Kulongoski visits PSU

    Oregon governors John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski visited Portland State on Friday to talk about environmental policies in front of approximately one hundred students, community members and PSU staff.

    Kitzhaber proclaimed his support for Kulongoski, commending him for what he called a deep commitment to sustainability. “I’m here to support Governor Kulongoski in his bid,” said Kitzhaber on the second floor of Smith Memorial Student Union.

    Despite speaking at Portland State, neither Kulongoski nor Kitzhaber mentioned higher education. Kulongoski said that his number-one priority, should he get re-elected, would be to restore and clean up the Willamette River.

    ”An investment in our environment is an investment in our people,” Kulongoski said.

    Kulongoski said he is committed to restoring salmon in the Columbia River and that the security of old growth forests depends on water quality. He also said that he plans to continue with his goal to bring all government-owned buildings to the point where they are powered entirely by renewable energy sources.    

    Kitzhaber spoke about Kulongoski’s environmental record: encouraging state motor pools, the I-5 corridor diesel truck emission reduction project, and energy-efficient state buildings.

    ”Each generation has the same responsibility to leave the world a better place,” he said.

    Kitzhaber said the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels may have made the economy what it is today, but he believes it is time to move to alternative sources of energy. Fossil fuels give people a connection with the past, he said, but Oregonians also have a contract with the future.

    Kulongoski said that while speaking with Al Gore during the former vice president’s time in Portland last week, the two discussed the possibility of moving some of Gore’s venture capitalist efforts towards work in Oregon with sustainable energy. Kulongoski said this would prove that economic dependency on non-fossil fuels was a feasible idea and that it would make America safer, providing a higher quality of life for generations to come.

    Kulongoski said that it is important to use the natural resources of Oregon for recreation. He said the environment is a defining issue for many voters.

    ”We’re going to win this, and we’re going to make Oregon a better place,” he said.

    Student leaders from PSU, the Sierra Club, and the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC) were also present. They introduced Kitzhaber and Kulongoski and announced their endorsements of Kulongoski.

    Patrick Beisell, the student government state affairs director but representing only himself as a student, was first at the podium. He spoke of the importance of the two governors present, and of the necessity of voting. “It’s one of the most important things you’ll do,” he said.

    Kendra Kimbirauskas, conservation chair of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, said that the club commends Kulongoski on his environmental record over the past four years.

    ”We have a threat to our environment, and that’s Ron Saxton,” said Kimbirauskas. She cited Kulongoski’s new tailpipe emission standards, making all new cars cleaner and more efficient, as an example of his beneficial policy.

    ”We stand behind Governor Kulongoski,” Kimbrauskas said.

    ”Oregonians expect their governors to be stewards,” said Jay Ward, conservation director for public land defenders the Oregon Natural Resources Council.

    According to Ward, the Bush administration put over 2 million acres of public land in danger. Understanding the importance of this land, the governor fought against the ruling, Ward said. Joining with New Mexico and California, the decision was challenged in court, and last month the challengers won.

    ”I like what he’s done with the economy,” said Eric Dorband, a civil engineering major who came to hear the two speak. “I really oppose Saxton. I don’t want a corporate shill.”

    Dorband said he did not vote in the last election, and had only gotten into politics in the last year. “I just realized how important this election is for setting the country back on course,” he said.

     Ann Peacock, a graduate student in a program focusing on sustainability, said she had been through the Reagan administration, and was concerned with what legacy current generations are leaving.

    ”I’m thinking that I’m going to be doing some canvassing this weekend,” she said.