Webinar Outlines Cleaner Air Oregon Challenges, Victories

Published Thursday, August 2, 2018

What does Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), the new air toxics program, mean to Oregon manufacturers? The Stoel Rives law firm and Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) presented a seminar Wednesday where panelists answered that question.

Each company that falls under the new emissions rules will be affected in different ways, but the program—the first of its kind in Oregon—is creating uncertainty and will raise costs for all covered businesses. Panelists reviewed some general themes that apply to most, if not all, affected businesses.

While the rules are stricter than existing emissions limits and will increase the cost of doing business in Oregon, panelists emphasized that through coordinated effort, effective messaging and strategic legislative advocacy Oregon businesses were able to negotiate for legislation that gives businesses’ needs more consideration than earlier proposals. Much of that work was done through the coalition Oregonians for Fair Air Regulations, cofounded by OBI and Stoel Rives.

But passing SB 1541 during the 2018 legislative session was just the first step toward new air toxics rules. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is proposing rules and definitions that would go beyond the intent of the legislation in key areas. Now is the time for manufacturers to push back against regulatory overreach.

The public comment period ends Monday, August 6, at 4 p.m. If you would like to submit a written comment, click here.

Oregonians for Fair Air Regulations intends to submit detailed and thorough comments through Stoel Rives. OBI also will submit comments on behalf of our members. Contact Abbie Laugtug if you would like to sign onto OBI’s comment letter.

Areas that concern OBI and other coalition partners include, but are not limited to:  

  • Regulatory Deadlines: The CAO program will require existing businesses to develop unique emissions information never previously collected in Oregon. Proposed CAO deadlines underestimate the time businesses will need to collect information, conduct emissions inventories and prepare risk assessments.
  • Exempt and De Minimis Project Approvals: The proposed CAO rules identify certain equipment as either exempt or ‘de minimis,’ and therefore not subject to the stricter rules. Yet, the review and permitting period required to approve a project as de minimis is too lengthy and detailed, would demand scarce resources from both businesses and state agencies and would discourage businesses from making facilities upgrades that present no risk and in some cases would reduce emissions. Also, the current levels for a project to be declared de minimis are far below the risk-based regulatory thresholds for existing businesses set in SB 1541.
  • Toxics Best Available Control Technology Deadlines: Companies that exceed acute risk levels would be required to implement Toxics Best Available Control Technology (TBACT). The currently proposed deadline of one month for implementation, with a possible extension of up to five months, is unrealistic and would force businesses to curtail operations. 

Even if the current rulemaking language is improved, Oregon manufacturers will face stricter emissions, increased permitting costs, higher fees and greater public scrutiny of their practices. For more information on proposed rules and fee schedules, click here.

OBI and Oregonians for Fair Air Regulations will continue to advocate for fair rules and provide additional information as rulemaking progresses.