Bob Westerman’s Letter to the Editor (Feb. 14) indicates that he either didn’t understand the explanations provided to him at a recent community rights meeting or he is deliberately attempting to mislead Coos County voters. The Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance does not ban wind and hydro unless those systems are used unsustainably.
(d) Non-sustainable energy systems means those systems that are controlled by state and federal energy policies, rather than community controlled energy policies; hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated;
Two prime examples of non-sustainable use of renewable resources are the Klamath River hydroelectric dams that decimated a fishing industry and the Shepherd’s Flat wind farm which gobbled up thousands of acres of ranch and farm land to ship Oregon wind power to California.
Regarding rights of nature
c) Rights of Natural Communities and Ecosystems to Thrive. Natural communities and ecosystems within Coos County, including but not limited to, forests, rivers, streams, wetlands, aquifers, near shore habitats, and intertidal zones possess the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve unaffected by the construction, siting, or operation of non-sustainable energy systems.
This ordinance does not allow a herd of elk to obtain legal counsel to seek an injunction against hunters or grant civil liberties to your backyard trees. It simply acknowledges that nature existed long before the man made construct of “property” ever came into our collective consciousness. It means “…that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. The ecosystem itself can be named as a rights bearing subject with standing in a court of law.”
Nature’s right to thrive as described within this ordinance provides another layer of legal protection only against unwanted non-sustainable energy systems.
Westerman is to be commended for encouraging a vote, however, as other pro-gas advocates like John Knutson and Jon Barton have refused to sign a petition to even put the initiative on the ballot. They don’t want the rest of us to have a choice.
Their position is precisely why we need this ordinance, to rein in the decades of unchecked and ill-advised and unsustainable development that has so impoverished Coos County.
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