FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, December 16, 2021
Allie Rosenbluth, email@example.com, 541-816-2240
Erin Saylor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-399-4775
Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission Adopts Rules to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Environmental Justice and Public Health Advocates Concerned the Program Falls Short of its Goals
[SALEM, OR] — Today, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted to approve the state’s first greenhouse gas regulatory program, known as the Climate Protection Program or “CPP,” designed to regulate emissions from gas utilities, fuel suppliers, and stationary sources of pollution. While environmental justice and public health advocates applaud this step forward for action on climate, they expressed concerns about major gaps in the program.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) responded to over 7,600 comments and hours of public testimony by strengthening the goals of the program, but the agency failed to address concerns about the program’s exclusion of significant stationary sources of climate pollution, most notably fracked gas power plants—the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas pollution in the state.
“Fracked gas power plants in Oregon that export electricity or supply it directly to corporations like bitcoin mining operations are a potentially huge source of climate pollution, and aren’t regulated by either the CPP or Oregon’s 100% Clean Energy For All law,” said Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director at Rogue Climate, and member of the CPP Rulemaking Advisory Committee. “The Governor needs to step up and direct Oregon’s agencies to collaborate and figure out how to close that glaring loophole.”
“We believe DEQ has the authority to regulate more sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including fracked gas power plants,” said Erin Saylor, Staff Attorney at Columbia Riverkeeper. “In the coming year, we hope DEQ and other state agencies can work together to ensure Oregon doesn’t become a dumping ground for virtually unregulated private and exported power projects.”
Environmental justice advocates also criticized the program’s exclusion of large industrial sources of air and climate pollution in communities most impacted by these polluters. Only 12 stationary polluters in Oregon will be regulated by this program.
“Because the CPP rules don’t go far enough to protect Oregon’s most vulnerable communities like the Cully neighborhood, DEQ needs to prioritize reducing pollution in environmental justice communities as it implements the program,” said Candace Avalos, Executive Director at Verde, an organization that served on the CPP rulemaking advisory committee. “We’ll be monitoring implementation to make sure DEQ makes good on this goal, and the emissions are actually reduced in the communities we serve.”
“These rules have come a long way, but very few stationary sources of pollution are covered, so we expect DEQ to ensure pollution reductions in environmental justice communities going forward,” said Nikita Daryanani, Climate and Energy Policy Manager at the Coalition of Communities of Color, an organization that was also represented on the rulemaking advisory committee for the CPP. “Communities of color statewide are exposed to higher levels of pollution than average, which contributes to health disparities. We will be watching the program as it is implemented to ensure that pollution is reduced in frontline communities with the urgency the climate crisis requires.”
“The passage of the Climate Protection Program is great, but much work is still needed in regards to the regulation of fracked gas power plants,” said Patricia Kullberg, former Medical Director of the Multnomah County Health Department and advocate from Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “In addition to their contribution to global warming, gas-fired power plants emit a range of pollutants— including particulate matter, various carcinogens and ozone-forming chemicals—that are toxic to human health and reproduction and often lead to premature death. These pollutants are emitted primarily into rural, low income and disproportionately BIPOC communities, which are more sensitive to toxic exposures and less prepared to adapt to harmful exposures.”