Panel considers new state emission regulations

By Abbie Laugtug
Oregon Business and Industry

The Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) held a meeting May 8 and 9 to help develop CAO rules. Judging from discussion during the meeting, significant work remains to persuade the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to adopt rules that fairly balance the needs of business, community and good government.

In response to unrealistic rules that were originally proposed when CAO was established, OBI and stakeholders from a variety of organizations came together to support SB 1541. The bill, which passed during the 2018 Session, designed a program that tracks and reports on air emissions from industry and sets standards to protect public health. It also funds much needed positions for DEQ permitting to implement the program through set fees that industry pays for air permits. The measure also set a fee structure for permitting to fund important functions DEQ was unable to complete due to insufficient resources.

However, DEQ is using the rulemaking process to advocate for rules that are closer to original proposals. The Rules Advisory Committee (RAC), of which OBI is a member, has two weeks to comment on the recent draft rules before they open to public comment in mid-June. OBI will be working with the Fair Air Regulations Coalition to affect the rules. Comments will focus on implementation of fees, timelines and areas where proposed rules would increase burdens for businesses.

Overall, OBI supports the Governor’s goals of creating a predictable regulatory program capable of reducing air toxics and protecting public health without harming Oregon’s economy and burdening agencies. Oregon businesses and manufacturers have long partnered with the state to reduce air contaminants from manufacturing facilities. This type of success demonstrates that Oregon can simultaneously have clean air and a healthy economy through reasonable air regulations.

OBI is disappointed to see once again that DEQ has moved forward with rules that are similar to the unworkable and overreaching rules drafted prior to the compromise legislation. OBI will continue to represent our members and work to educate DEQ on the nuances of controlling air toxics and proposed rules’ effects on important Oregon employers.

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