Below read the letter that environmental justice and public health groups submitted to legislators in Salem.
Vote NO on Senate Bill 1541-A
Oregon has an air pollution problem. We need to clean up Oregon’s air by enacting science-based regulations that protect public health, especially for those most impacted by air pollution. For the past 18 months, countless environmental justice advocates, public health experts, scientists, business experts, lobbyists, agency staff, and members of the public worked as part of the Cleaner Air Oregon process to collaboratively determine effective rules to clean up Oregon’s air. At the beginning of the 2018 Oregon State Legislative Session, House Bill 4002 and Senate Bill 1508 were drafted to implement Cleaner Air Oregon’s standards.
Meanwhile, in complete contrast, Senate Bill 1541 was crafted in secret by a small handful of senators and those industries that stand to gain by locking technology-based standards for existing and expanding industries. SB 1541, even with recently adopted amendments, does not set health-based standards using the latest and best scientific evidence on health effects from air toxics. It sells out impacted communities and silences environmental justice concerns. It destroys 18 months of good-faith efforts by hundreds of Oregonians, impacted communities, scientists, health professionals, public agencies, and businesses to develop the Cleaner Air Oregon program. The previous bill offered compromise from all parties. This bill is exactly what polluters want.
Environmental Justice demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making. SB 1541 makes a mockery of the 18-month-long Cleaner Air Oregon process and lacks sufficient transparency and equal participation from impacted communities. Even with the -11 and -13 amendments, SB 1541 continues to fall short on getting to the root problem which is that risk action levels (RAL’s) are not protective of human health. Additionally, Section 3 of SB 1541-A requires that risk be four times the benchmark for cancer rates and two times the benchmark for non-cancer hazards before the program will allow for additional regulations on most existing facilities that have Toxic Best Available Control Technology (T-BACT) or are regulated federally. Put simply: That’s 200 cancer cases per million locked in for at least the next 10 years. This is but one example of the failure of this bill to protect human health.
Our lawmakers have an opportunity to protect the lives of the most impacted of their constituents today. Oppose SB 1541-A and continue to fight for bills such as HB 4002 that enact the Cleaner Air Oregon rules. Don’t let polluters call the shots when it comes to the air we breathe.
Huy Ong, Executive Director, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Patrick O’Herron, MD, Board President, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Eric Richardson, President, NAACP Eugene – Springfield Branch
Jessica Nischik-Long, MPH, Executive Director, Oregon Public Health Association
Daphne Wysham, Director, Sustainable Energy & Economy Network
Hannah Sohl, Executive Director, Rogue Climate
Adam Brunelle, Executive Director, Green Lents
Alan Hipólito, Executive Director, Verde
South Portland Air Quality Team
Sandra Hernández-Lomelí, Director , Latinos Unidos Siempre