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New Air Emission Rules Proposed For Businesses

The Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority have proposed new air emission rules for businesses in Oregon.

Posted: Nov 15, 2017 7:06 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- The Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority have proposed new air emission rules for businesses in Oregon.  The rules would affect nearly 2,500 businesses in the state with air quality permits. Gov. Kate Brown asked the agencies to focus on eliminating air pollution from industrial emissions.

Robb Cowie, Oregon Health Authority Communications Director, said there are gaps in current federal regulations. 

"There have been situations around the state where companies have been operating legally, but they are still admitting levels of heavy metal and pollutants that can pose a risk to public health," Cowie said. 

The project, called "Cleaner Air Oregon," would review 80 facilities with the highest health risks within five years of the rules taking effect. Cowie said this would give air quality regulators time to implement the new rules and for other businesses to assess risks and make changes. 

According to the "Cleaner Air Oregon" website:

A business that exceeds a RAL (Risk Action Level) must lower its health risks as much as possible. Some of those options include installing emission controls, using safer materials in place of hazardous ones, and adjusting the way they operate to reduce emissions. The rules would give businesses more time to lower their risk if they are in financial trouble. 

Rick Thomas, Spokesperson for Oregonians For Fair Air Regulations, said these rules would be very costly for businesses, which could result in lost jobs.

"No other state has forced existing facilities to adhere to such requirements like what we're seeing here in these proposed regulations, so that's a real concern for a lot of folks," Thomas said. 

Thomas said Oregon's air is cleaner today than it was 10 years ago thanks to changes businesses have already made, and 80 percent of the state's air pollution comes from cars and wood burning stoves. 

Ellen Porter, Director of Environmental Affairs for Roseburg Forest Products, said the company is currently trying to figure out what these new rules will mean for it if they go into effect. 

"The regulations are extremely stringent, and if we compare them to other states where we do business they are by far the most strict of any state," Porter said. 

Porter said some facilities would most likely need to shut down if they could not make the necessary changes. 

"If you can't make the thresholds then you know you may not have any other options than to close your doors," Porter said. 

Cowie said the overall benefit of the regulations would be improved air quality and public health. 

"If you're living in proximity to an industrial facility then chances are that facility is probably going to have a greater impact on your health than other sources of pollution," Cowie said. 

Porter said the regulations will result in many lost jobs. 

"There's very serious health affects when people lose their jobs," Porter said. 

She said Roseburg Forest Products paid more than $50 million to keep up with the federal regulations already in place. 

The DEQ is now hosting public forums for community members to make comments. Businesses have until Dec. 22 to submit comments, which the DEQ says health experts will respond to. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5107717

Reported Deaths: 74800
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153472027244
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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