February 14, 2022 - Week 2
Natural Resources Coordinator, Peggy Lynch
The League is engaged with the Oregon Global Warming Commission on a Natural and Working Lands and Waters proposal, SB 1534. LWVOR provided testimony in support. The amended bill was sent to W&Ms for funding. For more info, see the Climate Report. The League is also engaged in potential legislation, HB 4061, related to illegal water use from illegal cannabis grows (some masquerading as legal hemp grows).
The 2022 session Revenue Forecast and Forecast Summary provides the legislature with additional funds AND indicates our state savings accounts are 18 and 20% of current spending. Those funds would help in case we see a future downturn in the economy. The League has provided a list of funding asks for natural resources with our Oregon Conservation Network partners.
The League provided testimony in support of HB 4060 to fund staff to assist natural resource agencies, local governments and individual Oregonians to write grants and follow opportunities for federal funding programs. The positions are expected to be housed at the Oregon Dept. of Transportation since they will be part of a team helping to access federal funds from the federal Infrastructure bill. A -2 amendment will be considered which the League supports. We hope to see the bill move to Ways and Means on Monday.
Climate (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 (Christine Moffitt)
The Oregon Invasive Species Council (OISC) is planning for an in person/combined virtual meeting on coastal issues in June. Stay tuned for further information about location and dates. Moffitt serves as Vice-Chair of the council this year. The council welcomed the appointment of Senator Lew Frederick to serve as the ex officio non-voting member from the Oregon Senate. Representative David Brock Smith serves as the ex officio member from the House.
Oregon Sea Grant interviewed three candidates to serve as the new director in January. The previous director, Dr. Shelby Walker, resigned to accept a position with the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.
The Cascadia Coastlines and People Research Coordination Network (RCN) is hosting a virtual forum “Research and Information Needs to Improve Healthcare Access in Disasters.” It will be space for Pacific Northwest coastal emergency managers, public health officials, healthcare coalitions, hospital emergency managers, healthcare service providers/administrators, transportation planners, local elected officials, public safety (police/fire/EMS), and community planners to share their insights and expertise. They are planning to host a separate forum specifically for tribal representatives.
Coastal communities are among those most at risk of disruptions to healthcare access in the event of an earthquake or other natural hazard. In response, our virtual forum will bring together practitioners and scientists interested in collaboration to improve healthcare access following major disasters resulting from natural hazards in coastal communities to:
-Identify information needed to better understand healthcare access impacts and prevent disruptions within Cascadia coastal communities following disasters resulting from natural hazards;
-To develop a collaborative research agenda, based on community priorities, to inform and improve healthcare access following major disasters resulting from natural hazards in coastal communities.
The forum will be held by Zoom on March 2, 2022, 9am - 11am PST. Please register by our priority registration deadline of February 23, 2022 [here] for the Zoom link.
The Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST), in consultation with the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH Council), requests proposals for strategic research, monitoring, and communications to address ocean acidification and/or hypoxia. The proposal announcement is found here: https://www.oostoahrfp.com/. Moffitt has joined as a member of both groups.
From the Corvallis Gazette Times: The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $25 million to eight groups to test wave energy technologies at Oregon State University’s PacWave South facility near Newport. PacWave will be the first commercial-scale, grid-connected wave energy testing site in the country.
The goal is to produce renewable energy from ocean waves, and the funding will focus on wave energy converter designs in geographically remote areas or on small grids. Construction on the $80 million facility began in June 2021 about 7 miles offshore. It should be operational in 2023, with testing anticipated to begin the following year.
The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) is considering the adoption of amendments to Part Three of the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan (TSP), the Rocky Habitat Management Strategy. The amended rule is intended to balance rocky ecosystem conservation with appropriate use as provided in Statewide Land Use Planning Goal 19, the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan, and the Oregon Ocean Resources Management Act, by amending the language of Part Three and the site management designations. A draft of the proposed rules and fiscal statements is available on DLCD’s website and https://www.oregonocean.info/.
You may comment on the proposed rules by sending written comments by March 31, 2022 (or at the hearing March 31): Rules Coordinator, Department of Land Conservation & Development 635 Capitol St., Ste. 150, Salem, Oregon 97301 or via email: email@example.com
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
DEQ invites the public to provide written comment on Oregon’s updated Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan. The updated plan describes Oregon’s programs and process for preventing and controlling nonpoint source pollution. Pollution that enters streams and rivers from farms, forestland, or urban areas are examples of nonpoint source pollution. All comments are due by 5 p.m., Monday, February 28. To review the plan and learn how to submit public comments, visit the project webpage.
Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
The W&Ms Natural Resources Subcommittee will hear a request on Feb. 16 for grant funding for landslide mapping. DOGAMI relies on grant funding for much of its science work.
Department of State Lands
On Feb. 8, the State Land Board acknowledged the League’s testimony in support of a Legislative Concept for 2023 to increase fees on removal/fill permits.
Elliott State Forest (Peggy Lynch)
SB 1546 with the -1 amendments moved to Full W&Ms this week. LWVOR fully supports the bill which will form the Elliott State Research Forest under a new public “authority” to own and manage the forest. There is an expectation that the Common School Fund will be reimbursed when the forest is transferred to the new Authority. The Dept. of State Lands provides a website with information on the Elliott.
