And, not coincidentally, fund-raising.
Someone who knows that my wife and I are interested in water issues sent us a June 13, 2008 mailing from OIA. It's filled with Dave Hunnicutt's usual over-the-top hyperbole.
Last year I wrote about the lies Oregonians in Action was telling about Measure 49. So it isn't a big surprise that OIA is spewing half-truths and untruths about a couple of well-related bills that were drafted for the 2007 state legislature.
We've heard the horror stories, lots of them. Wells that were fine for decades until nearby over-development sucked them dry. Deepening is expensive. Sometimes saline water is reached. It takes a lot of time and trouble to prove that a newly dug neighboring well is the cause of your problem.
But in the fund-raising letter, OIA denies that there's any problem with residential wells in Oregon. The first lines set the deceptive tone.
Here we go again! The Oregon Legislature is preparing another assault on rural property owners in the 2009 legislative session. But this time, the legislature is taking a different tack. Instead of focusing on your property rights, the legislature is considering taking away your water rights!
Two exclamation points and a bunch of boldface type in the initial three sentences. That's the OIA style. Spread the B.S. strong and deep, the truth be damned.
HB 2564 would require that meters be installed on new wells, not old ones (though the Water Resources Commission would have the authority to do this – unlikely as it would be). Yet OIA says:
And don't be fooled into thinking that House Bill 2564 only applied to new water uses. That's wrong – House Bill 2564 applied to every Oregon family who gets water from a well.
No, Mr. Hunnicutt, you're wrong. At least, it sure seems that way from my reading of the bill. Again, HB 2564 only lays out the possibility of existing wells being required to have a meter. So it's false to say that it applies to all wells.
Here's a more blatant lie.
Why did the Legislature want to put a meter on your well? So they could tax you for your water and tell you how much water you can use!
More Hunnicutt fancifulness. The guy has a great imagination. Especially when he's out to raise money for Oregonians in Action by scaring people. Tax water? Show me the evidence, Dave.
And you'd think that the attorneys at OIA would realize that Oregon law already tells residential well users how much water they can use: 15,000 gallons per day. Meters would simply document whether this amount is being exceeded.
Plus, the words "your water" point to another untruth. The water under your land isn't yours. It belongs to the state of Oregon. That's a fact:
In 1909, the citizens of Oregon authorized the state government to manage the allocation of surface water. In 1995, the Oregon Legislature added ground water management. Under these laws (the "Oregon Water Code") all surface and ground water belongs to the public. It is the job of the Water Resources Department to manage this water for the protection of existing water uses, the environment, and future needs. The Department works to ensure a sufficient supply to meet the needs of Oregon´s growing economy and quality of life.
How different truth, like the paragraph above, sounds in comparison to Oregonians in Action verbiage. Here's another examples of lies in Hunnicutt's letter.
But the environmental extremists have decided that it is bad to allow people to live and work in rural areas, so last session, they convinced the legislature to introduce House Bill 2566.
This bill would require a permit before a residential well could be dug. Just like you have to get a septic permit, or a driveway permit, or a construction permit, before you build a rural home. Gosh, what a non-invasion of liberty.
I'll end with one of the few bits of unvarnished truth in the OIA letter.
That is why I am asking you to make a contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or $25 to Oregonians in Action.