Why Northwest Doctors Oppose Oil-by-Rail Development

Physicians for Social Responsibility examines the medical research.

“An unacceptable threat to human health and safety.” That’s how more than 300 medical professionals are describing plans to build out crude oil-by-rail facilities in the Northwest.

Responding to concerns about unprecedented oil industry expansion plans in the region—the same schemes that Sightline has been documenting—the Oregon and Washington chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility analyzed 125 peer-reviewed medical journal articles and other reliable medical sources. They summarized the findings in a February 2015 report, “Position Statement  …  read more »

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How Money Gets into Our Politicians’ Pockets

Stopping the flow of special interest campaign dollars starts with understanding how it gets there.

Political donations are a tangled web. Convoluted with layers of cryptic reporting categories and disclosure requirements, the public’s understanding of money in politics is often limited at best. Sightline is working to unveil this aspect of modern American politics with an eye toward illuminating how moneyed interests muddle our path to a sustainable future.

In that spirit, we’ve created a sort of field guide for understanding how political money can be legally distributed and how that money can be spent  …  read more »

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District-Only Voting is Bad for Voters, Councilors, and Communities

Representative democracy hangs in the balance in Whatcom County.
Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

A proposed new coal export facility just north of Bellingham, Washington, has created a furor of electoral activity as proponents and opponents of dirty fuels vie for control of the Whatcom County Council. But champions of representative democracy should also take notice: Whatcom’s electoral options showcase how some voting systems enhance democratic representation, while others degrade it.

In November, Whatcom voters will have the chance to vote on two potential amendments to the County Charter. The first would switch to district-only voting for six out of seven council seats with one seat at-large. The second would retain the current system of district-only primaries and county-wide general elections, but would re-draw the district boundaries to create five new districts in place of the current three. Unfortunately, voters will not have the opportunity this fall to vote on proportional representation, because conservative Charter Review commissioners blocked it from going to the ballot.

What do voters want in a representative democracy? Voters expect 1) to elect councilors who reflect their views and 2) that the council overall will reflect the views of voters overall. Voters expect councilors 3) to be responsive to concerned citizens and 4) to work together to craft county solutions. Finally, voters might hope 5) that regular people, like them, could run for office. Read more »


Weekend Reading 8/28/15

Our future climate war, the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and overrated salad greens.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of ghosttide.com.


Following up on one of the big cultural questions that phenomena like the Amazon company can pose to America…. Like, “Could cheaper goods actually be bad for consumers?” Authors United argued just that recently in a complaint to the US DOJ—one which likely goes over the heads of most Amazonians—that the company’s monopoly and monopsony on the book market deprives consumers of diversity and quality in what they can read.

Salad greens, people—they’re overrated. (And the logical conclusion  …  read more »

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Video: The Art of Talking Climate Science

Four messaging tips for climate scientists.

Event: Washington’s Fight Against Coal & Oil

Learn more about Washington's frontline fossil fuel fight.

Five Things Northwest States Should Know about the Federal Clean Power Plan

Obama puts states on a path to pricing pollution.

What Montana’s Tongue River Railroad Means for Coal Export

A coal market analysis riddled with factual errors boosts the industry’s export schemes.

Weekend Reading 8/21/15

Why Americans are ashamed, the neoliberalization of higher education, Latino voices on climate change, and more.