Forestry (James Cannon)
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery passed three forestry bills on Feb. 8.
SB 1501, to implement the Private Forest Accord (PFA) approved by 13 conservation groups and 12 timber industry organizations and the Board of Forestry, was amended to make future participation of tribes optional and passed 4-0 and moved to W&Ms.
SB 1502, which creates income or corporate excise tax credits allowed to small forestland owners that elect to abide by provisions in the PFA that are applicable to large forestland owners, also passed 4-0 and moved to the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee. See more complete explanations of each of these bills in our last legislative report.
Last week and above, we reported on the Private Forest Accord (PFA) and the bills filed to implement the Accord. Enjoy this Sightline article about that project.
SB 1546-1, which establishes the Elliott State Research Forest consisting of lands formerly constituting Elliott State Forest, passed 3-1, with Senator Heard in opposition and moved to Ways and Means. The League is now actively working to secure funding to buy out the Common School Fund’s interest in the Forest.
Public Hearings on two bills were also held on Feb. 8.
SB 1582 authorizes the Board of Directors of rural fire protection districts (RFPD) to annex district lands that are not subject to assessments for fire protection so that assessments can be required. Proponents believe the bill closes a loophole that allows some landowners within a RFPD to receive fire protection without paying for it. Several county commissioners and timber trade associations testified in opposition, arguing that existing laws provide adequate methods for RFPDs to obtain reimbursement for fire protection on non-annexed lands. Rural fire district leaders testified in support. The -2 amendment was adopted on Feb. 10 and the bill now moves to the Senate chamber for approval. Issues about fairness among property owners (who pays and who doesn’t) and taxation without representation were heard by advocates for and against the bill.
SB 1573 appropriates $50 million to the State Forestry Department to fund increased forest thinning operations in specified wildfire-prone counties, supported by several county commissioners. The bill died in committee but we could still see additional funds allocated to the Dept. of Forestry under SB 762 (2021).
Five southwest Oregon communities – Medford, Central Point, Talent, Grants Pass and Bandon – are among 20 urban forestry programs in Oregon participating in the Tree City USA program that have received a Growth Award from the national Arbor Day Foundation. The awards are given to cities and towns that showed higher levels of tree care and community engagement with their urban forestry programs and activities during 2021. More information about the awards program is here. The League hopes the Dept. of Forestry will request funding and staffing to increase urban forestry in 2023.
Hanford and Nuclear Waste Issues (Marylou Schnoes)
The US Dept of Energy [DOE] is pushing to get existing high-level wastes from nuclear power plants put into one or more "interim storage" sites. For locating an interim storage site, the DOE would require consent from the community and state.
When fuel rods are used up, the waste must be stored in pump-powered pools of water and then is eventually moved into dry "casks". Until we get serious about establishing a permanent high-level repository, interim storage seems--at best--like an incredibly inefficient game of hot potato. Spent nuclear fuel has components that must remain isolated for at least 10,000 years. Of note, when considering moving casks containing the wastes, they're quite massive and would require reconstructing rail lines. Also, it begs the question of whether an "interim" storage site would become a de facto permanent site. To date, costs of storing spent fuel at these many locations has already cost the taxpayer $7.4 billion and 23 of these 80 sites no longer produce power. Pursuing interim and permanent sites may be wisest. For more information, please see this article on nuclear waste and on disposal. The reader is cautioned to be skeptical of some websites, with sources that may have funding from or interests with the nuclear power industry. These sources are from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.
Land Use/Housing (Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, Penny York & Peggy Lynch)
ALERT!! HB 4118 as filed would allow up to 100 acres of land outside of an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to be included for “workforce housing”. A new amendment has been proposed to create a HUGE “Task Force on Barriers to Housing, Industrial and Manufacturing Development” with 31 members appointed by a variety of people.
In either case, the League opposes this bill.
The House Housing Committee moved HB 4064 to the House floor with a Do-Pass recommendation. The bill would prohibit local governments from prohibiting siting of prefabricated structures in all residential zones. The -5 amendment reiterated that prefabs had to meet the same energy standards as site-built structures. The League letter supports.
We oppose SB 1537 that would require state agencies to do an extensive analysis of the cost of any rule to housing. State agencies do rulemaking to implement bills passed by the legislature and we see this as a way to stop work on public health and safety issues such as protection from wildfire and adopting building codes that address energy efficiency. The League also provided verbal testimony in opposition. Most informative was testimony by the Dept. of Administrative Services with concerns that this bill would change the Administrative Rules Act. If someone objected to the Fiscal Impact Statement for a proposed rule, that rule would be “on hold” while resolution of the objection was adjudicated. At the second hearing on the bill, the proponents, the Home Builders Assn., acknowledged flaws and listed a number of points mentioned by the League. The Senate Housing and Development Chair stated at the end of the meeting that he was looking to create a Task Force to consider issues raised by SB 1537. We will know more Monday, but would prefer this bill die in committee.
