Jackson Dougan’s background and experience bring a unique perspective to DEQ

Jackson Dougan arrived at DEQ a little over two years ago, after completing a Master of Science in Global Change: Ecosystem Science & Policy from the University College Dublin in Ireland, as well as working in the New York State’s Office of the Attorney General and at the Environmental Defense Fund, among other places. He currently works as a natural resource specialist in the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

As a proud member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, we thought this month would be a good time to check in with Jackson to see what he has been up to and if he has any recommendations for those who would like to learn more about his community.

There are so many more resources now than there were when I was growing up. I’m envious of the social network Gen Z has when it comes to LGBTQIA2S+ visibility.

Jackson Dougan

DEQ: Hi Jackson, It’s nice to see you again (virtually)! Can you tell us about what you do at DEQ?

Jackson Dougan: I am a natural resource specialist and work with a team of amazing colleagues in the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. My job is to help regulated air contamination sources register, report and verify their annual greenhouse gas emissions to the state of Oregon.

DEQ: Are you originally from Oregon?

JD: Yes. I was raised on Mt. Hood and attended Oregon State University where I studied biology and chemistry.

DEQ: What initially attracted you to work on issues related to the environment?

JD: Growing up, my neighborhood was the forest. We didn’t have neighbors or a paved road. We lived on a well and septic system. When something happened to the surrounding environment, like a bad windstorm or a summer drought, we felt the consequences. It’s much easier to be insulated from environmental catastrophes living in the city. In the country, the environment has a direct effect on your wellbeing and life outlook.

DEQ:  You have traveled quite extensively and lived in a variety of places around the world while working on environmental and natural resource issues. Are there any actions or solutions you have seen elsewhere that you think would benefit Oregon in its quest to protect and maintain the environment?

JD: In the Office of Greenhouse Gas Programs, there is a lot of cross-jurisdictional research to what has and has not worked in other locales. I think what the State Ministry for Environment is doing in Hessen, Germany, when it comes to urban planning and climate communications is wonderful. The Environmental Ministry places a heavy emphasis on climate communication and ‘natural’ solutions when it comes to mitigating the impacts of climate change in urban centers. In Portland, this could look something like allowing the cooler, denser air from the forested West Hills flow into the city at night unobstructed through climate-conscious urban planning. Making sure new and existing buildings don’t obstruct nighttime airflows from cooler neighboring areas could help lower nighttime temperatures during future heat waves, like this past week. I believe Stuttgart has city regulations like this in Germany to protect green ventilation corridors that cool the city at night.

DEQ: You are active in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Do you see the community as having a role in issues around environmental protection, environmental justice and/or climate change? 

JD: In December 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency called out LGBTQIA2S+ people as being “more likely than others to be severely impacted by disasters.” After a disaster for instance, LGBTQIA2S+ people are more likely to be socially isolated and face disrespect or harassment in an emergency response shelter. As catastrophic natural events become more common as a result of human-induced climate change, the community will have to continue to push hard for social justice and inclusion.

DEQ: Do you have any LGBTQIA2S+ books, programs, movies or other resources you recommend to people to help expand their understanding of your community?

JD: There are so many more resources now than there were when I was growing up. I’m envious of the social network Gen Z has when it comes to LGBTQIA2S+ visibility. Twenty years ago in rural Oregon, no one supported my community and no one wanted to. Even President Obama opposed marriage equality in his 2004 bid for Senate.

For anyone interested in supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community, I would recommend they educate themselves about the trauma we hold as a historically marginalized group of people. For example, this is not the first pandemic our community has gone through. The world seems largely to have forgotten that. I would recommend reading “The Deviant’s War” by Eric Cervini and anything written by Michael Bronski. I would also recommend watching LGBTQIA2S+ cinema like “It’s a Sin” and “The Normal Heart” for more intimate portraits of our community.

Thank you to Jackson for taking the time to speak with us and share his experience, knowledge and resources.

— Susan C. Mills, public affairs specialist

Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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