Natural Resources

< Newer
Older >

Legislative Report - October 2022

Back to the full Legislative Report


NATURAL RESOURCES

AGRICULTURE

BUDGETS/REVENUE

CLIMATE

COASTAL ISSUES

COLUMBIA RIVER TREATY

DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (DEQ)

DEPT. OF STATE LANDS (DSL) and STATE LAND BOARD

ELLIOTT STATE FOREST

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (U.S. EPA)

FISH AND WILDLIFE (ODFW)

FORESTRY

HANFORD CLEANUP BOARD

LAND USE/HOUSING

NORTHWEST ENERGY COALITION (NWEC)

RADIOACTIVE WASTE

RECYCLING

WATER

WILDFIRE

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED




NATURAL RESOURCES

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator


The next Revenue Forecast will be Nov. 16 and will be used by the new Governor to develop her Governor’s Request Budget. The next interim legislative meetings are Dec. 7-9 where the focus will be on expected legislation for the 2023 session and reports to the legislature as required from the 2021 and 2022 sessions. Final budget decisions rest with the 2023 legislature. 


AGRICULTURE

Another agency leadership change and more Oregonians headed to Washington D.C.: Gov. Kate Brown appointed Lauren Henderson as acting director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture until the next governor makes a permanent appointment. Sept. 30 was the last day for Agriculture director Alexis Taylor, whom President Joe Biden nominated as undersecretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. She awaits confirmation by the U.S. Senate. 


More federal money: Two Portland-based nonprofit conservation groups, Sustainable Northwest and The Climate Trust, will receive $50 million from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to work on three sustainable ranching and reforestation projects, and $50 million to Oregon State University to lead the Northwest’s transition to more climate-friendly potato production. 

In November, the Board of Agriculture and Environmental Quality Commission will be presented with a new proposed Memorandum of Understanding between ODA and DEQ to clarify each agency’s role in a variety of agency work. With no substantial changes in over 10 years, the new emphasis is around adding clarity to each agency’s role in ensuring clean water for Oregonians. 


Lastly, the Capitol Press updates us on the proposed Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits in the Mid-Willamette Valley related to large poultry farms.

 

BUDGETS/REVENUE

The next state Revenue Forecast is November 16 to be presented to the House and Senate Revenue Committees. See the Office of Economic Analysis for more information on their work. 


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 Peggy Joyce


The Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) has scheduled its next meeting on Dec. 9 in Coos Bay. The draft meeting agenda will be available a week before the meeting. Peggy Joyce, a League member, is on the Council.


The Washington State League has done a Shoreline Study that Oregon League members might want to review and consider concurring with the positions they adopted as we did with their Forestry positions. 


COLUMBIA RIVER TREATY

By Phillip Thor


The League continues to engage in a potential update of the Columbia River Treaty. We (and our northwest League partners—LWVWA, LWVID and LWVMT) submitted a letter in support of including ecosystem services as part of any modernization. OPB’s Sept. 29 Think Out Loud explains the issue in greater detail. 


DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (DEQ)

By Peggy Lynch


More federal monies were awarded to address pollution prevention, especially to underserved communities. This is the second round of awards to states to help with this important issue. 

The DEQ Water Division provides a quarterly update on their activities. Agency-wide they have numerous vacancies. For instance, the Water Division permitting group has 10 positions, but only 5 are currently filled. Retirements, other job opportunities and the challenging job market are all reasons. In spite of that, they did get more wastewater permits through the system last year. Other information of interest includes that half of the $15 million from the American Rescue Plan Act budgeted to an on-site septic program LWVOR advocated for is getting out to wildfire victims as they rebuild. (For more information on the Onsite Septic Financial Aid program, see their website.The other $7.5 million should go out in the next few months. Other exciting news is that DEQ will receive $20 million each of the next five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) for low-cost loans for a variety of clean water projects—and 49% of the “loan” may qualify as “forgivable”! Additionally, 2% of the federal funds can be used by DEQ for processing and helping potential applicants get through the system. They will be selecting a contractor to do this work, especially for our small and underserved communities. 

In November, the Board of Agriculture and Environmental Quality Commission will be presented with a new proposed Memorandum of Understanding between ODA and DEQ to clarify each agency’s role in a variety of agency work. With no substantial changes in over 10 years, the new emphasis is around adding clarity to each agency’s role in assuring clean water for Oregonians. 


DEPT. OF STATE LANDS (DSL) and STATE LAND BOARD

By Peggy Lynch

 

The federal government made a promise to Oregon in 1859. And it still has not paid up. When Oregon became a state, the federal government said in the Act of Congress that admitted Oregon to the nation that it would give the state land for use by schools. It did. But not all that was promised. It still owes Oregon 1,477.36 acres. DSL may get 224 acres of forested lands in Linn County by 2024 and they are working on the final lands in the Prineville area. Some of those lands would be rangeland, but some might be developable sites to sell as they did the Stevens Road tracts in Bend. Also, a Concept Plan has been approved for one of the Stevens Road tracts, so Bend can consider a Master Plan and movement toward eventual sale to developers and development of that property. 


