Legislative Report - September 2022
Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator
League volunteers have been busy attending natural resource agency Board and Commission meetings and participating in rulemakings as well as following the interim legislative meetings Sept. 21-23. The next interim legislative meetings are Dec. 7-9 where the focus will be on expected legislation for the 2023 session. The next Revenue Forecast will be Nov. 16 and will be used by the new Governor to develop her Governor’s Request Budget. Final budget decisions rest with the 2023 legislature.
By Jaime Carleton/Deborah Clark/Peggy Lynch
In our last report, we shared information on proposed Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits in the Mid-Willamette Valley related to large poultry farms. Since then, Senator Golden, Chair of the Senate Interim Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee, accepted Senator Dembrow’s offer to convene a workgroup. He reported on Sept. 22 that the workgroup has completed its work and we may see legislation from a variety of the participants in 2023. Areas of interest include the current exemption related to water usage around “stock watering” and air quality (See article.) You can find the work of the CAFO workgroup at the workgroup website.
Look for adoption of a new Memorandum of Understanding between ODA and DEQ to clarify each agency’s role in a variety of agency work. It was last updated in 2012.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service awarded over $2 million in Fiscal Year 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding to Oregon. This USDA grant will help the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research. The following two projects have direct application to climate actions: Overcoming Barriers to Cover Crop Use in Hazelnut Production and Collaborative Market Development for Climate Resilient Vegetables in Oregon.
By Kathy Moyd
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public comment period for the proposed rules for the Air Quality Permitting Update 2022 closed on July 11 with a public hearing on June 27. LWVOR reviewed the proposed rules and decided we did not have enough expertise to evaluate the effect of the rules, most of which were for technical changes. A description of the program was provided and informational presentation was given at the Environmental Quality Commission meeting on September 22. Item C: Air Quality Permitting Program rulemaking updates (Informational) . Item C presentation slides. DEQ will present information about updates and rulemaking under development for the Air Quality Permitting Program and intends to present the proposed rules for commission consideration later this year.
NEXT Energy Group Air Quality Permit: DEQ held a public hearing April 27 on the draft air quality permit for NEXT Energy Group to develop a renewable diesel production facility in Clatskanie. The facility would use recycled cooking oil, vegetable oils, animal fats, etc. to produce 1.58 million gallons a day of renewable fuel products (diesel, naphtha, jet fuel) at start-up, expected to grow to more than 2.1 million gallons a day at full capacity. The final DEQ air quality permit, the permit review report and DEQ’s responses to public comments are all available on the DEQ project webpage. DEQ made several revisions to the permit based on public comments which are listed at the end of the response to comments document.
The Emergency Board approved 4 new positions to DEQ to assure that air quality permits for any new semiconductor manufacturing facilities would be assured prompt review. It was one of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on this issue earlier this year.
The August 31 Revenue Forecast indicated a continuing increase in taxes collected which increased both the funds available to the legislature AND additional monies that will go back to taxpayers as a tax credit in 2024 (known as the kicker). However, increased costs due to inflation and the potential for a recession in 2024 will cause decision makers to be cautious in their 2023-25 spending. The next Revenue Forecast for the state is November 16. See the Office of Economic Analysis website for more information on their work.
The League is also encouraging state agencies to follow federal grant opportunities with the variety of federal spending bills that have been passed these last 2 years to assure that Oregonians get their fair share to do good work here in Oregon. Among the areas of interest is money to repair or replace drinking water and sewer systems in all corners of the state. By reducing those costs to local jurisdictions, we may see more housing and a possible reduction in housing costs. In the reports below are links to many of the Natural Resource agencies Agency Request Budgets.
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.
By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch
League member Christine Moffitt is a member of the Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) which is tasked with awarding grants for ocean science work. The League supported legislation (House Bill 3114) to fund the Trust in 2021. Grants awarded include one to the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH Council) which released its 2022 Biennial Legislative Report. The report highlights actions taken by the Council that are outlined in the State's OAH Action Plan along with goals for the next biennium. Most notably, the report spotlights vital research to increase our understanding of the causes and impacts of OAH.
Oregon’s Coastal Management Program is housed at the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development, in part due to our Goals 16-19 Long time Program Manager Patty Snow has retired and Lisa Phipps has been chosen as the new Manager. Oregon is beginning a new assessment of coastal estuaries, starting in Yaquina Bay, with the first report due in August of 2023. Estuaries are critical assets in addressing climate change.
The Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) has scheduled its next meeting on September 29. The draft meeting agenda is available for review here. 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.
