The Oregon Department of Energy announced today that nonprofit Forth and Oregon-based business Platt Auto Group are the recipients of Governor Brown’s 2019 Electric Vehicle Leadership Awards.Continue reading “Governor’s 2019 Electric Vehicle Leadership Awards announced”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality awarded approximately $125,000 total to 13 businesses and non-profits in Oregon’s repair and reuse industry on Friday, July 17. DEQ’s 2020 Workforce Development Repair and Reuse grants provide up to $10,000 to each awardee to support projects that help protect Oregon’s environment, public health and economy.Continue reading “DEQ awards $125,000 to boost 13 repair and reuse businesses and non-profits in Oregon”
This week, DEQ began overseeing the cleanup of the last legacy contamination site in Portland’s downtown reach. From the mid-1800s to early 1900s, Portland Gas Manufacturing created the compressed gas that lit the street lamps. Today, the site is occupied by Naito Parkway and Tom McCall Waterfront Park between the Burnside and Steel Bridges.Continue reading “DEQ begins work on landmark cleanup project”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released the 2019 Oregon Water Quality Index. The index, or OWQI, details water quality assessments at 160 ambient monitoring stations across the state.Continue reading “DEQ updates interactive map of Oregon’s water quality”
Oregon and 14 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, are committed to working together to advance the market for electric trucks, buses and vans.
“Oregonians have been leading the way in adopting electric cars to lower emissions,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “Electrifying trucks, buses and delivery vehicles is the next logical step in cutting emissions, improving air quality and fighting climate change.”Continue reading “Oregon joins 14 states and DC in effort to speed up truck and bus electrification”
“It started innocently enough with pressure washing the deck. This seemingly benign activity showed that the deck needed a lot of repair.”-Rebecca Wells-Albers
My husband and I have been working on a deck rebuild at our house in the evenings and weekends since April (note that we are reluctant but willing Do-It-Yourselfers). We usually get out of town for at least day trips on the weekends, but due to the pandemic, we’ve stayed close to home since March.Continue reading “Repair, Reuse, Relax – DEQ staff protects the environment one foot of lumber at a time”
All DEQ’s vehicle inspection stations have reopened for testing, and the response has been record-breaking. Nearly 4,000 cars a day went through stations in Jackson, Clackamas, Washington and Columbia counties during the first two weeks. That number rose even higher this week with the reopening of Multnomah County stations in Gresham and Northeast Portland.Continue reading “DEQ vehicle inspection staff handle record visits”
“I’m pleased that this grant funding is making its way to our state so we can monitor the quality of our waters, promote safety, and support this special Oregon tradition.”U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley
Continue reading “Refuse and Recycling during COVID-19”
“From Manzanita to Enterprise, and from Burns over to Brookings, the consistent service provided to residents and business during these uncertain times has helped to support the health and well-being of communities across the state.”Lydia Emer, DEQ’s Land Quality Administrator
“We’re receiving about double our normal supplies these days – we saw about two million pounds of food donations come through last week,” says Steven Castro, who receives and logs donations at the Oregon Food Bank. “But these supplies go right out the door just as soon as they come in.”
As of Monday, June 22, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has put a new federal rule into effect regarding Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, that curb the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s ability to protect clean water for people in Oregon. DEQ described its opposition to the proposed rollback back in an October article.Continue reading “Environmental Injustice”
Great news! The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is reopening many of its vehicle inspection stations this week. Today, the Medford-Ashland station will begin offering inspection services; while the Clackamas, Sherwood and Hillsboro/Sunset stations will reopen tomorrow, June 16; and the Scappoose station will reopen on Friday, June 19. The agency asks the public for patience as the staff works within new COVID-19-related procedures and through a backlog of vehicles. DEQ will continue to offer several other options for obtaining an inspection compliance certificate for those who do not want to wait in line.Continue reading “Patience requested as vehicle inspection stations reopen in Medford and some Portland-Metro area locations”
“Helping communities and good causes get needed facilities such as housing for domestic violence survivors is putting EPA’s brownfield funding to good use and makes my day.”Mary Camarata, DEQ’s Western Region brownfields coordinator.
