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Portland, OR—The Cleaner Air Oregon Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) will meet for a day and a half in Portland. The meeting will be held on:

Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, 9 a.m. to noon
University of Oregon White Stag Building
70 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR 97209

The purpose of this RAC meeting is for the committee to provide input to the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority on a discussion draft of rules and a fiscal impact statement for the Cleaner Air Oregon program. This is a step toward preparation of draft rules for public comment, and eventual consideration by the Environmental Quality Commission. DEQ and OHA anticipate releasing a more developed draft of the rules and fiscal impact statement for public comment in mid-October.

The Cleaner Air Oregon program was launched by Governor Kate Brown on April 6, 2016 to close gaps in Oregon's current rules that stem from shortcomings in federal law. The goals of Cleaner Air Oregon's regulatory reforms are to assess and reduce toxic air emissions from industrial sources that can pose risks to nearby communities.

Cleaner Air Oregon's 25-member Rules Advisory Committee includes air quality and environmental justice advocates, representatives of industrial facilities, public health experts, local governments and other stakeholders.

Agencies base Cleaner Air Oregon discussion draft on stakeholder input

The discussion draft of the Cleaner Air Oregon rules that the RAC will review was informed by hours of consultation with RAC members, a technical advisory team representing agency staff from other similar state programs across the country, and Oregon state agency experts. The discussion draft rules update and expand on a conceptual framework rule-writers presented the committee earlier this spring. Some of the highlights or the discussion draft rules include:

• Prioritized approach: The agencies propose to implement the air toxics regulations using a tiered approach that would address the highest risk facilities first in the initial years of the program, and then proceed to evaluate other facilities above de minimis levels for inclusion in the Cleaner Air Oregon program over time. DEQ would focus on the 80 facilities that represent the highest potential risk in the first several years of the program. These facilities would be identified based on the toxicity of their materials, their emissions levels and community characteristics—including children under the age of five, people with low income, and people of color—who may be more vulnerable than the general population to the effects of air toxics.

• Sets risk action levels for harmful pollutants: The discussion draft regulations would set risk action levels (RALs) for facilities and for areas close to multiple sources. The RALs would serve as thresholds at which companies would be required to take action to reduce the potential risk that air toxics could cause such as cancer, non-cancerous health problems (such as cardiovascular disease, birth defects or neurological damage) and immediate harmful health effects (such as acute breathing problems).

•Simplified risk screening process: The draft regulations provide a lookup table that enables facilities to assess their potential risk using simplified assumptions to determine whether they are potentially subject to the Cleaner Air Oregon regulations.

Numerous other states (including Washington and California) have incorporated health-based standards into their air toxics regulations. Oregon's discussion draft rules are similar to and informed by these approaches, with variations that reflect Oregon's economic conditions, as well as its history of environmental protection innovation.

Fiscal impact statement evaluates costs and benefits of Cleaner Air Oregon draft

The Cleaner Air Oregon RAC also received a draft fiscal impact statement that analyzes the financial impact of the draft regulations on businesses, state and federal agencies, local government and the public. The fiscal impact statement estimates the cost effects of screening, controlling emissions, meeting compliance requirements and paying fees for businesses, as well as avoided health problems for taxpayers and communities.

Next steps

After the August advisory committee meeting, DEQ and OHA will receive additional committee input on the discussion drafts. The agencies will then distribute draft rules for public comment between Oct. 15, 2017 and Dec. 15, 2017. The Environmental Quality Commission is expected to consider final rule proposals in June of 2018.

Robb Cowie, Communicators Director, OHA, Portland, 503-421-7684,
Matthew Van Sickle, Public Information Officer, DEQ, 503-229-6044


Environment & Energy