Current Issues

Oregon Businesses Would Be Hurt by DEQ’s Proposed Rules

Albany Area Chamber asks businesses to weigh in

There’s no debating that Oregon has some of the strictest environmental regulations in the country.  As Oregonians, we pride ourselves on our clean air and water.  In fact, Oregon businesses often lead the way by making investments in technologies to reduce emissions and through proactively adopting sustainable business practices.

While the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality generally does a good job of protecting Oregon’s air quality, their challenges monitoring glass manufacturers in Portland last year drew understandable outcry from the public.  In response, the agency is promulgating far-reaching new rules that will have significant impacts on businesses throughout Oregon.  

The proposed regulations put thousands of local jobs at risk.  Sectors like manufacturing, forest products, food processing, and energy would be particularly hard hit.  

Businesses in Oregon account for only 15% Oregon’s air pollution. In fact, the Oregon DEQ says 80% of air pollution comes from everyday contributors like motor vehicles and wood burning stoves.  

The proposed regulations rely too heavily on politics and not enough on science. In a huge power grab, the agency is now proposing the strictest statewide air toxics program anywhere in the country – specifically in regard to new mandates on existing businesses.  These proposed regulations would not just impact Portland businesses, but employers statewide.  

Not only are the proposed regulations a significant overreach, their application could be very misleading to the public.  Rather than relying on monitoring of business emissions, the DEQ’s proposal depends on unreliable modelling.  That means new regulations without first conducting a thorough inventory of these emissions.  It’s questionable how this will benefit the public or local businesses.   

More troubling is DEQ now wants to circumvent long-held land use objectives aimed at protecting the environment.  Our land use system was designed to efficiently locate and cluster businesses, industries and residential areas for everyone’s benefit.  DEQ now wishes to undermine that system by punishing industries who are close to each other by regulating air permits based on neighboring businesses emissions – unfairly changing the rules after companies followed other state and local laws.   

Creating a new statewide regulatory structure in response to a problem in Portland isn’t good public policy.  If the state wants to pursue new regulations they must be fair and narrowly focused and scientifically-based.

We’re hoping to engage local chamber members in voicing concerns about the potential impacts on our community.  We encourage you to take a few minutes to weigh in.  

Please visit http://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/cao/Pages/default.aspx where you may comment on the proposed regulations.