As the federal government investigates the possibility of ocean wind energy, a number of Oregon government groups have weighed in with concerns including the Oregon legislature’s Coastal Caucus. From a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); “The commercial seafood industry alone is an over $700 million-dollar economic driver to our state and generates approximately 7,000 full-time jobs…” The League provided testimony in 2021 on HB 3375, recognizing the need for renewable energy while also addressing our coastal economies and habitats. HB 3375 states in Section 1 (2) (b): “It is further the goal of this state that the planning described in this subsection be conducted in a manner that will maximize benefits to this state while minimizing conflicts between floating offshore wind energy, the ocean ecosystem and ocean users.” The Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division (FRAMD) of the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) also expressed concern regarding groundfish in the BOEM area of wind energy installation based on scientific surveys in the areas. See more in the Climate Report.
DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (DEQ)
By Peggy Lynch
In the news recently there has been concern surrounding contaminated drinking water wells in Morrow and Umatilla Counties. DEQ has issued a revised penalty to the Port of Morrow for additional violations involving overapplication of wastewater containing nitrogen to agricultural fields in the Lower Umatilla Basin, an area with longstanding groundwater contamination. DEQ issued the original penalty in January. The additional violations increase the fine from $1.3 million to $2.1 million. The Port of Morrow is one of many sources contributing to nitrate contamination in northern Morrow and Umatilla counties—an area known as the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area (LUBGWMA). The primary source of contamination in the area (about 70%) is from fertilizer use on irrigated farmland according to the LUBGWMA Action Plan. Additional contributors are dairy and cattle farms (about 20%), food processing facilities like the Port of Morrow that reuse wastewater to irrigate fields (about 5%), and residential septic systems and other sources (about 5%). On Sept. 23, the legislature’s Emergency Board provided $880,000 to begin to assist those affected by this serious health issue. And the House Interim Committee on Agriculture, Land Use and Water held a series of informational meetings on the issue on Sept. 21. On Sept. 27, DEQ fined the Lamb Weston potato processing facility in Hermiston $127,800 for overapplying wastewater containing nitrogen to farmland and causing nitrate groundwater contamination in the Lower Umatilla Basin. DEQ discovered the violations while preparing a permit renewal for the facility. DEQ is also working with other industrial facilities in the area to ensure appropriate land application practices that protect the area’s groundwater. LWVOR continues to support staffing for DEQ in order to process new and renewed permits in a timely manner.
Leah Feldon, DEQ deputy director since 2016, was appointed interim director of the agency at a meeting of the Environmental Quality Commission on Sept. 23, following the resignation of Director Richard Whitman. Whitman had been expected to leave at the end of the year and a recruitment was already in process.
DEQ has launched the Onsite Septic Financial Aid Program to assist with Oregon’s 2020 wildfire recovery efforts and address other statewide priorities. DEQ will provide up to $15 million in Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to repair, replace, or upgrade septic systems. For more information on the Onsite Septic Financial Aid program, see ordeq.org/onsiteARPAfunds. The League was supportive of this program and related funding.
DEQ has released a new online tool that will give the public greater access to water quality monitoring data. The Pesticide Stewardship Partnerships Data Viewer is an interactive tool that displays monitoring data collected by Oregon’s Pesticide Stewardship Partnerships, a voluntary program co-managed by DEQ and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). They are working on signing a new Memorandum of Understanding with ODA to clarify each agency’s role in a variety of agency work.
DEPT. OF GEOLOGY AND MINERAL INDUSTRIES (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
Information about DOGAMI and access to Oregon geoscience resources can be found here. A plus for the agency has been its success in hiring new staff with their increased 2021-23 budget (supported by LWVOR).
The agency’s 2023-25 budget request includes Policy Option Package 102, Oregon Mapping Program, that would add 4.3 staffers with a goal of geologic mapping to understand the conservation and sustainability of water resources, and mineral and critical mineral resource potential. This work should link with aquifer and groundwater studies at the Water Resources Dept. and also may benefit from federal funds in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 that invests billions over the next five years to help the U.S. regain a leading position in semiconductor chip manufacturing. Besides semiconductor manufacturing plants, there will be a need for rare minerals, some of which exist in Oregon.
DEPT. OF STATE LANDS (DSL) and STATE LAND BOARD
By Peggy Lynch
The State Land Board approved DSL’s budget request for 2023-25 with a budget presentation and a complete budget document. Besides providing monies to complete the transfer of the Elliott State Forest, their budget includes a request for $40 million in General Funds to address the increasing abandoned and derelict vessels that are polluting our waters. This issue was raised at the Land Board’s August 9 meeting. See page 20 of the Board packet for more info. The League is likely to support this request, an issue we have testified needed addressing the past few sessions. The Land Board (Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer) meeting agendas and materials are available on the DSL website. Their meetings are also live-streamed on their YouTube channel.
