January 17, 2022 - Pre-Session Report
By Claudia Keith, Christine Moffitt, Josie Koehne, James Cannon, Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, Robin Tokmakian, Shirley Weathers, Amelia Nestler, Joyce Chapman
DEC. 13th 2nd SPECIAL SESSION: Three policy bills and a budget bill passed during this one-day special session. The original intent was to address the need for more rental assistance but the session also addressed drought and agricultural needs (SB 892) and the crisis surrounding illegal cannabis grows, especially in Southern Oregon (SB 893). The last bill (SB 5561) included funding for these policy bills and a few extra items requested by a variety of legislators. The League is now engaged in a work group around requirements of the Water Resources Dept. as stated in the cannabis bill. The Oregon Farm Bureau and legal cannabis growers are concerned about the bill’s enforcement mechanisms so clarity was requested. But others in Southern Oregon want to be sure that, in this drought-stricken area, water is only used legally. Using satellite technology, automatic access to private property and fines for illegal use were among the answers but local farmers aren’t thrilled by what they see as government overreach. In the meantime, drug cartels are not only stealing water, they are into human trafficking and other illegal activities. Expect a bill in the 2022 session.
AGRICULTURE: The League has again been invited to share our priorities for the 2022 session with the Board of Agriculture. Besides water and land use, the League is engaged with the Oregon Global Warming Commission on a Natural and Working Lands proposal. For more info, see the Climate Report. The League is also engaged in potential legislation related to illegal water sue from illegal cannabis grows.
Do you want to know more? See the Oregon Agriculture Oct 2021 fact sheet.
AIR QUALITY (Kathy Moyd): On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) adopted several rule changes to the agency’s programs that assess and regulate air toxics. The updates align the Dept. of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) air toxics programs by merging different lists of health standards. In addition, the process will now use the expertise of an independent science advisory committee. The rule changes also update and clarify aspects of the Cleaner Air Oregon program to ensure risk assessments proceed in a more efficient manner and remain sufficiently protective of community health. Changes to the Cleaner Air Oregon program rules allow risk assessments to require more complete emissions information and add additional types of emissions for consideration. Also, DEQ may now require emissions reductions more quickly from facilities posing very high risks to surrounding communities. The League commented during a July 22nd meeting. For more background and information on adopted rules and the rulemaking process, please visit DEQ’s Cleaner Air Oregon and Air Toxics Alignment and Updates 2021.
DEQ is conducting rulemaking for Air Quality Permitting Updates 2022. See the Proposed rule page for information. The first RAC meeting was held December 16 with a large number of what appeared to be mostly technical changes presented. There was not enough time to discuss all of them, so committee members were asked to provide written comments. No materials were published on the website before the meeting, so it was difficult to follow the meeting. During the public comment period the attending LWVOR member requested that materials be posted prior to the next meeting. The next meeting will be January 24 and an Issue Paper: Generic Plant Site Emissions Limits has been posted.
DEQ closed the public comment period on their Regional Haze 2021 Regional Implementation Plan on Nov. 1, 2021. See the rulemaking page: 2018-2028 State Implementation Plan. EQC action has not yet been scheduled.
EPA awards over $4 million in grants for diesel emissions reduction projects in the Pacific NW and Alaska. The funding is part of $77 million awarded nationwide through the 2021 Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA).
Columbia Corridor Association (Portland, OR), $372,630. CCA project will replace 5 heavy duty trucks with new, cleaner vehicles.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, $516,957. DEQ program supports upgrades of older transit and school buses with new diesel engines, alternate fueled engines, or all-electric engines that emit fewer pollutants.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA will make significant investments in the health, equity, and resilience of American communities. EPA will offer a total of $5 billion between fiscal years 2022 and 2026 for a Clean School Bus Plan to fund the replacement of dirtier school buses with low- or no-carbon school buses. Each year, $500 million will be available exclusively for electric school buses and $500 million will be available for electric buses and multiple types of cleaner alternative fuel school buses.
BUDGETS/REVENUE: The 2022 session Revenue Forecast will be delivered Feb. 9th. With the potential election of Rep. Dan Rayfield as the new House Speaker, a new House Ways and Means Co-Chair will need to be selected.
