Legislative Report - Week 1/30
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
We have two new volunteers for Natural Resources: Paula Grisafi is providing testimony on Toxics bills. She worked on the Pesticides and Biocides Study and can now put the new positions to use. Carolyn Mayers is following Wildfire issues. She followed the Wildfire hearings at the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development and has concerns with residential buildings in the Wildland Urban Interface. Consider joining them covering issues of your concern.
The League has been invited to present information at the February Board of Agriculture meeting. We have provided a letter sharing our natural resource area priorities for 2023, along with the full League Action Committee Priorities.
On Jan. 31st, the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee heard a report from the Dept. of Agriculture on the Oregon Disaster Assistance Program (with slides). While there was success in helping farmers and ranchers as they dealt with drought, floods, ice storms and excessive heat, there was discussion on a future focus of resiliency programs for agriculture. Look for another Drought package to be introduced this session.
Learn more about dry land farming in Western Oregon here.
By Kathy Moyd
SB 488, the Medical Waste Incinerator Bill (Covanta), is scheduled for a hearing in early February. LWVOR and LWV Marion Polk have provided testimony with concerns about the Covanta facility in past sessions. You might join Beyond Toxics, 350 Salem, and Clean Air Now on Feb 6th at 7:00 pm for an overview of the bill (Medical Waste Incineration Act) and hear about upcoming action alerts and how you help reduce air toxics in Oregon! Register here.
Governor Kotek’s first biennial budget is here. For natural resource agency budgets, start on page 143 of the web document. The Ways and Means (W&Ms) Subcommittees will begin hearing agency budgets as soon as the bills are introduced. Look for the Parks budget Feb. 7th. The Governor’s budget is “balanced” with the use of the ending fund balances of $765 million from 2021-23 that would have gone to the Rainy-Day Fund. Oregon’s reserves are at $2 billion and those funds are not expected to be used, nor is the kicker money expected to be returned to taxpayers. More information on potential kicker distribution amounts will be provided during the Feb. 22nd Revenue Forecast. Kicker amounts won’t be finalized until the 2021-23 budget is closed in Sept.
The House Climate, Energy and Environment Committee held an informational hearing on Jan. 23rd with experts who provided insight into the potential federal programs that Oregon might access from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. LWVOR continues to encourage the Governor and the Legislature to provide staffing to search for and write grants and assure we have staff to implement any programs funded by these federal dollars. The Governor’s budget seems to provide some staffing at the agency level for this work.
By Claudia Keith and Team
See Climate Report in the Climate Emergency section of this Legislative Report. There are overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
By Christine Moffitt
Peggy Joyce, a “public” representative on the Ocean Policy Advisory Council shares a report from their January meeting: All six of the Rocky Habitat Management strategy proposals approved at the December meeting will now begin their journey toward implementation with a recommendation letter to the Land Conservation and Development Commission.
The six proposed and approved Territorial Sea Plan Part Three Rocky Habitat Management Strategy programs are: Ecola Point as a Marine Conservation Area; Chapman Point as a Marine Education Area; Cape Lookout as a Marine Conservation Area ; Fogarty Creek as a Marine Conservation Area with an allowance of subtidal research and a preference for observational research; Cape Foulweather Complex as a Marine Conservation Area with no change to commercial invertebrate harvest and Blacklock Point as a Marine Conservation area.
The Board also received an update on the Territorial Sea Plan Part Four Workgroup process on underseas cable placements along the Oregon coast that should be wrapped up after its next group meeting, Feb 1st.
A comprehensive update was presented to the Council by the Elakha Alliance’s efforts to re-introduce sea otters along the Oregon coast. A great deal of research and study along with the hiring of an Executive Director (Jane Bacchieri) last summer has boosted the confidence of the Alliance that they will be able to begin relocation efforts in 2024.
Dept. Of Environmental Quality
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission will meet next February 9 and 10, for a special meeting to interview the two finalists (Leah Feldon and Jamie McLeod-Skinner) for DEQ Director. The special meeting will be held by Zoom, with a toll-free telephone option for audio-only connection, and more information about the interviews and EQC process are available at the agenda webpage. League members engage in this agency’s multiple missions and will be interested in the Commission’s decision.
Elliott State Research Forest
By Peggy Lynch
On Feb. 1st, the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee heard a presentation from the Dept. of State Lands on the establishment of the Forest and the nexus with Oregon State University (calendar links provided). The League shared our December 2022 State Land Board testimony with committee members.
The OSU Board of Trustees is expected to consider the terms of a potential agreement on the role of OSU in the Elliott at its April 14 meeting. If adopted, the resulting agreement would be voted on by a new Elliott State Research Forest Authority Board of Directors anticipated to be formed by the state on Jan. 1, 2024. An advisory Authority Board was appointed by the State Land Board at its December meeting to help shepherd this process.
