Natural Resources

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April 18, 2022 - Sine Die

Back to the full Legislative Report

Agriculture

Air Quality

Budgets/Revenue

Climate

Coastal Issues

Dept. of Environmental Quality

Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries

Elliott State Forest

Energy

Fish and Wildlife

Forestry

Hanford

Land Use/Housing

Northwest Energy Coalition

Parks and Recreation

Radioactive Waste

Recycling

State Land Board

Water

Wildfire


Agriculture

By Josie Koehne, Greg Martin & Peggy Lynch


LWVOR provided testimony in support of the Natural and Working Lands and Waters proposal, SB 1534 A. The bill died but we will continue advocating for the program and funding for the research called for. For more info, see the Climate Report. The League is also engaged in HB 4061 A Enrolled, related to illegal water use from illegal cannabis grows (some masquerading as legal hemp grows).


Three new “megachicken” factories (poultry farms) are proposed in the Scio area in Linn County. Locals, including farmers, have significant concerns about air and water quality. The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture has permitting authority as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). This is a legal farming activity and the property is farmland. Unfortunately, Oregon provides no explicit authority to regulate air quality impacts for these operations although there may be a need for water quality permits.


Air Quality

By Kathy Moyd and Greg Martin


At its April 6 meeting, the Environmental Quality Commission unanimously approved updates to align definitions for Divisions 238 and 244 of Chapter 340 of the Oregon Administrative Rules with federal definitions. These definitional alignments pertain to Oregon's air quality permitting programs, including the New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.


DEQ will hold a public hearing April 27 on the draft air quality permit for NEXT Energy Group to develop a renewable diesel production facility in Clatskanie. The facility would use recycled cooking oil, vegetable oils, animal fats, etc. to produce 1.58 million gallons a day of renewable fuel products (diesel, naphtha, jet fuel) at start-up, expected to grow to more than 2.1 million gallons a day at full capacity. Of concern is that the property includes wetlands and would affect nearby farm operations.


Budgets/Revenue


HB 5202 was the end-of-session omnibus budget bill. The Legislature included large packages with funding for Climate, Housing, Education, Early Learning, Workforce, Rural Infrastructure and others. The current ending budget for 2021-23 has $2.7 billion in reserves, including $760 million in unspent general funds and $1.3 billion in reserve funds. See the Water section for information on the Drought package.


HB 4156 was the program change bill listing the session’s changes in state programs. SB 5701 allocated monies for a variety of bonded projects. HB 5201 is the fee ratification bill including fees the Dept. of Environment Quality approved before the session.


HB 4060 Leagie testimony in support, to fund staff to assist natural resource agencies, local governments and individual Oregonians to write grants and follow federal funding program opportunities. HB 4060 A moved to Ways and Means where it died.


Budget development is in process for all state agencies for the 2023-25 biennium. Development begins shortly after the end of the current biennium! Agencies are holding meetings and honing their budget and legislation requests. Budgets begin with their “current service level” 2021-23 budgets and then they consider asking for additional funds through Policy Option Packages (POPs). Legislation is created with draft Legislative Concepts (LCs). For the natural resource agencies, LCs are due to the Governor’s Office by April 15 and POPs by June. Final agency requests go to the Governor by the end of summer. Then the NEW Governor is required to provide a budget to the legislature by Feb. 1st. The legislature will consider this information and is required to pass agency budgets (and whatever legislation they choose to pass) by the end of June 2023. See below for information about opportunities to engage in specific agency budgets in the natural resource area.

The next Oregon Revenue Forecast is May 18th. See the Office of Economic Analysis for more info.


Climate

By Claudia Keith and Team


See Climate Report in a separate section of this Legislative Report. There are overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.


Coastal Issues

By Christine Moffitt and Kathy Moyd


SB 1534 League testimony in support included information on the importance and opportunities to increase blue carbon in estuarine and coastal areas. The bill died in W&Ms. For more info, see the Climate Report.


The League continues to follow discussions around offshore ocean wind projects. Both federal and state monies have been provided to consider potential projects. Please visit the web. The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) has produced a draft report of floating offshore wind development available for review. The next ODOE meeting will convene and accept public comments in April. Both our coastal members and climate emergency members are following this issue.


