Letters to the editor for June 8

Love and God

I applaud Mr. Stansel’s thoughtful letter, “Love Thy Neighbor” (Hood River News, June 4), in which he expressed value for all faiths while disagreeing with the method of communication used by the Baptist Church.

I have also spoken with many who oppose the church’s position. For several of us, the issue in not one of tolerance. We simply question the veracity of the statements posted on the sign and find it hard to believe that a religious leader could be so narrow-minded.

When Jesus began to speak about his version of God years ago, it angered the Pharisees because they had no tolerance for any views or opinions but their own. They proceeded to ostracize him and eventually became instrumental players in his death.

The claims made on the church’s sign attempt to do the same thing. They clearly state the one path any reader must follow while simultaneously discrediting all other paths. Is this not a repeat of the scenario between Jesus and the Pharisees? Certainly any Christian pastor knows that story.

Moses spoke to a burning bush. Mohammed spontaneously received the Qu’ran through divine intervention. Jesus was the son and word of God. Buddha spent decades meditating for his truth. I do not know which of these events represent The Truth, but I do know that in 50 years, I have yet to meet any human who can tell for certain.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Mosier ‘dodges a bullet’

I found myself greeting friends last night with, “Glad to still see you.” Crass, yes. But when the shock of a situation of this magnitude is still passing through you … well, some of us try to find the bright side.

We’re still alive.

My heart goes out to the people of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The loss suffered there should have been the end of this. It has been almost three years since 47 people died in their sleep that morning. A mile wide blast destroyed their downtown, their home.

I’m sure all of us here in the Gorge made the connection then, or at least I hope we all do now.

I say we were lied to. At a Mosier City Council Meeting on Dec. 10, 2014, Brock Nelson, a Union Pacific Rail Road representative, while pitching a project to extend a second track that exists east of Mosier through downtown and beyond to the west, tried to assuage our fears of mile long coal and oil trains by stating that they (UP) do not run unit trains of oil on their lines (“unit train” meaning that the entire train is hauling a single type of cargo). In their presentation later in the meeting, Friends of the Columbia Gorge showed the community a picture taken from the Mosier Plateau of a unit train of oil cars passing through Mosier’s downtown just weeks prior to this meeting. Brock Nelson’s response paraphrased: “Well … we do not ship Bakken crude on our lines, the oil on our tracks is coming from Utah and is not as combustible as the Bakken crude.” (Fun fact, that oil from Utah sinks, so is probably worse if it ends up in/under the river).

And then this weekend we had 16 cars from a unit train of Bakken crude derail off of the Union Pacific line in our small town.

Yes, it could have been so much worse, and I’m incredibly thankful it wasn’t, but the fact is that the tragedy that this could have been has already happened. People have died.

Mosier “dodged a bullet,” but who’s down range?

Andrew Merritt


Kenya missing

Have you heard about missing Kenya? What a story of a man and his dog. Kenya (a yellow lab) was lost during a hike more than a week ago — she was pushing a stick further out into the river until she got swept away.

In the days and weeks that have followed, Eric — her owner — has been combing the area, even camping where she was lost. Tragically, during his search, his other lab Bergie was killed by a train.

Sightings of Kenya continue and Eric has organized search parties. The community has provided him overwhelming support.

This is more than a story of a lost dog, this is a sweet story of a man suddenly alone, searching day and night for his best friend.

There is a $300 reward for the yellow lab with her green collar — call 541-993-6570.

