Since the 1970s, Oregon has pioneered land-use laws to preserve rural landscapes, prevent irresponsible suburban development, and support local businesses over big-box stores (HCN, 11/25/02: Planning's poster child grows up). Now, Oregonians in Action, a private-property rights group, is supporting an initiative that would force the state to compensate private-land owners who are restricted from subdividing and selling their land. Measure 37 — which the secretary of state’s office estimates would cost $344 million a year in administrative costs alone — is opposed by environmental groups, mayors, 1,000 Friends of Oregon and the state AFL-CIO, which has nicknamed the measure "the Wal-Mart Expansion Act." According to the union, the measure would allow big box stores to partner with landowners and "demand budget-busting payments from local governments when they try and enforce their land-use laws."

An initiative sponsored by Heart of America Northwest, a Seattle-based nonprofit, would prohibit the Hanford Nuclear Reservation from accepting any more mixed or hazardous waste from other facilities until its own toxic and radioactive waste is safely cleaned up or stored. More than 280,000 Washington voters signed a petition to get the initiative on November’s ballot. But the Tri-Industrial Development Council, an organization of 270 businesses, worries that if it’s passed, Initiative 297 will set an example for other states, such as Nevada or New Mexico — and Washington could someday be prevented from shipping its nuclear waste to other states.

While the Republican National Convention was in full swing at the end of August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was opening 243,500 acres of wildlife refuges to fishing and hunting. According to a news story in The Seattle Times: "Asked if it might help President Bush’s re-election efforts, the agency’s director, Steve Williams said, ‘This is just another example of the president’s commitment to sportsmen.’ "
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