ODOE conducted a public meeting dealing with Floating Offshore Wind on April 7. Most of the meeting dealt with electricity transmission and will be covered in the Clean Energy Section of the Climate Emergency Report. However, a major issue applicable to the offshore turbines, any coastal infrastructure, and the transmission lines was raised that had not previously been discussed - the impacts of a 9.0 magnitude Cascadia subduction zone earthquake from shaking, tsunami, and liquefaction.


The Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse contains a wealth of information for use by community members, visitors, boaters, kids & teachers, community planners, and scientists for tsunami emergency planning.


DOGAMI, in partnership with the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), worked with Ocean Observing Systems, and has created a smartphone app that allows users to visualize tsunami inundation zones and identify evacuation routes. The app is available for both IOS and Android devices. The Tsunami Evacuation Zones viewer is an interactive mapping tool that allows users to see inundation zones and evacuation routes.


Ever heard of the UNESCO Biosphere Collaborative? Here’s a small example around Cascade Head.


Dept. Of Environmental Quality (DEQ)


The League has a member appointed to again review DEQ’s authorized annual 3% fee increase for Water Quality permits. The meeting is set for April 27. The rulemaking materials, including the draft Fiscal Impact Statement, draft fee tables, Advisory Committee Roster, Charter, and more information about the rulemaking can be found at this DEQ website.


Dept. Of Geology And Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)


Dr. Ruarri J. Day-Stirrat formally took over as Executive Director of DOGAMI and State Geologist on April 1. DOGAMI’s staff of 35 collaborate with various government, academic, and community organizations to provide earth science information and regulation to make Oregon safe and prosperous. The Geological Survey & Services program develops maps, reports, and data to help the state manage natural resources and prepare for natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions, coastal erosion, and climate change. The Mineral Land Regulation & Reclamation program oversees Oregon’s resource production, and works to minimize the impacts of resource extraction and maximize the opportunities for land reclamation. More information about DOGAMI and access to Oregon geoscience resources can be found here.


Elliott State Forest

By Peggy Lynch


SB 1546 passed, which will create the Elliott State Research Forest. However, there are steps still to take before final transfer to this new Elliott State Research Authority from the Common School Fund. There will be an analysis of the funding mechanism proposed by Oregon State University related to the limited logging needed to pay for maintenance of the Forest and creation of the research platform. OSU’s Board of Directors needs to authorize this research effort and the State Land Board needs to officially transfer the Forest. In the meantime, the Habitat Conservation Plan moves forward as does the Forest Management Plan—both critical documents to consummating this concept. The Dept. of State Lands provides a website with information on the Elliott. The Forest’s Advisory Committee will meet April 12 from 1-3:30p, July 27, Nov. 9 and possibly Nov. 15. See the State Land Board April 12 meeting for more info.


Energy

Here is the Oregon Dept. of Energy’s 2022 Legislative Report. ODOE received funds for heat pumps, for their solar program, to report on the fuel tank facility in Portland and more.


Fish And Wildlife

The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) will need to ask the legislature to restructure their Commission since currently they must select members from each of the 5 Congressional Districts and then one east side and one west side member. With the addition of a new Congressional District, some reorganization will be needed. This is an issue at the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission as well. Also, they are considering asking for permission to use the Consumer Price Index to be able to increase their licenses annually rather than larger increases every six years. There is no increase being asked for 2023. They are also looking at their 11 statutory committees to assess who appoints each group and how each group fits into the agency’s mission—seeking efficiencies.

ODFW will host four virtual public listening sessions on the agency’s proposed 2023-25 budget. Read their press release for ways to participate in these April 12-15 events. The next steps include a May 13 ODFW Commission meeting to discuss the budget and their June 17 budget adoption that will be sent to the Governor for consideration.


ODFW is watching federal legislation, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, as ODFW could receive $61-67 million a biennium (with a needed 25% state match). The Infrastructure Act will also have funds for a variety of programs and they are looking at work on the Wallowa, Klamath, Coast, Rogue, Forest Health and Wildlife Passage.


Forestry

By Josie Koehne & James Cannon


The big success of the session was passage of three bills that in part fund implementation of the Private Forest Accord (PFA), HB 4055, SB 1501 and SB 1502. A bill to increase the sequestration of carbon in natural working lands (forests, agricultural lands and wetlands), SB 1534, failed to pass.

