The half-full, half-empty view from Oregon

Opinion makers at The Oregonian today offer differing takes on Oregon’s green reputation.

A self-described “glass-half-empty kind of guy,” columnist Steve Duin (URL unavailable) cites Oregon’s toothless Department of Environmental Quality, befouled Willamatte River and wind turbine opponents in the Columbia River Gorge. Then he concludes, “Green? Us? Please. Smug? Definitely. But as far as Oregon’s reputation as an environmental pacesetter? Way overrated.”

If Duin wants to find additional evidence for his case he need look no farther than one of his paper’s editorials today. The editorial board sees a green lining in a report by Joe Cortright. The Oregon economist dispenses with the notion that Portlanders are making financial sacrifices because of the city’s environmental protection policies. On the contrary, Portland’s economy is the richer for these policies, Cortright argues. The editorial writers like that, and — one might say, smugly — conclude, “And the other upshot — sigh — is continued stardom for Portland. It’s not easy being a green celebrity.”

I assume Duin is including Portland when he lashes out at Oregon’s “laziness and neglect” toward the environment. Portland, in particular, continues to haul in accolades across the country and globe for its green ethic. As far as Oregon overall, one of Duin’s sources laments that the state continues to “rest on our laurels.” Agree. Just look at the Willamette River. How can a so-called green state continue to tolerate such a cesspool for so long?

Still there’s no denying we’re making progress on many fronts, particularly in Portland: bicycle usage, renewable energy legislation, light rail, streetcars, green building. At the citizen level, I see widespread passion toward green issues. That’s the half-full view.

But to look through Duin’s eyes is to see that it was also the citizens who passed Measure 37, that ominous threat to our land-use laws. And you see unwillingness among state political leadership to fully fund DEQ and ensure that it enforces the environmental regulations in place.

Half full, half empty? It doesn’t really matter. In either case, the green glass is still not full. Until it’s overflowing, we can be optimistic or cranky, but not satisfied.

August 23rd, 2007
Posted in Oregon, Politics, Sustainability | Comments Off on The half-full, half-empty view from Oregon

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.