By John Jordan-Cascade

There are two aspects to any decision made by public bodies: the process with which it was made and the wisdom or efficacy of the decision itself. On both counts Eugene’s publically-owned and managed energy agency, EWEB, has failed the public interest.

The climate crisis demands we face our dire circumstances…we are out of time! If the recent, unprecedented and deadly heat waves across the Western United States, the Jack Fire in Douglas County (over 12,500 acres burned – OPB July 12), the horrendous Bootleg Fire in Klamath and Lake counties (“Bootleg Fire grows larger than 300,000 acres” – OPB, July 19) and the footage of a large portion of an ENTIRE TOWN being burned to the ground in British Columbia–in a matter of hours–has not convinced our leaders, what in God’s name will?

Please take a look at this map of fires currently burning in Oregon (in July!).

A great majority of people in our communities already recognize the severity of the crisis. We are all searching for courageous and creative leadership and it is nowhere to be found. We will not wait. We are taking action. We cannot let the small-minded bureaucrats, nor short-sighted politicians who enable them, to turn this battle into a “building project” and merely a neighborhood issue. We cannot let the old-era arguments they trot out to placate us win out. It is not an issue of construction cost analysis and engineering facts. It is much more than that. We face a moral imperative that cries out for us to re-think EVERYTHING in society and see these kinds of issues as inter-related. They always have been, but the climate crisis makes it CRITICAL FOR OUR SURVIVAL AS A SPECIES to get very, very creative. We must maximize the benefit of what nature is left to buffer humanity from the devastation we all face.

If you’re looking for more data to support the moral decision, you needn’t go any further than the USDA Forest Service. A recent report tallies the benefit urban forests provide to the U.S. at $18.3 billion dollars per year! Benefits include air pollution removal, carbon sequestration, lowered energy use in buildings and reduced emissions from power plants. Could EWEB be short-changing the city in long-term costs in favor of short-term thinking? The answer is clear to me: YES!

EWEB is living and working in denial. Our city and county leaders must take action. It is LONG past time for them to wake up and serve the interests of both nature and humanity, whose fates are intimately intertwined. It is not one or the other. Never has been. We must gather together as a community to cultivate our compassionate desire for action and demand all relevant leadership act to save the stationary superheroes of the EWEB forest south of 40th and Patterson.

Conclusion

Full public hearings would allow time for the fullest and most creative exploration of alternatives. It’s a sad state of affairs when our public institutions fail to consider the enormously dangerous implications to the climate from their narrow approaches to problems and projects. We need more, much more courageous and creative leadership from EWEB and our local leaders if we are to successfully navigate the challenges of the looming climate crisis that has clearly arrived at our doorstep. We cannot settle for less.

John Jordan-Cascade is a volunteer for the campaign to Save the EWEB Forest, a writer, graphic artist and environmental activist.

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