Legislative Report December 5-9, 2022
By Peggy Lynch
The last interim 2022 legislative meetings were held Dec. 7-9. Many committees adopted “committee bills,” and the text of those bills may be in committee “meeting materials” as LCs (Legislative Concepts). Bill numbers will be assigned when the session begins. Governor-elect Kotek is developing her Recommended Budget, due Feb. 1. The session officially begins January 17.
Look for bills addressing the need for more regulation around Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits, both in the Mid-Willamette Valley, related to large poultry farms and in the Columbia River Gorge related to large dairy farms.
In the Natural Resource area, the Governor-elect’s transition team shared that they are looking at keeping the Current Services Levels (CSL) for these 14 agencies. However, LWVOR believes much more needs to be done. Interested stakeholders were invited to share our requests to the Dept. of Administrative Services (DAS), which is helping to develop her budget. Our Climate Coordinator joined in developing our requests.
CLIMATE (Claudia Keith and Team):
See the Climate Emergency section of this Legislative Report for report overlaps. We encourage you to read both sections.
COASTAL ISSUES (Christine Moffitt):
The “State of the Coast 2022”, an event sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University, was held in Newport November 5. The event included informative talks on current marine science and policy issues, an opportunity to participate in hands-on activities, and network with research, industry, and community leaders.
The Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH Council) met November 29. Meeting materials are in the OAH Council Meeting Archive & Resources Page.
The chair provided an overview of the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) Symposium held in October that brought together participants from the Pacific coast representing research institutions, monitoring networks, government agencies, Tribes, and intergovernmental organizations. The third Biennial OAH Council Report is now available. Various Projects & Coordination needs were discussed, and public outreach study was discussed.
The group was updated by Rian Hooff on DEQ efforts regarding monitoring methods to assist DEQ in developing procedures for assessing the impacts of ocean acidification and marine dissolved oxygen in Oregon’s territorial waters for future Integrated Report cycles. They have convened a technical work group of key scientists and regulators to establish Biological and Chemical Data methodologies for assessing these impacts for future Integrated Report cycles. Various Projects and Coordination needs and public outreach study were discussed. Prioritizing methods for public outreach is now underway with contractors.
The second Territorial Sea Plan Part 4 Working Group met to discuss studies regarding the Undersea Cable Permitting Process in Oregon, Best Practices in the Undersea Cable industry, and progress on the Undersea Cable Landing Siting Report.
The Oregon Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) met in Coos Bay December 9. They had a lengthy discussion of the proposed 6 sites for Marine Reserve and Marine Education protection. Peggy Joyce, a “citizen at large” member, spent a week visiting all the approved sites. The majority of the proposals are built around community education, informational signs, and printed guides outlining the biological and marine flora and fauna, tide pool organisms, nesting birds, fish, and marine mammals that are the dominant ecological layer of the coast’s marine life and educational tours pointing out why these areas were designated as Marine Conservation Areas.
She reports that all FIVE (one proposal was folded into the original 6 making the total 5 but still covering the same original proposed sites) of the proposed sites - Blacklock Point, Cape Foulweather, Fogarty Creek, Cape Lookout, and Chapman Point/ Ecola Point - were approved for implementation by the Council. More info on the OPAC Meetings Page.
The Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) next quarterly meeting is January 25,, 2023. The agenda includes selection of grantees for Nearshore Projects. See Oregon Ocean Science Trust/Oregon Department of State Lands or the Oregon Ocean Science Trust. Christine Moffitt, League member, is a member of OOST.
The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted new rule language for goal exception criteria for public, ocean-fronting roads, effective October 21. The new rule addition creates a clear path for public roads and highways along the oceanfront to seek a local land use goal exception to use structural shoreline armoring to mitigate coastal erosion. For more information, see the DLCD rulemaking for this rule. This rule does not change other development under Statewide Planning Goal 18, where only certain types of development that existed as of January 1, 1977, are eligible to apply for shoreline armoring permits.
DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (DEQ) (Peggy Lynch):
DEQ is working with Regional Solutions and Morrow and Umatilla Counties to finally seriously address groundwater quality in these counties. Fines have been issued and the Port of Morrow has agreed to pay additional monies to address the nitrate-laden waters, spreading on farmland and is contaminating groundwater in the area—groundwater that is the source of drinking water for many residents who have domestic wells. OPB is following this very serious health issue. More than 400 people around the state attended meetings either virtually or in person.
DEPT. OF GEOLOGY AND MINERAL INDUSTRIES (DOGAMI) (Peggy Lynch):
The Grassy Mountain Gold Mine proposal, located near Vale, continues to move forward. The state agencies have been meeting to review whether or not the application is “complete” so the agencies can process the various permits needed for approval. This is the first proposal using a consolidated permit system—so all agencies are considering their permits together rather than one permit at a time. The process is meant to be more efficient for both the applicant and the public, as well as the agencies. Each permit still must be considered under its individual criteria.
The first edition of Oregon GEO, the new quarterly newsletter of DOGAMI’s Geological Survey & Services (GS&S) program, will highlight GS&S program work and provide useful information about agency projects and publications. See articles on landslides and tsunami safety. A separate newsletter highlights their Mining Division.