The League is engaged in a number of bills of interest that will need funding. The Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Natural and Working Lands concept and the Dept. of Forestry’s need funding for large fire costs and covering “borrowing” the agency did to pay for the 2021 season using other agency General Funds. The League is hopeful that the entire $76 million agency request will be provided. The League is also continuing to support a version of SB 286 (2021) that did not pass. This is the Governor’s bill to transform and fund the current Environmental Justice Task Force into a Council with staff and funding for research.
CLIMATE (Claudia Keith and Team): There are overlaps in this Legislative Report with Natural Resources and Climate. We encourage you to read both sections.
COASTAL ISSUES (Christine Moffitt): The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development is considering rules to allow realignment of Highway 101 as needed. The work is related to our rising ocean and damaging high tides.
Our own Dr. Christine Moffitt, an active Coos County League member, was appointed to the Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) by the State Land Board on Dec. 14th. LWVOR supported HB 3114 (2021) that provided $4 million to fund grants that will be awarded by OOST as they select grant recipients from these monies that the Oregon Legislature provided in the 2021 session.
COLUMBIA RIVER TREATY: On December 9, the United States and Canada concluded the eleventh negotiations round to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime. During this round, they discussed ecosystem priorities, post-2024 flood risk management, and Canada’s desire for more operational flexibility. They met again Jan. 10th. The League is hopeful that any new or amended treaty will protect the environment while also fairly sharing the river for both nations.
DEPT. OF ENERGY: The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) submitted final rules on November 23 to amend program rules for energy efficiency standards for appliances and other products. (See HB 2062 2021). Rule changes became effective January 1, 2022. Additional information: ODOE’s rulemaking webpage.
ODOE was awarded a $100,000 grant earlier this year from the USDA which will be used to help pay for up to 75% of the cost of an energy audit for Oregon agricultural producers and rural small businesses. ODOE will fund energy assessments and energy audits between July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023 or until funding runs out, whichever comes first. Rural small businesses and agricultural producers can fill out the online interest form, and program staff will follow up! More information is available on the ODOE website and FAQ document.
ELLIOTT STATE FOREST (Peggy Lynch): The Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee workgroup is ready to propose a new public “authority” to own and manage the forest with a bill to be considered during the 2022 session. A new Board of Directors would be appointed by the State Land Board. A Forest Management Plan (FMP) and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) will both guide research and any logging planned by Oregon State University (OSU). The Land Board will have oversight but the new Research Forest Board will be responsible for hiring an Executive Director and will contract with OSU for research planned on the forest. With the sideboards expected by the bill with a substantial amendment, the League can support this answer to keeping the Elliott in public hands. 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. We expect this bill to be heard the first week in the Senate.
FORESTRY (Josie Koehne): Legislative Days committees met via zoom, Jan 11-13, with information sessions on topics and LCs for bills in the short session. LC numbers will change to bill numbers by the start of the session. The most important forestry bills coming up will be three bills to raise funding to implement the Private Forest Accord.
Private Forest Accord (PFA): Legislative concepts were finalized and dropped on January 14, in preparation for the 2022 five-week short session, Feb 1 to March 7. Three LCS will be introduced that relate to funding for the newly adopted Private Forest Accord (PFA) agreement signed October 30th between representatives of 13 conservation groups and 12 timber industry organizations and approved by the Board of Forestry. The agreement will revise the current Forest Practices Act and serve as the basis for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for 10 million acres of privately-owned forestland. The agreement should provide new protections for sensitive and endangered species as required by the EPA with wider no-cut stream buffer margins, including for non-fish-bearing streams, both permanent and seasonal. If approved, the HCP will provide more regulatory protections from lawsuits and legal certainty for timber companies and small woodland owners when harvesting timber on their land. See a collection of documents concerning agreement details. Included are some more flexible options for small forest owners concerning riparian buffers, with incentives (reimbursements) for extending “no cut” zones when they harvest.
