Oregon, state, United States: Reform Movements and Environmental Issues
Reform Movements and Environmental Issues
Oregon has been a leader in social, environmental, and political reforms. It was the first state, for example, to institute initiative, referendum, and recall; to ease the laws governing the use of marijuana; and to initiate a ban against nonrecyclable containers. Several issues have sharply divided conservatives and liberals; one of the most important has been the question of minority groups. In the 1880s the influx of Chinese threatened the labor market and brought violent anti-Chinese sentiment, and in the 20th cent. there was opposition to the Japanese. Feeling against minorities has never been statewide, however, and large groups have vigorously opposed it.
In the 1930s one of the most disputed issues was the question of whether the development of power should be public or private. Today, however, it is widely recognized that the federal power and irrigation projects have had a profoundly positive effect on the economy of the entire Pacific Northwest. Many acres have been opened to irrigated farming, and the tremendous industrial expansion of World War II was to a large extent dependent on Bonneville power.
Environmental issues have dominated Oregon politics since the 1970s. Controversy arose in the late 1980s over the spotted owl, which has become endangered as old-growth forest has been cut down. Restrictions on logging on public lands were initiated in 1991, and attempts to establish forest policies acceptable to both environmentalists and the timber industry bogged down as other species were also shown to be in danger. There also is concern that the state's numerous hydroelectric dams are disrupting the migratory cycle of Pacific salmon.
Democrats have held the governorship since 1987, including the first female to hold the seat, Barbara Roberts (1991-95), John Kitzhaber (1995-2003), and Ted Kulongoski (2003-11). In 2010 Kitzhaber was again elected governor, but resigned at the beginning of his second term in 2015 amid investigations into his fiancée's financial affairs. Kate Brown, a Democrat and Oregon's secretary of state, succeeded him as governor, won the office in a special election in 2016, and was reelected in 2018.
Sections in this article:
- Reform Movements and Environmental Issues
- Railroads and Industrialization
- Settlement and Statehood
- Early Exploration and Fur Trading
- Government and Higher Education
- Facts and Figures
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography