Legislative Report - Week of 1/10 - 1/17
LWVOR NATURAL RESOURCES LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Ready, set, go! Bill numbers are being assigned and bills assigned to committees. Governor Kotek is developing her Recommended Budget, due Feb. 1. Session officially begins January 17.
Enjoy this article on water rights, soil health and indigenous farming in Central Oregon.
The U.S. Senate confirmed President Biden's appointment of Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor as the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Lauren Henderson is currently serving as Interim Director; another opening for Governor Kotek to fill.
The second Air Toxics Science Advisory Committee (ATSAC) meeting will be held via Zoom Webinar on January 20 1:00-4:00 PM Pacific Time. For More information on ATSAC and to access meeting documents and Zoom link, please visit the ATSAC website.
We are all awaiting Governor Kotek’s Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB)—due by Feb. 1. The League has engaged with natural resource state agencies as they developed their Agency Request Budgets (ARBs), but it will be the GRB that agencies can then advocate for with the legislature. Hearings on those budgets will begin in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources after the GRB is presented. Next will come a Feb. 22 Revenue Forecast with a rebalance of the 2021-23 legislative approved budget (LAB). The 2023-25 budget will be balanced after the May Revenue Forecast.
by Claudia Keith and Team
See Climate Report in the Climate Emergency section of this Legislative Report with overlaps to the Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
By Christine Moffitt
Coos County, City of Coos Bay, and City of North Bend have been working on updates to the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan (CBEMP). The County file number assigned to this project is AM-22-005. Locally, our Coos County League (LWVCC) members attended two meetings regarding the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan An open house was held January 7 at the North Bend Community Center for the public to learn about the products and process going forward. There was a good turn out by the interested public from LWVCC, Rogue Climate, Oregon Shores and other interested public. They asked a lot of questions about the maps provided and how to engage.
Convenors announced that the process that began in approximately 2012-3 was to provide information updates so that the CBEMP could be revised. They indicate that the project did not get to the revision due to Covid but the rest of the story is county push back due to the Jordan Cove project and pressure to not revise these zones and classifications. First stage funding is coming through DLCD, contracted with Michael Howard and Amanda Ferguson, University of Oregon, Institute for Policy Research and Engagement. This first phase is to bring the existing plan up to date with appropriate editing and make it digital for the first time as it was a typed document from the past. The contractors presented their project to Planning Commissioners on January 4. The City of Coos Bay and North Bend City Councilors and Board of Commissioners met directly following that meeting. An effort in the Yaquina led by Oregon Shores is moving and has spent years looking at a more watershed-based approach to this.
The Coos County League is continuing with International Port of Coos Bay updates and are planning a zoom meeting for Saturday 21 Jan, to be recorded and posted as a YouTube. Please watch and share this latest video on understanding hypoxia and dead zones by Francis Chan and Jack Barth and produced by David Parker’s OSU Productions team with your networks. It is excellent and was produced by OSU.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves into seawater and is altering the oceans chemical makeup faster than ever in history. As a result, our ocean is now 30% more acidic than it was 200 years ago.
The Oregon Ocean Science Trust website (OOST) has scheduled its next quarterly meeting (Agenda) for January 25, 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM, on Zoom. We will have Board approval of the Nearshore Projects selection. The Board will also review needs and priorities for Legislative funding requests in the 2023-2025 biennium. Senator Anderson and Rep Gomberg are non-voting Trustmembers. Worth reading: How Do Tidal Marshes Store Carbon?
The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership (PMEP) just released a request for proposals for projects that will advance fish habitat conservation and restoration along the West Coast. Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership (pacificfishhabitat.org) Their restoration synthesis report provides a comprehensive study of selected Pacific coast locations.
ODFW's Marine Reserves Program has a new leader: Dr. Lindsay Aylesworth. She oversees the management and scientific monitoring of Oregon's five marine reserves and nine Marine Protected Areas and works on marine reserves policy. Her first major task was leading the roll out of the Marine Reserves Synthesis Report, an extensive overview of the first 10 years of marine reserves and an important check-in on development and execution of this relatively new nearshore conservation and monitoring program. It gives Oregonians a chance to reflect on the accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned, and contributions since the program's inception in 2012. LWVOR did a Coastal Study in 2012 and adopted updated positions that include supporting Marine Reserves.
Here is a great OPB article on the new Marine Conservation Areas as a follow up on the Oregon Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) December 9 meeting. These recommendations now go to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC ) for final, official designation.
COLUMBIA RIVER TREATY
By Phillip Thor
“The Columbia River Treaty (CRT or Treaty) is an international agreement between the United States and Canada for the cooperative development and operation of the water resources of the Columbia River Basin to provide for flood control and electric power. The Treaty was the result of more than 20 years of negotiations between the two countries and was ratified in 1961. Implementation began in 1964.”
