NCA BLOG

Early March Clean Air eNews | Diesel Pollution, EJ Workshop + More

These days there is a rarely a dull moment in the fight for clean air. In this week’s eNews we write to let you know about two local diesel pollution events, two important people, and three chances to speak up for clean air. We hope you are energized by all that is going on – we are!
 
3 CLEAN AIR EVENTS: 1 PAST, 2 FUTURE, ALL IMPORTANT!
 
Past | Senate Hearing on Health Impacts of Diesel Pollution
The first hearing on our priority issue was held this past week in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. It was an informational hearing (ie no public testimony) where lawmakers listened to expert, invited testimony about the harmful health impacts of diesel pollution. Two members of the five-person committee unfortunately did not attend: Senators Alan Olsen (R-Canby) and Herman Baertschriger (R-Grants Pass). The hearing audio will be available soon; listen here.
 
March 3-5th | Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
Every year in Eugene, environmental lawyers who work for the public interest gather in Eugene to learn, connect, and share resources so they can all return to their desks and fight the good fight a little smarter. This year, we are proud that our staff attorney Nick Caleb will be on a panel along with several colleagues from the impressive Crag Law Center of Portland to update folks about Oregon air law and regulations. If you’re not planning to attend, you can catch it all online. More here.
 
March 15th | Workshop: Putting Environmental Justice in the Fight for Clean Air
We are very pleased to be co-hosting an all-day workshop in Portland to bring clean air partners together to better understand and prioritize environmental justice in our work. We’ll meet from 9 AM to 4:30 PM on Wednesday, March 15th. Speakers include Charles Lee, Senior Policy Advisor, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C. (EPA). Mr. Lee is widely recognized as a true pioneer in the arena of environmental justice, as the principal author of the landmark report, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States.
 
2 NEW DIRECTORS
 
New Director of Oregon DEQ
We welcome Richard Whitman to lead the Oregon DEQ, an agency that is ripe for inspired leadership with a commitment to environmental health. Mr. Whitman has served as Interim Director since Pete Shepherd, another Interim Director, moved on October 2016. More here about his appointment. We are hopeful that the agency will live up to what Oregonians need and want from it – namely better protection of our environment and our health, which are forever intertwined. We will push hard for it to be sufficiently funded to successfully carry out its work.
 
Welcome, Scott Pruitt, incoming U.S. EPA Director
Well, OK, we’re not feeling very welcoming, actually. All evidence suggest that Mr. Pruitt is no friend of the environment. In fact, his history as Attorney General in Oklahoma shows he was quite opposed to the kind of environmental protections that are essential for public health. With Pruitt in place at the national level taking direction from the anti-regulation Trump White House, it’s clear that states’ roles in environmental protection just got more important. So, while we won’t ignore what’s happening in Washington, DC, we will continue to target our work here at home where there is plenty of room for improvement. Here’s some background on Mr. Pruitt and his potential impacts on Oregon’s environment.
3 CHANCES TO USE YOUR VOICE FOR CLEAN AIR!
 
1. March 8th | Attend the public hearing on a bill to cut diesel pollution
Next Wednesday, March 8th our legislators will open the doors for a public hearing on a bill that would once and for all get rid of the dirtiest diesel engines polluting Oregonians’ health. Let’s show the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources how many Oregonians want clean air, not dirty diesel pollution! We’re for clean engines and clean air! And together we CAN accomplish both.RSVP now! Email akash@whatsinourair.org. We’ll meet in the capitol rotunda at 2:45 PM.
 
2. Anytime | Tell your state representatives that you care about diesel pollution.
In this moment, if you don’t yet know who your state representatives are, it’s time! Just enter your address here to identify them, then ring them right up and let them know you support clean, healthy air and would like them to cut diesel emissions this session, thank you very much! Already know them, great! Remind them who you are and that you, too, care about healthy air for all Oregonians and urge them to take action to cut diesel emissions. This type of direct contact from you really, really matters.
 
3. March 23rd | Join the clean air group at the Clean Green Lobby Machine Day
Our great partners at the Oregon Conservation Network and Oregon League of Conservation Voters are co-hosting a lobby day for the environment later this month and we’ll be out strong for clean air. Can you join us? Find more info and how to signup right here.
Phew! That’s a lot going on, isn’t it? And while we know from personal experience that the fight for clean air is a marathon, not a sprint, right now we’re definitely doing some sprinting! Thanks for being along for the ride.

eNews 2.14.17 | Lobby Day. Intel. EJ Workshop. DEQ Director.

clean air valentines'Busy week in the fight for clean air! We know you are probably fighting on many fronts these days (as are we), but we invite you to join this week in our persistent fight for clean air in Portland and across Oregon this week. There are several opportunities to engage directly with local democracy and environmental protection – pick one (or more!):
  1. Lobby Day for Clean Air at the state capitol this Wednesday, Feb. 15th from 10:30 AM till 1 PM (or 4 PM if you stay for the hearing). Join us to let our lawmakers know that #WeLoveCleanAir and expect them to take steps to make Oregon’s air healthier during the 2017 state legislative session. Details and sign-up right here.
  2. Intel Air Quality Advisory Committee (AQAC) meeting (also) on Feb. 15th from 6 to 8 PM. These committee meetings are essential to the success of the Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) we forged with Intel to reduce its emissions for healthier local air. Showing up lets the Intel folks know that the community cares. Do you? Agenda and background here.
  3. New Oregon DEQ Director. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission will hold a special meeting at1 PM on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, to discuss and take action on the next steps in the DEQ director’s recruitment process . The meeting will be in the 3rd floor conference room at the DEQ headquarters, 700 NE Multnomah Street in Portland. For more information, including the “listen in” conference line for people who wish to connect by phone, please visit the meeting agenda page.
  4. Environmental Justice Matters: Save the Date for an EPA-sponsored workshop focused on bringing together government decision makers and EJ community groups to partner effectively to clean Oregon’s unhealthy air. Details here.
  5. Attend a state Town Hall. With our state legislative session more 2 weeks underway, our lawmakers are hosting gathering to connect with their constituents, many of which are in their districts which means you can go without heading to Salem. So go! We invite you to: 1) identify your representatives, 2) get on their email lists, 3) call and ask when the next Town Hall is (and while you’re on the line why not mention clean air?), and 4) go and raise your hand to ask what they are doing to clean Oregon’s air this session. Not sure what to say? Call us: 971.319.1247. In the Portland area, here are a few:

Sen. Kathleen Taylor and Rep. Karin Power
Town Hall
Saturday, 2/25 @ 10 AM
Willamette View Terrace
13169 SE River Road, Portland

Sen. Michael Dembrow
Coffee with Constituents
Saturday, 3/4 from 9-10:30 AM
Hollywood Senior Center
1820 NE 40th Ave., Portland
Representative Janelle Bynum
Thursday, 2/16 from 6:30-8 PM
16000 SE Misty Drive, Happy Valley

These actions may not feel like a huge march or a 1,500-person town hall with a US Senator, but rest assured, this, too, is resisting and very much what democracy looks like. Really hope to see you at the state capital on the 15th!

Diesel & Environmental Justice Workshop in Portland

Neighbors for Clean Air is please to co-host this one-day workshop to build relationships among community members and federal, state and local agencies, and to develop a shared understanding of regional air quality issues and impacts to communities with environmental justice concerns.
While the exact agenda is still being finalized, our focus is to come together to learn about air quality, diesel emissions, health impacts and tools to assess impacts that can help build capacity to work collaboratively to identify strategies to improve air quality in Oregon. People attending the workshop will leave with an enhanced knowledge of governing laws and rulemaking processes, which can help lead to more constructive engagement on areas for action. Government attendees will learn tools for meaningfully and effectively engaging with environmental justice communities on issues that matter to them.
 CharlesLee
Our special guest speaker is Charles Lee, the Deputy Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Lee is widely recognized as a true pioneer in the arena of environmental justice, as the principal author of the landmark report, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. Learn more about Mr. Lee here.
This workshop is a joint work effort of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Neighbors for Clean Air (NCA), Portland State University (PSU), Multnomah County (Mult Co), Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ), and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).  The proposed attendees are local community groups; state, local, and federal agencies; tribal governments; PSU; and national experts.  NCA and PSU will support additional workshops following this session.
Space is limited, you can register here for the event.

Three actions to protect Clean Air.

Overwhelmed yet?  Me, too. This administration is not wasting time executing its hateful agenda.