ELLIOTT STATE FOREST

By Peggy Lynch


The draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Elliott has been submitted to federal agencies. There will be federal outreach processes but a July 1, 2023 adoption is anticipated. The Dept. of State Lands provides a website with information about the Elliot, as does OSU. The Elliott Forest Advisory Committee will meet Nov. 15 as they complete their recommendations to the Land Board for action December 13. 


ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (U.S. EPA)


A major court decision will now guide work by the EPA: The “Major Questions Doctrine” is to guide when federal agencies consider rulemaking, that they cannot act without clear Congressional legislation and have to decide if the issue is a “major question” that should be determined by Congress. But a clear definition of what is a “major question” was not provided. So, we should expect lawsuits to challenge agency rules and the Supreme Court will eventually provide clarity—case by case. 


FISH AND WILDLIFE (ODFW)


Another tribal agreement with the State of Oregon: The Burns Paiute Tribe (BPT), a federally-recognized Indian tribe, signed an agreement with the State of Oregon and ODFW to continue support and cooperation to protect and enhance fish and wildlife, cultural resources, and habitat connectivity. See the full Memorandum of Agreement, memorializing ongoing cooperative efforts between BPT and ODFW. These efforts include ceremonial hunting opportunities, a ceremonial and cultural Chinook fishery on the Malheur River, and a collaborative effort to address vehicle-caused wildlife mortality from Highway 20 in the Malheur River Canyon. This is the second cooperative tribal agreement between the state and one of Oregon’s 9 recognized tribes. 


FORESTRY

2022 Fire Season Statistics (10/22 YTD)

 









Large Fire Suppression Costs

Emergency large fire suppression costs were significantly less than those of the last couple of years.  As of October 21, 2022, those total costs are as follows:

Gross costs:     $35,026,260

Net costs:        $17,293,078

 

See “Wildfire” below for a report on the 2022 fire season. 

 

HANFORD CLEANUP BOARD 

By Marylou Schnoes


Hanford Begins Heating Waste Vitrification Unit: One of the most hoped-for operations for people concerned about Hanford’s myriad waste sites, the vitrification (glassification) of tank wastes, has begun. There are 177 one-million-gallon buried tanks, holding a variety of radioactive and extremely toxic wastes. Each is approximately the size of an elementary-school gym. Designed to last only a few decades during WWII, it’s not surprising that some are leaking. These are within 6 miles of the Columbia River. 


There are both low-level (decays in decades) and high-level (decays over more than 1,000 years)

wastes in these tanks. The contents of the tanks will be separated and sent to a Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, aka the “Vit Plant”, where the radioactive wastes will be mixed with a glass-forming substance and melted into robust stainless-steel casks where the “hot” waste will be unable to pollute air or water. For low-level wastes, these “logs” will be 2’ in diameter and 15’ long. See this animated 5-minute version of the process.


The low-activity casks will be transported for permanent disposal at an engineered facility nearby within the 580-square-mile Hanford site. The high-level waste canisters will be stored at Hanford until a national repository is designated.


A few weeks ago, heaters for the low-level melters—the world’s largest—were turned on. A

special procedure, required to ramp the temperature up to over 2,000⁰F, has now begun. The next

step will be the production of logs containing innocuous practice materials. Actual radioactive waste processing is to begin in 2023.


So finally, Hanford has shifted its inertia-laden paradigm of planning and long-term construction to one of actual waste processing and disposal. The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board visited the site on October 4. There are many other waste sites and several more decades of work to be done at Hanford, but some employees appeared quite happy about the change. As was the board.


LAND USE/HOUSING

By Peggy Lunch


In 2021, as part of a budget note, DLCD established a Housing Needs Work Group--More information about OHNA. And in 2022, an additional budget note created a Housing Capacity Work Group. LWVOR has a member serving on the Housing Capacity Work Group. Another draft report is expected on Nov. 10 so that the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) can provide comments at their Nov. 17/18 meeting. The final report is due to the legislature in December. 

Storm Clouds on the Horizon for Oregon Housing Industry”, in Pamplin Media, provides a good explanation of the varied challenges to getting more housing in Oregon. 


In 2009 the League participated in legislation that supported LCDC’s designation of an” Area of Critical State Concern” for areas around the Metolius River. Developers had planned an “eco-resort”. In return for passing this first ever designation, the developers were granted an opportunity to “transfer” their “development rights” (TDRs) to another part of the state. The legislature continued to extend this opportunity for a number of years, but the developers didn’t find a site they wanted to use. Now the developers are suing the state for $30 million, saying that the state didn’t live up to their bargain. The League will follow this issue since we support the concept of using TDRs in the land use system. 


