It appears that regional non-profits might be finally awakening for a fight against the Columbia River Crossing project.
This morning, 11 organizations — including 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Sierra Club, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — laid out their opposition to the CRC in a strongly-worded letter addressed to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. The letter was also sent to legislative leaders and key staffers at the governor’s office.
In the letter, the non-profits made their case against the project and urged Kitzhaber to vote against funding the current CRC plan. After the project was left for dead back in June, it has come roaring back to life in the last month. Now, backers want Oregon to go-it-alone with a plan that puts our state in an even dicier financial position.
“A renewed effort to resurrect the project financed and supported only by Oregon raises the concerns we have long held,” reads the letter, “while adding significant risk to Oregon’s finances, and particularly to Oregon’s ability to meet the many transportation needs around the state.”
“Oregonians do not deserve contorted attempts to revive this dead project.”
The CRC plan is, “a fiscally, environmentally, and socially irresponsible proposal,” they wrote.
Beyond making their opposition clear and public, this tone and action against the CRC by these non-profits is significant because many of them sat on the sidelines when the project went rumbling through the Oregon legislature last session.
As we reported in February, leaders of the largest environmental and transportation non-profits in the state were worried that if they worked to stop the CRC, they would lose political relationships and influence for their agendas in Salem. When the project died, some of these non-profit leaders must have breathed a sigh of relief.
Jason Miner, the executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, called his groups lack of organizing against the CRC last time around, “embarrassing.”
Now, Miner and his coalition members are making their opposition quite clear. Here’s what I think is the most powerful paragraph in the letter:
“Please do not support funding for the current CRC plan. The proposed CRC freeway expansion remains bad public policy for Oregon and the Portland-Vancouver region. The proposal is contrary to efforts to foster vibrant, sustainable, and walkable communities that help reduce green-house gas emissions, air and water pollution, farmland loss, and habitat destruction. The current CRC proposal would result in a net loss in efforts to address the public health, safety, and environmental quality impacts of our transportation system. Oregonians do not deserve contorted attempts to revive this dead project.”
With another chance to stand up and fight the project as it takes a final breath in advance of federal funding windows that are soon to close for good, 1000 Friends is one of three organizations we called out in February that have now taken a their anti-CRC stance public. The others are the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Notably absent from the letter are the Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Those two groups represent nearly 20,000 dues-paying members and wield considerable political clout.
The other groups that have signed onto the letter include: Audubon Society of Portland, Coalition for a Livable Future, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Oregon Public Health Institute, Oregon Walks, and Upstream Public Health.
— Read more Columbia River Crossing stories in our archives.