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Wave of new Oregon permit rules

November 16, 2011

New Layer of Permitting Regulations May be In Offing

By John Ledger
Associated Oregon Industries

Oregon’s largest business advocate

After almost two years, DEQ’s Portland Air Toxics Solutions Committee wrapped up its final meeting and the DEQ issued a semi-draft report for comment. The word “Portland” should really have been replaced with “Oregon” since the committee work may be used to generate a new round of statewide regulations on top of the existing and expanding state and federal programs.

Much of Oregon’s job creation effort depends of the ability of companies to gain or modify permits. Permitting has become increasingly costly in Oregon and there are concerns that a new layer of permitting requirements will further slow the process thus making building, expanding, and creating jobs more difficult – especially in comparison with other states.

Although business representatives on the committee were out-numbered approximately eight to one, many of most egregious proposals were set aside and the process was openly and fairly run. Still, the report contains several sections that are problematic and appears to be setting the stage for a new set of rulemaking workgroups that will focus on a range of sources from trucks, to facilities to storage tanks. A new layer of requirements to be determined on an ad hoc permit-by-permit basis by permit writers; the “suggestion” that plants close down (and, one assumes, send everybody home) when there are recreational activities taking place nearby; and various technical issues all present problems. And the widely supported requirement that monitoring data must demonstrate that there is an actual problem before new layers of permitting requirements are layered on (an understanding reached as a predicate to the adoption of the existing air toxics rules), appears to be in endanger of abandonment.

The process did; however, produce some results that probably surprised some on the committee:

Because of extensive and expanding federal and state regulations, a relatively small component of Portland air toxics emissions come from industrial sources. In the report – the industrial sector is ranked eighth out of eleven source categories.

1. No exceedences of any benchmarks or ambient standards have been measured at any Portland air toxics monitoring station attributable to industrial sources.

2. There are ongoing expansions of federal and state programs that will continue to result in emission reductions from virtually all source categories well into the future.

3. There are multiple and extensive layers of existing federal and state toxic emission reduction regulations, including the base state and federal permitting programs and a new, comprehensive, statewide air toxics control program recently adopted by the Department.

The complete list is too extensive to fit in these comments, but includes:

— New comprehensive statewide DEQ air toxics program;
— New EPA National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for industrial categories (e.g., Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) requirements);
— New EPA regulations for mobile sources;
— New EPA Residual Risk Analysis and MACT controls; and
— New diesel and other engine emission controls and reductions.

AOI and the Oregon Metals Industry Association submitted joint comments which can be seen here. The agency is expected to present the report to the Environmental Quality Commission, but exactly what the agency will be seeking from the commission (e.g., directive to draft new regulations) is not clear. AOI will remain active in this issue as it moves forward.

  
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