Our League volunteer reviewed the latest status update and provides this insight: Neither country has given notice of termination but both countries have indicated a desire to renegotiate with modifications, primarily to reflect new issues, namely water flows for anadromous fish, Tribal interests and sharing of hydropower benefits. A renegotiated Treaty would also specify continuation of flood control operations after 2024. The League of Women Voters of Oregon participated in these initial discussions and wrote letters expressing their interests. Other PNW Leagues were similarly engaged. The LWVOR was interested in pursuing Treaty Renegotiation, including adding “ecosystem function,” future flood control operations, and appropriate adjustments to hydropower benefits sharing. The League was also interested in furthering climate change provisions.
“The United States hosted the 14th round of negotiations with the Government of Canada to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime in Spokane, Washington October 4-5, . As a result of our discussions, we have been able to find common ground on aspects of flood risk management, hydropower coordination, ecosystem cooperation, and increased Canadian operational flexibility. We will continue to work to address outstanding issues in these areas in the coming months.”
Resolving flood control operations has a more pressing timeline, the so-called future approach for “called upon” flood control. In summary, there will likely be many more rounds of Treaty negotiations, with a variety of issues left to be resolved, before Congress will get the chance to ratify a “modernized” new Columbia River Treaty.
ELLIOTT STATE FOREST
By Peggy Lynch
As reported in the last Report, the Dec. 13 State Land Board acted to officially create the Elliott State Research Forest. OPB provided a great article on how we have created North America’s largest research forest. A draft Forest Management Plan is ready for consideration. We still need to adopt a Draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), anticipated July 1, 2023. The Dept. of State Lands website provides information on the Elliott as does OSU . The OSU Board of Trustees will meet Jan. 20 from about 1-2p for a briefing on the link between OSU and the Forest.
By Peggy Lynch
The association between tree planting and mortality: A natural experiment and cost-benefit analysis. The results of the study were remarkable. The study shows the more trees planted, the lower the mortality rate of the census tract. Specifically, planting 11.7 trees in each neighborhood — the average annual number of trees planted in a tract — was associated with 15.6 fewer non-accidental deaths and five fewer cardiovascular deaths per year on average. Assigning the statistical value to an adult human life at $10.7 million — the value used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — researchers calculated that planting one tree in each of Portland's 140 census tracts amounts to an annual life-saving cost benefit of $14.2 million. The cost of maintaining those 140 trees, researchers estimate, is between about $3,000 and $13,000 annually. That amounts to a cost-benefit ratio of about 1,700-to-1, Donovan said.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s Audit Division reviewed the Oregon Forest Practices Institute (OFRI) work and concluded: OFRI’s Statute Undermines its Public Benefit and the State Agency is Not Transparent About its Statutory Mandate to Support the Industry. Look for potential legislative action on OFRI again this session.
See “Wildfire” below for a report on the Oregon Wildfire Council.
By Peggy Lynch
The League participated in an hour-long Land Use 101 presentation, providing legislators with a primer on our land use planning program and potential legislative action in 2023.
On Jan. 10, Governor Kotek signed 3 Executive Orders focused on homelessness and the need for more housing. The first two provide money and instructions to agencies addressing homelessness, while the third creates a new Housing Production Advisory Council to work toward a goal of 34,000 new housing units by the end of the year. The League has been involved in agency and legislative work on these issues and supports much contained in the Orders. We believe strongly that a major infrastructure investment in our current cities and Urban Growth Boundaries will provide “buildable lots” for such housing, as well as public investments to address the critical need for units priced at or below 80% of the Average Median Income (AMI). We were, however, comforted by Governor Kotek’s comment: “We don’t need to have a big conversation about land use right now, although we might in the future.”
A quick update on bills this session: SB 70 is a “correction” to SB 16 (2019), a bill that would have allowed 100 homes on farmland and which we opposed, was passed but never implemented. At first glance, we will oppose SB 70 as well. We hope for more positive than negative land use bills in 2023. More to come…
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 the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report also.
By Kathy Moyd
DEQ held a Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meeting on January 11, most of the agenda dealing with the administrative aspects of the changes. However, one area of general interest is the list of materials to be accepted (current recommendations presented at the meeting). To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page: Recycling Updates 2023.
A fun factoid from Rep. Gomberg’s recent newsletter: Research indicates each American ingests about ten grams of micro-plastics each week. That’s about the volume of plastic found in a typical credit card.
The City of Roses Disposal and Recycling, Inc. (Portland, Ore.) received an EPA Award to develop a real-time recycling inventory aggregation and management software for construction and demolition waste.