Joseph Eckert


Lives, not profit

A few days ago in Mosier, Union Pacific had an oil train derailment, basically a rolling pipeline from the Bakken Field in the Dakotas. This stuff often explodes, as it did in Lac-Megantic, Canada. According to the press, this area was inspected recently; if it was, why was there a derailment? As of Sunday evening, trains were already moving through the Gorge on the UP tracks. I’ve yet to see any inspectors, either from ODOT (yes, our state uses ODOT employees for the little bit of rail oversight that occurs), nor could I see any railroad employees inspecting anything (I live next to the tracks). Yet there were tank cars with hazmat placards clearly displayed on the sides of the cars moving through the Gorge. Between Hood River and Cascade Locks, there is a stretch of I-84 that’s constantly slipping. You can see the cracks and the overlay to try and seal them, the train tracks run just below, and probably move as much as the highway, there are other interesting spots where the tracks are compromised — where are the inspectors, where will the next derailment occur? Will we be so lucky next time? It’s time for the railroads to put people’s lives ahead of profit.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks


Access to the freeway and bike path is blocked for no reason other than convenience of Union Pacific. Residents of Mosier are forced to drive east 15-20 minutes on a narrow, winding and hazardous road to get to the freeway. Most Mosier residents work in Hood River, which makes for a long commute. Much of the day and most the night, the overpass/freeway access is clear without workers, but it remains blocked by sheriff’s vehicles. The structural integrity of the freeway access must be good, as UP is occasionally transporting heavy equipment on it. I am concerned that Union Pacific’s goal is to get the track repaired ASAP, then maybe deal with the Mosier community. If they start running tank cars through, before our sewer, water, and transportation are back online, I would not be surprised. Mosier needs advocates in the media to keep Union Pacific accountable for the damage they caused.

Ben Rabey


Who pays?

The derailment and subsequent fire in Mosier is just the last in a series of oil train catastrophes. When will the Department of Transportation say transporting oil by rail is no longer allowed until the railroads can demonstrate that a derailed car will not rupture or catch fire?

So who foots the bill for the damages? Of course the railroad will bear the costs of repairing the tracks, the damaged cars, the loss of the oil, and the loss of use of the tracks during the cleanup and inspections. But what about the businesses in Mosier that are dependent on tourist and bicycle patrons? The exit off I-84 is closed, as is the Twin Tunnels trail that is frequented by hundreds of cyclists, so who bears the cost of all that lost business?

What about the bicycle rental business in Hood River that cannot direct casual riders to the Twin Tunnels trail and lose that revenue?

What about the children in Mosier who lived through the uncertainty of how bad was this disaster going to get? Will they ever hear a train and not have a momentary flashback to this incident?

Trains can be a useful means for transporting bulk goods, but trains derail for all kinds of reasons and it not acceptable to put hazardous cars on the tracks.

Marc Cohn

Hood River

‘Trains transit’

Dusting degraved ancestors,

Sheening still-sweet waters,

Chasing the cycle bionic,

Anew. We knew. Ironic?

Barges (bridge-bashers),

Swollen wave-smashers,

Nature and dreams delivered.

We sink, rendered, plundered.

Ted James

Hood River

Wy’east Middle School students propose plastic bag ban

Editor’s note: Wy’east Middle School students recently submitted the following letters to the editor concerning the use of plastic bags in Hood River County.

Now that we have banned exporting bottled water from the county, maybe we can ban plastic grocery bags too! Our town uses approximately 5,000,000 plastic bags every year that mostly end up in landfills. Plastic bags should be banned in Hood River because we consume too many of them. Other places have already banned them, and many plastic bags don’t get recycled.

Approximately 15,000 plastic bags per day are used in Hood River County stores and most of them are only used once. So in a year we use enough plastic bags to wrap around the perimeter of Crater Lake. Imagine if Crater Lake was circled by plastic — then would we take charge and ban plastic grocery bags.

Because they are so hard to recycle (no curbside pickup in our town), only 10 percent are recycled. Most plastic bags end up in landfills and in the environment. As a result, plastic bags often find their way into nearby streams and rivers and eventually the ocean, where they break down into micro plastics. The great Pacific garbage patch is where lots of plastic ends up, right off our coast!

Many places have already banned plastic grocery bags, including Portland, Corvallis, Eugene and Seattle. My classmates polled shoppers at Rosauers and found that 75 percent of those interviewed favored such a ban. Therefore we should take action and ban plastic grocery bags!

I hope one day our town can join other communities and do what’s right not just for Hood River, but for the world. I urge you to contact our county commissioners and ask them to act on this important matter.

