Doctor Kitzhaber prescribes clearcuts and helicopter herbicides

We do not have a public health approach in Oregon

December 12, 2011 letter to the Governor (which didn't even receive a form letter in response)

Dear Governor Kitzhaber:

I support your decision for a death penalty moratorium, I hope it will be followed by abolition.

My support for abolition was challenged and strengthened by having two friends brutally murdered nearly two decades ago, a couple whose bodies were found by their children. This crime was not in Oregon and the perpetrator was never caught.

Neither execution nor life imprisonment is "justice" that can undo this sort of evil. Sometimes murderers evolve during their years of incarceration and express sincere regret, but even the best forms of restorative justice cannot change what was done.

While no one on Oregon's death row appears to be innocent (unlike in some other states) the death penalty is reserved for the poor and the poorly educated, it is not usually applied to murderers who can afford excellent legal counsel nor do war criminals risk execution for mass murder of peasant villagers halfway around the world.

Abolition is not an endorsement of the condemned, but a repudiation of the right of the State to kill. Most democratic nation states have moved beyond the death penalty as part of the slow evolution toward human rights. The US shares the execution limelight with China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. All countries in the European Union have abolished the death penalty. Post Apartheid South Africa immediately abolished it. Even post-Soviet Russia has a death penalty moratorium, although "extrajudicial execution" remains a problem.

Now that the State of Oregon will not, for now, deliberately inject poison into the veins of the condemned, it would also be nice to prohibit the deliberate spraying of tons of poison from helicopters over Oregon forests. Dumping biocides such as 2,4-D into our air and water is random assault that leads to sickness and premature death, but our 18th century legal system doesn't recognize delayed casualty, which allows the crime to continue into the 21st century.

Studying the amount of poison that limited liability corporations are permitted to put immediately upwind of citizens' bodies is medically unethical if the spraying continues. As you probably know from your medical training, the Nuremberg Code on human experimentation prohibits forcing people to participate in involuntary experiments. People have the right not to be sprayed by timber barons, even if the kings of these corporations have unquestioned political power and a lot of money in their banks. Causing death by chemical induced cancer is a crime like bullets or any other form of murder. I have already had a minor form of cancer (basal cell) and do not consent to being forced to breathe timber company carcinogens sprayed upwind.

Agent Orange is a 50-50 mix of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. During the Carter administration, 2,4,5-T was banned, but its close cousin 2,4-D remained legal for further dispersal. These two compounds only differ by one extra chlorine atom on the benzene rings that are the basic building block of this compound and both have essentially the same toxic impact on mammals.
During the Bush the First administration, Gordon Durnil, the former chair of the Indiana Republican Party (ie. a friend of Dan Quayle), was appointed to the US - Canada International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes.  Durnil looked at the evidence about toxic chemicals in that bioregion, where a quarter of the US chemical industry is concentrated. Women who eat fish from the Great Lakes (the single largest source of fresh water on Earth) have children with more developmental disabilities than women who do not eat them. Durnil concluded the environmental regulatory system had failed and the precautionary principle (not "regulating the impact") should be used. Since there is no way to test for the synergistic impact of all of the synthetic poisons in commerce, treating chemicals as classes of compounds instead of individual chemicals would be more useful. Rather than spend centuries to study each chemical one by one, classes of toxic chemicals should be banned before further harm is done, starting with industrial use of chlorine. Durnil was an honest conservative, which is a highly endangered species in American political habitats.

The chlorine-carbon bond is not naturally found in mammals and is the root of much of what we call toxic waste. A third of industrial chlorine is used for PVC plastic, made by boiling oil byproducts with chlorine gas. About a sixth is used to bleach paper even though annual plants can be used instead of trees to prevent pollution. Chlorinated solvents and biocides each use under a tenth of chlorine. Only about one percent of chlorine is used to treat drinking water -- four times more is used to chlorinate our excrement before it is dumped into rivers. All of these uses have safer alternatives, but switching would be an admission a mistake was made.

If there was rationality in the design and enforcement of the Oregon Forest Practices Act, it would be illegal to clearcut on corporate timberlands and it would be a felony to use a helicopter to spray chlorinated herbicides over communities. Selective forestry makes more board feet in the long run and does not convert forests into tree farms that get overrun with blackberries and Scotch broom. Short term cut and run deforestation is at the root of the decline of Oregon's timber industry and has ruined many other parts of the world, most notably the Mediterranean societies still coping with the consequences of deforestation two millennia ago. The fact that the Oregon Department of so-called Forestry allows clearcutters to violate requirements for stream buffers and leave trees -- even when the clearcut is next to a major highway -- suggests the promise of regulation of toxic sprays is a cruel farce.

Allowing helicopters to spray chlorinated hydrocarbons over Oregon is a crime of random assault, a violation of basic human rights. The fact that both political parties promote this abuse is a reason I am neither a Republicrat nor a Demican and I look forward to continued decline of public support for both flavors of corporate controlled politics.

Mark Robinowitz
Box 51222,
Eugene, 97405 Clearcutting the Climate - Forest Biofuels - Restoration Green Eugene or Greenwash? Big Steps to Sincere Sustainability

We are constantly being told about "a permissible amount of radiation." Who permitted it? Who has any right to permit it?
-- Dr. Albert Schweitzer, On Nuclear War And Peace, p. 176,


The Nuremberg Code (1949)

From Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuremberg, October 1946–April 1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O, 1949–1953.

The great weight of the evidence before us is to the effect that certain types of medical experiments on human beings, when kept within reasonably well-defined bounds, conform to the ethics of the medical profession generally. The protagonists of the practice of human experimentation justify their views on the basis that such experiments yield results for the good of society that are unprocurable by other methods or means of study. All agree, however, that certain basic principles must be observed in order to satisfy moral, ethical and legal concepts: