Natural Resources

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February 21, 2022 - Week 3

Back to the full Legislative Report


Agriculture

Air Quality

Budgets/Revenue

Coastal Issues

Dept. of Environmental Quality

Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries

Elliott State Forest

Fish Issues

Forestry

Land Use/Housing

Radioactive Waste

Recycling

Water

Wildfire


Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

Agriculture

SB 1534A LWVOR provided testimony in support of the Natural and Working Lands and Waters proposal, sent to W&Ms for funding. For more info, see the Climate Report.

HB 4061A , related to illegal water use from illegal cannabis grows (some masquerading as legal hemp grows), the League is also engaged. HB 4061A was scheduled to be voted in the House chamber on Monday, Feb. 21.

Air Quality (Kathy Moyd)

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Quality Permitting Updates 2022 Rulemaking Advisory Committee will have its final scheduled meeting on February 24 with a number of items on the Agenda. 

Budgets/Revenue

HB 4060 The League provided testimony in support 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 funds from the federal Infrastructure bill. League supports the amended bill, HB 4060A, moved to W&Ms.

Climate (Claudia Keith and Team)

See Climate Report overlaps with Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both.

Coastal Issues (Christine Moffitt)

SB 1534 The League provided testimony in support, including importance and opportunities to increase blue carbon in the estuarine and coastal areas. The bill was amended, now in W&Ms.

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:

  1. Identify information needed to better understand healthcare access impacts and prevent disruptions within Cascadia coastal communities following disasters resulting from natural hazards;

  2. 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 virtually, March 2, 2022 from 9-11am PST.  Please REGISTER by our priority registration deadline of February 23, 2022 to receive the 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. Read the proposal announcement. Moffitt has joined as a member of both groups.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) is considering 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 proposed rules and fiscal statements is available, on DLCD’s website and https://www.oregonocean.info/.

Comment on 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: casaria.taylor@dlcd.oregon.gov

Dept. 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. DEQ has extended the public comment period to 5 p.m. March 14. To review the plan and learn how to submit public comments, visit the project webpage.

Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)

W&Ms approved the grant funding request for landslide mapping on Feb. 18. DOGAMI relies on grant funding for much of its science work. The DOGAMI Governing Board is seeking applications to fill two board positions. DOGAMI is the state agency responsible for providing earth science information and regulation to make Oregon safe and prosperous. More information about the agency can be found by visiting https://www.oregongeology.org. Applications for the DOGAMI board positions are due in Workday by March 4, with appointment confirmations taking place in May. The term for the currently vacant position will begin immediately upon appointment; the term for the second position will begin in September 2022.

Elliott State Forest (Peggy Lynch)

SB 1546A is scheduled for a Work Session in the W&Ms Natural Resource Subcommittee on Feb. 23. LWVOR fully supports the bill, to 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 about the Elliott.

Fish Issues

The Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has formed a Rulemaking Advisory Committee to seek input on the development of new proposed rules to update and clarify Oregon’s Aquatic Life Use Subcategory designations based on newly available data. The designated use subcategories of aquatic life determine which of the species-specific or community-specific criteria in Oregon’s temperature and dissolved oxygen standards are necessary to protect aquatic life in particular places and times. These updates make use of the best available and objective information about habitat distribution, life stages, and timing of use by sensitive species. Next meeting: 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Feb. 28. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee you can view the rulemaking webpage.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council invites your review and comment on the Independent Scientific Review Panel’s (ISRP) Final Report : Review of Anadromous Fish Habitat and Hatchery Projects (ISRP 2022-01). The report is available on the Council’s website.

This report provides the Independent Scientific Review Panel’s (ISRP) recommendations and comments on 122 of the 124 projects in the Anadromous Fish Habitat and Hatchery Review to implement the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Public Comments on the Final ISRP report may be submitted to the Council through March 10. See this link for instructions on how to submit a comment.

The Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee will consider the project proposals, the ISRP’s report and any public comments received at the March 8 Committee meeting and make a recommendation to the full Council at that time. The Council will then consider the project proposals, ISRP’s report, any public comments received and the Committee’s recommendations at the April 13 Council meeting and make final recommendations for project funding and implementation to the Bonneville Power Administration.

Forestry (James Cannon)

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery passed 5 forestry bills at Work Sessions last week—SB 1501, 1546, 1534, 1582, and 1502. Each bill continued to move forward. Three bills were referred to J W&Ms: SB 1501 implements the Private Forest Accord (PFA); SB 1546 establishes the Elliott State Research Forest; and SB 1534 establishes increasing carbon storage as a policy of the state. On Feb. 17 the Senate voted 18-8 to enact the fourth bill, SB 1582, to authorize rural fire protection districts (RFPD) to annex district lands. It has been assigned to House Revenue.

SB 1502, which creates tax credits for small forestland owners, was referred to the Senate Finance and Revenue, public hearing on the bill on Feb. 16. Testimony was provided in support by three timber associations but opposed by Tax Fairness Oregon on grounds that the tax credits can be unfairly passed forward to future landowners. The organization also opposed the lack of a sunset clause and complained that settlement of tax credit violations will favor landowners, not the state.

HB 4055 extends privilege taxes on merchantable forest products harvested on forestlands with a new section that imposes an additional privilege tax to provide up to $5 million per year to fund mitigation of the effects of forest practices on aquatic species. House Revenue unanimously adopted on Feb. 16.

The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held an Informational Meeting for an Update on the Private Forest Accord (PFA) on Feb. 16. Representatives from the Governor’s Office and industry and conservation organizations explained the PFA. This information was provided prior to House consideration of SB 1501 and SB 1502 and HB 4055, which will implement the PFA.

Joint Legislative Audits held an informational meeting on Feb. 16 concerning an audit of the Oregon Forest Research Institute (OFRI) released July 21, 2021. The performance audit reviewed OFRI’s performance between Sept. 2020 and July 2021. It concluded that OFRI did not follow good governance protocols during this period. In fact, OFRI has not developed guidelines to determine good governance and there is no independent oversight of its actions. Moreover, OFRI operations were found to be non-transparent, supporting a narrow viewpoint prone to bias, and publishing misleading messages, while its advertising promotes only industry views. The audit recommended statutory revisions to clarify the purpose of OFRI and a number of changes to OFRI operating guidelines. The OFRI Acting Director testified that the agency is sincere about making the changes recommended in the audit.

Land Use/Housing (Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, Penny York & Peggy Lynch)

A report by the Oregon Housing and Community Services and Dept. of Land Conservation and Development was first presented to the W&Ms Natural Resources Subcommittee on Feb. 2. In response to questions by legislators, DLCD provided the following:

This report sets the stage for the upcoming engagement process and policy conversations that will ultimately inform the findings and recommendations of the final legislative report. DLCD and OHCS have published an Engagement Framework report detailing the engagement approach for policy development specific to the RHNA. The purpose of this process is to continue the robust engagement process that began with the implementation of House Bills 2001 and 2003 (2019 Legislative Session), with the goal of ensuring that further legislative actions will lead to increased housing production, increased publicly supported affordable housing production, and improved equity in housing outcomes.

This report has now been presented to the House Committee on Housing as a precursor to 2023 session work. In part as a response to this report, HB 4118 died in committee. The League opposed.

HB 4064 A passed the House and now has a public hearing in the Senate Housing and Development Committee on Feb. 21 and a Work Session is set for 2/23. The League submitted a letter in support. The bill prohibits local governments from prohibiting siting of prefabricated structures in all residential zones. Allows siting of all] Expands eligibility for siting manufactured homes and prefabricated structures on lands zoned to allow single-family dwellings within urban growth boundary. Allows siting of prefabricated structures in mobile home or manufactured dwelling parks. Limits improvements that the landlord of a manufactured dwelling park may require of the tenant. Requires the Attorney General to update the model statement by January 1, 2023. Expands eligibility for manufactured dwelling replacement program to allow owners of dwellings destroyed by natural disaster to replace them outside of the disaster area. Updates certain definitions of manufactured dwellings and manufactured dwelling parks to include prefabricated structures. Declares emergency, effective on passage. 


SB 1537 We oppose this bill to 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. A -2 amendment was posted too late for consideration by the Senate Housing and Development Committee so the bill has been moved to Senate Rules. The League still has major concerns with the creation of a costly Task Force without membership by all the agencies that might be affected and that the charge of the Task Force is too broad for a short-term Task Force and are asking Senate Rules not to hear the bill.

The House Agriculture, Land Use and Water Committee will receive an Overview of the State and Local Land Use Programs on Feb. 23.

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. Both bills were amended and are now in W&Ms.

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.

Radioactive Waste (Shirley Weathers)

The specific issues that need to be covered in the process of drafting Division 50 rules are highly technical and the handful of members of the Radioactive Waste Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) with that expertise can be expected to hold significant sway on some key specifics. There are several complex challenges related to the science involved and added to that, industry needs, monitoring and enforcement capabilities, regulatory clarity, and differing standards regarding safe level of radioactivity. ODOE staff is making effective efforts to make these matters at least somewhat understandable for the rest of the members. Staff also deftly steers group discussions back to the law and mission of the Department when necessary and ensures that all voices are heard. They are implementing new mechanisms to gather input beyond those utilized during last year’s RAC on Division 29 rules. The appropriate role for the League is to ensure adequate focus on the public health and safety wherever other urges seem to possibly pull the rules too far in different directions. For further information, see 1/17/2022 issue of the Legislative Report.

Recycling (Kathy Moyd)

SB 1520, Bottle Bill modernization, had its Senate Energy and Environment (SEE) work session on February 7. The League provided testimony supporting the addition of wine in cans to the list of beverages covered by the Bottle Bill. The bill was passed by unanimous vote, and it was originally thought it could go straight to the Senate floor with Senator Dembrow carrying it. However, the fiscal report specified that administrative items in the bill would cost enough money that the bill had to be sent to J W&Ms.

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. The bill did not move out of committee, but the Committee Chair Rep. Marsh asked Reps. Helm and Brock Smith create a Work Group around the bill, although the charge of any Work Group is unclear.

The House Agriculture, Land Use and Water Committee will receive information on Portland’s Plan to Address Lead Levels in Drinking Water and a presentation on Lake Abert. You may have seen articles in the news about the lake’s crisis. They will receive an update on the Agricultural Drainage Channel Maintenance program. The League engaged in 2019 when this program was approved.

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. People keeping track note Wickiup Reservoir, which stores water for North Unit irrigators (Jefferson County where much of carrot seed is grown among other crops), is running 5,000-acre-feet behind last year's storage levels. The reservoir had 115,000-acre-feet last year at this time and holds 110,000-acre-feet this year. This is not just a concern for the farmers, but also the spotted frog, an endangered species that needs water all year long.

The federal government awarded the Deschutes River Conservancy $1.37 million to be used in the Deschutes Basin to find better and more efficient ways to move and monitor water.

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. We are hopeful that there might be additional money in the end-of- session budget bill to continue collaborative work on this public health issue.

Wildfire (James Cannon & Peggy Lynch)

The House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery held an Informational Hearing on Feb. 14 to hear updates on Oregon wildfire recovery efforts and a Public Hearing to receive testimony from those impacted by the 2020 wildfires. Updates from the Oregon Department of Energy cited progress in establishing incentives created in HB 5006 for installing energy efficiency technology in rebuilding homes after fires. Regulations have been drafted and are expected to be finalized in the near future. The program for low or moderate income applicants would provide between $3,000 and $12,000 for installations meeting current building codes, and double those amounts for exceeding code. A separate ODOE program is also expected to be launched soon to provide fire hardening grants in fire-damaged rebuilding efforts. Fire hardening materials are less likely to ignite.

The Oregon Department of Transportation reported that debris has been removed from over 99% of fire damaged properties and 92% of the 100,000 hazard trees lining highways in fire zones have been removed. The State Fire Marshall reported that $4.5 million has been allocated from $16 million in requests to 91 local fire agencies in impacted areas covered by the Wildland Urban Interface Grant Program. The Department of Corrections reported that roughly 300 inmates are involved in fire-fighting efforts on an annual basis.

Dozens of people testified during the nearly 2.5-hour public hearing convened by the Special Committee on Feb. 15. The biggest complaints were about the difficulties in filling out government forms and obtaining required receipts; obtaining help by physically disabled, mentally impaired or extremely poor; finding affordable rental houses.

The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources received an update on the wildfire season and federal infrastructure funding on Feb. 21.

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 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. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery will receive an Update on SB 762 implementation on Feb. 22 at 1:30p. There are a number of agencies involved with implementation of SB 762 including the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development. DLCD has created its own website on Wildfire Adapted Communities.

Volunteers Needed

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 peggylynchor@gmail.com. Training will be offered.