The Private Forest Accord is the product of a mediated deal between the timber industry and the conservation community, prompted by the threat of costly initiative petitions that were about to be introduced by both sides in the Nov. 2020 election. Governor Kate Brown brokered the discussions and provided a professional mediator who helped close the deal. Legislation was approved in the short session to provide initial funding for implementation.


The Private Forest Accord deal that was signed in October 2021 amends Oregon’s Forest Practices Act by expanding riparian buffers, tightening protections against landslides and erosion, and providing some economic support for small woodland owners. HB 4055 provides funding to compensate forest owners for mitigation work for logging operations that harm fish. Mitigation projects include fish/aquatic passage (culverts), wood augmentation, beaver conservation and reintroduction, wildfire resiliency efforts through riparian restoration, land preservation, instream flow augmentation, and grazing management.


  1. HB 4055 extends the privilege taxes on all merchantable forest products harvested (the Forest Products Harvest Tax) and adds a new section that imposes an additional privilege tax that will provide up to $5 million per year to fund mitigation. HB 4055A–engrossed terminates the Private Forest Accord mitigation fund once $250 million has been spent and after the “Accidental Take Permit” has been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill also requires ODF to report the previous year’s timber harvest data by March 10 so that new harvest tax rates can be reviewed by both revenue committees well before the close of session.

  2. Senate Bill 1501 requires the Board of Forestry to adopt a single rule package for all 12 provisions of the Private Forest Accord by November 30, 2022. It requires the Board to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan according to the PFA provisions and to modify the Forest Practices Act. SB 1501 B is the main policy bill for the Private Forest Accord requiring rule-making by the Board of Forestry for its many provisions, and provides a mechanism for the tribes to adopt these rules if they choose to do so.

  3. Senate Bill 1502 compensates small forest landowners with a tax credit when harvesting timber for leaving a wider no-cut riparian buffer than required. SB 1502 A is the Private Forest Accord’s small woodland owner tax credit that compensates the small woodland owner for timber not harvested and states that any unused credit can only be used by heirs, (including against estate taxes owed), but may not be passed along to a subsequent owner. The 50-year no-cut zone attaches to the property’s title with penalties for non-compliance.


The Dept of Forestry received $76 million to compensate the department for the 2021 fire season expenses in the final end-of-session omnibus budget bill, SB 1502-1. The bill also adds $50 million as a Special Purpose Appropriation to be used to deal with cash flow issues of the agency because it sometimes takes two years to get reimbursement for costs that should be paid by the federal government or other entities. In the meantime, firefighters and other contracts must be paid in a timely manner.


Board of Forestry: On March 9, the Board of Forestry met to discuss a wide range of topics, with a huge packet of accompanying materials. On the agenda, comments were heard from Rep Blumenauer on recent encouraging forestry developments at the federal level. The Private Forest Accord was discussed, with timelines set for the Board of Forestry rulemaking process. Other items included a 2-year work plan for the Forest Resources Division, a report on rulemaking for the wildland-urban interface wildfire protection plan (WUI RAC), a presentation on habitat conservation plans for the endangered marbled murrelet, a report on the timeline for the NEPA process for Habitat Conservation Plan, and timeline for its more inclusive companion Forest Management Plan. A summary of public comments on the Forest Management Plan’s Draft Goals and Strategies was provided. Next, the federal Bureau of Land Management wanted a reduction in its fire protection costs, which the Board seemed unlikely to grant, followed by a progress report on completing the accounting firm MGO’s financial recommendations. A plan was presented to update the Forestry Plan for Oregon (FPFO) that is supposed to guide long term Board planning decisions, which has not been updated since 2011. Chair Kelly expressed concern over the time commitment involved for both ODF staff and Board members. He wanted to know who would use this plan, and whether the ODF directors are currently using the 2011 FPFO plan. At the close of the meeting, board members said they felt overwhelmed by the heavy workload in front of them and expressed concern that ODF staff would become over-extended with legislative requirements and board requests.


Hanford

By Marylou Schnoes


Efforts by the Feds for A Temporary Replacement for Yucca Mountain



The US Department of Energy [USDOE] published a Request for Information Dec. 1, 2021 to begin a consent-based siting process for interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. This waste is currently stored in dozens of locations around the country. This is at great expense to the US taxpayer—not to mention the staggeringly long-term risk to communities and ecosystems (on the order of tens of thousands of years). The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board [OHCB] replied on March 4.


