By Diana Meisenhelter and Janet Weil
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC, who oversees DEQ) were tasked with writing the rules to implement the Governor’s call for emission reductions.
So far, they’ve failed!
Their draft rules propose to exempt Oregon’s top six polluters—all large fracked gas power plants—from regulation, which would result in emissions of up to 9 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually. Communities near these plants would continue to suffer the impacts. There are numerous other loopholes and concerns with the proposed plan.
On September 30th, the EQC was so overwhelmed with calls from Oregonians objecting to their proposed (and badly misnamed!) Climate Protection Plan that they have extended the deadline for feedback. If you have not yet written your comment, please do so now!
DEQ and EQC are accepting comments until Monday, Oct. 25, 2021 at 4 p.m.Send them to: GHGCR2021@deq.state.or.us -include “Rulemaking Comment” in the subject line.
You can also mail comments to:
Oregon DEQ, Attn: Nicole Singh
700 NE Multnomah St, Room 600
Portland, OR 97232-4100
Some talking points:
- The Governor’s target of carbon emissions reductions to 80% of 1990 levels is too little and too late. According to the IPCC, especially with the rapid acceleration of climate chaos, we need to be reducing emissions by at least 10% annually. Worse yet, this plan would only target 40% of state emissions by exempting 6 major gas-powered plants (which account for half of Oregon’s GHG emissions from stationary sources) and 43 large stationary sites.
- The rules should apply to all stationary sources and the initial threshold should be set at 25K MTCO2e. Furthermore stronger actual emission reductions goals must be set with concrete steps on an annual basis instead of faraway target dates. Compliance instrument reserves should not roll over.
- The rules should include emissions from biofuel, biomass, RNG and other source sites as well.
- There should not be community sacrifice zones such as those proposed for areas near many large stationary sites in Columbia, Umatilla, Klamath, and Morrow Counties. This is not in line with DEQ’s equity goals and ignores the effects on frontline communities.
- It is problematic that the rules exclude entities with interstate pipelines and also do not address significant emissions that occur in the production, processing and transportation of these fuels (particularly fracked natural gas) not to mention cancer-causing and smog forming VOCs.