When the Center for Hope & Safety in Salem purchased the building next door in 2015 it was taking a gamble.Continue reading “New hope for old bus station site in Salem”
I served 40 days as part of the state’s response to COVID-19. Thirty-one of those days were as Deputy Media Public Information Officer in the Joint Information Center in Salem. My job was to lead a team of staff to respond to the 20 to 40 emails and calls we’d receive from the media every day. During this time, I learned innumerable things about communication, patience, dedication, compassion, service and friendship. But, for the sake of this blog, I’d like to share three.Continue reading “We all play for Oregon”
With a hot, dry summer forecast ahead of us, wildfire season has already begun in many counties across Oregon. As such, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has been working with a group of state agencies and regional organizations, including the National Weather Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency and the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, among many others, to prepare for busy months ahead. This includes reviewing the management and protocols for monitoring air quality and notifying the public of severe smoke events.Continue reading “As DEQ prepares for wildfire season, the public may also take part”
“I’ve never seen this in my lifetime. It has been shocking to see how this virus can affect our whole world.”– Lucy De Leon, owner of Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon
Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon is a restaurant and market that has served up authentic Mexican food for decades and partners with school districts and organizations dedicated to feeding children, families and seniors.Continue reading “We Have to Keep Going”
“We feel lucky to have business so that we can employ some people and provide food to the community.”– Michael Marzano, who co-owns Hot Mama’s Wings in Eugene with his wife Angie.
Like so many restaurants across the state, Hot Mama’s has shifted its entire business to offer only take-out meals. Michael and Angie say they feel fortunate that they’ve been able to continuously adapt and pivot. “It’s tough, a continuing work in progress, but we’re figuring it out,” Angie adds. They cut the menu in half based on what they could do with proper social distancing in the kitchen and what would work best for takeout. They initially struggled to get enough to-go containers and all-natural chicken wings. As they worked through to find solutions, “it was nice to find out the new menu matched well to what customers really wanted,” Michael reflects. He has also been delightfully surprised to find that Hot Mama’s new menu is generating virtually no food waste.Continue reading “Beautiful Support from the Community”
“The great thing to see has been the teamwork. Everyone is supporting each other to find new ways to make this challenging situation work for our customers, our staff, and the community.”– Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator at Ashland Food Co-op
As it continues to serve the needs of its members during the COVID-19 crisis, the Co-op has taken many steps to safeguard employees and customers. “It’s completely changed the way we work.” The Co-op has added masks and hand sanitizer, one-way aisles, floor stickers for social distancing at checkout, plexiglass shields at checkout, and senior shopping hours in the morning.Continue reading “Everyone is Pitching In”
UPDATED: May 15, 2020
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which closed its vehicle inspection stations on March 17, has extended those closures through at least May 31, in an effort to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 among staff and customers.Continue reading “DEQ extends vehicle inspection station closures to at least May 31, other inspection options available”
It’s Air Quality Awareness Week and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is celebrating. This year’s theme is Better Air, Better Health! The goal is to promote an increased understanding of Oregon’s air and DEQ’s projects and programs dedicated to improving its quality. We also want to encourage people to check the Air Quality Index daily.Continue reading “Celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week”
A Repair and Reuse grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality can be transformative for a small business or nonprofit.
“The DEQ was great to work with, I can say that,” said Willa Bauman, operations manager at the ToolBox Project in Eugene. The nonprofit runs a tool library, where members borrow tools instead of books. “If you are in a similar boat and you’re a grassroots, all-volunteer nonprofit and you need that step up to start to grow your organization and look to the future definitely apply for a DEQ grant.”
DEQ started taking applications from small businesses and nonprofits focused on repair and reuse earlier this spring. Applications for 2020 are due by June 5.
This year DEQ has $120,000 to award in grants up to $10,000 each. DEQ recently broadened eligible costs covered through the Repair and Reuse grant program to address the challenges faced by small businesses and nonprofits trying to retain employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The ToolBox Project earned a Repair and Reuse grant in 2017. The funding helped the nonprofit be open for another day each week, hire Bauman and add more tools to its collection.
“That made us more accessible to members,” Bauman said. “That meant that we could serve more people.”
Membership in the ToolBox Project went up by 42% during the grant window.More members means more revenue for the ToolBox Project. Members are asked to give an annual donation, with the suggested donation varying by household income. For example, members whose annual household income is more than $100,000 are asked to donate $100 per year and members whose household income is between $30,000 and $50,000 are asked to donate $30 per year.
