The request comes as the agency that runs DEQ, the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), meets to finalize a job description for a new agency Executive Director. Stop the Dump also asked the EQC to narrow the Director's duties so that the new department head can focus on DEQ's core mission of protecting the environment and Oregonians.
Stop the Dump was joined in its request by Friends of Yamhill County, a land use watchdog, and several Portland area groups that monitor air quality. DEQ's efforts to protect and enhance air quality have come under severe criticism in the wake of reporting irregularities involving Intel and unchecked releases of potentially injurious gases from glass manufacturers in Portland. In addition, several neighborhoods (in addition to the Masonville area near Riverbend Landfill) have been imploring DEQ for years to rein in odors and possible toxins emanating from manufacturing plants in Portland.
The letter to Brown asks the Governor to convene an independent task force to conduct the review, which would focus on " the way DEQ is funded, managed, and held accountable." "Nothing," the groups demanded, "should be off the table." The organizations cited DEQ's dependence on permit fees for a large part of its funding. "Questions of corporate favoritism naturally run high with this anomalous funding structure.... It is time Oregon decouples the monetary relationship of the regulators from the regulated."
The organizations also took exception to DEQ's practice of allowing permit holders to hire their own environmental monitors and testing labs, rather than paying fees to the state and then having DEQ itself hire the monitors. The concern is that, under current practice, the lab or consultant will view the permittee as the "client" to be pleased -- not the state. The letter asks Brown to review this practice.
In a separate communication to the EQC, the Stop the Dump Coalition asked the Commission to look outside Oregon for a new Director, "someone preferably from a state that actually has experience in developing and implementing strong environmental protection policies that are actively enforced. Otherwise, it will simply be more of the same poor oversight and lack of enforcement that we have seen way too much of by DEQ." According to Stop the Dump, "'Hiring from the inside' is not a viable option; it will simply produce more of the same, which is unacceptable."-->
The EQC meets today (September 21) to consider the Director's job description.
To voice your opinion:
Contact the Governor at: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/share-your-opinion.aspx
Contact the EQC at: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/EQC/pages/index.aspx
The following organizations signed the letter to Governor Brown:
1. Eastside Portland Air Coalition
2. Cully Air Action Team
3. Friends Of Yamhill County
4. Hillsboro Air and Water
5. Portland Clean Air
6. Right to Clean Air
7. Stop The Dump Coalition