Two Major Victories in the Movement Against Fossil Fuels

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As we welcome a new presidential administration, this momentous day comes on the heels of fantastic news for our healthy climate movement in the Pacific Northwest: yesterday (January 19th, 2021), a state permit denial for the proposed Kalama fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in southwest Washington and a federal ruling to uphold Oregon’s denial of the Clean Water Act permit for the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline in four southern Oregon counties. Oregon PSR and our partners have been working hard to block both projects and are thrilled to celebrate this welcome news. With the Biden Administration’s day-one pledge to halt the Keystone XL pipeline, this week seems to signal that a new horizon for the movement against fossil fuels is approaching. 

 

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2021 Greenfield Peace Scholarship Open for Submissions

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Oregon PSR is excited to announce the 2021 Greenfield Peace Scholarship, which is now open for submissions. The theme of this year’s scholarship is Art & Creation: Self Expression, Activism, and Social Change. Now in its 13th consecutive year, this has historically been a writing scholarship open to all Oregon 11th and 12th grade students. This year, though, Oregon PSR is asking young Oregonians who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and who are high school juniors or seniors or the equivalent to respond to the prompt by creating a work of visual art. The scholarship’s goal is to illuminate the perspectives of Oregon's youth on issues of peace, health, justice, and safety in our world.

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A Letter from Our Executive Director

Kelly_photo_fall_FC_2020.jpeg2020 has been quite the year. From the global coronavirus pandemic to the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ensuing Black Lives Matter uprisings for racial justice to the climate fueled wildfires and hazardous smoky air devastating our region, we have learned time and again that the basic act of breathing is not to be taken for granted.

Taking a collective deep breath, Oregon PSR’s volunteers and staff have creatively navigated the challenges of this year together, keeping our vision of a just, peaceful, and healthy world front and center as we figure out new ways to connect with each other and to bring a public health lens to address the intersecting crises we face.

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Meet Oregon PSR’s Newest Board Members

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Oregon PSR is thrilled to welcome five new Board of Directors members this year, each of them bringing a health background along with a wealth of connections to communities most impacted by the issues we work on and impressive skills and perspectives that will help guide our organization into its 40th year of advocacy and education. Continue reading for a short profile on each of our new Board members, along with quotes from them on why they joined our Board.

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Peace In a Time of Intersecting Crises

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Oregon PSR approaches the work of our Peace Program with an acknowledgement of the interconnected nature of the multiple public health crises that we now face. We work for peace knowing that there can be no real peace without justice, and that systemic failures in our society must be met with strategic thinking, innovative ideas, and direct engagement with our communities.

Working in coalition with our many partners, we bring the trusted voice of health to bear on nuclear disarmament, building peace and anti-militarism, ending gun violence, and supporting the movements for racial justice, immigrant justice, and police accountability. That all of these intersecting societal ills are severe public health threats means that health professionals and public health advocates can play a vital role in creating a more just and peaceful future.

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A Livable Future Where We Can Breathe Easy

Demonstrating against Jordan Cove LNG in Salem in 2019, pre-COVID. Photo by Alex Milan Tracy.

Pandemic. Racist violence. Wildfires and smoke. Recession. This year has tested us in a multitude of ways, while also giving us a snapshot of what lies ahead should we be unable to rise to the global challenge of mitigating the climate crisis.

All of us who care about public health are being called in this moment to work together for a livable future. It starts with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) being able to live without fear of being murdered or brutalized by the police. It includes addressing the fact that the brunt of environmental pollution is borne by communities of color and low-income Oregonians, who are more likely to live in the blast zones of oil trains or along busy roads with high concentrations of diesel particulate matter.

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Protecting Health in Oregon State Prisons

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Oregon PSR began this past May to advocate for Oregon state prisoners out of concerns relative to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dire consequences of a deadly outbreak in our state prisons. Since then, we’ve written several letters to the Governor’s office, which manages the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), and have partnered with Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) for the recent Mass Incarceration and Public Health webinar to better educate ourselves and others on the issues facing Oregon state prisons and the communities that live within them. We will be partnering with OJRC, which continues to advocate for prisoners around the state and provides resources regarding incarceration issues, for more webinars in the near future, including one on the intersections of climate change and mass incarceration.

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Clean Air for All Communities

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At the beginning of 2020, Oregon PSR began a campaign aimed at closing the waste incinerator that has been in operation for 34 years in Brooks, Oregon, just north of Salem. This incinerator has been burning not only residential waste but also out-of-state medical waste which, when burned, releases toxic chemicals into the air that our communities breathe. We know that not only is spewing toxic fumes harmful to the environment and the health of our communities, but that there are more efficient and truly clean solutions to waste reduction and energy production. We also know that, in order for our waste and energy solutions to be truly equitable, we must include the communities most affected in the conversations as we move towards better solutions.

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Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Enters Into Effect

50th_ratification_of_TPNW_graphic.jpgOn July 7th, 2017, a United Nations conference adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. On October 24th, 2020, Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the treaty, which will begin to take effect in 90 day. This historic treaty was led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their work. Oregon PSR is the local affiliate of ICAN and in 2019 secured support for the treaty from the Oregon legislature and the City of Portland.

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Oregon PSR Ballot Measure Endorsements for November 2020 Election

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Oregon PSR endorses the following ballot measures in the November 2020 election. Also, please note that our lack of endorsement doesn’t necessarily mean that we oppose a ballot measure, only that our Board of Directors has decided not to make a formal endorsement.

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