Cleaner Air Oregon

Perfect blue, sunny sky

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Beyond Toxics, was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to serve on the Cleaner Air Oregon Rulemaking Advisory Committee (CAO-RAC) as the environmental representative in 2017. She continues to serve on the CAO-RAC five years later.

The Cleaner Air Oregon program and rulemaking is a partnership between Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to develop a new regulatory system for managing air toxics emissions from industrial stationary sources. The new rules will be based on the potential risk to human health, to replace the old regulatory system that was based on what technology, consulting and pollution control equipment a facility said they could afford to purchase. In developing this new regulatory approach, agencies looked at industrial sources of industrial emissions across the state in terms of their potential to harm public health. For example, CAO rules require an a risk assessment for cancer risk and and non-cancer risk (e.g. asthma, stroke, birth defects, etc).

Beyond Toxics took a strong, insistent stance to uphold environmental justice principles throughout the adoption of legislative policy and administrative rules. One result is the program’s emissions inventory requirement, which, for the first time requires polluters to supply annual reports of air toxics emissions. CAO also places an emphasis on community engagement in the risk assessment and air permit process. Oregon’s first Community Engagement Toolkit is a tangible example of the reorientation away from industry’s stranglehold grip on the regulatory process to a health and protection of vulnerable populations model.