Oregon Republicans Flee Climate Legislation for the Second Time in Less Than 1 Year
In June of 2019, Oregon Republican Senators refused to show up to work in order to deny the Senate a quorum to vote on a cap-and-trade bill that had passed the House. Some even fled the state to avoid being forced to return. That standoff ended when Senate Democrats said they did not have enough votes for the bill.
This time, Republicans from both the House and Senate refused to attend sessions, and their actions brought Oregon's 2020 legislative session to a close three days early Thursday, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. This killed more than 100 bills and raised questions about the future of the democratic process in Oregon and across the country.
"I guarantee you other states are gonna start copying this and that's how dangerous this is," Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The current walkout began Monday, Feb. 24, The New York Times reported. Most Republican Senators failed to attend a session that morning, leaving the body with one member short of the quorum needed for a vote. The bill in question would have capped emissions for fossil fuel companies, electric utilities and manufacturers, starting with lower caps and growing stricter over time. The Democrats, who enjoy a supermajority, had enough votes to pass the bill, but needed at least two Republicans present to have the two-thirds needed for a quorum.
The Senate's Republican leader, Herman Baertschiger Jr., has called the bill a "gas tax disguised as an environmental bill" and, along with his fellow party members, wants it to be put to the voters. The Democrats, meanwhile, say it is necessary to pass the bill now in order to act on the climate crisis, according to an Associated Press story published by KTVZ.
Baertschiger said his party resorted to the walk out because Democrats failed to approve any Republican amendments.
"Senator Courtney's actions leave no other option for Senate Republicans but to boycott and deny quorum," he said, according to The New York Times.
Republicans offered to return for one day to pass emergency spending bills, but Democrats refused, ending the legislative session.
"The vast majority of Republican lawmakers have spent the last ten days on a taxpayer-funded vacation running down the clock. Now, as they continue to stall on doing their jobs, they say they are willing to come back at the eleventh hour for votes on select items they have picked," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement reported by KTVZ. "That's not how democratic representation works."
Among the other bills the Republicans' walkout killed are some that deal with the environment and the consequences of the climate crisis, such as bills that would have funded wildfire preparation and flood relief, as well as one that would have phased out a carcinogenic pesticide.
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By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
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