The House Revenue Committee met Jan 11 , an informational hearing on a timber tax bill, LC 251, a revision of the regular Forest Products Harvest Tax, with some fixed dollar rates per thousand board feet. For this calendar year and next, rates are set by several different entities, some with substantial increases (for ODF Administration of the Forest Practices act from $1.39 to $2.07) and some with only modest increases for forest research and the OSU College of Forestry, and $0.62 per thousand BF for fire suppression, nearly unchanged from 2020 to 2021. Like other past harvest tax bills, it must be approved by a 3/5 majority in each chamber and will need to be reconsidered in two years.
New provisions are added to the tax in Section 5 that will help fund the Private Forest Accord implementation, which goes into a new subaccount of the Oregon Conservation and Recreation account. The Dept of Revenue (DOR) will set the rate, estimated to raise $2.5 million in revenue per year. If and when (up to Jan. 2, 2027) the HCP incidental take permit is issued by the federal National Marine Fisheries and the US Fish & Wildlife, DOR will then set a rate per thousand Board Feet to collect $5 million per year. [For comparison, in previous harvest years, the tax has raised about $16 million total per year for all accounts.] The money will be used for mitigation to protect streams, such as improving logging roads, repairing and replacing culverts, adding down wood to streams to decrease sediment and pollutants and improve fish habitat associated with runoff from logging operations. Once the total accumulation of $250 million dollars has been reached by Section 5 (about 50 years), no more tax will be collected from section 5 for mitigation.
Two LCs, 276 and 278 (not yet posted) will also provide funding as required by the PFA agreement. LC 276 concerns the tax credit for small woodland owners when they harvest timber, should they choose to increase their no-cut zone near streams beyond the smaller buffer zones required by the PFA to industrial timber standards. Bill numbers for the LCs will be available by Feb 1 and some will be posted before the start of session.
The SB 1602 (2020 Special Session) E-notification system is now open to register homes or surface water intakes. Interested parties can go to E-Notification to register their home or surface water intake to receive communications about helicopter pesticide applications within one mile.
See Senate Bill 1602, a Summary of SB 1602, and Senate Bill 1602 Training, conducted in early November. The training video is time stamped and the steps specific to registering a residence or surface water intake in the E-Notification system starts at 14:04.
FORMOSA MINE CLEANUP: In December, the EPA announced that the Formosa Mine Superfund site near Riddle, Oregon, will receive Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to complete critical cleanup actions and protect human health and the environment.
At the Formosa Mine site on Silver Butte, between Riddle and Canyonville, Oregon, discharges of acid rock drainage and toxic metals from the abandoned zinc and copper mine into the Middle Creek watershed, have contaminated surface water, groundwater, soils, and sediment with heavy metals, threatening fish and other aquatic species. EPA is now designing the first cleanup phase to address all mine impacted material on the mine’s surface. Work will include excavating or capping areas contaminated with high metal concentrations and low pH (acidic) to stop contaminants from leaching through and flowing downstream from rain and snowmelts. See the LWVOR Hard Rock Mining Study.
HANFORD CLEANUP BOARD & NUCLEAR WASTE (Marylou Schnoes): The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board held a virtual meeting on January 18-19, agenda, including how to participate, and other meeting materials are on their website. On the agenda: Discussion of the 5-Year Review of the Hanford Cleanup and also Oregon’s input to the current draft of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s 5-Year CERCLA2 Review. (2CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation & Liability Act, the superfund law, which requires a review of cleanup progress every 5 years.)
Interim Nuclear Waste Storage Sites. The U.S. Department of Energy [DOE] is seeking input for a Consent-Based Siting Process to Identify Federal Interim Storage Facilities of spent nuclear fuel, announcement in the Federal Register 1 December 2021. Responses are due by 4 March 2022. Apparently, the federal government has now temporarily given up on locating an acceptable permanent deep geological repository (as Yucca Mountain would have been) for nuclear waste from power plants1. (1The U.S. has more nuclear power plants than any other country and its spent rods are currently (“temporarily”) stored at over 80 nuclear power plants across the U.S. Though spent nuclear fuel is generated in 30 countries, only Finland has a permanent storage site for this waste, which will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years.)
The DOE genuinely appears to be making an effort to get input from groups “that have historically not been well-represented” [p.66244] and is asking how it can be sure to build “social equity and environmental justice” [p.66245] into the siting process. Among the specific requests are what roles Tribal, State and local governments should play; how the DOE can engage them; exactly how the DOE should work with them, and what issues should be considered. They also are asking how to remove process participation barriers and what information people will need, in order to engage. Similarly, they’re asking the same questions for the process of developing a national waste management system.