The ToolBox Project now has a collection of about more than 1,500 tools, Bauman said.
To be eligible for a Repair and Reuse grant from DEQ, an Oregon business or nonprofit must repair, salvage, refurbish or resell common consumer goods such as clothing, electronics and furniture, or have a reuse focus. DEQ defines “reuse” as the return of a commodity into the economic stream for use in the same kind of application as originally intended.
Along with the ToolBox Project past grantees are JD’s Shoe Repair and Salvage Works in Portland, The Renewal Workshop in Cascade Locks and Garten Services in Salem.
“We encourage all repair and reuse businesses and nonprofits in Oregon to check out this grant opportunity and see if it’s a good fit for their business,” said Marie Diodati, DEQ Materials Management program analyst. “With so much uncertainly and turmoil affecting Oregon businesses right now, we hope this grant offers some relief and hope to those trying to stay afloat.”
For more information about the grants and for application material go to ordeq.org/RepairandReuseGrants .
– Dylan Darling, public affairs specialist
Fifty years ago, when we began celebrating the planet by dedicating a day to it, I lived in a place called Musketaquid by the first people of the area – the Algonquin. Musketaquid means “the place where the waters flow through the grasses.” The waters are two rivers – the Assabet and the Sudbury – that join together to form the Concord River in eastern Massachusetts, 20 miles west of Boston.
Back then I would cross the Assabet on my way to and from school – and some days I would make my mother very nervous by disappearing for hours along its banks.
Fifty years ago, in eighth grade, I knew about the mills that dumped dye into the Assabet. But there were many things I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that on the other river – the Sudbury (where I worked weekends at a local boathouse), the river was heavily polluted by mercury. From 1917 to 1978 the Nyanza Color & Chemical Company operated a textile dye factory that dumped wastewater into a tributary of the Sudbury named Chemical Brook. EPA estimates that 45 to 57 metric tons of mercury were released to the Sudbury River over this period, and a no-fishing advisory remains in place today.
Fifty years ago I also didn’t know that the farmworker kids I went to school with sometimes helped out in the fields, and that it was still common in those days to spray with DDT and other pesticides that posed great risks for human health and the environment. And, as I continue to learn, there are many more things I don’t know.
The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970 was the beginning of a broader awakening for me and many others about the effects of our ways of life on the health of our communities and the environment. My eighth-grade class spent the day picking up trash near Walden Pond and getting inspired to take direct action to care for our own community. Thankfully, that learning continues today.
Fifty years ago, after a period of 25 years of reckless headlong growth following World War II, we began to recognize the consequences of our actions. In the United States, our leaders from all political stripes enacted comprehensive protections for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lands we inhabit. We treated many of the symptoms of our post-war society. And this work made the planet a better place for many.
We succeeded back then by getting kids and moms and dads and grandparents and neighbors and friends involved in their communities, by everyone working together to make things better in their own back yards.
Today, with a major public health pandemic pushing us apart physically, and pulling large parts of our economy down, it can be hard to see how we come back together as communities in the same way to help our planet over the next 50 years. But we must. Just as we began to realize in the 1960s and 70s what we had done to our air, our land, and our waters, we now know what our society is doing to the long-term health and survival of the planet.
To stop the catastrophic climate emergency that is about to engulf us, we are going to have to change how we produce, consume and dispose of things, from plastic cups and straws, to the energy we have come to enjoy, to where and how we live and work. Making these changes in ways that are fair and equitable to all parts of society will be even more challenging.
The events of the last month show that we are still capable of working together to confront a common threat. Yes, there are places to point fingers and complain. Yes, there will always be the push and pull of politics. But the world is capable of change, even if that change is messy. And as we work our way out of the pandemic, please stop for a day – this day in particular – to think about the next 50 years and what steps you will take in your community so that you can tell your kids and grandkids that you acted to make this planet a healthier, better place.
