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Oregon legislature candidates debate action on environment, smoke

(KTVL/Georgia Lawson).PNG
(KTVL/Georgia Lawson).PNG
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With the election just over a month away, candidates for Oregon legislature are making their voices louder than ever.

Monday's candidate forum, organized by Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN) explored their different stances on environmental issues.

A big topic of debate at the environmental forum was - you guessed it - smoke.

But for all candidates the issue of how to prevent a repeat of this summer was more complex than to log or not to log.

Jeff Golden is running for Senate District 3 reelection.

"Was this summer smoke the result of climate change or poor forest management and fuel build up in the past? The answer is clearly yes, that's right, it is," Golden says.

Golden's opponent, Jessica Gomez, also advocated for a more nuanced approach.

"We need to do some strategic logging," says Gomez. "I'm not talking about clear cut. We have the technology to get in there and pull out some of that newer growth, clear out some of that underbrush, introduce some healthy ground fire."

The only republican in the room, Gomez's approach to forest management echoed her approach to other environmental issues like climate change - not towing the party line but focusing on finances first.

House District 5 candidate Pam Marsh countered that fiscal and ecological sustainability go hand in hand.

"We can see a clear trajectory. Businesses have an opportunity to make the changes they need to be able to make to accommodate the cap and trade system," Marsh says. "They can trade, they can buy those permits, they can innovate in ways that reduces their emissions."

For Michelle Blum Atkinson, house district 6 candidate, it was all about taking responsibility for the impact that's yours.

"We don't let people just throw their trash on the street and expect someone else to pay for it, so why should we let the biggest polluters in Oregon pollute and then not pay for it. It doesn't make any sense," Blum Atkinson says.

Candidates Kim Wallan, Sandra Abercrombie, Mike McLane, and Karen Rippberger were invited to the debate but chose not to participate.

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