Oregon leaders came together for clean air and public health. See what the group’s co-chairs had to say about the first meeting.
On a rainy day in October, 25 experts and community leaders hung their coats and pulled up a seat around a long boardroom-style table.
Their charge: improve air quality and the health of nearly four million people through recommending how best to regulate air toxics in Oregon. Representing environmental, industry, labor, health, and community perspectives from across Oregon, the Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee kicked off their first of six meetings last week with remarks from Governor Kate Brown.
We caught up with the committee’s co-chairs, Jackie Dingfelder and Claudia Powers, for their candid thoughts on how the first meeting went.
JACKIE DINGFELDER // co-chair, Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee
“We set the stage for diving into the complexities of air quality regulation at the first Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee meeting. I’m optimistic about where we’re headed and look forward to weaving environmental justice principles into our work, using it as a lens for all of our conversations. Helping and supporting our most vulnerable citizens allows everyone in Oregon to thrive, and there’s good work already underway to expand upon as a committee.
There is no question that this is a challenging regulatory process. The group is off to a good start by listening and working together to understand each other’s perspectives. It’s also important to remind ourselves that much of this work is evolving, and because of this we actively encourage feedback for how best to engage all communities. We look to everyone––whether that be a committee member or a concerned neighbor––to participate and share information.”
CLAUDIA POWERS // co-chair, Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee
“There’s much to do yet, but I was very impressed with what we accomplished in just one meeting. The Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee is a talented, skilled and informed group. OHA and DEQ staff are working around the clock to provide the information we need to effectively advise this work, and committee members rolled up their sleeves on the very first hour. They were well-versed in the material, solutions-oriented, and actively engaged during the eight hour meeting.
They were also willing to speak up and disagree, and they understand the seriousness of this work. I never once heard “I didn’t get a chance to contribute,” and committee members listened respectfully to each other. There was consensus on some general issue areas, such as addressing the most serious public health concerns first, which is a perfect segue for our next meeting on November 17.”
The next Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee meeting is November 17, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Ambridge Event Center, 1333 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, in Portland. Online and call-in options will be available.
For more information and a full recap of the meeting and rulemaking process: