On April 6, 2016, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the launch of the statewide, interagency Cleaner Air Oregon program, issuing the following statement:

“Clean air is fundamental to good health. I am deeply concerned that federal and state air quality programs do not directly consider public health in regulating certain classes of industrial air emissions. This must change.”

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WATCH: Video statement from Governor Brown


Cleaner Air Oregon is a statewide initiative to reform the regulations that control industrial air emissions. Across Oregon, we all want to protect people’s health, preserve the quality of our environment and grow a thriving and competitive economy.

Now, we have an opportunity to close gaps in current federal and state rules. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are working together to develop new health-based regulations that address these priorities.

The new regulations will be developed with input from people from a wide range of perspectives, from across the state. You can help shape the new rules too. Stay informed – and share your comments and ideas.

Cleaner Air Oregon FAQs (Updated 1/12/17)

Is there a list of pollutants that the Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) program is looking at?
A: Yes. The list is comprised of 633 pollutants and can be found on the Air Toxics Emissions Inventory page of DEQ’s website under “List of Air Toxic Contaminants” http://www.deq.state.or.us/aq/cao-instructions.htm

Where did the list come from and why are you asking for the data while you’re still making the rule, instead of after the rule is finalized?
A: The list is a combination of EPA’s 187 HAPs, Washington Department of Ecology’s list, California Air Resources Board (CARB) list, and Oregon’s multi-media air toxics focus list. We need the data so we will know:
The number and type of facilities emitting air toxics that may be subject to new reporting, permitting, or other regulatory requirements;
Help prioritize implementation of any new requirements;
Refine our existing data for nearby industrial source contributions to air pollution that may contribute to human health risk; and
Define the fees that will be needed over time to administer the program.

Will DEQ be providing training and technical assistance?
A: Yes. DEQ is providing a website to assist facilities in gathering and reporting new data. Two webinar training sessions have been scheduled for January 26th and February 8th. Facilities are encouraged to attend the training to learn where to find the calculation parameters (steps and formulas) that can be used to estimate emissions (if necessary). The training sessions can be attended via webinar teleconference or at DEQ’s regional offices. Training information will be posted on the web at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aq/cao.htm and will be sent to the sources.

What if I’m a small facility and I don’t know how to collect the emissions data without hiring and expensive consultant, what do I do?
A: Many permitted sources already calculate emissions of criteria pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds) as a requirement of their permit. The same method will be used to calculate emissions of air toxics. Some businesses do this reporting with in house staff, others hire consultants. DEQ will estimate air toxics emissions from approximately 2,200 smaller sources that currently do not calculate their emissions.

Does Oregon have an ambient air toxics monitoring program?
A: DEQ currently has four full air toxics monitoring stations in operation. Two of these stations are supported by U.S. EPA and are long-term trend monitors in North Portland and La Grande. The other two stations are deployed by DEQ on an annual basis to conduct community assessments. DEQ received funding from the Oregon Legislature for two more full air toxics stations and is in the process of siting those. DEQ has also been investigating specific pollutants of concern, like metals in Portland and naphthalene in The Dalles. Please see DEQ’s Air Quality Status and Planning Map for more information.

Are there plans for more monitoring? What about plans for real time monitoring like EPA’s proposals?
A: DEQ has requested additional funding in a policy option package to expand air toxics monitoring statewide. This request included resources for additional air toxics monitors, an expanded particulate monitoring network, and moss sampling as an air toxics screening tool. DEQ is not currently proposing any additional real time monitoring.

7. Doesn’t DEQ need the emissions inventory data before writing the rule?
A: We have Oregon specific data from the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) database, as well as the experience and best practices from other states with health risk based air toxics regulations that provides DEQ and OHA with the information the agencies need to begin drafting the rule.

8. How will DEQ process all of this information in time?
A: DEQ is working in partnership with companies holding DEQ air permits to efficiently determine statewide industrial air toxic emissions. To standardize the collected data, DEQ provided EXCEL-based reporting forms for companies to submit the necessary data elements electronicall,y thus limiting unnecessary time spent on data entry. In addition, DEQ intends to calculate the emissions for approximately 900 general and basic permit holders after receipt of their production (also called activity) levels. This work is based on accepted emission estimation procedures and is being prepared as we speak to minimize the reporting burden on these “smaller” facilities. The staggered reporting deadlines will also allow DEQ to evaluate the submittals for completeness as they are submitted and work toward a comprehensive industrial source air toxics emission inventory for the 633 pollutants.

Has DEQ estimated how many hours it will take facilities to gather emissions inventory data?
A: It is difficult to estimate how many hours it will take facilities to gather this data because DEQ and OHA do not know if or what facilities emit any of the 633 air toxics identified. Larger industrial sources with more emissions will need more time, so DEQ has given them until September of 2017 to provide that information.

How will DEQ handle cumulative risk and will a process be developed to address it under the rules?
A: At this point, the CAO Advisory Committee is still reviewing possible program elements and is expected to provide their recommendations on cumulative risk and other elements over the next few months.

Will DEQ build upon the work that has already been done under the Air Toxics Safety Net program for this rule?
A: DEQ has not used the Air Toxics Safety Net program to date. The CAO rulemaking team is considering the entirety of DEQ’s existing air toxics program in developing the new risk based permitting regulations. This includes the Safety Net Program, rationale and regulatory background for all program elements, and relative strengths of existing regulations.

12. Explain the agency’s legal authority to do this rulemaking, does it come from the Legislature, the Governor?
A: DEQ’s legal authority to promulgate the Cleaner Air Oregon rule is laid out in ORS 183.310(9) which states, in part, “A “rule” is any agency directive, standard, regulation or statement of general applicability that implements, interprets or prescribes law or policy, or describes the procedure or practice requirements of any agency”. Agencies may adopt, amend, repeal or renumber rules, permanently or temporarily (up to 180 days), using the procedures outlined in the Oregon Attorney General’s Administrative Law Manual.

13. Why are you collecting data on chemicals for which no health risk based concentration has been established?
A: DEQ and OHA are asking for emissions of air toxics that do not have risk-based concentrations (RBCs) for informational purposes. A longer list of air toxics is being used at this time because we did not want to ask for information a second time. The longer list also provides more certainty for businesses, knowing what may be regulated in the future. New RBCs are being developed all the time, so having the emissions inventory for those air toxics will tell us if there are potential problems in the state.

14. Are you looking at establishing de minimus emission levels?
A: The Advisory Committee is reviewing many possible elements for possible inclusion in the new air toxics rule and will issue recommendations in early 2017.

15. Are there more than just the programs you looked at around the country? The agencies shouldn’t reinvent the wheel.
A: There are 24 air toxics state regulatory programs that incorporate lowering risk to human health around the country.

16. What is the maximum number of substances that other states require reporting on?
A: The answer to this question varies state-by-state. For example, Michigan does not maintain a list of toxic air contaminants. Their rules define a toxic air contaminant as any air contaminant for which there is no national ambient air quality standard and which is or may become harmful to public health or the environment when present in the outdoor atmosphere in sufficient quantities and duration. Therefore, their “list” is open ended. Southwest Clean Air Agency in Vancouver, Washington has a list of 4,660 air toxics and Rhode Island’s list includes 258 air toxics.

17. What are the criteria for adding more pollutants to the scope of the rule and what is the additional benefit?
A: DEQ and OHA have not determined whether the list of pollutants in the EI request letter will be the same list for which regular reporting will be required as part of CAO rules on a consistent basis. Agencies are still deliberating about how that CAO pollutant list will be developed and how changes to that list will be made.

18. It doesn’t seem like a good use of resources to focus on facility sources of air toxics that don’t affect health as much as mobile emissions like diesel do. Why is DEQ spending its limited resources on this process?
A: Monitoring data from October 2015 revealed unexpected and concerning levels of hazardous metals in the air surrounding an art glass manufacturer (Bullseye Glass) in Portland. These emissions were concerning from a public health perspective for nearby neighbors, even though the facility was in compliance with its permit. While non-industrial sources may pose proportionally more risk to communities on an overall air shed basis, this experience highlighted that air toxics risk to immediate neighbors of industrial facilities could be attributable to that industrial facility.

19. How will DEQ be a resource or identify resources for the businesses that will be regulated by providing support, information, technical assistance, etc.?
A: DEQ is providing a website to assist facilities in gathering and reporting new data and staff will also be available to provide technical assistance. Two webinar training sessions are currently being planned for January.

20. Will DEQ have the staffing/resources to support the new regulations? What about air districts?
A: DEQ and OHA will propose rules to the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) for fees to pay for Cleaner Air Oregon. The emissions inventory is important to determine which facilities are subject to the program and will have to pay fees. There is one air district in Lane County, Lane Regional Air Pollution Agency. Air quality in the rest of the state is regulated by DEQ.

21. Will the regulations cover short-term exposure to emissions from agricultural operations?
A: No, the CAO rule will be focused on industrial point sources. DEQ does not have the authority to regulate agricultural sources.

22. How does DEQ/OHA plan to address/control community sources like wood smoke and diesel emissions that industrial facilities have no control over and how will the rule address these?
A: Cumulative risk and whether it addresses community sources like wood smoke and diesel emissions was discussed by the CAO Advisory Committee at the November meeting. Members were split on whether to include non-industrial sources in the analysis of industrial source impacts. South Coast Air Quality Management District in California is the only air toxics program reviewed in depth that addresses cumulative risk from all sources in an area, and they do this through their Clean Communities Plan.  At this point, the CAO Advisory Committee is still reviewing possible program elements and is expected to provide their recommendations on cumulative risk and other elements over the next few months.