Natural Resources

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February 28, 2022 - Week 4

Back to the full Legislative Report

Agriculture

Air Quality

Budgets/Revenue

Coastal Issues

Dept. of Environmental Quality

Elliott State Forest

Forestry

Land Use/Housing

Radioactive Waste

Recycling

Water

Wildfire


by Peggy Lynch and Team

Agriculture

LWVOR provided testimony in support of the Natural and Working Lands and Waters proposal, SB 1534 A. We understand that the bill is dead but we are advocating for funding for the research called for in the end-of-session budget bill. For more info, see the Climate Report. The League is also engaged in HB 4061A , related to illegal water use from illegal cannabis grows (some masquerading as legal hemp grows). HB 4061 A passed the House, and was scheduled for a Senate chamber vote on Monday, Feb. 28th.

Air Quality (Kathy Moyd)

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Quality Permitting Updates 2022 Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) had its third meeting on February 24 with a number of items on the Agenda. There was a basic question throughout the discussions: Is the intent of the permitting process to decrease toxic emissions and greenhouse gasses as much as possible or just to make sure acceptable emission levels are not exceeded? It seems that the way the program is currently designed is the latter, but some RAC members think it should be the former. There will be a fourth RAC meeting on March 30.

Budgets/Revenue

This week we will see the end-of-session bills. HB 5202 is the end-of-session omnibus budget bill. Besides allocating General Funds, Lottery Funds and Federal and Other Funds and any new staffing for agencies, there are often Budget Notes that direct agencies to do certain activities with monies they receive. Legislative Leadership has announced large packages being proposed for funding: Climate, Housing, Education, Early Learning, Workforce, Rural Infrastructure and others. The League is hoping that some policy bills that did not pass will receive some funding to continue the work on important issues. Agencies also often request funding adjustments from their 2021 regular session budgets. We will need to wait to see the final decisions of W&Ms Co-Chairs and Legislative Leadership.

HB 4156 is the program change bill where changes in state programs for the session are listed. SB 5701 is the bill that will allocate monies for a variety of bonded projects. There was a public hearing on many of those projects in the Joint Committee on Capital Construction on February 11. HB 5201 is the fee ratification bill (any fees increased by certain agencies may need retroactive approval by the legislature).

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. HB 4060A, was moved to W&Ms where it has not been scheduled for a hearing, but the League hopes that funding for the positions may be included in the end of session budget bill.

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 League provided testimony in support of SB 1534 that included information on the importance and opportunities to increase blue carbon in the estuarine and coastal areas. We understand that the bill is dead but we are advocating for funding for the research called for within the end-of-session budget bill. For more info, see the Climate Report.

On Friday, February 25 the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) convened a task force meeting. The BOEM Oregon Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force reflects a partnership between federal, state, and local agencies, as well as Tribal governments.

The BOEM released three call areas titled Coos Bay, Bandon and Brookings offshore from the south coast from Florence to the southern border. These three call areas total 2,181 square miles, which is almost four times the size of the California Humboldt and Morro Bay wind energy areas combined. Please visit the web.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council plans a virtual ad hoc working session on March 4. Details as to the agenda and access are available.

The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) has produced a draft report of floating offshore wind development available for review. The next meeting of the ODOE will convene and accept public comments in April.

KLCC provided a radio story interview on Friday regarding this process with Amira Streeter, information provided by Susan Chambers of the Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition.

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): 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.

Elliott State Forest (James Cannon & Peggy Lynch)

The JW&Ms Subcommittee on Natural Resources held a Work Session on SB 1546 A on Feb. 22. The bill establishes the Elliott State Research Forest consisting of lands formerly constituting Elliott State Forest and decouples the forest from the State School Fund. The bill passed 8-0 after a brief discussion. The full W&Ms amended the bill and passed it on Feb. 25 to the chamber for a vote. The League supports this exciting resolution to another challenging forest issue. The Dept. of State Lands provides a website with information on the Elliott.

Forestry (James Cannon)

On Feb. 23, the House passed HB 4055 by a 45-14 vote. One of three forestry bills supported by the Governor to implement the Private Forestry Accord (PFA), the bill renews the Forest Products Harvest Tax for two years, and adds a new section endorsed by the PFA to raise $2.5 million annually for the initial work on the Habitat Conservation Plan and for mitigation to protect streams, with a cap of $250 million. The Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue unanimously passed the bill a day later. The bill was scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor on Feb. 28.