See information on HB 4058 and SB 1536 related to addressing heating and cooling requirements for housing in the Climate section of this report. They were filed to address the “heat dome” last year that was linked to the deaths of 100 Oregonians.
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.
SB 1520, Bottle Bill modernization, had its Senate Energy and Environment (SEE) public hearing on February 2. The League provided Testimony supporting the addition of wine in cans to the list of beverages covered by the Bottle Bill. The-2 Amendment would delay the implementation by a year until 2026 to give the wine industry time to decide whether to be under the Bottle Bill or the modernized recycling program, HB 2065 (2021).The -3 Amendment, which was introduced prior to the work session on February 7, moved the date at which wine in cans cans had to be labeled from October 2026 in the -2 Amendment to April 2026. The -3 Amendment and the amended bill were passed by unanimous vote. Senator Dembrow will carry the bill on the Senate Floor.
Water (Peggy Lynch)
The League provided testimony in opposition to HB 4148, a bill that directs the Dept. of State Lands, in consultation with State Dept of Fish and Wildlife, to establish a new salmon credit program to encourage voluntary restoration of salmonid habitat and allow persons to meet compensatory mitigation obligations. It is important to note sections 3(1) (b), 3(4), 3(5) and (9) may affect Oregon’s removal-fill laws and why the League will oppose. There are already a number of programs where private property owners can receive grants and other help to benefit salmon. The bill’s sponsor provided three amendments to the bill. They change the responsible agency to the Dept. of Agriculture and, at the hearing, the agency shared that it didn’t have the expertise to administer the proposed program. Each amendment narrowed the area where property owners might do restoration projects to earn credits that could then be sold ANYWHERE in Oregon. So an area in Curry County could “save salmon habitat” and a developer in the Willamette Valley could fill a wetland that could damage salmon habitat. Makes sense? It received a hearing on Feb. 7 and 9 in House Energy and Natural Resources. Late breaking: HB 4148 has been removed from the agenda! Unless we see another change, the bill is dead this session!
The Water Resources Dept. received Budget Note #9 in budget bill HB 5006 (2021) to convene a workgroup comprised of a balanced membership including, but not limited to, conservation groups, agricultural water users, municipal water users, environmental justice organizations, tribal interests and state agencies including WRD and ODFW to consider regional water management opportunities that build on the 100-Year Water Vision and further the goals of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. LWVOR has been invited to participate. A website has been created that the public can access. The next meeting is set for March 8 with monthly meetings all the way to December.
The League will be engaged with the Dept. of Environmental Quality and Water Resources Dept. as they begin planning on their 2023-25 budgets and policies.
We have an on-going drought throughout Oregon and League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor, a map that is updated every Thursday.
Visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 877-290-6767 to learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body. We have also seen beach closures, many of which may be related to failing septic systems along the coast.
Wildfire (Peggy Lynch & James Cannon)
The House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery held an Informational Hearing on Feb. 7 to hear updates on 2020 wildfires in Oregon forests. Reports were presented on the 6 major wildfire complexes: the Almeda and South Obenchain Fires; Beachie Creek and Lionshead Complex Fire; Echo Mountain Fire; Holiday Farm Fire; Archie Creek Fire; and Riverside Fire. Thousands of homes and commercial properties were destroyed or heavily damaged by these fires, and less than one-quarter of these have been issued permits to rebuild. Despite the devastating impact of these fires on local communities, significant recovery has been achieved in the past year and much more is underway. Themes from the testimony included gratitude for state and federal financial aid; a call for more support from the 2022 Legislative Session; and a continuation of the DOF Ombudsman job, due to expire this March.
This special committee will hear from victims of our 2020 wildfires Monday evening.
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) is completing the Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) work to implement one section of SB 762 (2021). They provide a website with meeting materials and are close to providing a Draft set of rules to the Board of Forestry. The RAC’s next (and maybe final) meeting is March 3. The Board of Forestry is to approve the Draft so the rules can be published by the Secretary of State bulletin by April 1. Public hearings are scheduled for April 19-21 and the Board has a target date of June 8 to adopt the final rules—just before the June 30 deadline for adoption of the wildland urban interface (WUI) criteria, risk classifications, and map for WUI boundaries.
There are a number of agencies involved with implementation of SB 762 including the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development. DLCD is hoping to find community members and other experts who have been affected by wildfire to inform staff recommendations to the Statewide Wildfire Programs Advisory Committee and Oregon State Legislature. This community engagement process will begin in February 2022 and conclude in September 2022. DLCD has created its own website on Wildfire Adapted Communities. A new staffer, Susan Millhauser, has been hired. She did a presentation at the Feb. 4 LCDC meeting.
U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced Wednesday that over $262.7 million is headed to Oregon to help the state recover from wildfires.
Above you can see the names of League volunteers who covered one or more issues. Volunteers are needed to participate in rulemaking to implement the bills passed in the 2021 session and that may pass in 2022. If not actually serving on a rules advisory committee (RAC), you could simply monitor and report back on their work. Natural Resource Agency Boards and Commissions meet regularly and need monitoring. If any area of natural resources is of interest to you, please contact Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Training will be offered.