Celilo Brun

Hood River is a very popular place. It’s also a wasteful place. Plastic bags were first instituted in the U.S. in the year 1979. Afterwards, plastic bag have become a worldwide sensation. I believe that there should be a plastic ban in Hood River for three reasons: the insurmountable amount of trash, where it “goes away” to, and of the positive effects of having a ban.

How much is this insurmountable amount, you may ask. According to the research of a student, Hood River uses approximately uses 15,000 plastic bags per day. Weekly, this enough to traverse the entire circle of Crater Lake, which is 33 miles round trip. The plastic that doesn’t get reused — where does that go? According to oregonmetro.gov, it begins at Hood River, then travels and gets dumped at a landfill in Arlington. According to a another source and according to her findings, she found that the very same landfill is right next to a Umatilla field that in the summer gives Rosauers their onions. Now ask yourself, “And why does this matter?”

Plastics have a chemical called leachate that breaks down and travels to the nearest source of water, and Umatilla has a field right next to the landfill. That is not very healthy, correct? The final reason is why don’t we already have a ban in effect. The destruction of the environment around Hood River does not need to be filled with even more plastic than we use. And the amount of tourists would decrease and Hood River is mostly a tourist town, so one major source of income for the town would bring about its utter destruction. Hood River has tried to cope with plastic and not bring about a ban, so Rosauers brought a more eco-friendly plastic bag choice named Hippo — they produce less bags than the leading brand but are more recyclable. Rosauers has a bin where there are reusable bags for use, but that is only one store. Big plastic companies bring millions of plastic, non-renewable bags into Hood River.

Adam Burke

Many people get a plastic bag at the store, use it once, and throw it away without knowing what happens to it. Little do they know that each bag can kill many animals, including humans, and take fossil fuels to make. Hood River should ban plastic bags because they hurt the environment, aren’t recycled properly, and are used too much.

Plastic bags have a negative effect on the environment. Each plastic bag takes around 750 years to decompose. That length of time is just an estimate because no plastic bag has actually decomposed yet. Another problem is that they are not recycled the right way. According to a study in 2012, only 12 percent of plastic bags get recycled. Even if Hood River is able to keep up that recycling rate, every day in Hood River alone, the amount of bags that get recycled is 31,979 bags. That number may seem far out and unrelatable, but if all those bags were lined up, they would be as long as 15,000 buses. Even the bags that are recycled go into things like decks and lawn furniture, which eventually break and end up in a dump with the rest of the bags.

As well as having each plastic bag impact the Earth a lot, in Hood River we use way too many of them. Just the four biggest stores in Hood River use approximately 250,000 plastic bags each week. In Hood River alone the average person uses 34 bags a week, that many bags lined up handle to bottom would be as long as a school bus. And that is just in the small town of Hood River, in larger towns and cities like Portland, the number grows by the thousands.

Some people say, “At least making plastic bags doesn’t kill trees like paper bags do.” A study in 2008 concluded that to make 100 million bags it takes almost 500,000 gallons of oil — that much oil can fill up 37 swimming pools.

Hood River should support a ban on plastic bags to help the environment, reduce plastic bag use, and raise awareness about bag issues.

Dylan Trainer

Plastic is a great help in our community, but little do you know how threatening it can be to our lives. Chemicals in plastic are dangerous. Chemicals such as bisphenol A, styrene, and PVC — in other words, polyvinyl chloride, found in plastic, can be harming you and your loved ones. Although you may not bother to worry about the dangers in plastic, give me five minutes to tell you about some of the possibilities plastic can be putting your life at risk.

For example, we humans are getting contaminated day by day by the chemicals found in plastics and plastic itself. The chemicals cause cancer, even if it does not come in contact with BPA. BPA has been found guilty for early puberty in children ages seven and up, and the fact that one in every 33 U.S. citizens has obesity is also due to BPA.

Nearly every fish in North Korea ingests 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic every year. Due to this, we get sick by eating them. The chemicals also affect the fish’s fertility.