The second of the three PFA forestry bills, SB 1502, passed by the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue at a Work Session on Feb. 23. The bill creates income or corporate excise tax credits allowed to any small forestland owner that elects to abide by provisions in the PFA that are applicable to large forestland owners. SB 1501, the third PFA bill, passed the Capital Construction Subcommittee on Feb. 25 and passed Full W&Ms on Feb. 26.

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

SB 1537, a bill we oppose, was moved to Senate Rules where a hearing was held on the -2 amendment that would create 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. The League provided both written and verbal testimony to Senate Rules on Feb. 24.

HB 4064 is an omnibus bill that clarifies that 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 Senate Housing and Development Committee sent HB 4064 with the -7 amendment to the floor with a unanimous Do Pass vote. There was clarification at the meeting concerning certain changes due to the amendment. 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 the restrictions concerning the siting of manufactured homes did not apply to HOA’s. The League submitted a letter in support. The bill was slated to be voted on in the Senate on Feb. 28. If it passes, it will go back to the House for concurrence on the Senate amendment.

SB 1536 related to addressing heating and cooling requirements for housing in the Climate section of this report. It was amended in W&Ms 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 Full W&Ms on Feb. 26.

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)

ODOE staff to the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) have indicated that they are currently in the process of developing a first draft of appropriate rules to be discussed at the next meeting. In the process, they are considering working with a smaller subgroup to tackle the more technical issues. They also plan on devising and sending out a survey to facilitate additional input from all individual RAC members. For further information on the issues to be addressed, see 1/17/2022 issue of the Legislative Report.

Recycling (Kathy Moyd)

SB 1520, Bottle Bill modernization, passed unanimously by the W&Ms Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development on February 24 and passed full W&Ms on February 26. The League provided Testimony supporting the addition of wine in cans to the list of beverages covered by the Bottle Bill.

Water (Peggy Lynch)

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. See the public access website. The next meeting is 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 are also monitoring the hiring and program resources provided in their 2021-23 budgets.

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 to create a Work Group around the bill, although the charge of any Work Group is unclear.

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. 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 Dept. of Forestry Emergency Fire Cost Committee will meet virtually Tuesday, March 8, at 10 a.m. To join the virtual meeting, please use the agenda Zoom information. To provide public comment, contact Chrystal Bader at 503-945-7220. With the cost of fighting fires each season increasing, a new strategy for funding firefighting that not only includes fairness among the various interests but also assures that the General Funds provided to the department for their other missions are not jeopardized. Besides increased costs, there is an issue of cash flow since monies from other sources, including the federal government, often take up to 2 years to be received. That means that the agency needs to borrow monies to cover accounts payable to contract firefighters and equipment until accounts-receivable payments come in.

The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery each held Informational Meetings this week to hear updates on the implementation of last session’s SB 762. Both presentations were made by the newly appointed Wildfire Programs Director in the Governor’s Office, Doug Grafe. The updates noted that the average annual acreage burned in Oregon has doubled each decade from the 169,000 acres burned in a typical year in the 1990s to the more than one million acres burned in 2020 Fire suppression costs rose from $17 million average annual cost in the 2000s to $85 million in the 2010s. Total damage from fires is estimated to be 10 times the cost of suppression. The state is moving to disperse the $195 million fire recovery program authorized by last year’s SB762 to 11 designated state agencies: $107 million for readiness and response; $60 million for fire adapted communities; and $28 million for resilient landscapes.

The House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery held an Informational Meeting on Feb 21 to hear an Update on the Joint Federal/State Emergency Management Wildfire Recovery Progress. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. FEMA jointly presented the update. They cited a variety of programs currently dispersing hundreds of millions of state and federal monies to fire victims and communities in fire-impacted regions. Even so, they predicted full recovery will take at least 12 years to complete. Rep. Marsh, representing several fire-impacted regions, was clearly upset with the presentation, noting that real life experiences of fire survivors on the ground are at odds with the glowing report from government agencies. She warned that federal and state expenditures do not necessarily indicate adequate relief for impacted people.

The House Committee on Revenue held a Public Hearing for HB 1582 A on Feb. 22. This bill authorizes rural fire protection districts to annex lands within 7 miles of fire stations. These annexed lands will then be subject to annual assessments for fire protection services. Roughly a dozen people testified on this bill, slightly more than half in support. Several legislators and district fire chiefs cited the need to close a loophole that allows some property owners to receive fire protection without paying for it in support of the bill. Testifiers from county governments, the Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Small Woodland Owners Association (OSWA) opposed the bill on the grounds that it represents an illegal new tax on rural people who cannot afford it. Representatives Marsh and Reschke urged a search for alternative legislation to achieve the desired results without resorting to forced annexations.

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.

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.