Major policy change is being voted on by the Portland City Council during the waning days of 2021, when so many people are not paying close attention. Last week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced an agenda item at a City Council meeting that would once again allow the City of Portland to invest in corporate securities with very few restrictions. As written, the policy would allow investments in such destructive industries as coal, fracked gas, and nuclear weapons. City Council is poised to vote on this new policy tomorrow (Wednesday, December 22nd) without any public comment allowed at the hearing.
Contact Portland City Commissioners today and tell them: Portland’s corporate investment strategy should match its values.
Background: In 2017, the Portland City Council disbanded its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Committee, which had been charged with making recommendations about corporate investments to avoid based on a council-approved list of social and values concerns. Council then said they would avoid the issues altogether by not investing in corporate securities. In 2019-2021, the City annually adopted a short list of corporate securities that were the only allowable corporate investments.
The new investment policy, slated to be adopted tomorrow, makes a major shift in this policy by instead relying on a list of prohibited industries to be avoided (see exhibit A, page 10). But the list is woefully incomplete and was arrived at with virtually no public input. For example, the list prohibits investing in oil, but says nothing about other fossil fuels such as coal or fracked gas. It prohibits investments in small arms, but would allow investments in military weapons including nuclear weapons. While the previous SRI committee screened for labor standards and human rights, this new approach says nothing about avoiding corporations that do not uphold these values.
Mayor Wheeler claims that this is a “work in progress” and insists it must be adopted by the end of 2021. If the City Council is to adopt this policy now, they must set up a process for Portlanders to provide input and ensure that any corporate investments match city values and reinforce adopted policies.
Take Action: Contact the Mayor and City Commissioners today and tell them that Portlanders deserve a say in how city funds are invested. Click each name below to send an email now.
- Commissioner Carmen Rubio
- Commissioner Dan Ryan
- Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
- Commissioner Mingus Mapps
- Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler
Update (12/22/21): Due to community feedback, we were able to delay the vote by a week, and when the commissioners voted in the new policy today, they talked about their understanding that there will now be periodic check-ins and an opportunity for community input on changes to Portland’s investment policy to make sure that its investments are consistent with its values.
This is a victory for democracy that opens up new possibilities for the City of Portland to walk its talk by divesting from nuclear weapons, all fossil fuels, and other destructive industries. Please keep sharing your feedback with city council and stay tuned for how to impact this policy in 2022!
We did it! On December 1st, we learned that Pembina, the Canadian company behind Jordan Cove LNG and the Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline, have requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) vacate the authorizations issued to them in their proceedings. This comes in response to the DC Circuit asking FERC last month to reconsider whether to issue a stay, and FERC asking for a briefing on whether a stay is warranted.Read more
Please join us in writing to the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to support the Clean Air Protection Program and Clean Air Surcharge and center environmental justice and community leadership. The Portland’s BPS has released a draft proposal for the creation of a Clean Air Protection Program for the city. The program would be funded by a Clean Air Surcharge on Portland’s largest stationary sources of air pollution, generating roughly $2 million a year. Funds would be reinvested in pollution reduction programs to:
- Improve local air quality
- Decrease the public health impacts from exposure to local air pollution
- Increase community education about those impacts
- Support community-based solutions such as good neighbor agreements
This program would also support a Clean Air Grant Fund to assist communities and businesses with measures to reduce emissions of or exposure to air toxics. An advisory committee composed of community members and air quality experts from Portland would work with the program staff to develop measures to reduce exposure to air pollution from many sources, focusing on the communities and geographic areas of the city most impacted by air pollution.
The most significant air toxics concerns in Oregon are in Multnomah County and Portland. Communities of color and low-income communities in our region face the greatest health impacts from these toxics, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, developmental impacts and nerve damage. The City of Portland currently does not have an air quality program nor the resources to hire experts to address air toxics and their impacts on our communities.
Our partners at 350 PDX have made it easy to submit public comments with a public comment guide that includes a sample comment template and suggested talking points.
We urge you to submit written comments by noon on Friday, November 19th to demand that BPS protects our clean air and centers environmental justice concerns and community leadership as the proposal develops. You can submit comments through one of two ways:
- On the Map App: portlandmaps.com/bps/clean-air (Click the "Testify" button and fill in your information and comments.)
- By US postal mail: City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Clean Air, Healthy Climate Proposal public comment Vanport, 1810 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 710 Portland, OR 97201
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is developing a new greenhouse gas reduction program they call the “Climate Protection Program.” At hearings on September 30th, DEQ will invite the public to submit comments on its plans for the program (Deadline: October 25th).
Currently, the program is not slated to live up to its lofty name:
- It provides exemptions for fracked gas power plants and infrastructure.
- It includes loopholes for Oregon’s biggest polluters.
- It prioritizes polluters' profits over the health and safety of frontline communities experiencing the impacts of pollution every day.
Alongside our community partners at Power Past Fracked Gas, we hosted a webinar on September 21st to dig into the environmental justice issues at stake for Oregon in the drafting of this program. Oregon PSR Healthy Climate Action Team member Patsy Kullberg, MD was one of the panelists for this webinar and our staff Climate Justice Organizer, Samantha Hernandez, was the event's bilingual emcee.