ELLIOTT STATE FOREST (Peggy Lynch):
The League has engaged in the future of the Elliott State Forest since before the Land Board considered selling it because it was a drain on the Common School Fund (CSF)—albeit a small one. We engaged during the process to create a transparent bidding process with sideboards for the sale and provided testimony that helped change the Land Board’s mind about selling. On Dec. 13, the Land Board considered finally decoupling the Elliott from the CSF and beginning the process of creating a new Elliott State Research Forest with a public Authority to govern this important public icon. The League provided a letter in support. A Forest Management Plan was also adopted on Dec. 13, and members of the new Authority were appointed. A Draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) still needs to be adopted. A federal outreach is underway, and comments will be accepted through Jan. 3, 2023. Adoption is anticipated July 1, 2023. See the Dept. of State Lands for Elliott information, also OSU.
FORESTRY (Peggy Lynch):
Sweeping changes to the Forest Practices Act came from the unique Private Forest Accord Agreement between industry and environmental groups. The Oregon Board of Forestry approved more than 100 changes to the Forest Practices Act at a special board meeting Oct. 26. The goal of the PFA and the Forest Practices Act rule changes is to provide long-term certainty to industry while providing enhanced protection to critical aquatic species. Visit ODF’s PFA website For more information on Forest Practices Act and Private Forest Accord.
There are 51 new positions in ODF; 21 are field positions. 15-20 are already hired, 10 are in process, and 25 will be hired in a March-April timeline.
See “Wildfire” below for a report on the Oregon Wildfire Council.
LAND USE/HOUSING (Peggy Lynch/Kathy Moyd):
The League provided testimony to the Land Conservation and Development Commission in support of the concept of a new Oregon Housing Needs Analysis but also focused on the need to provide infrastructure monies and staffing for local governments to help them prepare current lands inside their cities and Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs) for development, as that will be the quickest way to create buildable lots for new housing.
A League member, Kathy Moyd, has been participating as Co-Chair of the Transmission Workgroup of the Oregon Energy Siting Policy Table. She provided a report on the Workgroup at the Interim House Environmental and Natural Resources (HENR) Committee meeting on December 8. Land use and environmental interests are represented, as well as energy groups. Outreach to tribes and the underrepresented public is also happening.
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 the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
RADIOACTIVE WASTE (Shirley Weathers):
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE)’s Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) on radioactive waste met to resume work on Division 050 rules on November 7, 2022. This occurred after a several month hiatus due to staffing changes, an information-gathering process involving a member survey, and the general complexity of the task at hand. Discussion centered primarily around some of the more controversial and challenging aspects of Division 050 rules. Staff reported that a “red line draft” was nearly ready for distribution to the RAC for review and comments and that it and a matrix presentation of member survey results would be distributed to members after Thanksgiving. To date, those materials have not been released. The next meeting will be in January.
WATER (Peggy Lynch):
A project, under Budget Note #9 in budget bill HB 5006 (2021) and reported on in previous legislative reports, 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 has created a report to the legislature, available soon; see the Work Group website. 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 2023 bill for 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.
An Update of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) was presented to the House Interim Committee of Agriculture, Land Use and Water on Dec. 7. Findings show that almost all of the recommended actions have received some funding and staff resources from at least one agency since 2017. A significant amount of progress has been made regarding data collection and sharing. Historic federal and state funding have been distributed to help plan and implement water and wastewater infrastructure throughout the state. The next IWRS is anticipated to address climate more holistically, to apply a framework equity lens, and incorporate findings from work under the 100-Year Water Vision. Additional topics may be identified during outreach and engagement. The Oregon Water Resources Dept. will use Oregon’s Kitchen Table for outreach. We hope the legislature will use the agency funding requests listed on pages 13-14 for their 2023 budgets.
The League helped pass HB 2145 (2021) for improved water well construction, and a fund for wildfire victims and low-income water well owners to repair or replace their wells. As of November 7, the Water Resource Dept. had received over 145 applications, completed 99 interim reviews, authorized 66 pre-inspections, completed 52 pre-inspections, and has entered into 36 grant agreements with eligible homeowners.
The Willamette River Basin is under review for its long-term usage. A Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement has been released. The Proposed Action is continued operation and maintenance of the Willamette Valley System in compliance with the ESA and all other applicable laws and regulations. The Preferred Alternative is # 5. To meet the many purposes of the Willamette Valley System, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages a complex operation that includes storing and releasing water from the 13 system reservoirs to balance various needs and demands throughout the year, such as flood control, fish and wildlife, hydropower, recreation, irrigation, water supply, water quality, and navigation. Comments on the draft will be accepted through Jan. 19. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org or USPS to PO Box 2946, Portland, OR 97208-2946. We recommend reading this excellent Statesman Journal article.
A first of its kind Forest Service study revealed that about 90% of people in the West served by public drinking water systems rely on water from national forests and grasslands, sometimes transported hundreds of miles from points of origin to flow into taps.
We have an ongoing drought throughout Oregon, and League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, 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.
We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. A news release explains 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 (Peggy Lynch):
The Wildfire Programs Advisory Council met on Oct. 14 and considered a Draft Report to the legislature on progress made on the requirements of SB 762 (2019). On Dec. 2, they considered a Land Use Addendum. A website provides agendas, meeting materials, and membership. The Council was convened to follow the work of the 11 agencies involved in SB 762. The League is supporting a renewal of funding related to SB 762 (2021) with some minor changes in policies. A report was provided to the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery.
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, email@example.com. Training will be offered.