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Essay by Pete Zimmerman

The snow crunches beneath my boots as I kick steps into its surface. Around me, jagged brown rock pokes through the blank white snow as I make my way up to the summit of Garfield Peak, thousands of feet above the surface of Crater Lake. My mission is to ski from the peak down toward the lake's shimmering blue waters, which are world renown for their depth and clarity. But disturbing thoughts about what the Trump administration and climate change might do to Oregon's only national park are clouding my mind.

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By PAUL KOBERSTEIN and JESSICA APPLEGATE
Photographs by SARAH CLARK

May 6, 2018 Part 1

Blood under the Tracks

People in The Dalles, Ore., say their air is being poisoned by a company that uses creosote to make railroad ties. Some say they are crazy, but a bevy of court documents and medical studies back them up. 

Last week, a federal health agency issued a skeptical report casting official doubt on their claims, saying “no apparent public health hazard existed.” But some say its report was marred by outdated and missing data. Plus the agency failed to talk to any of the victims. 

Over the last decade, the courts have ordered the creosote industry to pay billions of dollars for personal injuries and environmental damage, including the biggest bankruptcy settlement in EPA history. But in a simple twist of fate, The Dalles got nothing out of these deals.

Why was The Dalles left out? And why are its residents still being poisoned?

Full Story

May 14, 2018 Part 2

Trade secrets

Meet the polluter in The Dalles, Ore., who thinks its toxic air emissions data are none of your business.


May 30, 2018 Part 3

WRONG NUMBER

Protecting the environment is a game of numbers.

The state’s new Cleaner Air Oregon program will soon decide such things as how much toxic air pollution each industry should be allowed to emit. It will also decide how much toxic pollution people can inhale harming their health.

Unfortunately, Cleaner Air Oregon is about to dial-in a number that protects industry more than people. This number has been skewed to provide more protection for white people than African-Americans.

 

 Union Pacific Railroad purchases railroad ties from AmeriTies West, LLC in The Dalles, Ore. Wooden railroad ties are stacked in the yard awaiting processing. Ties are soaked in creosote, a toxic preservative, before being installed in the railroad track. 

Union Pacific Railroad purchases railroad ties from AmeriTies West, LLC in The Dalles, Ore. Wooden railroad ties are stacked in the yard awaiting processing. Ties are soaked in creosote, a toxic preservative, before being installed in the railroad track. 


BEFORE BULLSEYE, THERE WAS CHEVRON

Twenty years ago, Cascadia Times sued the Oregon DEQ for the release of public records showing massive air pollution from oil terminals in Northwest Portland. Seven oil companies joined the DEQ in the fight against our suit. 

In a ruling by the Oregon Attorney General in April 1998, they lost. The public's right to know what's in the air won.

It was a landmark decision that affirmed that industry could no longer claim that pollution records are confidential business secrets. And the fight for clean air in Oregon was born.

Read Bad Air Days, the May 1998 report in Cascadia Times that tells the history of the DEQ's failure to address air pollution in Portland

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