Portland, OR—Statewide — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority are opening a public comment on a new draft of proposed rules to regulate industrial air toxics and reduce the impact these pollutants have on the health of Oregonians.
Governor Kate Brown launched the Cleaner Air Oregon rulemaking in April 2016, after communities around the state raised concerns about their exposure to potentially harmful heavy metals and other pollutants from factories and other industrial sources. DEQ and OHA held a first public comment period in 2017 to receive comments on the initial Cleaner Air Oregon draft rules.
In the 2018 short session, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1541 (SB 1541), which established the CAO program framework in statute, appropriated DEQ funds for initial costs, and granted authority to the DEQ to set fees to pay for the program. A list of SB 1541 requirements is available at http://cleanerair.oregon.gov
With the legislature's action, some aspects of the program are now set in law and are not subject to change by public comment or the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission. The commission, DEQ's policy and rulemaking board, will consider draft rules for approval in the fall of 2018.
The new draft rules reflect the 2018 legislative action and input from the 2017 public comment period. DEQ and OHA are again inviting public comment on the new draft of the rules.
Consistent with the previous draft rules, the proposed rules will require industrial facilities to:
- Report air toxics: Cleaner Air Oregon requires companies to report use of 600 heavy metals, chemicals and other pollutants to state regulators. Current rules do not require companies to report air toxics emissions to regulators.
- Assess Risk: The proposed rules would set risk limits for more than 250 industrial air toxics. New and existing industrial facilities would be required to calculate the risks their emissions pose to people who live nearby and report their results to state regulators. Risk calculations would consider health problems (e.g., cancer, birth defects, nerve damage, nausea, breathing problems, rashes) from short- and long-term exposures. Under current rules, health risks to neighbors are not considered in setting use limits for air toxics.
- Reduce risk: The new rules tie air quality permits and enforcement to the levels of potentially harmful air toxics a facility puts into the air and the impact they could have on the health of neighbors. Companies would be required to act if the levels of air toxics they emit exceed health safety limits. Current rules do not let regulators use health risks to neighbors to decide whether to grant permits to factories and other sources of air toxics.
The Cleaner Air Oregon draft rules provide businesses with predictable and flexible air quality rules so Oregon industries can remain competitive in a global economy. The rules would focus on sources with the highest risk emissions first. They would have limited impact on small businesses and businesses with lower-risk emissions. They would allow flexibility for companies faced with financial hardships by providing more time to meet the rules' standards.
The DEQ and OHA developed rules through input from national experts and a 23-member advisory committee of Oregonians, which included scientists, physicians, community representatives, large and small business owners, local health officials, labor representatives, environmental justice advocates and others.
Members of the public have until Aug. 6, 2018 to submit comments. Comments can be submitted online at the Cleaner Air Oregon website (http://cleanerair.oregon.gov), or in person at two public hearings where members of the public can learn more about the rules and provide comments.
- Portland: Thursday, July 12, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., at Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont St. This hearing will be conducted as part of the EQC meeting. The hearing time was originally 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
- Eugene: Wednesday, Aug. 1, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., at Lane Community College - Mary Splide Downtown Center
Rooms 112 through 114
101 W, 10th Avenue
Eugene, Oregon 97401
Additional information and resources to prepare for the public comment period are available at http://cleanerair.oregon.gov
Donnie Oliveira, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 503-229-5176, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robb Cowie, Oregon Health Authority, 503-421-7684, email@example.com