What you can’t see in our air

When Bullseye Glass in SE Portland learned that they might be responsible for high levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air (see details), they quickly suspended their use of these heavy metals.  Though they deserve kudos for taking action, it does little to ease the minds of neighbors who were unwittingly exposed and still await details on what risks there are to their health and children's health. And the alarm should continue to sound in other neighborhoods: our air isn’t always as clean as it may look. We already know from models that Portland has problems with ...

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Is green grass in August really worth it?

by Samantha Murray Sprinklers use about 265 gallons of water an hour. A 500 square-foot lawn can use more than 18,000 gallons of water per year. And nationwide, landscape irrigation totals nearly 9 billion gallons per day. Is green grass in August really worth it? Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro) thinks that choice should be left to individuals, even if they live in a planned community. Homeowner associations in planned communities sometimes have bylaws that require neighborhood lawns to maintain an “attractive appearance.” In other words, individual ...

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On Track for Climate

Today is the start of a big week for Oregon’s climate in the state legislature. Two bills now being considered could put Oregon on the path to clean air and a healthy climate future. We all know that our climate is changing. In fact, as far back as 2007, the Oregon Legislature adopted ambitious climate pollution reduction goals to protect our clean air, safeguard our shellfish and tourism industries, and reduce Oregon’s contribution to climate change, drought, and severe weather. But Oregon is not on track to meet these goals. This week, Oregon has the chance to ...

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Introducing our 2016 legislative agenda

Oregon Environmental Council has been a leader in every legislative session since our founding in 1968. Our steady presence and our ability to forge consensus across party lines have led to creative and practical environmental protections. In 2016, OEC will once again be hard at work in Salem to protect Oregon’s environment and quality of life. Our priorities for this session include: The Clean Electricity & Coal Transition Plan (HB 4036) to transition Oregon off of coal-fired power while doubling the state’s commitment to new renewable energy to 50% The ...

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Let’s Avoid Septic Shock

Rotten. Rancid. Infected. Putrid. Puss-filled. That’s what septic means. So it stands to reason that if septic systems designed to safely contain bacteria-laced waste begin to leak and leach, it poses serious health and environmental problems for all of us. Starkly stated, no one wants to run the risk of our land and water going septic. That’s why Oregon Environmental Council strongly supports Senator Arnie Roblan’s decision to reintroduce legislation to reduce these risks. His 2016 bill, SB 1563, would create a loan fund to help residents and small businesses ...

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How’s your drinking water?

The 2015 crisis in Flint, MI might have you wondering: Is there lead in my drinking water? And what else is in there that could harm my family’s health? It’s worth taking the time to find out. Where do you get your water? There are thousands of individual water systems in Oregon—2,600 are public and hundreds of others private. Some serve communities, and others serve individual hospitals, schools, campgrounds and more. The 54 largest public community water systems, like those in Portland and Salem, serve 70% of Oregonians. Another 7% of Oregonians get their ...

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Feeling renewed

by Jana Gastellum January, 2016 In September, we welcomed our second child into the world. She was born at home with the assistance of skilled midwives. There are a lot of good ways to birth a child, but I loved having the choice to have her at home. Everything that was disposable fit into a box smaller than the size of a microwave. It’s the Oregon way to provide sustainable options, and I don’t take those choices for granted. I come back to my job feeling renewed. First, OEC was wonderful in providing family leave. I know my daughter has gotten a good ...

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2016 Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan

The Clean Electricity & Coal Transition Plan (HB 4036) will transition Oregon off of coal-fired power while doubling the state’s commitment to new renewable energy to 50%. Oregon can remain a national leader in stopping climate change and growing our local, clean energy economy by removing coal from our electricity. Environmental and consumer advocates, along with utilities, created this plan and agree it will achieve climate protection goals with minimal impact on ratepayers and continued reliability of electricity. OREGON’S COAL PROBLEM One-third ...

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President stops development of new federal coal leases

by Jana Gastellum, Climate Program Director Yesterday the President announced an indefinite halt to new leases of public lands for the purpose of coal mining. This bold move is a step in the right direction. Coal contributes nearly a third of the US' carbon-dioxide pollution, a dangerous culprit that leads to global warming. With the effects of climate change more visible each week, every climate action matters now. We celebrate the President's decision to halt coal mining leases. Not only does dirty coal pollute our air, but it damages our health. In the US coal ...

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Why Inclusionary Zoning Matters

Guest blog by Vivian Satterfield of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon In a gymnasium in East Portland this past weekend, over 300 members of our community gathered to share one message with a panel of Oregon legislators: we are in a housing crisis, and it is time to act. Individuals, advocates and service providers were at times tearful, or angry. The forum was a powerful reminder that although the problems facing Oregonians are numerous, the solutions are as well. We need to use every tool available in order to meet the housing needs of our communities. During the ...

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