Recent News and Events, July, 2019

ACLU Oregon
Victory for youth justice reform

Oregon’s youth justice reform bill signed into law

Governor Kate Brown recently signed the historic juvenile justice reform bill — Senate Bill 1008 — into law, ensuring that our youth justice system focuses on education, rehabilitation, and opportunity, not prison. People like you made hundreds of phone calls and sent thousands of emails to legislators to help pass this important legislation.

Oregonians believe that our youth justice system should focus on prevention and rehabilitation, and value forgiveness and second chances. Senate Bill 1008 passed with bipartisan support. Now Oregon will end the practice of automatically trying youth as adults for certain crimes, will ensure all youth convicted of a crime will receive a chance at parole, and provide youth with the best chance to repair the damage they’ve caused, while also healing their own trauma and getting them the help they need.

Thanks for sticking with us,

ACLU of Oregon

Note that our Klamath County League engaged in a year-long study on criminal justice and immigration issues, including juvenile justice, in 2018-19, which will be presented as a complete report by the end of 2019.

Medford Guest View

Jordan Cove has underestimated Oregonians

Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the Canadian company behind the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline, thought it had Oregon pegged. Since inheriting the project from Veresen in 2017, Pembina has taken the attitude of a benevolent benefactor taking pity on a rural, economically depressed region.

On July 5, the comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project ended. Many of the original comments, submitted by state agencies, county commissioners, tribal members, landowners, fishermen, conservation organizations, climate activists and Oregon citizens, pointed out inaccuracies, errors and vague or inadequate statements about how the company plans to mitigate the project’s negative impacts. Looks like Pembina has some ’splaining to do.

During an investors meeting in May, Pembina CEO Michael Dilger said he thought Oregon state agencies were “overwhelmed” by the project application for Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector. “ they haven’t seen billion-dollar projects, let alone billion-dollar hydrocarbon projects,” he said. “Their regulators aren’t quite capable of this.”

In fact, Oregon agencies, including the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Department of State Lands (DSL) have consistently pushed the company to supply additional information, correct inaccuracies and supplement vague statements with specific details. In late 2017, DOGAMI submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), pointing out “insufficiencies in the scientific and engineering analyses related to geologic hazards.” This spring, DEQ denied the project water quality certification, and DSL sent Pembina a nine-page letter requesting additional information. Most recently, Oregon agencies collectively submitted over 200 pages of comments to FERC, stating numerous concerns about the project’s safety, environmental consequences and impacts to landowners, and recommending that FERC balance the project’s predicted economic benefits with its negative consequences, which include higher domestic natural gas prices and property devalued by the pipeline.

Pembina has sent land agents to ply landowners with ever-increasing offers for easements for the 36-inch pipeline. Some landowners report these agents used underhanded tactics to persuade them to sell: misrepresenting the percentage of easements already secured, declaring that the project was a “done deal,” and even threatening some property owners with eminent domain.

Nonetheless, at least 90 private landowners have refused to sign easement agreements. Over the protracted process, several have become skilled organizers and experts on the regulatory process — a great expenditure of time, money and emotional energy. In its information request, the DSL referred to the “substantial comments” of several individuals, many of them landowners, and it was the arguments of landowners that contributed to FERC’s denial of the project in 2016.

Before the 2018 election, the company donated heavily to Oregon Political Action Committees (PACs) and to several individual candidates in Coos County. While some elected officials have capitulated, others maintain the project is bad for their constituents. Jackson County commissioners decided the project is not worth the risks, even though the county would receive an estimated $5.3 million annually in property tax revenue from Pembina. In comments to FERC, commissioners summarized their concerns, which include negative impacts to waterways and drinking water wells, the lack of a wildfire mitigation plan, and the use of eminent domain in exchange for no clear public benefits.

In fall of 2018, Pembina launched a multi-million dollar PR blitz. In a blizzard of glossy brochures and deluge of radio and television ads, Pembina presented itself as a friendly “neighbor” blessing southwest Oregon with an environmentally benign project and promising a windfall of jobs.

Most Oregonians saw through the slick messaging. In fact, recent polling shows that opposition to the project across the state, regardless of political affiliation, is stronger than ever. The poll, yet to be released, includes a question about Jordan Cove that is worded similarly to a question from a 2018 poll. While the percentage of those opposing the project held steady at 57 percent, the portion of those who strongly oppose the project grew from 30 to 35 percent. At the same time, support fell from 22 to 19 percent, and only 4 percent say they strongly support the project.

By the time FERC makes its final decision on Jordan Cove next January, Oregon will have been dealing with the threat of this project for 15 years. The protracted process is not only testing our mettle, it is showing us who we are. Whether rural or urban, young or old, conservative, liberal or something in between, Oregonians can’t be bought, and we can’t be fooled.

Deb Evans is an affected landowner who owns timber property in Klamath County. Juliet Grable is a writer who lives in Jackson County.

–originally published Sunday, July 21st 2019 in the Medford Oregon Mail Tribune. The authors are LWV members.

Klamath and Rogue members meet for lunch

Klamath County and Rogue valley Women meet for joint discussions

On July 21, 2019 nearly 20 women and men from Klamath County and Rogue Valley met for lunch and discussions at the Greensprings Inn on Highway 66. Friendships were made and renewed, mutual concerns were discussed, and connections were made for mutual support. Everyone enjoyed the lunch and relaxed atmosphere so much that they agreed to try to make this an annual summer event.

statewide health care coverage law, July 17, 2019

SB 770 was in the logjam of bills while the Senate Rs walked out. But yesterday and today the Senate and House managed to pass, under suspension of the rules, our bill. To get the details go to
https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Measures/Overview/SB770?pubDate=2019-06-30-16-11
You can see the history and who voted how at various points.
This is great news. When the Governor signs it and starts to appoint members of the Taskforce/Commission we can monitor the process and hopefully be involved at appropriate times.

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