BREAKING: Thousands Call on Oregon to Fix Major Issues in New Rules for Reducing Fossil Fuel Pollution

October 19, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
September 30, 2021

CONTACT:
Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director, Rogue Climate, allie@rogueclimate.org, 541.816.2240
Damon Motz-Storey, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, damon@oregonpsr.org, 303.913.5634
Erin Saylor, Senior Attorney, Columbia Riverkeeper, erin@columbiariverkeeper.org, 541.399.4775

Thousands Call on Oregon to Fix Major Issues in New Rules for Reducing Fossil Fuel Pollution

 Communities From Across the State Urge Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission and Department of Environmental Quality To Rework and Strengthen Greenhouse Gas Pollution Rules in the State’s Proposed Climate Protection Program

[SALEM, OR]This week, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) continued to receive thousands of comments urging the EQC to revise the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) draft rules for addressing major sources of climate-changing pollution. Tonight, dozens of concerned Oregonians gave testimony during the EQC’s three-hour hearing on the draft rules.

The proposed Climate Protection Program has drawn criticism for prioritizing exemptions and loopholes for polluters over pollution reductions in vulnerable Oregon communities. In hours of public testimony at last week’s and today’s public hearings, people from across Oregon expressed frustration that DEQ’s proposed rules failed to match the urgency of the climate crisis.

Cathy Sampson-Kruse, testifying from eastern Oregon, a mother of eight and elder of the Waluulapum band of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, told the EQC:

“What about the brown and black families who live near the area of the four fracked gas power plants near Hermiston: Carty, Coyote Springs, Hermiston Power Project and Hermiston Generating Station, all among the biggest polluters in the state? Governor Brown gave a clear mandate: don’t just get the job done, get the job done right. The rule needs to reflect stringent regulation on fracked gas power plants. EQC should protect the sacred, if not for the sake of my grandchildren, then for theirs.”

Representative Khanh Pham, Oregon State Representative from House District 46 in Portland, said:

“As a member of Oregon’s House Energy & Environment Committee, I want to work with DEQ to ensure Oregon’s Climate Protection Program is a step forward for Oregon climate action. The development of this program is an incredible opportunity for climate action and to immediately reduce the health impacts environmental justice communities living near polluters experience every day. I am concerned that the draft rules do not achieve either of these goals to the furthest extent they could. DEQ should revise the Climate Protection Program to meet this climate moment with the boldness that Oregon demands and deserves.”

Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director at Rogue Climate and member of DEQ’s Greenhouse Gas Rulemaking Advisory Committee, said: 

“These rules are meant to protect communities from the devastating impacts of climate change and harmful pollution caused by fossil fuels. However, as currently drafted, DEQ’s “Climate Protection Program” fails to meet its emissions reduction and equity goals. The Environmental Quality Commission must direct DEQ to fix the major issues in the draft rules to ensure the health and safety of communities is prioritized over corporate profit.”

Molly Tack-Hooper, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice, said:

“The new rules for greenhouse gas polluters fall far short of meeting the goals set out by Governor Brown in Executive Order 20-04. DEQ has the authority to regulate more sources, and to have a greater impact on reducing climate pollution in Oregon, and it should use that authority to help us avoid climate disaster.”

Today’s EQC meeting marked the second of two public hearings on Oregon’s proposed Climate Protection Program. To date, the vast majority of testimony given in over five hours of oral comments support major improvements to DEQ’s proposed plan to cover major pollution sources and prioritize environmental justice. In a public meeting earlier this week, DEQ reported having received thousands of comments already, an unusually large outpouring of concern for an EQC rulemaking process. The public comment period has been extended and will now end on October 25.

Here is a summary of the some of the key changes requested by community groups:

  • EQC should prioritize the reduction of climate changing pollution and co-pollutants in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), lower income, rural, and other frontline communities. DEQ has failed to meet the equity goals it prioritized at the outset of this rulemaking.

     

  • EQC should end the exemption for methane gas-fired power plants. By exempting fracked gas power plants, DEQ locks in smog-forming and toxic pollution, as well as climate-changing pollution. Oregon’s 100% clean electricity standard passed in 2021 does not cover these plants if they export their electricity or sell it to a direct consumer.

     

  • EQC should regulate pollution from stationary sources, like large industrial facilities, methane gas infrastructure, and potential LNG terminals. The pollution from only 13 stationary sources in Oregon would be regulated in these rules, less than 10% of pollution from stationary sources.

     

  • EQC should limit flexibility for polluters and ensure that the Community Climate Investment program results in real emissions reductions in BIPOC and other frontline communities, and that these communities are able to benefit from real emissions reductions from the program.

To learn more about ways DEQ and the EQC could do more to reduce climate-changing pollution, its impacts, and its co-pollutants, check out our Q&A here.

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Power Past Fracked Gas is a coalition of 30+ groups across the Pacific Northwest organizing against fracked gas infrastructure and environmental racism in all forms. We believe in the power of clean energy and clear water and support the work of ally coalitions Power Past Coal and Stand Up to Oil. We support campaigns against major fracked gas terminals, pipelines, and refineries as well as environmental justice organizers and advocates for reducing reliance on methane gas across the Pacific Northwest. 

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