LAND USE/HOUSING (Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan & Peggy Lynch): A couple of bills of concern we expect to see in the 2022 session include allowing “affordable housing” (at 80-150% of area median income!) to be built on Urban Reserve lands—skipping over lands in Urban Growth Boundaries. A second bill would require disclosure for any rulemaking that might affect the cost of housing. Among the “costs” that might not be allowed would be energy efficiency and fire-resistant building requirements. The League is likely to oppose these bills.
We expect an amendment to HB 3040 (2021), a bill to study Systems Development Charges (SDCs) and who should pay for infrastructure needs for new development and that cost burden on “affordable housing”. The study with other agencies and local governments to provide a broad review of the history, purposes and calculations of SDCs. The date of the required report would be moved to December 2022.
The League continues to be a member of the Oregon Housing Alliance. 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 Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) is continuing its work to protect Oregon from becoming a dumping ground for radioactive waste. Triggered two years ago by discovery that almost 1,300 tons of such waste generated through fracking for oil and gas primarily in North Dakota had been illegally accepted by Chemical Waste Management (CWM) at their Arlington, Oregon, landfill, ODOE has been taking steps to prevent reccurrence. Outdated rules and statutes were determined to leave the state vulnerable at the same time as the fossil fuel industry generates massive quantities of this type of waste annually.
During the interim between the 2020 and 2021 sessions, the agency worked with a rulemaking advisory committee (RAC) to update and strengthen OAR 435.029, Notice of Violation, Civil Penalties, Revocation or Suspension. LWVOR was represented on the RAC. During the 2021 Session, successful passage of SB 246, Radioactive Waste Disposal Definitions and Enforcement, updated Oregon statutes. During the current interim, ODOE is again working with a RAC to implement changes to ORS 469.300 (Definitions) and 469.525 (Radioactive Waste Facilities Prohibited). LWVOR is represented on the current RAC. Two meetings have been held and a third is being scheduled for February.
RECYCLING: There will be some bills filed in the 2022 session: Mattress Recycling and a Bottle Bill Update.
Everyone should read an important new report, "Microplastics in Oregon", finding microplastics in 100% of samples, including Crater Lake, Wallowa Lake, the Umpqua River, the John Day River and more. Environment Oregon staff and volunteers sampled 30 rivers, lakes and urban waterways and tested for microplastics, to better understand the scope of our plastic pollution problem in Oregon. See results in their report and/or on this interactive map.
TRANSPORTATION: DLCD is doing rulemaking on Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities and on Every Mile Counts along with the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, DLCD and Oregon Housing and Community Services. The Directors and representatives of these agencies provided testimony at the Nov. 18/19 Land Conservation and Development Commission meeting.
TOXIC-FREE KIDS ACT UPDATE (Amelia Nestler): Since the Toxic Free Kids Act Program was enacted 6 years ago, more than 4,000 reports have been filed, disclosing harmful substances like arsenic, lead, and formaldehyde in children’s products. Beginning Jan. 1, manufacturers were expected to substitute or remove those chemicals in products for children younger than three, mouthable products, and children’s cosmetics. Or, they can stop selling the items in Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the program, estimates that’s about 25% of the products for which it has reports. Manufacturers could have applied for a waiver from the rule, if they could demonstrate that the chemical does not move from the product into children’s bodies under normal use; or if they demonstrate that eliminating or substituting the chemical is not financially or technically feasible. Instead, manufacturers have filed a lawsuit to stop these requirements.
WATER (Peggy Lynch and Amelia Nestler): HB 5006 Budget Note project & engagement: The Water Resources Dept. received Budget Note #9 in budget bill HB 5006 (2021): WRD is directed to use provided funding to contract with Oregon Consensus 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. Oregon Consensus has interviewed a wide variety of water interests, including LWVOR, to ascertain next steps, including establishment of a Work Group to consider how some form of regional water planning might work. The group will begin by February through the end of the year, expecting legislation for the 2023 session and substantial public outreach as this will also focus on the former 100-year water vision and will be a precursor to the next Integrated Water Resources Strategy update. The League continues to remind everyone that water in Oregon belongs to all of us and we will engage in this discussion.