Governor Kotek’s Housing Executive Order 23-02 included a role for the newly formed separate agency: the Oregon Dept. of Emergency Services (ODEM). The agency has 90 staffers. Interim Director Matt Garrett shared in a committee hearing that they have been asked to “Create a construct to receive requests” and will work with OHCS. After rural counties expressed concern that they were not included in ExO 23-02, the counties were instructed to submit a letter to ODEM with information on the extent of and growth of homelessness in their counties from 2017 to 2022. The Governor has since requested $1.8 million to “support the emergency response being coordinated by…” ODEM as part of her urgent budget request on Jan. 26th.
Fish and Wildlife
On Jan. 31st, the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee heard a presentation from the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife on the success of funding projects related to drought and the effect on our aquatic creatures.
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony on HB 2983 in support of manufactured housing and testimony on SB 534 in support of a pilot $3 million fund to provide financing for the development of infrastructure and other costs, usable only for housing to remain affordable to moderate income households for at least 30 years.
HB 2487 allows weddings or other events east of the summit of the Cascades on EFU lands. LWVOR did not testify, but has real concerns that this law change will affect ranching in Eastern Oregon. These properties are also served by water wells, septic systems and rural farm-to-market roads.
SB 70 will have a hearing Feb. 8th in Senate Natural Resources. The bill amends the definition of high-value farmlands for residential rezoning of lands within the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region from SB 16 (2021). LWVOR opposed SB 16 due to conversion of EFU lands and the need for water and septic systems for rural housing; however, it did pass in 2021. Because Malheur County has concerns about implementing SB 16 EFU definitions, SB 70 has been filed this session. We continue to be concerned.
More land requests being considered by the Semiconductor Committee: two each 500 acres, 4 each of 50 acres and 8 each of 15 acres. Unfortunately, much of this acreage would be at the loss of agricultural lands—the second most important and most stable economic engine in Oregon.
HB 2889: Establishes Oregon Housing Needs Analysis within Housing and Community Services Department. LWVOR supports. You can watch a presentation of this concept in the House Housing Committee on Jan. 17. This is a Priority housing bill for LWVOR this session.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Shirley Weathers
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) has provided to the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) a first draft of proposed rules for Division 050 Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) on radioactive waste and a matrix presentation of results of a member survey done last year. Members have until March 1, 2023 to submit informal comments to staff. The precise schedule of activities after that point, including a public comment period on the more advanced draft, has not yet been announced.
By Kathy Moyd
The Right to Repair bill, SB 542, will have a hearing Feb. 9th at 1p. We hear an amendment will be submitted.
See the Senate Energy and Environment hearings on Feb. 14th for bills related to polystyrene and plastics.
By Paula Grisafi
LWVOR will follow the Toxics Free Schools bill when it is filed. More to come.
By Peggy Lynch
LWVOR has a statutory seat on the OHA’s Drinking Water Advisory Committee and we need a volunteer!
The Secretary of State (SOS) did an advisory report on water. The Oregon Capitol Chronicle provided a good article on the issue. LWVOR participated in a year-long process to consider water processes. A report was provided to the legislature with a series of recommendations. Of particular note is Section 1: Overarching Recommendations. OPB points to the issue of enforcement and decentralized water management. The 2017-2022 Integrated Water Resources Strategy Progress Report provides a list of funding requests. The SOS did a presentation to the House Agriculture, Land use, Natural Resources and Water Committee on Jan. 31st.
Crook County has declared a state of drought emergency for the fourth consecutive year. The measure was taken so that its residents can tap into state funds to alleviate the financial burden brought on by the exceptionally dry conditions. The Governor has to officially declare these drought emergencies.
According to the US Drought Monitor, nearly 64% of Oregon is experiencing moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought conditions. Changes over recent weeks include a number of improvements and degradations. Reservoir storage contents in most U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (including Klamath) projects are measuring well below average, with many showing similarities to the past couple water years.
The League is reviewing HB 3100, a bill that updates requirements for the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS). Section 1 of the bill has many positive additions but Section 2 requires yet another standing Advisory Committee. Committees take staff time and resources and the Water Resources Commission provides adequate oversight. We’ll listen to others as we consider testimony on this bill, but we wholeheartedly support the guidance of the IWRS as it links multiple water agencies towards “abundant clean water for all”.
We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. “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.
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.
By Carolyn Mayers
See hearings on Feb. 6th in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources for bills related to wildfire.
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. The 2023 legislative session is at hand with over 2,000 bills already filed. Help! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Training will be offered.