By Peggy Lynch
The HB 5006 (2021) workgroup formed to consider regional water management opportunities that build on the 100-Year Water Vision and further the goals of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. See their report to the legislature and public website. The League had a member on the work group. Recommendations include the need for adequate funding for all the water agencies, including the need for data, analysis and multi-agency coordination so Oregon can have good water management no matter what other programs might be implemented. Also being considered is a new, more expansive (with sideboards) version of place-based planning with much more rigorous public involvement. The League is 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 and a new Place-Based Planning program.
The League is working with legislators and others to develop legislation around water quality, quantity and ecosystem services. We hope to support bills that improve water management and coordination among the agencies.
Of major importance related to water is the Dec. 30 announcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army (the agencies) that a final rule establishing a durable definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) to reduce uncertainty from changing regulatory definitions, protect people’s health, and support economic opportunity may correct a previous administrative rule. The final rule restores essential water protections that were in place prior to 2015 under the Clean Water Act for traditional navigable waters, the territorial seas, interstate waters, as well as upstream water resources that significantly affect those waters. As a result, this action will strengthen fundamental protections for waters that are drinking water sources while supporting agriculture, local economies, and downstream communities.
More information, including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice and fact sheets, is available at EPA’s “Waters of the United States” website.
EPA and the Army are issuing a joint coordination memo to ensure the accuracy and consistency of jurisdictional determinations under this final rule. Second, the agencies are issuing a memo with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide clarity on the agencies’ programs under the Clean Water Act and Food Security Act.
EPA’s rule website contains final rule language, fact sheets for various sectors, and summaries of consultations with states/territories and tribal governments. The rule will be effective 60 days after Federal Register publication.
From the Statesman Journal: “A plan that will reshape management of 13 dams and reservoirs in the Willamette River Basin is the subject of four meetings next week in Eugene, Springfield, Sweet Home and Stayton. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting the meetings after it released a 2,200 page blueprint for managing how it stores and releases over 500 trillion gallons of water used for drinking, irrigation and recreation in the Willamette Valley. A public comment period for people to weigh in on the seven alternatives the Corps are considering is underway until Feb. 23. While the meetings are good for information and to ask questions of the Corps, people still need to submit comments via email (email@example.com) or mail to PO Box 2946, Portland, OR., 97208-2946. “What we’re doing now will be important for how we manage the system for the next 30 years,” Nicklas Knudson, acting project manager for the EIS revisions with the Corps, told the Statesman Journal in December. “This is the best chance to directly affect how we manage this system in the future. At this point, we can still make changes.” If your water comes from the Willamette River, this project is important to you.
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.” The League has followed the danger of harmful algal blooms and continues to provide a link for members to follow: 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.
From the Oregon Lakes Assn. newsletter: The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has developed a website that downloads and displays satellite images of cyanobacteria for large lakes and reservoirs in Oregon. Released in the spring of 2022, the tool represents a significant improvement in how lake managers and the general public receive information about potentially harmful algal blooms across the state. DEQ developed the website as a cost-effective way to rapidly detect and examine cyanobacteria blooms in large waterbodies across Oregon. For each week from March through October, images from the Sentinel 3 satellites are downloaded and processed from NASA with methods consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s CyAN project. The Oregon-specific website displays the seven-day average daily maximum cell count for each waterbody and flags those that have counts >100,000 cells/mL according to World Health Organization guidelines. For flagged waterbodies, DEQ reaches out to regional managers to encourage collection of on-the-ground information as a basis for recommending additional water quality sampling. Time series data (from 2016 onward) of cyanobacteria cell counts for specific waterbodies are also available to view and download on the website.
In Dec. 2020, the EPA and the Indian Health Service (IHS) completed a formal agreement that provides more than $23 million to build a new water treatment plant at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. IHS obligated $13,601,000 toward the project and EPA provided $10,262,000. Nearly all the funding is the result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The EPA awarded LeapFrog Design (Bend, Ore.) to develop a modular ecological water treatment system for onsite capture and non-potable reuse from single-family residences.
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. Oregonians need to celebrate the early snowfall and the rain these past weeks. But we must hope that the snow stays on until well into April or May next year.
By Peggy Lynch
As Oregonians rebuild from the devastating wildfires, the Oregon Dept. of Energy will provide financial support to improve energy efficiency to make rebuilt homes and businesses more comfortable and provide long-term energy savings. Oregonians rebuilding site-built homes can receive $3,000 for rebuilding to current energy code or $6,000 for rebuilding to an above-code standard – those rebuilding who are also considered low- or moderate-income can receive higher rebates of $7,500 or $15,000. Some of the communities lost in the wildfires included manufactured home parks, so Oregonians replacing lost or damaged manufactured homes with energy efficient models can receive $12,500, plus an additional $5,000 for installing a qualifying heat pump system to improve heating and cooling. To date, ODOE has reserved or issued 336 incentives totaling $2,806,904.
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. 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.