Comments on Environment
by Beth Casper
Some support governor's stance, but others oppose his criticism of feds Gov. Ted Kulongoski did not mince words about the environment in his State of the State address Monday.
He blamed the federal government for many of the state's environmental problems and called on the state Legislature to take a stand. He also vowed to "use every legal tool" of the state to recover salmon.
Fishermen and environmentalists rallied around his words, encouraged that the governor elevated their issues to such prominence.
Industry lobbyists and Republican legislators called the speech "political rhetoric."
"I felt that the latter part of his talk about environment stuff was partisan politics," said Ralph Saperstein, a lobbyist for Boise Cascade. "The lines he was talking about are not relevant in Oregon anymore unless you want to continue to fight the old battles. I thought we were beyond that."
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury had a different take.
"I was just inspired by his positions on salmon, on global warming, on land use," he said.
Kulongoski blamed the federal government for making decisions on federal forestland without the state's input. He also reiterated his opposition to the Bush administration's changes to the roadless rule, which prevents logging and mining in portions of federal forests without roads.
He criticized the federal government's recent opinion about salmon and the Columbia River power system, which states that dams are part of the landscape and not a negotiable part of a salmon-recovery plan.
He also said the Bush administration never should have walked away from the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that addresses the reduction of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.
"As governor, I will not sit by while the federal government attempts to dismantle our environmental legacy, undermines our values and erodes our sovereignty," Kulongoski said. "The time has come to draw a line and say -- enough."
Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, said the governor's comments Monday made it one of the best days she has had in her job.
"We are pleased that he recognized what a big part of Oregon's economy and quality of life salmon represent," she said. "We know we can have affordable power and have the tens of thousands of jobs salmon give to Oregon. ... I believe the fishing community is going to be thrilled that they have a governor that places salmon at this level in this state."
Rural legislators took offense to the governor's comments, saying that economic gains in the state were a direct result of the federal government's actions.
"The governor is attempting to reignite the war over old-growth, roadless areas, salmon recovery and other time-honored elements of the radical environmental agenda," said Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day. "The governor indicated extreme hostility toward all the gains made by the Bush administration to create jobs, especially in rural communities. ... We can't afford his efforts to kill our economic recovery."
Others thought Kulongoski's speech addressed the most-important aspects of Oregonians' lives.
"I think he's really established himself very clearly as a real advocate for making sure we maintain the quality of life that we have in Oregon," Bradbury said.
However, almost everyone agreed on one thing: the speech surprised them.
"I've been to most State of the State addresses and this was by far the strongest," said U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-West Linn. "This is the first time I can recall hearing someone really take after the federal government in several areas."
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