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City Club of Eugene: Cleaner Air Oregon Proposed Rules - Effect on Health and Business

Recorded on: February 16, 2018

Air Date: February 19, 2018

Governor Kate Brown established the Cleaner Air Oregon regulatory examination and overhaul after air quality monitoring research done by the US Forest Service in the Portland area showed dangerous levels of air pollutants.

Highly toxic heavy metals such as hexavalent chromium, arsenic and lead were occurring in residential neighborhoods. Investigation into the sources of this air pollution revealed regulatory gaps in Oregon for some industrial emitters.

The Cleaner Air Oregon rulemaking is a partnership between Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop a new regulatory system for managing air toxics emissions from stationary industrial sources. In developing a new regulatory approach, the two agencies are assessing industrial emissions across the state in relation to public health.
To protect the public from potentially harmful levels of exposure the proposed Cleaner Air Oregon rules would set health risk limits on certain pollution emissions from industrial facilities. Industrial manufacturers required to have air pollution permits would pay into the program to cover emissions reporting, assessments, monitoring and, if necessary, upgrades to pollution control equipment.
Technical and advisory stakeholder groups were convened in 2016 to assist the DEQ in studying how Oregon's air quality program compares to other states, and how to reduce industrial air toxics emissions through an air toxics permitting program. In late 2017, the DEQ opened a public comment period on the proposed rules. That public comment period ended in January 2018.  State agencies, the Legislature and the Environmental Quality Commission will now review the merits as well as the positive and negative fiscal impacts of the proposed Cleaner Air Oregon regulations.

Lisa Arkin is the Executive Director of Beyond Toxics, an environmental health non-profit founded in 2000 and registered in Oregon. She taught at Stanford University and the University of Oregon before joining the non-profit sector. Arkin is a seasoned and consistent advocate for community health and environmental justice. She has managed federal grants for clean air projects, has authored successful legislation and written environmental health assessments. Arkin was appointed to serve on the Cleaner Air Oregon Policy Advisory Committee during 2016-2017 as a representative for the environmental protection sector.
Merlyn Hough is the Director of the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) in Springfield-Eugene, responsible for overall direction of the regional air quality agency for Lane County. He worked as environmental program manager (1994-2005) and senior environmental engineer (1981-1994) for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in the air quality and waste management programs. Merlyn is a professional environmental and civil engineer, with B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oregon State University and the University of Portland. He is a Trustee of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists and a Fellow of the Air & Waste Management Association. Merlyn was recently appointed to a two-year (2016-2018) term on the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force.

Born and raised in Eugene, Anni started at KLCC in 2000 as a reporter and co-host of Northwest Passage. After graduating from the University of Oregon, Anni moved to New York City. She worked in education for several years before returning to her true love, journalism. Anni co-founded and co-hosted Dailysonic, a narrative-based news podcast. She interned at WNYC's On The Media, then becoming WNYC's assistant producer of Morning Edition.