I am deeply concerned about the threats to our most vulnerable populations in America today.  And I am deeply concerned for our democracy.  That’s a lot to feel a need to work on.16195717_1680405698639678_61030850562580535_n

This administration is conducting what Boston College professor of American History, Heather Cox Richardson calls “shock events.” These are explicitly designed to divide progressive allies.  Ironically, I have never seen the left so spontaneously stand collectively in defiance and work so cohesively together, whether it be the Women’s March, the phone campaigns, or the nearly daily protests that have transpired since, people are showing up in droves to defend our democracy where ever it is being attacked.

There is one area – one thing – that I feel compelled to focus on.  That is our environment.

And our efforts locally to protect it are more important than ever. The Environmental Protection Agency is about to be the next victim of the whims of this administration, as the new president has already put a freeze on all contracts and grants, imposed a gag order on EPA staff, and vowed to cut the agencies workforce by 50%. Despite overwhelming, bi-partisan support for the strong environmental regulations that protect our air and water, this administration is advancing a pro-oil and coal agenda that seeks to dismantle forty plus years of federal regulations that have protected our environment and literally saved lives.

Right now, in Oregon, we are on an unprecedented path to Clean Air that has become only more urgent under this the new administration.  While a climate denier takes over the EPA, and our federal government begins its plan for systemic undoing of the agency charged with ensuring we have clean air, water and land, the state of Oregon still has broad authority to deliver on these commitments.

In 2017 Oregon will rewrite our regulations for industrial air polluters and rules governing the use of diesel engines.  NCA and our partners have spent countless hours working on this.  And we will continue to do so, through every day of the 2017 legislative session overseeing the nearly dozen clean air related bills and until the Cleaner Air Oregon program presents the new health based industrial air emissions standards for adoption.

We know there are thousands of people who have stood behind us for years, thousands more that have mobilized in the last 12 months to fight toxic pollution in their neighborhoods.  We want to thank you for your support, and let you know we need your time, energy and generosity, like never before. So, if you are looking for a place to make a difference, think global and act local:

1.  Lobby Day for Clean Air, February 15th- this is our chance to march on Salem for clean air!  Please join us, with our partners from Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, Beyond Toxics, and Eastside Portland Air Coalition.  More information and to RSVP.

2.  Do you live in one of the 12 neighborhoods served by the NE Coalition of Neighborhoods office?  NECN is looking to set up a Northeast Action Team (NEAT) to address toxic air pollution.  Please contact jessica@necoalition.org at NECN for more information.

3.  VOLUNTEER.  Contact Nakisha@whatsinourair.org. We have more opportunities than ever to help with events, to organize friends to write letters, and we can train you and provide materials to talk to your neighborhood association about air pollution in your community.  In addition, Nakisha can help you get in touch with neighborhood activists who are already working in your community.

If clean safe air is important to you, despite the dismal news from Washington DC, there is reason to be hopeful and optimistic here in Oregon.  But it is not going to happen without you.  Let’s work together in Oregon to make it happen.

Join Us January 18th 6pm | Diesel + Dinner, A Pollution Solution Workshop in NE Portland

15585046_1606668409346741_7858599644473172822_o
Mark your calendar for a great opportunity to learn about diesel pollution and how we can reduce / eliminate it and to connect with others who are working to clean Oregon’s air.

  • WHAT? Dinner and a workshop about diesel pollution in N/NE Portland.
  • WHEN: Wednesday, January 18th at 6:00 PM
  • BACKGROUND: Diesel pollution is a problem in Portland, especially in N/NE Portland. A report released in December, 2015 by US Environmental Protection Agency noted that Portland was ranked as the worst city in the nation for respiratory distress and that Multnomah County air was among the worst 1% of counties nationwide for concentrations of diesel particulate.
  • QUESTIONS WE’LL ANSWER: How did this happen and what does this mean for your health and the health of your family and community? What are our regulatory agencies doing about the high levels of diesel particulates? And how can your voice be heard?
  • HOSTS: Neighbors for Clean Air and the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods
  • AGENDA: Dinner will be provided at this family-friendly event from 6 to 6:30 PM. Our presentation and discussion will begin at 6:30pm.
  • RSVP: Yes! Email nakisha@whatsinourair.org so we have enough food!
  • ON FACEBOOK: Spread the word! Invite your friends! Just use the Facebook invite.