MEDFORD, Ore.-- The Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority are considering new regulations for industrial businesses that emit air toxins.
Wednesday, they held a public forum about the proposed changes.
The public forum allowed the DEQ to explain the proposed rules, answer questions, and take comments from the public.
About 30 people came to the forum.
DEQ Cleaner Air Oregon Special Advisor Keith Johnson says, "I think the majority of the comments were expressing concern over the impact, the cost of the rules and impact on businesses in these rural areas."
Right now, if you operate a large facility-- the state requires you to use the best available technology to control emissions.
But with Governor Brown's Cleaner Air Oregon campaign, they want to change what's required of industrial businesses.
DEQ Cleaner Air Oregon Special Advisor Keith Johnson says, "Our existing regulations do a really good job of assessing many types of pollutions, but there's a gap in how they address localized impacts of air toxics."
The proposed rules are to address what the DEQ says is a gap in our current regulations.
DEQ Cleaner Air Oregon Special Advisor Keith Johnson says, "What we don't know with our current rules is exactly what the risk is for someone breathing facilities emissions if they live next door."
The rules would require new and existing industrial facilities to report air toxics.
The proposed rules would also set risk limits for 260 industrial air toxics.
Businesses would be required to calculate the risks their emissions pose to people nearby and report their results.
Finally, if their facilities were above the risk limit they'd be required to reduce the risk.
DEQ says the Cleaner Air Oregon rules are drafted to focus on the highest risk sources first.
DEQ Cleaner Air Oregon Special Advisor Keith Johnson says, Current laws are written so that if you make this sort of thing you have to have this kind of control. They're good laws, they work well, but what they don't tell you what that risk is even after someone uses that control. We don't know what that risk is."
The DEQ is still in its sixty-day public comment period.
It ends December 22nd.
Following the public comment period, the DEQ will review all the comments, and based on what they receive they may change the proposed rules.
They will take the final package to the Environmental Quality Commission who will decide.
If you want to submit a public comment online, click here.
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