None of us want to have to wear gas masks when we walk outside on these beautiful days. But the problem with air pollution, especially some of the most dangerous particulate matter pollution associated with heavy diesel transportation and industrial production, is that it is nearly invisible.
That is why Oregon needs to monitor. And no one would like to see this happen more than Moms, Dads, and others who have been working tirelessly these past few years to demand it of our state.
Monitoring might show us a clearer picture about the risk to children who live and go to school in neighborhoods around Clarendon k-8 school, which modeled among the worst in the nation for exposure to toxic industrial air pollution.
Monitoring could help assess the risk for the SE Portland and Milwaukee communities who live in the shadow of the 21st largest polluter in the nation: Precision Cast Parts.
Another item we are tracking in Salem is the ridiculously obvious EPA air monitoring grant rfp DEQ has proposed to apply for up to $700,000 EPA is making available to states to monitor air toxics. There are no matching requirements, this ostensibly costs the state of Oregon nothing to address an issue that is of high concern among its citizens and public health advocates and agencies. This is pure federal dollars to pay for what Tom Wood, representing Associated Oregon Industries, said in the house interim hearing on public health and air pollution back in August 2009 at the beginning of this adventure: “Yes we need to monitor- but you (pointing to the state representatives/senators on the committee) need to pay for it.”
This could even potentially create five Oregon jobs. Simple, right?
To apply for these funds, DEQ needs legislative approval. The deadline for submitting the application is May 23rd. It has failed twice to get on the Ways and Means agenda, with no response or explanation from the Committee co-chairs: Devlin, Buckley and Richardson to my many emails (and a slew from other parents whose children attend schools identified to be ranked among the worst in the nation due to exposure to industrial air toxics). Simple question: Why would you not take federal money to do what everyone has said repeatedly is a good idea but we don’t have the funds to do it?
About two ago I was alerted by Dingfelder at a Mother PAC cocktail hour that the Republican co-Chair (Richardson) on the Ways and Means Committee was refusing to put this on the agenda-How he prevails when there are actually 2 democratic co-chairs and 1 of him, is beyond me. This was confirmed to me by another of my Salem representatives, who put it so bluntly in an email: “There are people in this building (and in the Capitol in Washington) who object to government. They do everything they can to starve government. Not allowing federal funds to come into the state is one way to starve the state government. And there are certain agencies they hate worse than others. DEQ is probably first among them.”
Tracy Prince did a great job of explaining why Oregon should apply for this money in Sunday’s Oregonian: A simple step to improve air quality for schoolkids.
Now can you take action? Contact the co-chairs of Ways and Means and get this simple grant application request on the committee agenda:
Sen Richard Devlin- Co Chair 503-986-1719, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Peter Buckley Co-Chair, 503-986-1405, email@example.com