News You Might Have Missed: Week of January 17
News You Might Have Missed is a weekly run-down of quick local news stories and links where you can investigate these stories for yourself.
In a perfect world, I’d be able to write all these stories myself, but I only have so much time in a day to write articles.
I got an email in my inbox last week about the ongoing Fossil Free Eugene campaign led by a coalition of local environmental groups like Sunrise Eugene, Cascadia Wildlands, and so many others.
During last week’s city council meeting, the activists and concerned local citizens managed to swell the public comment portion of the meeting with most giving short testimonies in opposition to the city’s contract with the fracked natural gas utility, NW Natural.
According to Dylan Plummer, an organizer with Cascadia Wildlands, over 40 people signed up to testify – so many, in fact, that the council had to cut off testimony before everyone had a chance to speak.
The demands of the coalition and the supporters in the community are simple:
- “Mandate the transition of all utilities in the City to 100% renewable energy by 2030
- Ban the construction of all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the City
- Levy a fee on NW Natural and other climate polluters to create a fund to transition low income and historically marginalized communities from fracked gas to electric appliances, and to retrofit these homes to increase efficiency.”
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t exactly simple – but it is doable, and extremely necessary if the City of Eugene wants to meet the goals set out in its Climate Action Plan. If things hold as they are today, the city will badly miss its emission reduction goals.
Back in November, the Fossil Free Eugene coalition released an open letter stating their opposition to fracked natural gas being used in the city. At the time, organizers called the letter “a warning shot” to the city and vowed more action if their demands were not met.
In other regional climate news, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission upheld Oregon’s denial of permits for the Jordan Cove Liquid Natural Gas pipeline.
The decision—which came on the final day of the Trump administration—struck another blow to the almost universally hated project to build a natural gas pipeline through Southern Oregon and a shipping terminal in Coos Bay.
But Pembina, the Canadian company trying to get the pipeline built, has yet to yield to public opposition. It is unclear what next steps will be taken by the company.
In the middle of testimony regarding Eugene’s fossil fuel dependency, Eugene City Councilor Mike Clark equated Black Lives Matter protests and antifascist actions since last summer with the storming of the US Capitol by far-right supporters of disgraced President Donald Trump.
Clark, who represents Ward 2 in North Eugene and is regarded as one of the most conservative members of the city’s governing body, also refused to vote in favor of a city resolution condemning white supremacy unless it also condemned Black Lives Matter and “Antifa.”
“These are good people, who care deeply about their community,” said Clark, in response to an activist who pushed back against his comments. “Their motives are pure, and they’re trying to do the right thing.”
In a chilling moment at the end of the meeting, Clark warned his fellow councilmembers that there were “members of the community who stay quiet” but “feel picked on.”
In a victory for police abolitionists, Eugene’s 4J School District declined to renew their contract with the Eugene Police Department. As a result, School Resource Officers, orSROs, will no longer be stationed in 4J schools when students eventually return to full-time in-person instruction.
The move will save the district nearly $400,000 per school year, which district officials say will be used to “beef up” mental health services and counseling in local schools.
The Eugene Register-Guard’s rapid decline since being taken over by Gatehouse Media—and later, Gannett—in 2018 reached a new low after the newspaper announced that all 49 union-represented employees of their print shop would be permanently laid off.
The printing operations of the newspaper will be moved to the non-union printing operation of The Columbian in Vancouver, WA and shipped to Eugene every morning. This also affects the print operations of the Salem Statesman-Journal and local copies of USA Today, both of which are also owned by Gannett.
The print shop was represented by the Teamsters Local 206, which also represents operations at the Medford Mail Tribune and Grants Pass Daily Courier.
The Register-Guard now has seven reporters, one photojournalist, and six editors remaining on its staff. It’s circulation is almost half of what it was just three years ago.
Special shout-out to Matthew O-G of Solidarity News for alerting me to this story.
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