Tuesday, September 01, 2015

As the house gets ready to take a look at Senate Bill 324 A, more commonly referred to as the low carbon fuel standard bill, agricultural organizations express their concerns over SB 324 A to Oregonians.

Jenny Dresler, government affairs associate for the Oregon Farm Bureau, said that while they can't be certain of what environmental benefits SB 324 A would bring, they likely won't be substantial. In addition to uncertainty of the bills effectiveness, "the funds raised by the program will not fund critical infrastructure or road improvements." Dresler said.

The bill would hit Oregon's agriculture industry hard. Jerome Rosa, executive director for the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, said, "On estimate, this could raise fuel costs 4 cents to $1 per gallon." Rosa explains that this causes a huge impact on ranchers in rural Oregon because of the distance they are forced to drive for basic needs. "Many legislatures on the West part of the state may not understand that," Rosa said.

Dresler adds that any increase in transportation costs would harm all agricultural businesses. "It, (SB 324 A), would increase the cost of doing business in Oregon and make Oregon agriculture less competitive," she said.

Jim Welsh, political advocate for the Oregon Cattlemen's Association brings up another concern lawmakers should take into account. "We don't have the technology for manufacturing and blending ethanol at the volumes we will need," Welsh said. "The land acreage needed to grow the crops necessary for ethanol production will be transferred from food crops for humans and food animals." He believes this could eventually result in a food shortage in Oregon.

Welsh said there are other ways to lower the carbon emissions, but that SB 324 A is not the best option. "Reducing forest fires and replanting trees and plants on burned over forest and range lands as fast as possible is a good way to reduce carbon emissions," he said. Wildfires have been a significant problem in Oregon the last couple years.

At this point in time, Dresler encourages concerned Oregonians to immediately write to their house member and let them know their opposition to SB 324 A. "SB 324 A would raise fuel prices, impacting Oregon's families and small businesses," Dresler said. "Oregonians need policies that encourage job growth." The bill is scheduled for a vote on the House floortomorrow.

The Oregon Cattlemen's Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

You may have gotten the same mailer I did last week.

It was one of those giant political postcards that were very popular in the General Election.  At least my mailbox was stuffed with them on a regular basis until election day mercifully rolled around.

This one was a little different.

It screamed at me.  

It insisted I contact State Representative Debbie Boone right away and insist she vote against the low carbon fuel measure and absolutely insisted it's a secret tax plan dreamed up by some "Portland Environmentalists".

I suppose that "Portland" part was supposed to press a rural hot button.  It's true that many who don't happen to live in the valley are immediately suspicious of anyone who not only lives there, but happens to be an "environmentalist".  I swear that I was just about to pick up the phone while firing up my laptop to heed the call and start my personal campaign to stop whatever those Portland Environmentalists might be up to now when I noticed the return address on that colorful and impactful mailer.

It was from a group with a Portland address.

I put down the phone.  I shut off my laptop.  I went about my business.

The last thing I need is to get in the middle of a dust-up between Portlanders. Can't they all just get along?


Okay. I admit it.

I just don't get it.

For some reason a few people are digging their heels in over the potential demolition of the old Waldorf Hotel. The thing is a sore on the backside of Astoria and really needs to go but the same people who tried to run an absentee resident for Mayor, unsuccessfully, have now decided this 1920's classic derelict needs to be saved. For what? I have no idea. The building has been empty for decades right next to City Hall in spite of attempts at restoration that failed each time.

They have established a Facebook page with a hilarious video and have taken to calling the old wreak "The Hotel Merwyn" claiming it is unique and should be saved. It is not unique. It is the last of the 1920's hotels to be built in downtown Astoria but it's not the only example. The others have been reclaimed and remade into respectable and very popular hotels.

The video, which is voiced by someone who sounds very similar to the failed Mayoral candidate, claims the old building is on the national register of historic places. That's misleading. Downtown Astoria is a National Historic District but not every building is worthy of saving otherwise Safeway's relic would still be in place protected from the wreaking ball and nice new things like the Garden of Surging Waves would not be there.

To be fair, if someone wanted to make an offer to the Groat Brothers LLC and take on the responsibility to bring the thing back to life I have no problem with that. That's not what is going on here.

It's interesting to note that no one claims public ownership of the Facebook page. Until just recently the section showing the address of the group had the wrong zip code for an Astoria based effort.

Just recently the author of the Facebook site asked readers to take a lengthy survey of "other concerns' they may have, apparently trying to get something going after it has become quite plain most people are not impressed with the idea of leaving the Waldorf as it is.

The survey is a fishing expedition with some laughable questions. So what we can take from this is "someone" is trying to create controversy without purpose.

Have at it.

It's very entertaining.







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