–Richard Whitman, Director
I was in junior high school when the first Earth Day captivated the world’s imagination and energized the environmental movement. In my hometown, Boulder, Colo., the city closed downtown streets to traffic to simulate what would later become one of the first urban center pedestrian malls in the United States. Musicians set up shop, and people literally danced in the streets that day, April 22, 1970.Continue reading “50 years later, Earth Day message still resonates”
While Oregonians are practicing physical distancing and taking other precautions as we weather the COVID-19 pandemic together, staff can still connect whether it’s 6 feet or 6 miles apart. Here are some friendly faces of staff from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality who continue to adjust to working at home.Continue reading “Staying connected while working apart”
In response to the “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, a coalition of Oregon state agencies are asking Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning.Continue reading “State agencies ask Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from outdoor burning while communities respond to COVID-19”
The Office of Greenhouse Gas Programs is leading the Department of Environmental Quality’s effort to reduce Oregon’s contribution to global greenhouse gas pollution. The Office will execute the directions to DEQ in Governor Brown’s executive order to fight climate change, and will begin work immediately to develop and implement programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Continue reading “DEQ Launches Office of Greenhouse Gas Programs”
As part of a long investigation on plastics and recycling, FRONTLINE and NPR interviewed David Allaway, waste prevention analyst for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for their series called “Plastic Wars.”
“Science tells us that we need to significantly reduce our use of materials,” says Allaway. But he says our emphasis on recycling distracts us from considering a bigger issue – environmental impacts of increasing consumption.
Check out the story here.
DEQ is working is working closely with local governments, recycling processors and collectors to address ongoing challenges related to recent recycling markets disruptions and work toward solutions to create a more resilient recycling system that protects the environment and strengthens the local economy.
Learn more here.
Even if a disposable wipes have labeling that says they’re “flushable,” they’re not.Continue reading “DEQ advises don’t flush disposable wipes”
DEQ’s Recycle Right! campaign materials are now available in Spanish on DEQ’s Reciclar Correctamente webpage. This campaign was created in 2019 to help Oregon residents navigate the murky landscape of what to keep out of the recycling bin. DEQ’s Recycle Right website highlights five major recycling contaminants, and offers helpful tips on how to reduce waste and reuse common materials. In addition to the new Reciclar Correctamente webpage, a Spanish messaging toolkit is available on DEQ’s online resource library.Continue reading “Recycle Right! campaign now in Spanish”
The Environmental Protection Agency is asking the public for comment on draft discharge permits for eight federally regulated dams along the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers.Continue reading “EPA taking comment on permits for dams along lower Columbia and Snake rivers”
Swollen seas and strong winds combined to push the New Carissa onto the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay in winter 1999, starting an epic cleanup and removal saga for the large beached boat.Continue reading “Memories of the New Carissa”
In 2019, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 247 enforcement notices – essentially penalties for violating environmental regulations. According to Kieran O’Donnell, Compliance and Enforcement Manager, that is the most DEQ has ever issued in a year. “Penalties are DEQ’s main tool to enforce the law,” Kieran says, “and it generates good environmental results.”Continue reading “DEQ enforces the law to protect and restore Oregon’s environment”
An underground storage tank at a service station in Canyonville failed recently, releasing an estimated 3,000 gallons of gasoline into the ground. Some of the fuel seeped through the ground and into the creek near the Main Street crossing. The creek is a tributary of the South Umpqua River.
Dana Bailey is all about safety. If you’re not wearing the right gear, she’ll let you know. If you slouch at your desk, she’ll give you tips on ergonomics. As a safety specialist II., working out of DEQ’s Portland headquarters, she writes safety policy, leads safety trainings and conducts hazards assessments. She also serves as a consultant for DEQ’s three safety committees and ensures the agency complies with OR-OSHA rules. This September, Dana will celebrate 13 years at DEQ.
Portland Harbor is a heavily industrialized stretch of the Willamette River, extending from Portland’s Broadway Bridge to Sauvie Island. Due to decades of industrial activity, some of the sediment, or mud, in the river and along the riverbank is contaminated with pollutants, including PCBs, dioxins and other potentially harmful chemicals. Work to clean up Portland Harbor has been going on for decades, so it is a good time to get back to basics and review some of the most important facts about the Portland Harbor Superfund Site:Continue reading “DEQ’s pursuit of a Superfund site cleanup: Portland Harbor 101”
This is the most current information about DEQ’s efforts to aid the 38-foot Tug Nova that sank in the Columbia River, approximately 10 miles upriver of the McNary Dam near Umatilla.Continue reading “Updates: Sunken Tugboat in Columbia River”
Cleanup crews finished excavating petroleum contaminated soil Thursday at the site of a fuel spill along the banks of the North Santiam River near Idanha – east of Salem and Detroit Lake on OR 22. The spill resulted from a tanker truck crash on Feb. 16 at milepost 63.