Apparently learning from the tremendous regional resistance—and current abandonment—of using Yucca Mountain as a permanent, high level waste repository, the USDOE is attempting to get the public involved in transferring tons of high level nuclear waste to an interim site, with a nod to environmental justice and other concerns.


In short, the OHCB listed considerations for such a project, which will require much time and funding and should have hosting communities informed consent. The Oregon document gave a brief history of the state’s interests regarding planned high level nuclear waste sites, itemized some of the general technical and social considerations, and questioned the use of an interim site. It stated that “The nation’s nuclear waste problem will be solved at the speed of trust”. Please see the full letter.


Land Use/Housing

By Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, Penny York & Peggy Lynch


SB 1537 originally required a cumbersome and difficult calculation of the cost of housing for agency rules, League opposition. IT died in Committee after consideration of an amendment that would have created a Task Force. The League provided both written and verbal testimony to Senate Rules on Feb. 24.


HB 4064 Enrolled was an omnibus bill that clarifies local governments must allow siting of manufactured homes and prefabricated structures in single-family dwelling zones inside the urban growth boundary (UGB), as well as other small changes to make it easier to site manufactured homes, particularly those lost in the recent wildfires. The preliminary bill had prohibited certain costs from being passed from a park owner to the tenant but that was eliminated. Also, it was clarified that restrictions concerning manufactured home siting did not apply to Home-Owners Associations. League submitted a letter in support.


SB 1536 related to addressing heating and cooling requirements for housing is in the Climate section of this report. It was amended in Ways and Means Capital Construction on Feb. 25 where the contents of HB 4058 were added. They were filed to address the “heat dome” last year that was linked to the deaths of 100 Oregonians. The amended bill passed.


State law requires the Department of Land Conservation and Development to notify local governments when new statutory requirements require changes to local comprehensive plans, regional framework plans, or ordinances implementing these plans. The following report details legislation passed in the 2022 Legislative Session related to land use planning or to programs administered by DLCD.


DLCD is continuing to work on a Regional Housing Needs Analysis and HB 5202 increased this work by providing an additional $150,000 (with a letter from Rep. Fahey, House Housing Chair) to incorporate a conversation around our current Urban Growth Boundary process. Look for a name change to “Oregon Housing Needs Analysis” to recognize the challenges of dividing Oregon into regions where we might not have adequate data for many “regions” of the state.


Dr. Brenda Ortizoga Bateman was selected as new Director of the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development at the LCDC meeting on April 1, expected to start in May. Dr. Bateman worked for the Oregon Water Resources Dept. and facilitated development of both versions of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. More recently she was Assistant Director and Chief Operating Officer for Business Oregon.


The Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rule adoption was postponed with expected adoption at the LCDC meeting in May. There will be another opportunity for public testimony on May 19. Local governments are concerned about the implementation timeline. The Commission is intending to adopt the rules or pieces of it May 19-20 and, if necessary, finish in June or July. The rules advisory committee (RAC) met April 11 to address issues from the March LCDC meeting. See the RAC materials online. March 31 LCDC meeting audio here.


The agency is working on its 2023-25 budget proposals. See Policy Option Packages being considered by the agency. Also in the document is a list of opportunities to provide input and when LCDC will be reviewing them. The public is encouraged to provide comments.


The League continues to be a member of the Oregon Housing Alliance and members attend regular meetings to discuss past and future legislation and programs.


See also the Housing Report in other sections of this Legislative Report, including monies provided under the omnibus budget bill.


Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC)

By Robin Tokmakian


The NWEC quarterly meeting was held March 9. Notes:


  • The 2021 Power Plan has been approved by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. It is a 5-year plan. NWEC felt that there were some deficiencies, such as not enough energy efficiency programs were accounted for and new renewables are less than hoped for. A positive - planning included the use of climate model outcomes. The plan doesn't include all the new legislation that has been enacted in the last couple of years, nor does it address resilience.

  • With respect to salmon recovery on the Lower Snake River, NWEC is looking for community groups to speak up to counter opponents' claims that dam removal will harm vulnerable communities and customers. If LWVOR would like to comment, we need to coordinate with NWEC.

  • Both PGE and Pacific Power have requests for proposals in place for increasing their own renewable portfolios. The requests may be driven by the incentives available for early action as defined by HB 2021 (2021).

  • Implementation of