Oregonians attend DEQ hearing to speak against EPA rollbacks

Dozens of concerned Oregonians left messages of opposition to proposals that would reverse environmental standards that protect our climate from greenhouse gases and communities from harmful air pollution during a public gathering in Portland.

Organized by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Multnomah County after the federal administration refused to plan a public hearing in the state, the hearing included a court reporter so that residents, families, doctors, teachers and others could formally speak their concerns. Others left written statements with officials who ensured they would reach the appropriate federal agencies in time for deadlines. THANK YOU FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE, DEQ and MULTNOMAH COUNTY!

Check out our videos for various moments of testimony and read OEC Climate Program Director Jana Gastellum’s message below. Oregon Environmental Council strongly opposes these reversals and asks that you do too. Deadlines for public comment are rapidly approaching at the end of the month.

Background
The Trump Administration has proposals to rollback clean car standards and the Clean Power Plan. Coal and cars have been the top two sources of emissions in the United States. The Obama Administration adopted proposals to cut emissions from these two sectors. The Trump Administration is now rolling them back. Periods for public comment are about to expire, and DEQ will forward messages to the federal agencies before deadlines.

Clean Car Standards are incredibly important for reducing climate pollution. The change the EPA is proposing would add 3.8 billion tons of excess greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. The rollbacks are a combination of reducing both fuel economy and greenhouse standards. This would mean billions more gallons of petroleum consumed and much greater expense for drivers. More information on their importance here.

The EPA’s website has more information including links to submit online comments before the Oct. 26 deadline. Please take a minute to comment before time runs out!

The Clean Power Plan would have cut emissions reductions from coal-fired power plants. This is critical because the power sector is the #2 source of emissions in the US, decarbonizing the grid paves the way for transportation decarbonization, and there are TREMENDOUS health benefits from moving away from fossil fuel use in power plants. More information of the impact to the Trump Administration’s proposal.

The EPA’s website has more information including links to submit online comments before the Oct. 31 deadline. Please take a minute to comment before time runs out!

 

Here are Jana’s full comments at the hearing:

“Good evening, my name is Jana Gastellum. I’m the Climate Program Director at Oregon Environmental Council and also the mother of two young daughters. My kids and their well-being mean the world to me.

As both a professional and a mother, I oppose the proposed rollbacks being discussed today. Climate change is the defining issue of our time. The IPCC’s recently report shows that by the time my kids are in high school, the world could be locked into catastrophic climate change. We have very little time to act and the U.S. must do its part.

The proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan would do nothing to set limits on the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it could end up increasing pollution. EPA’s own estimates conclude that the proposal could cause up to 1,630 early deaths per year in 2030 and beyond. This proposal fails to require that power plants reduce pollution by any particular amount or by any particular deadline. It allows states to set weak emissions standards or decline to limit a plant’s emissions at all. I strongly oppose this approach. It represents a significant departure from the EPA’s obligation to implement the Clean Air Act and protect public health.

Coal fired power plants are among the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gases. Clean energy technologies are affordable today and we have a ready pathway for phasing out coal and replacing it with affordable, reliable renewables and storage. In fact, many utility planning proposals today show that renewables are outcompeting coal on a strict cost basis.

The outcome of this rollback are actually increased costs for our electric bills and our health. The increased emissions are costly: EPA estimates that the proposal could impose up to $10.8 billion in net costs per year in 2030 and thereafter.

I also strongly oppose revisions to the New Source Review permitting program. The proposal would undermine requirements that plants undergoing major investments install modern pollution controls. As a result of this major loophole for polluters, communities could experience a significant degradation of air quality and increased health risks.

We urge the EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and instead work to strengthen the Clean Power Plan to further reduce dangerous carbon pollution.

I similarly oppose changes to the Clean Car Standards with the replacement SAFE rule. The new provisions are neither safe nor affordable: they would threaten our health, pollute our air, put critical waterways at increased risk from oil spills, and deprive drivers of more fuel efficient cars that save money.

Here in Oregon, the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Oregon can’t set individual vehicle standards, so we have opted to join California’s standards for both GHG reductions and fuel economy. Therefore, my organization also strongly opposes the withdrawal of the state of California’s Clean Air Act Preemption Waiver that allows California to set more ambitious vehicle standards and for other states to follow suit.

Tailpipe pollution is not only a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, but also air toxics that harms people living near busy roadways. Vehicle pollution, such as PAHs, harms brain development. Vehicle emissions also contribute to respiratory ailments and heart disease. On average, every tank of gas has an additional $18.42 in hidden health and climate costs attributed to:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Lost work days
  • ER visits and hospitalizations
  • Premature deaths
  • Climate damage caused by emissions

The current standards are good for pocket books and the economy. As they currently exist, the Clean Car Standards will save drivers between $3,200 and $5,700 over the life of a new car by 2025. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the current standards will spur demand for advanced technology that by 2030, are expected to create an estimated 650,000 jobs throughout the U.S., including 50,000 car manufacturing jobs.

Watering down these standards risks losing important economic, health, and climate benefits.

I oppose the SAFE proposal and urge maintaining or increasing the health and environmental benefits of the current Clean Car Standards.”

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