The Water Resources Commission met in December and received a report (Item F on agenda) on staffing after receipt of a substantial increase in their budget. A slide show was also presented. Item J provided a report on the Deschutes Basin Groundwater Mitigation Program. LWV Deschutes County comments were included for the Commission to read.
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Dept. of Environmental Quality have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding which will require more cooperation and coordination between agencies in protecting water quality in Oregon.
During the last interim legislative meetings and, we believe, during the 2022 session, a new House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use and Water was created that combined the former Water Committee and Agriculture and Land Use separate committees. Changes are happening as members of the legislature leave and new members are appointed. In this case, Rep. Brian Clem has resigned, leaving a vacancy in the Chair for the former Ag and Land Use Committee.
In November, the legislature heard from a variety of water users about the effect of Oregon’s megadrought on their businesses and need for water. In January, they heard about the effect of the drought from the 9 Oregon tribes’ perspective.
DEQ is holding the first RAC meeting to seek input on development of new proposed rules to update and clarify Oregon’s Aquatic Life Use Subcategory designations based on newly available data. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking webpage: Fish and Aquatic Life Use Updates 2022. The first meeting will be Jan. 27th from 1-4:30p.m. and is open to the public.
LC 154 has been filed and directs the Dept. of State Lands, in consultation with State Dept of Fish and Wildlife, to establish a salmon credit program to encourage voluntary restoration of salmonid habitat and allow persons to meet compensatory mitigation obligations. Establishes Salmon Credit Trust Fund. It is important to note sections 3(1) (b), 3(4), 3(5) and (9) which may affect Oregon’s removal fill laws.
With the on-going drought throughout Oregon, League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor, a map updated every Thursday. And here’s the counties in Oregon for which a drought declaration has been approved.
Amelia Nestler serves as the League’s statutory member of OHA’s Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC). The committee meets quarterly to consider issues around drinking water systems serving Oregonians. Among issues being considered are systems affected by the wildfires, including possible benzene contamination and new rules for very small water systems where staff is needed to manage drinking water requirements. Drinking water systems that could be contaminated with PFAS, or per- and poly-fluorinated substances are also being addressed.
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 this late summer, many of which may be related to failing septic systems along the coast.
WILDFIRE (Peggy Lynch): The new Wildfire Program Advisory Council has selected meeting dates for 2022, on their website State of Oregon: Policy Offices - Wildfire Programs Advisory Council. For consistency they have the second Friday of each quarter from 9-4pm: January 14, April 8, July 8 and October 14. An email meeting reminder with agendas and website meeting materials will arrive approximately one week before each meeting. Doug Grafe (firstname.lastname@example.org), is the new Wildfire Programs Director, housed in the Governor’s Office. The first Council agenda included self-introductions of Council members, a SB 762 overview with the 11 implementation agencies presenting and the logistics of standing up the Council.
SB 762 (2021) omnibus wildfire bill. To follow the latest from the rulemaking check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website. Their next meeting is Feb. 3rd. The meeting’s tentative agenda includes: Vulnerable Communities, draft Fiscal Impact Statement and another round of work on draft rules. Their final meeting is set for Feb. 10th where they hope to complete the draft rules for submission to Oregon’s Secretary of State and, after public comment, to the Board of Forestry for adoption.
There are a number of agencies involved with implementation of SB 762. The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development has just posted a notice:
In response to Oregon's wildfire omnibus legislation, Senate Bill 762, DLCD is seeking 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. According to the Governor’s racial equity goals, DLCD aims for a stakeholder group that reflects Oregon’s demographics, including race, ethnicity, income, ability, gender, and a balance of renters and property owners. Applications are due by 8a.m. on Monday, February 7, 2022. This community engagement process will begin in February 2022 and conclude in September 2022. Meetings will be held via videoconferencing.
Stakeholder Group Application for Wildfire Programs Advisory Committee
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 to consider following legislation in 2022, a short 5-week session starting Feb. 1st. 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 email@example.com. Training will be offered.