LWV Deschutes County provided testimony opposing the Thornburgh Resort land use application using their Housing position and LWVOR’s water positions. 

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.


NORTHWEST ENERGY COALITION (NWEC)

By Robin Tokmakian


LWVOR member Kathy Moyd will attend the NWEC fall conference “Delivering Community Clean Energy” Nov 14 and 17 while Robin is participating as an official observer at the U.N. Climate Change Conference. 


RADIOACTIVE WASTE 

By Shirley Weathers


The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) is continuing its work to protect Oregon from becoming a dumping ground for radioactive waste. After a number of meetings of the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) re: revisions to Division 050 rules called for by legislation in 2021, staff gathered input and is working on a draft. The RAC is scheduled to meet Nov. 17 with a new lead ODOE staffer to help guide the process. 


RECYCLING 

By Kathy Moyd


DEQ will be holding the third Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meeting from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. DEQ will be presenting rule concepts related to Transportation Costs Reimbursement, and the Materials Acceptance Lists. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page at: Recycling Updates 2023.


WATER

By Peggy Lynch 


The League is working with others on the Budget Note #9 in budget bill HB 5006 (2021) to convene a workgroup to consider regional water management opportunities that build on the 100-Year Water Vision and further the goals of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. A website has been created that the public can access. Our next meeting was November 1.  A final report is due to the legislature in December. Being considered is a request that state water agencies be funded to provide data, analysis and multi-agency coordination so that Oregon can have good water management no matter what other programs might be implemented. We are also considering a new, more expansive (with sideboards) version of place-based planning with much more rigorous public involvement. We are also working with the Water Resources Dept. on legislation on this same issue. Both place-based planning proposals may be integrated into one bill for 2023. 


The Oregon Environmental Council published a new report: The State of Water Justice in Oregon

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that might narrow the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” The decision may have consequences around regulation of Oregon’s wetlands. 

The next Water Resources Commission meeting will be held both virtually and in Salem on November 17 and 18. The Commission will conduct formal business during their meetings in the morning on both days and will hold a social hour and/or site visits in the afternoons/eves. To attend the social hour or site visits, RSVP no later than November 3, To RSVP, complete: Site Visit / Social Hour RSVP Form

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. 17 counties have received Executive Orders from the Governor issuing drought declarations. We can hope that rain and snow over the winter will reduce this situation.


We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. A news release explains the signs you should note. “When in doubt, stay out.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. 


WILDFIRE 

By Peggy Lynch


Our last report shared that the Wildfire Risk Map was pulled from consideration. Here are the new plans for public outreach and wildfire risk map timelines.


As part of the requirements under SHB 762 (2019), the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development is required to submit a report to the legislature before the 2023 session. 

Fire Season 2022: With the recent transition to more seasonable fall-like weather, most ODF districts have terminated fire season with the final district planning to do so on October 29. This will conclude a very successful season on many fronts, but one that seemed to persist for longer than anyone wanted. 

Prior to the change in weather, much of the region was still experiencing unseasonably warm and dry conditions. These conditions, combined with breezy east winds, gave no surprise when a new fire emerged in southwest Washington on October 9. The Nakia Creek fire spread quickly to the northwest, threatening the communities of southwest Vancouver and nearby Battle Ground, Washington. This impending (and seemingly imminent) threat caused enough concern for the Washington Department of Natural Resources to request a Type 1 incident management team to assist with containment of the fire. However, being so late in the season, many firefighting crews, and resources (including regional interagency teams) were unavailable. So, when the call came in on October 16, ODF IMT2 quickly deployed and took over command of the Nakia Creek fire the very next day.  Given Team 2’s incredibly efficient and effective work in just 8 days, the team was able to return command of the fire back to the local jurisdiction. This state-to-state partnership is extremely beneficial, and while rare for ODF to deploy a fire team to Washington, is a testament to the relationships we have across borders. A former League member was VERY grateful for the help as she was out of the country and her home was in the area ordered to evacuate. But the home was saved due to the work of ODF. LWVOR is pleased that our support for SB 762 (2019) helped ODF have the resources needed this fire season. 

 

The Wildfire Programs Advisory Council met Oct. 14 and considered a Draft Report to the legislature on progress made on the requirements of SB 762 (2019). A website provides agendas, meeting materials and membership. The Council was convened to follow the work of the 11 agencies involved in SB 762. 


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED


Above you can see the names of League volunteers who covered one or more issues. Volunteers are needed. What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. If not actually serving on a rules advisory committee (RAC), you could simply monitor and report back on their work. We are getting ready for the 2023 legislative session. Lots of committees and proposed legislation to follow. 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.