Learn more and message Oregon decision-makers to call on them to protect Oregonians from climate pollution. The deadline for this comment period is Monday, October 25th, 2021.
View the recorded webinar to learn from environmental justice leaders from across the state about how communities are being impacted by pollution and how we can all take action at the DEQ hearings to ensure that it develops a program that protects Oregon communities and our climate. A Climate Protection Program should do nothing less.
More than 60 organizations collaborated on a recently released report titled Methane Gas: Health, Safety, and Decarbonization to set the record straight on the environmental and health impacts of so-called "natural" gas, which powers appliances in many of our homes. On September 14th, we hosted a Health Impacts of Gas Appliances webinar for attendees to learn more about why the fracked gas industry is detrimental to our climate and to the health of our communities. Three of our featured speakers are co-authors of report.Read more
We did it! In response to years of organizing by Oregon PSR members and partners, the City of Portland today denied a Land Use Compatibility Statement, declaring that Zenith’s oil-by-rail storage and transfer facility in NW Portland is inconsistent with the City’s land use rules.Read more
On August 17th, more than 50 health professionals, public health advocates, and water protectors rallied outside the US Army Corps of Engineers’ office in the Lloyd District of Northeast Portland. The attendees delivered a letter signed by over 300 Oregonians calling on President Biden to revoke permits for Line 3, a tar sands oil pipeline being built by Canadian corporation Enbridge through Anishinaabe treaty territory in Minnesota. The rally occurred at the same time as a dozen other actions across the country, including in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our sincere thanks to everyone who joined us in solidarity with water protectors and other health professionals across the country opposing Line 3.Read more
Wildfires fueled by climate change are becoming more intense in the Pacific Northwest. Preparation and adaptation to these climate disasters is vital to building climate resilience and protecting our health. Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (Oregon PSR), Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), and Neighbors for Clean Air (NCA) hosted a webinar in June of 2021 titled Our Health in Wildfire Season to explore these issues.Read more
Climate change is a health crisis. We need action now.
This summer, we have seen climate change take a toll on our health here in Oregon and around the world. From record-breaking extreme heat, unprecedented drought, and poor air quality from wildfire smoke, it is clear that health impacts of climate change are here.
Our home is on fire. Even as we struggle to care for our families and communities impacted by climate change, Enbridge is building a new tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, Line 3, that will add fuel to this fire. How much fuel? If built, the oil transported by Line 3 will add carbon emissions equal to 50 coal plants to our atmosphere every year it is in operation.
President Biden could stop construction immediately - as he did with Keystone XL - but so far has chosen not to.
Line 3 cuts through the heart of the Anishinaabe territory in Minnesota, violating treaty rights, damaging sacred wild rice beds, and threatening the health of Indigenous communities. Health professionals in Minnesota have opposed Line 3 for several years in a movement led by Indigenous leaders. They are now calling on us to stand in solidarity with the water protectors. Oregon PSR stands with our colleagues in Minnesota to call on President Biden to revoke the permits and #StopLine3.
Oregon Health professionals are standing in solidarity to call on President Biden to revoke the permits and #StopLine3.
Tuesday, August 17th, 1:00 PM (PST)
Army Corp of Engineers Northwest Division , 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd in Portland. **Note that we will meet on the corner of NE 13th and Holliday Streets, not on Lloyd Blvd**
Fully vaccinated people are welcome to attend this outdoor event. Please wear a mask and physically distance.
Health professionals, please consider wearing clothes that identify you as such, like a white coat or scrubs.
If you cannot attend in-person, join us virtually on social media. Post a picture of you on August 17th in your health professional outfit using the hashtags #FossilFree4Health, #StopLine3, and #OurWaterOurHealth.
Co-sponsored by Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate.
Are you able to travel to Minnesota? Join the August 7th-25th Treaty People Walk.
Now is the time. Enbridge is currently violating 21 river crossings, and hundreds of waterways across so called Minnesota. In the style of walks led by the American Indian Movement (AIM), we ask you JOIN US in a prayerful walk in solidarity with Mississippi River, "Nibi" (water), and to #HonortheTreaties that all of our ancestors signed.
The Treaty People Walk will kick off at Coffee Pot Landing on August 7th, led by Indigenous Leaders, and take 2 weeks to walk down to the Minnesota State Capitol Building by August 25th. The Capitol Building will hold a large welcome event to celebrate the walkers and to tell President Biden to step in and direct the Army Corps to cancel this pipeline’s permits.
The Stop Line 3 Movement wants your support in any capacity you have. You are invited to join some or all of the walk, host walkers, and join events along the route. For more information, please look at the expectations document and sign up on the Treaty People Walk Google form.
We are experiencing temperatures in the upper 90’s and even higher throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, and wildfires are already burning throughout our state and region. While no one wants to repeat the severe air quality crisis of last summer, we also know that it is essential to be prepared.Read more