ELLIOTT STATE FOREST
By Peggy Lynch
The Dept. of State Lands provides a website with information about the Elliott as does OSU. There are two public listening sessions scheduled to share the DRAFT Forest Management Plan on Sept. 27 (virtual) and Oct. 18 (in Coos Bay/hybrid). The Forest Advisory Committee will meet Nov. 15.
By Peggy Lynch
The legislative Emergency Board met for 3.5 hours on Sept. 23rd and approved a long list of grant requests, agency reports and expenditures. Here is a short list of some approved requests. State agencies need to get approval from the legislature to apply for grants and then, if awarded, approval to spend the money. State agencies are also asked to provide interim reports to the legislature on a variety of issues and such reports are acknowledged when received. Those reports may help in determining any new action the legislature may want to take in the next session. Lastly, the 2021 legislature provided monies to the Emergency Board to spend between sessions. However, they cannot approve new programs nor remove monies from agencies. To hear more about each item, you can listen to the three Emergency Board Subcommittees who discussed the items in depth.
Effective July 1, Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is officially operating as a separate agency--the Oregon Department of Emergency Management. A result of House Bill (HB) 2927, passed in 2021, this transition establishes OEM as a stand-alone cabinet-level department reporting directly to the governor. The agency previously served as a division of the Oregon Military Department. Becoming a stand-alone department coincides with unprecedented growth in state-level emergency management. Since the 2021 legislative session, OEM has more than doubled its staff and seen budgetary increases to fund the increased capacity. Regional coordination teams now serve as dedicated local points of contact and a separate tribal liaison is also part of the team. The House Interim Committee on Veterans and Emergency Management will follow this transition. Rep. Paul Evans led this work during the 2021 session.
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)
ODFW submitted its 2023-25 Agency Request Budget and an ODFW Budget Summary 2023-25 ARB for the new Governor’s consideration. Their Commission met on June 17th and also approved a Cooperative Management Agreement with the Coquille Indian Tribe to jointly manage historic tribal lands in Curry, Coos, Douglas, Lane & Jackson Counties.
By Marylou Schnoes
The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board has a website with information about its charge and meeting schedule. LWVOR has a member on the Board. The Board will meet on October 3, both virtually and in person in Richland, WA. The meeting agenda includes: Updates from the U.S. Department of Energy about cleanup progress and activities at the site; An update from Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. EPA’s Hanford Project Office; and Updates from Oregon Department of Energy staff on what’s happened since the last OHCB meeting. A full meeting agenda and other meeting materials will be available on their website prior to the meeting.
By Peggy Lynch
The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) has submitted their Agency Request Budget that includes a big list of Policy Option Packages (POPs). Staff reported to their Commission (LCDC) on the 2022 legislative session. LCDC had a regular meeting in John Day on Sept. 22-23 where a number of agenda items were considered. Their next meeting is set for Nov. 17-18 in Lincoln City. The new Director has proposed moving to quarterly meetings (from every 2 months) in 2023.
LWVOR has a member participating in a “policy table” in advance of the legislative session on renewable energy and transmission siting. This is both a climate and land use issue.
For those who haven’t lived in Oregon forever and want a better understanding of Oregon’s statewide land use planning system, Jeff Mapes, journalist for Oregon Public Broadcasting, has written a series to read/listen to: History of Oregon’s land use system: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five; Part Six. To link to LWVOR’s work, we engaged in land use planning studies back in 1959, did another on regional growth in 1969 and one on private and public property rights in 1973. The League supported SB 100 in 1973 and much of what Mr. Mapes did with his stories have LWVOR and local Leagues in the middle of those issues. We continue to be engaged in public policies around this important program that is about where we all live, work, shop and play and how we get there There are 19 Goals with the first 10 having been part of legislative direction at the beginning and Goals 11-14 were added as a part of a robust public engagement soon after. Goal 15 was added around the Willamette Greenway and then the final four Goals (16-19) were formerly coastal goals folded into the final 19. In the last few years, public participants have suggested that a Goal 20 on climate might be appropriate. At this point, the Commission has instead directed staff to use a climate lens under all the Goals. For instance, they have just adopted new rules to guide the development of Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities in the eight Metropolitan Planning Organization locations around Oregon—Oregon’s largest city areas.
LCDC has two statutory advisory committees. The League has been engaged with and often has members serving on the Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee (CIAC). LCDC has recently reconstituted their Local Officials Advisory Committee (LOAC). Both groups are public entities with opportunities for the public to engage.
Other recent rulemaking has included implementing HB 2001 (2019), Middle Housing: More information about House Bill 2001 (2019) and HB 2003 (2019). More information about House Bill 2003 (2019). 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. To learn more you might listen to a radio program interview with Sean Edgings of DLCD. LWVOR has a member on the Housing Capacity Work Group. A DRAFT Report has been released with public comments due Oct. 3.
