In the fall of 2019, the Oregon Department of Energy discovered, based on a citizen tip, that the Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest landfill in Arlington had accepted two and a half million pounds of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, or TENORM, over a three-year period. ODOE determined that this disposal violated the state's prohibition against the disposal of radioactive waste within the state and issued a Notice of Violation to the landfill operator, Waste Management, on February 20, 2020.
This incident highlighted the need to clarify and strengthen the state's rules and regulations on radioactive waste. While the Department took some actions administratively to prevent and better address future incidents, changes also needed to be made to the state's statutes in this area. Those statutes were written in the late 1970s before this type of waste stream became prevalent. Statutory enhancement ODOE secured via SB 246 include: better defined investigative powers to pursue potential violations; clarified authority to require corrective action in the event of unlawful disposal; clarified authority to require preventative measures; and authority for the agency to update and clarify, through a rulemaking, what qualifies for an exemption from the term “radioactive waste."
ODOE would like to thank Rep. Janeen Sollman for her leadership on this issue. She introduced a House bill, HB 2831, to accomplish the same aims listed above, and carried SB 246 through the House process since only one of the two bills needed to pass
HB 2063 - Standby Generators (Agency Bill)
In order to operate, electric power generators that serve as back-up power supplies to industrial or other operating sources, but that do not connect to the electricity grid, must obtain permits from local governments and the Department of Environmental Quality. Under current law, these standby generators that are over 25 MW must also apply to the Energy Facility Siting Council for a site certificate or for an exemption from EFSC. This bill would clarify that site certificates or exemptions are not necessary for backup standby generators that are incapable of interconnecting to the grid. Most of these types of generators are associated with cloud computer data centers, and this bill would relieve developers of those facilities from the cost and time associated with seeking an exemption from EFSC.
HB 2064 - Energy Facility Siting Council Quorum (Agency Bill)
By statute prior to the passage of HB 2064, the Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) needed five of its up to seven members present to conduct business. This is unlike most other natural resource agency boards and commissions, which typically require a “majority of members" to be present. Requiring five members versus a majority of members can result in significant delays in EFSC review of rulemaking, energy projects, and other siting business. This can slow down economic and energy development. These delays and irregular meeting schedules can also make it harder for the public to participate, a key component of the EFSC process. HB 2064 changed the quorum requirement to a simple majority of EFSC members.
Oregon's Biennial Energy Report and ODOE as a Resource
In addition to working toward passage of these four bills this session, the Oregon Department of Energy serves as an independent resource for Oregon lawmakers and others on energy policy. Our recently-published Biennial Energy Report can be accessed here
and includes information on many of the topics expected to be addressed this legislative session. Our subject-matter experts can answer questions, share research and data, provide analysis, or provide informative testimony.
In addition to the public hearings for bills above, ODOE staff presented at the following informational hearings in legislative committees:
Oregon’s 2020 Energy Report - 1/25/21
Oregon’s 2020 Energy Report - 1/26/21
Energy Resilience - 2/10/21
Radioactive Material Disposal - 4/26/21
Regional Power Markets – 4/28/21
Nuclear Power in Oregon: History and Policy - 5/10/21
The Energy Sector’s Planning for and Response to Natural Disasters - 5/19/21