Toledo hosts carbon neutral discussion

Earlier this year, a convoy of trucks from Toledo joined protesters at the State Capitol in Salem, objecting to cap-and-trade legislation.

Timber Unity details four-point plan

TOLEDO — Members of the Toledo City Council, 350 Oregon Central Coast, Timber Unity and Citizens for a Better Lincoln County met Monday evening at Toledo City Hall to discuss preserving jobs and moving the county toward a carbon neutral goal by 2035.

“I think meetings like this are the way we are going to be able to move forward and actually make change happen,” Toledo Mayor Rod Cross said at the start of the meeting, which was also attended via Zoom. “We have to stop fighting against each other, and we’ve got to move together as one.”

Toledo City Councilor Betty Kamikawa was credited with bringing representatives of the diverse groups together to identify and work toward common goals. Kamikawa identified as a member of both Timber Unity and the environmental group 350 Oregon Central Coast. “I understand both sides of the issue,” she said. 

“We’ve seen great collaborations between the science and fishing industries,” Kamikawa observed, which she said improved fish populations. Echoing Cross, she called for people to work together —  students, scientists, the native people, small business and citizens.

“We don’t need to complain about it anymore. We have to act,” Kamikawa said. She detailed in plain words how compromise works. “It’s all about getting part of what you want, but being willing to give up something. And that’s the only way it’s going to work.”

Julie Parrish, a founding board member of the Timber Unity Association, joined the discussion via Zoom, explaining the issue. “How do we balance conservation for the future? How do we also make sure we can leverage our natural resources in a way to put people to work and be sure that we have family wage jobs and people can live and work and shop and play in the communities where they live?” 

Timber Unity sprang up in June 2019, largely because there was a mill in the Forest Grove area that, if cap and trade passed, was going to look at shuttering jobs, Parrish explained.

“We organized around the cap and trade issue, not because we don’t think there’s a need to reduce carbon. We actually think there is. There are ways we can reduce carbon. What we can’t do is put a tax into that system as the mechanism to address carbon issues,” she said. “Oregon already is one of the highest tax states in the nation.”

Pointing to the recent fires across Oregon and in Lincoln County, she said, “What we’ve been doing in our forest hasn’t worked.” Parrish pointed to the irony of the many older diesel vehicles that were used to haul livestock and water, assisting fire victims, would have been banned under the legislation being considered in Oregon last year.

“It’s a very diverse group, 64,000 people across the political spectrum,” Parrish said of Timber Unity. She acknowledged the group is “right of center” on tax policy. “We really are about looking at policies that effect working families. Usually those (policies) are checkbook issues.” 

Parrish outlined the four-point plan, also detailed in a statement provided to the News-Times.

The first point calls for better management of public roads. “Timber Unity believes that by converting maintenance budgets into planting and vegetation-monitoring budgets, Oregon can use these public rights of way as a carbon sink by planting high carbon sequestering vegetation, or where safely able, native hardwood tree species.”

The second point calls for reducing road miles through better public procurement and asset management. The carbon savings by procuring items grown, processed and packaged in Oregon could be significant. The statement cites a low bid to the Oregon Department of Corrections that came from a meat vendor in Miami, Fla. Oregon makes, grows, processes and packages meat and meat products, the statement rhetorically states.

Timber Unity suggests that refuse management, though generally not the purview of government, is a critical societal need and worthy of taxpayer investment. “Timber Unity believes refuse management is one of the most critical things we can do to reduce emissions and to extend the lifecycle of raw materials, particularly those materials that are extracted or produced with fossil fuels or scarce elemental components,” the statement reads.

“Timber Unity believes the legislature should take the approach of offering the proverbial carrot instead of beating the small business owners with a tax stick,” the statement explains in the fourth point. “We also know there are differences in the ability of companies due to the age, size and business life cycle for how much up-front investment a company can make in fleet and facility upgrades to meet carbon reduction goals.”

Bill Kucha, of 350 Oregon Central Coast, said some of these were goals that the climate protection organization can get behind. “Let’s start with facts,” said Kucha. “Just how much carbon do we sequester? Let’s start with that.”

He offered support for in-state recycling in Oregon, creating jobs. “I love the four point plan.”

Parrish said of Timber Unity, “We consider ourselves non-partisan, endorsing candidates in both parties taking a stand for working families.” She said “We can’t just go down there and say no. You have to find a way to solve issues.”

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