This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 27, 2003 12:37 PM. The previous post in this blog was Stay still, dang it!. The next post in this blog is Neither right nor wrong. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, July 27, 2003

Cough, cough

Another beautiful day in Portland. Sunday, too. Time to do some stuff outside.

Except for the fact that there's a bunch of grass smoke in the air.

Welcome to the livable city. One farmer down in the Willamette Valley saves a few hundred bucks by burning his fields. A million people breathe the smoke. That's the Oregon way.

Call the DEQ? Forget it. Regulation of field burning is presided over by the Department of Agriculture. As the name suggests, although these bureaucrats are supposed to make sure the smoke is not generated when the winds will blow it into heavily populated areas, they "get it wrong" sometimes. Wink, wink.

Now we're in for a particularly hot spell, and this smoke will be probably be around for days.

In the end, this is the doing of the state legislature. Do you think lawmakers like Betsy Close and Ted Ferrioli give a hoot about the smoke in the air in Portland? Fat chance. Their constituents are miserable, and so everyone else in the state should be, too.

The only time the state has ever acted in this area was after a bungled field burn caused a large pileup, with multiple fatalities, on I-5. That led to restrictions on the practice, but they're ineffective to stop the air pollution from spreading when the farmers do burn.

Just ask the folks at the Oregon chapter of the American Lung Association what they think. They'll tell you it's a national disgrace.

Add it to the list.

UPDATE, 3:30 pm: Well, the breeze turned around and blew the grass smoke out of town. Maybe the boys and girls down at the Ag Department called the wind direction right today, albeit belatedly. But it was quite smoky out there around noontime. And I wish that we didn't have to inhale that stuff, ever. There are plenty of healthy ways to get rid of the bugs and disease besides burning. I remember when they first imposed the current restrictions on the number of acres that may legally be burned each year -- the farmers said then that the sky would fall and they'd go out of business. That obviously hasn't happened, and it wouldn't happen if field burning were banned outright.

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