Pregnant women and their babies face hazardous damages. Newborns have difficulty with brain development and the behavior they have as a toddler. Note, this behavior may last for a lifetime if they both come in contact with BPA and phthalates. It may also be harmful to your baby’s prostate gland (if carrying a boy) and future fertility problems may also affect both boys and girls.

On the other hand, plastic is amazing. It stores our foods, dangerous household products, and carries our groceries. Without plastic, our lives would be a mess. Our cell phones are made out of plastic, computers, water bottles, everything! But wouldn’t you want your electronics to be made out of something other than plastic so that they won’t release toxic chemicals when they overheat?

Therefore, plastic is an amazing everyday tool though it has severe consequences. Your life is in your hands, you decide whether you want to make a change or not.

Andrea Zarate

Our population of 12,000 residents use an excessive amount of plastic bags. Plastic is responsible for all of the environmental issues affecting the world. Hood River is contributing to a problem instead of solving it.

To begin with, our community uses a tremendous amount of plastic bags. Our class this year found that from only our four major supermarkets, we use about 15,000 bags a day. Based on last year’s research, 10 percent of Hood River’s garbage is plastic, and it mostly consists of plastic shopping bags. There is a common delusion that plastic bags are recyclable. However, West Van Recycling Center in Vancouver, Wash., does not accept plastic bags because they wrap around the shafts which ends up delaying the procedure. For these reasons, plastic bags get thrown in the trash where they do not biodegrade; therefore, they will just sit around for many years.

Next in importance, Hood River is crammed with tourists during summer. Tourists love to see communities working together to help the environment. If tourists see the difference of our plastic bag ban movement, they can possibly do the same for their city/town. The more states that ban the bag, the less environments will be affected.

In addition, our community cares about kids and their hard work. My contemporaries participate in fundraisers and fun events, and they love seeing the rewards. Youth are trained to make working hard a habit. Hood River encourages citizens who act and take action. My generation works hard to influence what evolves around them. What we can’t proactively prevent now will affect us in the future. What will my generation’s future be like?

Even though people suppose that it is moderately straightforward to recycle a plastic bags, people still do not realize how much damage a single bag can do. With all of the plastic bags being used and produced every day, it can cover up the United States ten times.

Hood River could be a positive example if we decreased the plastic bag usage. A plastic bag ban/fee would help Hood River make a sizeable impact.

Ariana Munoz

Have you ever been asked the question, “Paper or plastic?” When you answer plastic, ask yourself where that bag is going if you just throw it away and how will that affect our environment. People might think that we hardly use plastic bags, but the amount we use is extreme. We use 14,766 bags per day, and 4,961,376 bags per year. That is extremely ridiculous because we are a small town and we use a very large amount of plastic bags per year. Plastic bags are not recycled as often as we think. Most plastic bags don’t end up at a recycling center and some of the bags that do don’t even get recycled. The bags that don’t get recycled get thrown away and end up in landfills or even the ocean. Garbage and plastic that end up out there is because we humans aren’t throwing our garbage away and aren’t recycling our plastic bags. In fact, even to transport our garbage and recycling pollutes the air. Plastic bags have a major impact on the environment. Not only does our garbage and plastic end up in the ocean, they are also killing marine life. Once the plastics and garbage that we just throw away ends up in the ocean they flow into giant landfills in the middle of the ocean. These landfills are called “Gyres” and there are five of them out in the ocean. The largest Gyre is called the “North Pacific Gyre. This Gyre is bigger than Texas. Also, landfills produce a contaminating chemical called “Leachate” which contaminate food, soil, and water. Some people say that plastic bags are eco-friendly but they’re wrong because they contaminate water, soil, and food. They also kill marine life because they mistake plastics and garbage for food. They also damage our environment by being shipped to a different landfill. Overall, we should not throw them away and we should try and get more recycling centers to recycle plastic bags. We should all try and at least use less plastic bag or try and reuse them.

Alex Lopez

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