The Litmus Test

Today at 1pm at a Special Meeting of the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission begins with an hour-long public comment period. The topic: What you'd like to see as the characteristics of the new Department of Environmental Quality Director. The EQC has hired a Denver-based recruitment firm to lead the process. Earlier attempts to find a suitable candidate were found lacking, so this is a second attempt to identify suitable candidates. What would you want to see? Listen to Nick Caleb articulate his wishes for a new DEQ Director. Read my earlier remarks which have been ...

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Final DEQ Woodsmoke Recommendations

After months of meetings and a roadshow that took the DEQ to virtually every corner of the state, today the Final Report of the Woodsmoke Workgroup, as chartered in House Bill 3068 (2015), was published. Download the report here. Oregon's problem with woodsmoke goes beyond the 9 cities that flirt with nonattainment – the consequences of not meeting clean air standards as set by the EPA can be severe. For example, it may be no surprise that many of Oregon's nonattainment locales are also economically depressed, often rural regions. The consequences of nonattainment ...

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Washington County Woodsmoke Program Expands

"Is this the first step in the woodsmoke mitigation plan I've heard about?" I'd seen a tweet from Washington County that pointed to a Wood Stove Exchange Program that's just getting started in Washington County. "Actually, it's step #3," said Matt Davis, Senior Project Coordinator, Washington County Department of Health & Human Services. "We started with education and burn ban ordinances last year." He went on to inform me of their educational outreach which includes the typical Burn Wise practices, e.g. use only dry wood. People could sign up for Public Alerts, ...

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The Woodsmoke Workgroup in Eugene

Today was the 5th of five meetings of the DEQ Woodsmoke Workgroup, this time back in Eugene. Over the past several months the DEQ and the Workgroup members have drafted a series of Initial Recommendations; today was the final opportunity to make public comment.

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The EQC Meets to Discuss DEQ Strategic Goals

I placed it on my calendar as "DEQ Vision and Strategic Goals" – the email came on short notice. The Environmental Quality Commission met this morning to review everything from budgets and setting priorities to the quite candid discussion of DEQ's credibility and how to rebuild it. Listen to the first hour – you'll have to guess who's speaking, but one thing you'll hear is their frank comments about an agency that is working to rebuild trust.

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City Club Air Toxics Update

City Club attracts civic minded members and last night they gathered at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub as Chris Bacher moderated a discussion that covered the gamut – industrial toxics, diesel and woodsmoke. Listen to Spencer Ehrman describe the efforts of the DEQ Woodsmoke Workgroup as it prepares its final recommendations to the Legislature.

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Another Eastside Hotspot

Woodsmoke – it's the perfect starter-kit for complex air pollution hazards. The tiny particulates in woodsmoke mate with industrial and diesel molecules to form really yucky sticky molecules that behave like the medicine in your inhaler – making the toxic crap easier to breathe deep into the lungs – all in the name of smoky wood flavor. Portland Clean Air's Greg Bourget documents the location. Of course they're poisoning the neighborhood and their patrons, but worst of all, they're poisoning their staff. They should know better.

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Woodsmoke: More Concrete Steps are Needed

I've sat-in on several meetings of the DEQ Woodsmoke Workgroup. I've traveled to Eugene, Bend, Salem, La Grande, Pendleton and Beaverton as the DEQ formulated then presented their Initial Recommendations. I'm not satisfied. Woodsmoke is a persistent problem in every jurisdiction, worldwide. Oregon with its vast forests and lumber industries represents an added challenge, but regulators everywhere struggle to make progress against what the PDX City Club called in their 2013 Air Toxics Report, And that preeminent rating won't be changing one iota based on what ...

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DEQ Woodsmoke Recommendations are “Toothless”

The clock is ticking... Public Comments are due July 6th as the DEQ formulates a response to HB 3068, which asks how to remediate woodsmoke air pollution across Oregon. Woodsmoke is a persistent problem for many reasons: it's abundant, cheap and humans have been burning wood since the beginning of time. But some regions are making progress, like Pendleton's Wood Stove Replacement Program, but is the DEQ paying attention? Many feel the DEQ Woodsmoke Workgroup's Initial Recommendations need more, well as Multnomah County resident Deb Taevs laments, Taevs ...

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Spencer Ehrman sits on the Woodsmoke Workgroup

The DEQ Woodsmoke Workgroup visited Beaverton yesterday, the last stop on the roadshow. Several members of the Workgroup were present and offered commentary. Listen to Spencer Ehrman as he offers a critique of the DEQ recommendations.

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