Cleaner Air Oregon road show expected to bring crowd to Portland meetings

Gov. Kate Brown released her Cleaner Air Oregon plan in October.

Metro residents have two opportunities to weigh in on Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed new regulations for industrial air polluters this week.

The Department of Environmental Quality is hosting two public comment sessions in Portland to hear from residents on Cleaner Air Oregon, Brown’s proposed new regulations for industrial companies that emit air toxins.

The draft rules came in response to the air toxins crisis and resulting public health emergency in Southeast Portland last year. Bullseye Glass faced scrutiny after state regulators recorded high levels of cadmium, a heavy metal carcinogen, in the densely populated section of the city.

Brown released the draft Cleaner Air Oregon plan in October, sparking a 60-day public comment period that concludes Dec. 22. The state’s Environmental Quality Commission, a volunteer body appointed by the governor, is expected to vote on a final rules plan in July 2018.

The plan has faced criticism and skepticism from both industrial interests and neighborhood groups. The former contends the state is considering moving forward with regulations without having a full accounting of what sources are contributing to air pollution, and places too much blame and burden on businesses for Oregon’s air woes. The latter say the plan is too slow and wouldn’t clean up Oregon’s air until 2030 and doesn’t go far enough to protect Oregonians against cancer-causing toxins.

A plan to help pay for the environmental rules thorough a one-time fee on some 2,525 permitted air polluters died in the Legislature in 2017. DEQ Director Richard Whitman has said the state would try again in 2018 to figure out how to pay for the plan.

Meanwhile, the state continues to hold public meeting about the air regulations.

State environmental officials say they’ve received 72 online comments on the rules so far.

Previous meetings in Medford, Coos Bay and Corvallis drew a collective 103 people. A Tuesday meeting was scheduled in Pendleton.

A DEQ spokeswoman said it expects at least 100 people to show up at the Portland meetings.

About 15 staffers will be on hand both days to answer technical questions.

The Wednesday meeting will occur at Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus at 2305 S.E. 82nd Ave. from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday’s meeting will be at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

People can submit comments online and find out more information about upcoming meetings in Eugene, Salem and The Dalles at

— Andrew Theen

In this photo taken Nov. 22, 2017, a juvenile steelhead, collected by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife from a small stream in Medford, Ore., is displayed (Jamie Lusch/The Medford Mail Tribune via AP)
In this photo taken Nov. 22, 2017, Ryan Battleson, left, fisheries biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Harry Foster, volunteer with the Rogue Flyfishers, and Mike Vaara, volunteer with the Middle Rogue Steelheads, check a fish trap on a small creek in Medford, Ore. (Jamie Lusch/The Medford Mail Tribune via AP)

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