Juan Carlos Valle For Eugene City Council

Environment

Our precious environment is a legacy we will leave for the next generation and their children.  I want to know that my child will have the opportunity to enjoy our clean air, clean water and unrivaled natural beauty.  For far too long we have placed short term economic gains over the long term health of our environment.  We must have a sense of urgency, and be resolute in our commitment to protecting our local and regional environment.

My late environmental studies professor, John Baldwin, was the person who introduced me to the inner workings of preservation of our natural lands, waterways and trees.  His outspoken intellectual honesty was one of the qualities I and many others came to admire.  Those of us who love the environment and the enriched quality of life that nature brings to all must strive to replicate his approach. We must also be students of how to engage those who seek to build communities while respecting our natural resources. I am fully committed to preserving the environmental health and well-being of our community.

Amazon Headwaters

For example, the Amazon headwaters are vital to the water quality and environmental health of South Eugene; they also have a community-wide value.  This is without doubt a rare gem and one of the few natural habitats left within the Urban Growth Boundary.  The land has a high natural resource value for its high bio-density and irreplaceable wildlife connectivity.

As your councilor, I will work to protect the Amazon headwaters.  I will seek a permanent solution that will ensure that the area is protected.  The headwaters are more than an amazing local slice of the ecosystem; that portion of the Amazon is critical to the other major waterways into which it flows.  We can’t rely on the Hearings Official and the Planning Commission to prevent development. Currently the Deerbrook project (which would develop and destroy much of the headwaters area) is scheduled for an appeals hearing on 11/14/2012. These lands should be designated as parkland, pure and simple. Let’s take the time and effort to find a way to permanently protect the Amazon headwaters by purchasing the property.

Coal Trains

While I understand the need to be friendly to other communities’ need for economic development, our community must first understand all the environmental challenges we already face, especially in West Eugene.  Coal dust can cause various pulmonary diseases.  Radioactive particles found in coal dust have been shown to increase rates of lung cancer and coal dust is of a particle size that is readily inhaled and absorbed into the lungs.  Add that to the asthma rates and types of cancers we are seeing in our community especially near the rail lines, and we have a compounded problem.  We need to carefully consider first and foremost the long term impact of decisions we make. Our community must understand our regional role in addressing health issues and preventing any additional air and ground pollution.  I applaud the Council for passing Resolution 5065 to “Oppose the Transport of Coal for Export through Eugene.”

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are everywhere; there is an over-proliferation in our society.  Plastic bags get a relative short time use before getting tossed in a landfill or on the ground.  Although a few such bags might get reused or recycled, it still takes a lot of energy to eventually recycle them. The plastic bag is produced with a non-renewable and highly polluting resource – petroleum.

I support the City Council’s recent decision to institute a single-use plastic bag ban in Eugene. We need to carefully consider the alternatives, however. Compostable bags can be worse than plastic, since they use GMO materials, can only be composted in commercial facilities and will contaminate plastic recycling streams. Paper bags require harvesting of trees, and require more energy to transport than plastic bags. Our community is primed for a much better alternative: a reusable, washable shopping bag that would brand us as a community.  For our kids and for the environment, let’s transition off plastic bags.