The Sept. 21 House Interim Committee on Housing meeting included a presentation on housing and worker shortages by Josh Lehner, state economist, and Sean Edging of DLCD on the Work Groups mentioned above. On Sept. 22, the Senate Interim Committee on Housing and Development meeting also included a presentation by Mr. Edging. Lastly, there was a presentation in the House Interim Committee on Economic Development and Small Business around “Supporting Oregon’s Semiconductor Industry”. I share this item in this land use section since we are told that these industries need 500-1,000 acres of serviced industrial land in order to more move to or expand in Oregon. That’s on top of the assumed land needed for more housing.
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.
As you can see above, housing is a multi-agency concern. A separate agency is the Housing and Community Services Dept. Here is their 2023-25 proposed Agency Request Budget.
See also the Housing Report in other sections of this Legislative Report.
NORTHWEST ENERGY COALITION (NWEC)
By Robin Tokmakian
Our League member is participating in a policy committee with NWEC on Gas Utility decarbonization. The goal is to have a draft policy by next spring.
OREGON WATERSHED ENHANCEMENT BOARD (OWEB)
Here are the OWEB 2023-25 Agency Budget Requests.
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 has been working on a draft. The process has slowed due, in part, to the loss of the key staffer who was in charge of the project. Timing is uncertain at this writing.
By Kathy Moyd
The Rulemaking Advisory Committee established in response to SB 582 (2021), the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act, conducted its first meeting on July 20, primarily dealing with Producer Responsibility. The next meeting was September 28 with a number of Rules Concepts dealing with administrative concerns. A description of the program was provided and informational presentation given on the development process for the rules was given at the Environmental Quality Commission meeting on September 22: Item D: Recycling Modernization Act updates (Informational); Item D presentation slides.
Section 22 of the Recycling Modernization Act (section-by-section summary) requires the Environmental Quality Commission to identify by rule two lists of materials:
Materials collected by local governments (or their service providers) as part of the opportunity to recycle. This includes most on-route collection from households, some on-route collection from businesses, and some drop-off sites.
Covered products of which a producer responsibility organization must provide for collection through recycling depot or mobile collection events. For such products, the Commission must also establish collection targets, convenience standards and performance standards.
There have been several meetings between March and September devoted to determining the statewide lists of materials, including paper, plastic, aerosol containers, and polypropylene. The results of these meetings will be incorporated into the Rulemaking described above. DEQ intends to present the proposed rules for commission consideration in 2023.
Fun Factoid from the Atlantic: India has banned all single-use plastics amid a national pollution crisis. That’s a stricter measure than that of the European Union, which has restricted single-use plastic “plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds” since last July. At what point will the United States be alone in placing no real limits on plastic waste? Watch for legislation in Oregon in 2023.
By Peggy Lynch
As with the other agencies, here is the legislative and budget webpage--
Agency Request Budget for 2023-25 for the Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD). Besides keeping the wins from the 2021-23 budget, a focus for LWVOR will be on three areas: New groundwater rules and more investment in data and a new version of Place-Based Planning.
OWRD is holding public outreach meetings on potential groundwater rules changes. Oregon water regulators want to impose stricter rules for drilling new irrigation wells next year to preserve groundwater levels and prevent over-pumping. A preliminary analysis of available data suggests that little groundwater across the state is available for new allocations, said Ivan Gall, field services division administrator at the state’s Water Resources Department. The agency plans to hold public outreach workshops about the proposal this summer, following by a “rules advisory committee” to weigh in on potential changes. Under this timeline, the commission could vote to adopt the new regulations in early 2023. The agency is on an “ambitious schedule” to revise the rules for permitting new wells, he said. It plans to later deal with other groundwater reforms, such as the rules for deepening existing wells. LWV of Deschutes County is considering testimony after checking with LWVOR to assure our statements on this issue are aligned.
Groundwater issues exist around the state. Among the areas are Deschutes County and Klamath County where, since 2021, the Oregon Department of Human Services has purchased 350 water tanks for Klamath County. It has delivered 193 tanks to residents. Each tank holds 500 gallons, with the water from a fire hydrant in the yard of the Klamath County Public Works building. The Emergency Board just provided another $5 million to help in this county. Then there’s the disaster of well contamination where the Morrow County Commission has declared a local state of emergency over groundwater nitrate pollution that has compromised drinking water for many in the region. (See more info on DEQ section above.)
As to Place-Based Planning, three of the areas where a pilot project was approved have seen their plans approved. Because there was a sunset clause for this program, 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 h