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Pollution, timber initiative petitions filed

With almost exactly one year until the 2020 election, a surge of prospective ballot measures are hitting Secretary of State Bev Clarno's desk.

With almost exactly one year until the 2020 election, a surge of prospective ballot measures are hitting Secretary of State Bev Clarno's desk.

On Thursday, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters rolled out an initiative petition which aims to reduce pollution and improve transparency.

The initiative petition is called the "Toxic Reduction and Right to Know Act, and according to OLCV Executive Director Doug Moore, the initiative would close a loophole that allows older corporations to emit more toxic byproducts into the air, soil and water than newly formed companies.

It would also remove laws that prevent local communities from asking companies to disclose what hazardous and toxic materials — such as arsenic, mercury and lead — they emit.

Agreeing that the best route would be take these issues to the Legislature, Moore's believes that if Democrats are going to let the minority dictate terms, taking the fight to Oregon's initiative process is the only way forward.

"Oregonians care very deeply about this, in 2020 one way or another we're going to hold polluters accountable," Moore said. "It's time for us to take this to the voters. Given the legislature's failure to act and the outside influences on state politics," he said.

The initiative is endorsed by several Oregon environmental groups including Beyond Toxics, PCUN, Oregon Environmental Council, NAACP Eugene/Springfield, Union of Concerned Scientists, and others within the Oregonians for Clean Air coalition.

The move follows the announcement earlier this week of three ballot initiatives seeking to insulate certain forestry and timber practices — particularly clear cutting and aerial spraying — from a rival set of initiatives proposed by three private citizens whom timber professionals have characterized as a "radical, anti-forestry activists."