Camilla's Blog

Camilla Mortensen is the environmental reporter for the Eugene Weekly.

Spring is here, so they say, but after some 20-odd days of nonstop rain, the only things that are happy right now are the slugs that gave rise to Eugene's "beauty queen" tradition, the Slug Queen.

But Eugene is home to more than just slugs, and what we need right now, are more festivals to honor things, or maybe to get rid of them. Nutria festival anyone? Preferably these would be indoor festivals during the rainy season.

In Sweetwater, Texas, not only do they have a rattlesnake festival, they have a Miss Snakecharmer. The Slug Queen might get to lead a First Friday ArtWalk or two, but Miss Snakecharmer?

"I get to skin snakes and chop their heads off and I am super excited about it … It's like a small town dream of every girl, just to skin snakes all the time …It's been a good experience for all of us."

Thanks to, our new arts and music editor for digging up the snake slitting footage.

In other snake news, the Bronx Zoo has lost its adolescent 20 inch Egyptian cobra. The zoo thinks it hasn't gone far. “To understand the situation, you have to understand snakes,” Jim Breheny, zoo director, said. He thinks it is in the Reptile House … somewhere. The Reptile exhibit is currently closed to visitors.

The cobra now has its own Twitter feed, making comments like, "Want to clear up a misconception. I'm not poisonous as has been reported. I'm venomous. Super venomous, but not poisonous so don't worry," and "What does it take to get a cab in this city?! It's cause I'm not white isn't it."

Does the thought of an oil company using the Columbia River to send massive loads of mining machinery up to Canada to strip mine the boreal forest and poison the waters burn you up?

The Canadian tar sands have been called the BP oil spill to the north, and even Rep. Peter DeFazio has weighed in on using U.S. roads to facilitate profit for a foreign oil company.

While much of the debate and protests have taken place in Idaho and Montana, people in Oregon are starting to rise up.

This Sunday, Feb. 20 from 2:00pm - 4:00pm at the Native American Student Center, on the Portland State University campus in Portland, there will be an organizational meeting to discuss what can be done about the Columbia being used as the gateway to fossil fuel hell.

For more info, check out the organizers' Facebook page.

A Eugene meeting is also in the works.

Willamette Week, Portland Monthly and the Portland Mercury all got shout-outs on Portlandia. All I have to say is that they are missing out — nothing is more hippie-hipster odd than Eugene Weekly.

Did you read it? Is it local? Ah, we've never heard THAT in Eugene!

More media appearing in the media this week: Check out KLCC's story on the R-G.

An excerpt:

Most daily papers are owned by media conglomerates - and Baker says without a local link, those papers are most vulnerable when economic times get tough. Features reporter Randi Bjornstad started her job at the R-G in 1988 - prosperous times in the newspaper biz. Now, her industry is struggling.

Randi Bjornstad: "One of my colleagues and I were counting and we are down to 14 reporters in the newsroom. And I think when I started here, we probably had 26."

Bjornstad says attrition in the newsroom puts pressure on reporters to produce stories everyday--that makes less time for in-depth reporting.

A recent hearing in Washington was called “a transparent attempt by lawmakers beholden to industrial agriculture interests to subvert the Clean Water Act,” by environmental groups concerned that the Wednesday, Feb. 16 joint House committee meeting was an attempt to undermine rules protecting waterways from pesticides.

The conclusion reached by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was that aquatic pesticide residues and drift from aerial pesticide spraying are pollutants under the CWA. As pollutants they must be regulated to minimize impacts on human health and the environment. This conclusion was made final in February 2010 when the Supreme Court chose not to review the case National Cotton Council v. EPA.
Under this ruling virtually all commercial pesticide application to, over, and around waterways require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.

NPDES permits allow for citizens to comment on plans to apply pesticides and to demand oversight by regulatory agencies. Agencies have to evaluate the effects of individual pesticide applications on fish and wildlife, monitor the amount of pesticide that goes into U.S. waterways and monitor the cumulative impact on aquatic organisms.

Charlie Tebbutt Eugene-based the lead attorney on the case said, “The decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA was a clear victory for clean water and human health.”
But the joint public hearing was being conducted “to consider reducing the regulatory burdens posed by National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009) and to review related draft legislation,” according to the Federal Register.

The meeting was made up of the Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, Committee on Agriculture; and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The hearing was called to discuss H.R. 6273, a bill that amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to exempt the application of pesticides from certain permit requirements under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

No witnesses against the legislation were slated to participate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio said:

I have always been very concerned about our water and have fought for clean water protections. While I serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I do not serve on this subcommittee. The Republicans are in the majority and are in control of the witness lists. I have always attempted to place knowledgeable experts to testify on issues before the subcommittees on which I serve. When Democrats were in the majority, we attempted to balance witness lists and apparently the Republicans do not intend to follow this precedent.

At the hearing, Congressman Timothy H. Bishop, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment said, “Unfortunately, the process used in scheduling this hearing, and on honoring the minority’s request to have witnesses attend the hearing, seem inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of our Committee rules, and with the better traditions of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.”

He continued, “From the title of today’s hearing, it seems apparent that members would like to discuss the implications of exempting pesticide application from the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act — an issue which should fall squarely in the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Yet, the lack of opposing views on the witness panel hinders our ability to even discuss the very issue that members are struggling to understand.”

After concerns of the lack of minority (Democrat) input were voiced, Charlie Tebbutt was given five days to submit a written statement for the record, and the U.S. Geological Survey circular on “Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Ground Water” was made part of the formal hearing record.

If I was a duck, I would just fly away when the earthquake hit, but that's just me.

Übermarketing: when you have an ad to promote your upcoming ad.

From Wieden+Kennedy Portland, the Old Spice guy is back.

And in case somehow you missed what the fuss is all about and Isaiah Mustafa, "the man your man could smell like":

FDA recalls Toxic Waste brand Nuclear Sludge barstoxicsludge

Really the recall itself says it all.


Did you miss getting your heart warmed by the crowd singing along to the national anthem? No problem, here it is. Viral video of the week (month, whatever).

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