EMPRESS
GROW WITH US!
S230512-1
WE SPECIALIZE IN BULK BAGS!
BAGS:
• Seed Bags
• Fertilizer Bags
• Feed Bags
• Potato Bags
• Printed Bags
• Plain Bags
• Bulk Bags
• Totes
• Woven Polypropylene
• Bopp
• Polyethylene
• Pocket Bags
• Roll Stock & More!
HAY PRESS SUPPORT:
• Hay Sleeves
• Strap
• Totes
• Printed or Plain
• Stretch Film
(ALL GAUGES)
WAREHOUSE
PACKAGING:
• Stretch Film
• Pallet Sheets
• Pallet Covers
LOCATIONS:
Albany, Oregon (MAIN OFFICE)
Ellensburg, Washington
CONTACT INFORMATION:
Phone: 855-928-3856
Fax: 541-497-6262
info@westernpackaging.com
.......................................................
CUSTOMER SERVICE
IS OUR TOP PRIORITY!
w w w. w e s t e r n p a c k a g i n g. c o m
S229598-1
S214624-1