Federal, state and local responders continue to clean up spilled fuel and contaminated soil along the banks of the North Santiam River near Idanha – east of Salem and Detroit Lake on OR 22 – following a crash on Feb. 16.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality released its 2018 Oregon Air Toxics Monitoring Summary for six locations around the state, including The Dalles, La Grande and four sites in the Portland-metro area. The goal was to determine concentrations in certain communities, including urban and rural areas, and compare the results. DEQ will use the information to track pollution and determine ways to reduce air toxics in Oregon. Data showed that no air toxics were found at levels that would pose an immediate health risk.Continue reading “DEQ Laboratory releases air toxics monitoring summary”
Cleanup crews Tuesday are digging up and hauling away petroleum contaminated soil following a tanker truck spill Sunday on OR 22 east of Salem and Detroit Lake. The tanker, owned by Space Age Fuel, crashed at about 8 a.m. Sunday near milepost 63, alongside the North Santiam River. About 7,800 gallons of the about 10,600 gallons of fuel in the tanker spilled. Cleanup crews have recovered about 2,800 gallons of the fuel. Booms and absorbent material are in place along the riverbank to catch fuel and remove spilled fuel for disposal. Vacuum tank trucks are on standby at the site to also remove fuel if needed.Continue reading “Update on OR 22 spill cleanup”
A tanker truck carrying more than 10,000 gallons of fuel overturned Sunday on Highway 22 about 60 miles east of Salem, spilling more than half of its load. An unknown amount was released into the North Santiam River, which provides drinking water for nearby communities and the city of Salem.Continue reading “Federal and state agencies respond to tanker spill on highway 22 near North Santiam River”
Many structures and buildings in Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties, including lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, suffered significant damage from recent flooding. Debris from damaged structures can pose a threat to people and the environment if not handled safely.Continue reading “Tips for safely managing debris after a flood”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality yesterday announced it is now processing all Charge Ahead rebate applications, which are available to low- and middle-income households, as part of the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. While DEQ has distributed Standard rebates since late 2018, the Charge Ahead rebate applications have been stored in a queue while the agency retained a contractor with the security standards required to protect financial data. DEQ has now retained the Center for Sustainable Energy, a non-profit clean energy program administrator, to manage the rebates, as well as develop an easy-to-use digital dashboard and marketing strategies to expand consumer awareness.Continue reading “Oregon EV rebate program charges ahead”
Oregon State University’s Cascades campus began full-scale excavation at the former Bend Demolition Landfill in December as part of its expansion master plan.Continue reading “OSU-Cascades begins reclaiming former landfill for campus expansion”
After several years of research, outreach, data analysis and effort, DEQ’s water quality team issued on Nov. 22 a revised plan called a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, to reduce mercury in the Willamette Basin. (See OPB coverage) One week later, the EPA sent DEQ a letter disapproving the TMDL. EPA now has 30 days to issue its TMDL.Continue reading “DEQ takes crucial step to improve health of Willamette Basin”
Dozens of Oregon recycling representatives gathered in Salem on Jan. 31 to learn about potential options for a future recycling system in Oregon.Continue reading “What is the future of recycling in Oregon?”
An old landfill outside Prairie City will get necessary upgrades this year thanks to funding from DEQ’s Solid Waste Orphan Site Account.Continue reading “Retired Prairie City landfill gets upgrade thanks to Orphan Site Account”
Businesses and governments looking to reduce their carbon footprint are turning to an unlikely source: concrete. The ubiquitous product—used in roads, bridges, buildings and sidewalks—is responsible for about 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.Continue reading “Concrete crusade: DEQ’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions with a different kind of concrete”
DEQ released its most comprehensive evaluation yet of the health of Oregon’s rivers, stream, lakes and other waters.Continue reading “Deeper dive on health of Oregon’s waterways”