Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fix-it First; Climate Change Rally; Oswald West and the first Beach Bill - Thursday Newsbits

If you missed the State of the Union Address, transportation advocates have been interested in the "Fix-it First" proposal.

Transportation for America has more here, and No 3rd Bridge adopts it cleverly as a way to reframe the choice about build alternatives for the Salem River Crossing. Fix what exists already; don't build something new we can't afford to maintain.

From the President's prepared text:
Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemens America – a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina – has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.

Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away.
The President also made several remarks on climate change and the need for action.

Forward on Climate Salem Solidarity Event

And in Salem there will be an action this weekend.  At the same time as rallies across the country and one in Washington, DC,
Here in Salem climate change activists and concerned citizens will gather on February 17 to support the DC demonstration and to rally support for local climate action. Tar sands oil and coal are among the worst emitters of climate changing greenhouse gases and both do enormous environmental and public health harm from other forms of pollution during extraction, transport and combustion.

1-5 pm  February 17, 2013
Ford Hall Kremer Board Room at Willamette University
(State Street SE just west of 12 Street)
Free and open to everyone
Hosted by Willamette student environmental organization ECOS and Oregon PeaceWorks

Forward on Climate Salem will have
  • Updates on the big demonstration in DC
  • Speakers about local initiatives, including Salem Beyond Coal, Divest Willamette, the Sierra Club’s 100 Days of Climate Action, and Transition Salem
  • Presentation about the mounting resistance to climate silence and climate inaction
  • Petitions to sign and send to public officials about urgent climate change issues
  • Tutorial on how to develop effective letters and op-ed pieces for submission to local media
  • Brainstorming session on how to reduce the use of fossil fuels
  • Entertainment.
The bridge and highway will encourage driving
and increase greenhouse gases
Don't forget there are significant local issues in addition to the regional ones! The draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed $800 Million bridge and highway uses analytics from 1983 to conclude that building it will reduce greenhouse gases - but this is nonsense!  Traffic will quickly expand - demand induced by the empty lanes - on the viaducts and highway and people will drive more, not less.  The bridge and highway would represent a large expansion of the local carbon footprint!

Beaches and the Public Highways

SB 22's big impression
February 14th, 1913
Lots of hoopla yesterday about Oswald West and Senate Bill 22, which he signed 100 years ago.
[S]ometimes called the Open Beaches Act...the bill was put forward by Governor Oswald West during the 27th session of the Oregon legislative assembly back in 1913. It was a time when the future of Oregon’s shore was as cloudy as the weather. Almost 25 miles of beachfront property had already been sold on the north coast, yet people depended upon the beaches to travel the rugged headlands....

This simple act—66 words in total—had a powerful effect. By blocking additional sales of tidelands and protecting free passage on the new public highway, the bill also gave permanent right of access to more than 360 miles of shore for recreation. The use of the dry sand would be clarified 54 years later, as many know, by Governor Tom McCall’s Beach Bill, but it was West’s action that laid the foundation for the beachcombing, tide pool exploration, whale watching, and other coastal activities that Oregonians enjoy, and will continue to enjoy for generations.

In recognition of his commitment to preserving Oregon’s shore for public use, a park was dedicated in Governor West’s honor 45 years later.
But it was hardly noticed in the paper the day after Governor West signed it.

It's a good reminder that what seems today like a big deal may not be one after all; and conversely, what seems unimportant may be celebrated as landmark legislation or a terrible mistake a century later.  (In the same address he called for the beach to be a "public highway," West also argued for compulsory sterilization of "degenerates and the feeble-minded.")

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