Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown announced today the launch of the statewide, interagency Cleaner Air Oregon program, issuing the following statement:
“Clean air is fundamental to good health. I am deeply concerned that federal and state air quality programs do not directly consider public health in regulating certain classes of industrial air emissions. This must change.
“The Cleaner Air Oregon program is a big step forward, giving Oregonians more tools to protect air quality and public health, and providing Oregon families ready access to information about industrial emissions near their homes.
“Cleaner Air Oregon has three components. The first is new agency leadership at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
“I am pleased to announce that, at my recommendation, the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) has appointed Pete Shepherd as interim director at DEQ. As former Deputy Attorney General, Special Counsel, and head of the Department of Justice's Consumer Protection section, Pete is a highly respected state agency administrator with substantial governmental and private sector experience. He will provide a steady hand as the EQC conducts a nationwide search for a permanent DEQ director. I greatly appreciate his willingness to step into this critical leadership role.
“Additionally, given DEQ's broad responsibilities beyond air quality, I will appoint a special advisor to lead the start-up effort for this new interagency effort. I expect to announce that appointment and details about that role soon.
“Second, Cleaner Air Oregon provides greater government accountability.
“With the amount of scientific evidence connecting environmental quality and health, state air quality programs must add public health considerations in regulating certain classes of industrial air emissions.
“DEQ and OHA, the two state agencies charged with protecting the environment and advancing public health, must work as partners to address these hazardous air emissions effectively. Cleaner Air Oregon creates that partnership between DEQ and OHA to protect communities through their respective roles of regulation and public health expertise, sharing a joint commitment to public engagement and education.
“When fully implemented, Cleaner Air Oregon will empower DEQ to take action based on the content of emissions from a particular company's smokestack and its implications for public health, instead of our current system that limits regulation to what types of equipment companies operate and the volume of emissions produced.
“Cleaner Air Oregon also encourages DEQ to be proactive by working with companies to help them find ways to prevent air pollution in the first place.
“The program will give priority to areas where schools and residences are located near industrial facilities, and improve the availability of information for the public to understand potential sources of hazardous air pollutants in their neighborhoods, such as interactive maps.
“And third, Cleaner Air Oregon will have resources to launch this effort. In the February 2016 legislative session, I secured $2.5 million to support the development of new rules that authorize DEQ to apply a human health-risk lens to its regulation of the companies using hazardous materials. Those funds also support the use of new innovative methods for enhanced screening and monitoring of toxic hotspots and ongoing enforcement activities to ensure cleaner air statewide, protecting Oregonians from toxic emissions.
“I have heard from many Oregonians concerned about air quality. While everyone agrees that clean air is paramount, many also underscored the importance of protecting jobs, and making sure state regulatory activities had a sound basis in science.
“This input from individuals and businesses has informed the concept for this new program. Continued public engagement as the regulatory reform process moves forward will be critical to achieving cleaner industrial air emissions in our neighborhoods throughout Oregon.”
WATCH: Video statement from Governor Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPzSh0qGnNA&am...