2015 health + environment policy
In the hundreds-deep piles of bills on the desks of legislators this year, a few dozen proposals are right at the sweet spot where human and environmental health meet. Here are a few that we’re tracking:
Clean Fuels for Oregon (SB 324): Hooray! Oregon passed SB 324, removing the 2015 sunset on the state’s Clean Fuels Program. Now, Oregon can move ahead with requirements that will reduce the carbon content of fuel. The primary goal is to reduce our contribution to climate change. As a great bonus, many low-carbon fuel alternatives also produce less of the air pollutants that harm health.
Active Transportation: Will Oregon’s transportation spending make it easier for people to weave exercise into their lives with safe bike, walk and ride options? A new youth transit initiative (HB 2979) could help, as well as maintaining transportation funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects. For more information, click here.
Toxic Free Kids Act (SB 478): Thousands of children’s products contain dozens of hazardous chemicals; but there’s no way for consumers or health professionals to tell when, how and in what quantities children are exposed. The Toxic Free Kids Act would solve that mystery by first requiring children’s product manufacturers to disclose hazardous chemicals, and then to replace them. Health organizations are among the nearly 80 groups across Oregon endorsing the act.
Clean Air (HB 3310, SB 823 & SB 824)
Oregon is ranked as 6th highest in the nation for health risk from diesel pollution. Solutions include stronger requirements, tighter standards, and business incentives to clean up dirty diesel engines.
Safe Well Water (HB 3076)
In most cases, the only time testing is required for well water is when a property is for sale; and even then, the requirement may be overlooked. That means many people who use well water could be drinking unsafe water without knowing it. Lawmakers will consider a bill that will not only help spot unsafe water, but will help families do something about it.
The Oregon Health Authority’s budget includes a “Healthy Beginnings” grant program to help pregnant women get the information, education and health care they need for the health of their infants. Because a healthy environment is a critical part of a healthy beginning, OEC joins the Oregon Latino Health Coalition and others in support of funding for this program.
OTHER BILLS TO WATCH:
Healthy Kids Learn Better
As part of the Healthy Kids Learn Better coalition, OEC extends our definition of “environment” to include everything that a kid needs for health at school: transportation, school health care and healthy food. See the range of coalition priorities.
Antibiotics (HB 2598)
When antibiotics are added to livestock feed for healthy animals, it can make them grow faster and bigger. But it can also create bacteria that are resistant to treatment. So when the drugs fed to animals are the same ones that people depend upon to fight disease, antibiotic resistance is a serious problem. A bill seeks to limit the use of medically important antibiotics on healthy livestock.
Oregon relies on aerial herbicide sprays as part of clear-cutting logging practices. Rural residents who live and work near logging lands may be at risk of exposure. A number of bills are being discussed in a work group with solutions including greater information so that community members can protect themselves, as well as spray buffers to protect residences, schools, drinking water, and fish.