OLCV: Oregon League of Conservation Voters

a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party

praises pollution promoting politicians, if they are Democrats



Grading on a Curve

Enviro ‘champs’ ignoring the biggest issues


On Nov. 27, EW’s Slant profiled the “Environmental Scorecard” of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. EW drew attention to “the relatively high scores racked up by state reps and senators in our part of the valley.” Unfortunately, OLCV was grading on a curve to make Democrats in Salem look better than they are.

One of the most important votes of the 2013 session, not included in OLCV’s scorecard, was to appropriate $450 million toward the Columbia River Crossing (CRC), a $3 billion to $4 billion dollar boondoggle that would widen I-5 to 16 lanes north of the bridge. The Oregon House voted 45-11 in favor and the Senate voted 18-11 in favor. Only two Democrats in the House and one in the Senate voted “no.”

EW highlighted Rep. John Lively’s 94 percent OLCV rating, but did not mention his vote for the CRC nor his previous promotion of bigger roads while working for ODOT.

OLCV’s website cites 10 state reps as environmental champions, but only one of those 10 voted against the CRC. Designating highway expansion supporters as “environmental leaders” suggests political partisanship has become more important than environmental protection.

The only legislator representing Lane County who was against CRC was Rep. Bruce Hanna of Roseburg, a Republican. Some Republicans expressed dislike of the token transit component. Republicans were freer than Democrats to oppose Gov. Kitzhaber’s campaign for CRC.

CRC is now bogged down in financial chaos since Washington state legislators did not appropriate anything for it. However, the project is legally approved and an Obama administration priority.

In November 2008, Gov. Kulongoski’s Transportation Vision Committee released a report that called for $18 billion in new and expanded state highways, including over $1 billion in Eugene and Springfield. 1000 Friends of Oregon, Oregon Environmental Council and Environment Oregon were part of this committee, but they were window dressing to show that all points of view were supposedly considered. If these groups had a minority report to dissent from the highway promotion, they kept it very quiet.

In 2013, ODOT started building two new highways: the Newberg Dundee Bypass (through farmland) and the Sunrise Freeway in Clackamas County. Both projects only have part of their funding, so ODOT is building segments and hoping for the rest of the money in the future. I attended public hearings for both of these bypasses and did not see any environmental groups at either event.

Also in 2013, ODOT approved a new freeway in Medford, the Route 62 bypass. I didn’t attend the hearing. The only environmental group that sent comments was Rogue Valley Audubon Society, which complained construction would harm birds.

Federal aid highways such as CRC have to plan for traffic two decades in the future, not current congestion. Our transportation plans ignore the fact that traffic levels peaked in Oregon in 2003 and Oregon’s main fuel source, the Alaska Pipeline, peaked in 1988 and has dropped three quarters since then. It’s anyone’s guess how much energy will be available for traffic in the 2030s, but it will be much less than the current flow, especially if the Alaska Pipeline closes due to “low flow.” Current levels are just above the minimum threshold needed for the pipeline to operate in the Arctic winter.

Here in Eugene from 1999 through 2007, I was the “road scholar” for a proposed lawsuit that prevented the West Eugene Porkway, a bypass of West 11th through the West Eugene Wetlands. WETLANDS vs. Federal Highway Administration was not filed because the feds withdrew the project and selected “no build.” Details are at SustainEugene.org.

The lawsuit focused on legal precedents, including Section 4(f), which prohibits federal aid highways through parks. But it also would have tried to have set a new precedent combining the facts of peak oil and peak traffic as reasons the 20-year planning rule no longer justifies highway expansions.

Since then, I have looked for other freeway fights around the country that could use this legal strategy to create a precedent. A state-by-state list of plans for $1 trillion of highway expansions across the country is at PeakTraffic.org.

The most energetic environmental efforts against new roads are often in places where liberal Democrats are surrounded by conservative Republicans (Bloomington, Ind., and Louisville, Ky., are examples). The professional environmentalists in these places know the state government is not their ally (nor their funder).

While trains and transit could play important roles for post-peak transportation, recognizing we’re passing the limits to growth and relocalizing food production are probably the most important responses to peaked traffic and peaked energy.

About the Author
Mark Robinowitz of Eugene is author of “Peak Traffic and Transportation Triage: a Legal Strategy to Cancel Trillion Dollar Highway Plans and Prepare for Post Peak Travel,” at PeakTraffic.org.

• 1 Comment

peakchoicedotorg • 17 minutes ago

Sent to me from "a long time environmental activist and former OLCV board member" - I sent him this op-ed and this was his reply:

I hope they print it.

OLCV continues to disappoint me. I wrote them after the special session in which local control over genetic engineering was thrown under the bus and told them they should target on a Democrat architect of that compromise for defeat in the primary, just to show that environmentalists mean business. I received no reply. That they left off the CRC from their list of counted votes doesn't surprise me in the slightest. They are an arm of the Democratic party and deathly afraid of organized labor.



OLCV 2014 schmooze fest with Democratic politicians

-----Original Message-----
From: tsuga @ efn.org
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2014 4:11 PM
To: gcc-eugene@lists.riseup.net
Subject: [gcc-eugene] Kitzhaber & OLCV Event. $150/person. April 19.
Give the Oregon League of Conservation Voters a call at: 503-224-4011 and explain to them that Governor Kitzhaber is not a politician that protects people or the environment and therefore he does not deserve to be endorsed or promoted as a pro environment candidate by the OLCV. (See last sentence in the OLCV's alleged mission statement below.)

Kitzhaber is:

Maybe Kitzhaber believes in global climate change but just about every policy he promotes makes matters worse not better.


Mark your calendars to join us for OLCV's 17th Annual Celebration for the Environment.
When: Saturday, April 19, 2014 5:30pm
Where: The Hilton Portland and Executive Tower
921 SW 6th Avenue Portland, OR 97204
Cost: $150 per person or $1500 per table of ten.
Click here to get your tickets today!
Sponsorship: Click here for a sponsorship menu.

OLCV's Annual Celebration for the Environment brings people together from across the state to celebrate our shared commitment to political action on behalf of Oregon's environment. More than 1,000 people attend this high-profile event every year, including elected officials, civic leaders, sustainable business executives, and conservationists. Proceeds from the Celebration support OLCV's unique and important priorities of electing pro-conservation candidates to office throughout Oregon, passing strong conservation laws in Oregon's Capitol, and holding all our elected officials accountable for how they vote on the environment.