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Letters to the editor: March 1, 2019

Mill doing all it can

As an environmental activist, I am seriously concerned about the extreme weather conditions we are experiencing. It is vital that all of us come together to seek common-sense solutions.

In last week’s paper, you addressed the Clean Energy Jobs Bill currently being considered in our state Legislature.

McMinnville’s Cascade Steel Rolling Mills was cited as one of Oregon’s top polluters of toxic gases, and that is a concern. But it is also important to understand the precautions the company takes to ensure it is observing EPA standards as well as providing “green” jobs.

How many residents realize the mill produces its rebar and wire rod by recycling approximately 4.8 million pounds of scrap steel five to six days a week? Or that aluminum cans are also utilized in the processing of the steel?

The primary energy source to melt the steel is electricity, which comes directly from Bonneville Dam. It is supplemented by natural gas and oxygen burners for more efficiency.

Smoke particulates from the electric arc furnace are captured in three on-site buildings that act as vacuums. They are eventually transported by rail to the Arlington waste depot, where the mill pays a fee for safe storage.

Water from McMinnville is stored in nine tanks. It is used, cooled and then reused to keep the equipment from melting during the steelmaking process. Stormwater is collected in holding ponds and tested before leaving the site.

These are just a few of the air- and water-quality measures the mill conducts. Competitors using blast furnaces emit far more toxic gases.

So please, as we make the important adjustments we need in order to address our climate crisis, let’s have genuine and thoughtful decisionmaking.

Liz Marlia-Stein

McMinnville

 

Time to act

Our climate has changed in significant ways, especially in the past 30 years or so.

We can continue to debate the reasons behind this concerning change, but now it is time to do what we can to slow the warming of our planet. It is time for the Oregon Legislature to support HB 2020.

The proposed Oregon Climate Action Program would place an overall limit across regulated sectors to help Oregon meet the state’s greenhouse gas goals. The cap would decline each year by a certain tonnage to achieve a 45 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050. I encourage citizens, business leaders and local and state governmental officials to work together to find balanced and fair details to make this a reality. Our grandchildren, future generations and industrial and governmental leaders will be thankful that Oregonians in 2019 provided this gift to them. As a member of a faith community, and one who greatly values living in Yamhill County, I ask you to support this legislation and encourage our legislators to put divisive conversation in check while we embark on something lifegiving for all who live on Mother Earth.

Don Watson

McMinnville

 

Just say no to gates

County Commissioner Mary Starrett should have recused herself last week when the board issued an order allowing Weyerhaeuser to retain its High Heaven Road gates. Sadly, she did not.

She opposed it not because it allowed the company to retain the gates, which is bad enough, but because it stipulated they remain locked in the open position for now.

Last year, Starrett was the beneficiary of an order permitting the gating of Northeast Smith Road on her end, contingent on Clackamas County permitting gating at the other end. She did recuse herself on that occasion, leaving it to Rick Olson and Stan Primozich to sign off on the order, but she clearly displays a pro-gate bias.

The new order states, “Weyerhaeuser shall lock both gates in the open position, unless instructed in writing by the board to lock and close (them).” It also applies these terms to its successors and assigns in perpetuity.

That allows any future board to order closure for any reason, including but not limited to Weyerhaeuser’s uses of these gates to limit access to private hunting or development ventures. In this event, there is no provision for compensation for the loss of public access to a public road.

The condition allowing future reversion to locked gates again is an abomination. It works to the detriment of the rate-paying public.

This action opens the door for other gates across other public roads, at the whim of county commissioners for all eternity. They could easily use this power for personal and or political enrichment, if they haven’t already.

There should be absolutely no gates across public roads as a means of denying access to and by any element of the public. Creating gated communities by blocking access to county roads isn’t in the best interests of the public.

David Wall

Newberg

 

Promoting alcohol consumption

It is my understanding that the SIP winetasting event will benefit St. James Catholic School. Apparently St. James gleefully encourages the consumption of alcohol if it benefits the school mission.

SIP is a slick marketing ploy in order to finance the indoctrination of impressionable children.

Imposing a trinity of fear, guilt and anxiety on a child’s tender seat of thought is a heavy burden on these youngsters. If you go to this event, you are helping employ the Catholic Church’s system of thought control.

The stated mission of St. James Catholic School is to provide a “Christ-centered environment.”

I toured the small enclave when it held a recent open house. There’s religious iconography all over the place. It’s all about obedience to the Mother Church.

I’m not against winetasting, although I prefer the grapes before they got mutilated.

For many people, wine or other alcohol can be a seductive mistress. For many others, it can be a very harsh mistress.

Dan Hilbert

McMinnville

 

Editorial focus misplaced

The News-Register’s Jan. 11 editorial “Legislation needed to protect public from invited squatters,” pointed out “some quirks” in Oregon law, foremost being a provision preventing banks from foreclosing until a homeowner has missed payments for a year.

I find it unsettling that the only implied recommendation made in the editorial has nothing to do with the Carlton situation, but instead races to empower banks to evict homeowners, rather than empowering property owners to evict squatters.

There’s no question that under Oregon law, the property owner/squatter situation is a hot mess — one that may warrant legislative attention.

I certainly hope Oregon lawmakers will address the real problem, and focus on clarifying and strengthening property owners’ rights with regard to squatters and eviction procedures, rather than simply handing banks the power to foreclose immediately on homeowners who may be experiencing financial challenges.

Jeff Marten

Carlton

 

Greening of our schools

Corena Killian, a fellow Zero Waste McMinnville board member, recently authored a Viewpoints article about the importance of teaching sustainability in our schools. Generally speaking, that means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

It can be done through the nonprofit Oregon Green Schools, which counts more than 300 participating schools. It has more than two-dozen regional coordinators, including Leslie Lanzar of Recology Western Oregon locally.

With the assistance of Zero Waste volunteers, Lanzar conducts audits to determine what percentage of a school’s waste stream is currently being recycled or composted, and what practices could be implemented to increase that. She also assists with launching new programs, developing curriculum resources and tapping grant funding.

As we’re coming to know it’s possible to reverse global warming, Oregon Green Schools is dedicated to engaging students through activities advancing their understanding of our relationship to the earth and ability to live in harmony with nature. These activities, which naturally extend into our families and communities, include conserving water and energy, composting food waste, reducing other waste and planting gardens on school grounds.

While 300 schools across Oregon have earned green certification, our McMinnville and Yamhill County schools have lagged behind. Dedicated to changing that, Zero Waste has an energetic Green Schools Committee connecting with all public schools, private schools and parent-teacher organizations in McMinnville.

We all have children from our network of friends and relatives in local schools. As the leaders of tomorrow, they must be taught how to implement best practices now.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday in the McMinnville Public Library’s Carnegie Room, Zero Waste McMinnville will be presenting a program on green schools. Please plan now to attend.

Patriciafaye Marshall

McMinnville

 

Cap emissions, create jobs

Some $51 million: That’s Oregon’s 2018 tourism loss from wildfires, driven by global heating.

I appreciate this paper for covering climate catastrophe. Science shows we’ve less time than predicted to change how we do business.’

But Nov. 19’s front-page story, “Climate change creates a storm at the Capitol,” needs clarification.

That coverage of HB 2020, a cap-and-invest program for Oregon, might suit the 1960s, when Exxon scientists were just beginning to secretly acknowledge the consequences of burning fossil fuels and the West wasn’t on fire. In 2019, simply bemoaning the cost of doing something, while ignoring the $51 million cost of doing nothing, isn’t good math.

Even the Pentagon agrees climate change is our nation’s greatest security risk. Such high stakes are divine reminders that, whether we choose life or death, we’re one body.

The chamber says we’ll lose thousands of jobs and face a 16-cent gas price increase under cap and invest. Another tired debate: jobs versus the environment.

In California, in Ontario and Quebec in Canada and in the 10 northeast states creating the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, like legislation has reduced emissions while cutting gas prices and spurring employment. A recent Consumer Reports study found that by 2030, California families will be saving $1,530 a year through a switch from gas-powered cars to electric cars and public transit.

Finally, the future of Cascade Steel Rolling Mills is huge to McMinnville. That’s why the Oregon legislation certifies it as “energy-intensive, trade-exposed,” thus exempting it for now from having to buy pollution allowances.

In recognition of the mill’s market vulnerability, it would be given more time and flexibility, ensuring we keep it around.

I support HB 2020 as a good-faith effort to cap emissions and create jobs. The future of all God’s children depends on whether we finally get the truth: We’re all in this together.

John Pitney

McMinnville

 

Ode to the oak

I am concerned about the potential loss of more oak trees to development.

The vast Willamette Valley was covered in ancient prairie and oak savannas until about 200 years ago, when settlers started arriving.

Millions of years of evolution produced biodiversity supporting billions of insects, birds and mammals, along with pristine water and air. All of this was replaced in three or four human generations with farms, roads, highways, subdivisions, lawns, fences and slabs of concrete.

Human activity supports its own narrowly focused interests, neglecting what nature provides us for free — pure water, rich soil, clean air and healthy food, not to mention production of oxygen and control of insects.

Humans dominate nature, thinking it our servant. They abuse the trees, plants and animals that give us all this, and despoil our watersheds.

But what we do to nature, we do to ourselves.   

Oak trees are the only home of acorn woodpeckers, and in our area, the woodpeckers don’t even migrate. The oak fosters the greatest biodiversity of any plant in north America, supporting many native birds and the insects that make up 98 percent of their diet.

Oaks shelter not only birds and mammals, but also humans, by cooling the earth with their shade. Like all trees, they also convert carbon dioxide into the oxygen needed for all of us to breathe.

Only 30 percent of the world’s land mass remains covered in trees. And oaks are the most beneficial, the most emblematic of the biodiversity of which we are all a part.

Please save the oak by planting new ones. If you can’t fit in an oak, help by planting native shrubs and trees.

Robin Ricker

McMinnville

 

 

Comments

Don Dix

Liz Marlia-Stein -- you were doing so well defending Cascades Steel's operation and existence, and then you fell off the podium by claiming 'a climate crisis'.

John Pitney -- if you were to investigate, the West burns every year. The fires are not hotter and more intense because of any change in climate. The environmentalist lobby refuses to allow the forest to be cleaned of underbrush, which intensifies wildfires (Native Americans knew the value of a cleaner forest floor, and burned it yearly). And over 80% of the Calif. fires this year were started by power lines. With this clean energy bill, are you going to 'outlaw' power lines as well?

Stella

Locked gates across Public Roads? Only in Yamhill County!

Great letter David Wall - very informative.