|As the 2014-2015 school year starts, it is hard not to reflect on our progress to ensure that our children attend schools with clean, safe air. Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution, their smaller body mass, their higher respiratory rates, and the finite windows of development in their lungs and brain, all make the negative health impacts of air pollution more damaging and costly.
Where are we today in protecting our children?
Northwest neighborhood residents can feel assured that ESCO continues its work to reduce unnecessary air pollution. The company has now completed 12 of the 17 emission reduction actions required of them by the GNA and their last state issued air permit. This fall, through a collaboration with PSU researcher, Linda George, and Global Community Monitor, NCA will begin over site of the air monitoring at Chapman School. Esco agreed to provide $25,000 for air monitoring at Chapman as one of the last items included in the GNA, thanks to the persistent advocacy of our partners in the Northwest District Association.
In addition, the Northwest District Association also negotiated a Good Neighbor Agreement with Conway to ensure clean deisel contracting on its 10 year development plan of its NW neighborhood property.
North Portland neighborhood residents continue to see real efforts to bring decision makers together to find ways to reduce air pollution in the complex air shed:
- Vigor Industrial and a team of University Park neighbors are embarking on a collaborative emission analysis to identify air reduction projects. The company has committed to achieve a Good Neighbor Agreement with NCA to achieve reductions in toxics and odors.
- The Swan Island Air Quality Forum will have 2 more meetings in 2014. The plan is to establish an ongoing work group to create a conflict resolution model between industry and neighbors. There is a tentative commitment from NCA, Swan Island Business Association,
- Thanks to the Oregon legislature, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, DEQ received $375,000 to establish its Swan Island toxics monitoring project. For more information, go to the DEQ FAQ.
So that’s the good news. And, for the rest of the 110 Oregon schools that are ranked among the nation’s worst polluted? Oregon still has a lot of work to do. No other school, outside of the Northwest neighborhood, has been able negotiate directly with a polluter to reduce the risk of toxic pollution that drives the poor ranking of the their school.
Roosevelt HS and Cesar Chavez K-8, despite award winning advocacy by the Roosevelt HS After School Air Pollution (ASAP) club, not one of the polluters, who emit manganese and other heavy metal neurotoxins into the air shed around the North Portland schools’ community, have stepped up to work on voluntary emission reduction stragegy with neighbors.
SE Portland – neighbors of Precision Cast Parts continue to be frustrated by the company’s unwillingness to discuss emission reduction opportunities. The company, which hosted a well attended meeting last spring, designed to debunk any claims that the emissions from their large Milwaukee facility are harmful, have refused to meet with neighbors since.
Diesel PM 2.5 As reported by DEQ at the workshop June 6th hosted by Rep. Greenlick and Sen. Dembrow, Diesel PM 2.5 emissions are responsible for nearly 500 deaths annually in Oregon (nearly double the annual death toll from drunk driving and homicides combined). In addition, Multnomah County Health Officer, Dr. Jennifer Vines noted that Diesel PM 2.5 is the leading environmental contributor to the three most common causes of death in the county: cancer, heart disease and stroke. What makes this even worse is lax Oregon regulations on the operation of the older deisel
engines and trucks, is contributing to the importing of the dirtier models at a rate of nearly 1 in every 5 newly registered trucks in the state. These are primarily coming from California, which has passed a comprehensive on-road and off- road diesel emission reduction program. A study just released by PSU research team including our monitoring project partner, Linda George, suggests that the negative health impacts and cost of Oregon not working to more aggressively reduce Diesel PM 2.5 emissions may be nearly 30%-40% higher than previous state projections.
So, friends, you can see we still have a lot of work to do. And by we, I mean YOU!
But we can continue to make headway in the battle against unnecessary air pollution as long as you use your voice. Please contact your state legislator and the Governor today. 2015 legislative priorities are being worked out now. Which is good news, especially when its an election year like it is for our Governor. Tell Governor Kitzhaber, and your state representatives in the Oregon House and Senate, that reducing the risk of diesel emissions in our state should be a priority, as well as making industry commit to open and transparent dialogue with its neighbors to achieve pollution reductions and set a course of continuous improvements. The message is that simple. A heartfelt email asking for that, and telling them why its important to you, is all it takes. If you want more information about talking to your state representatives, please see the GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH LEGISLATORS.
Thanks, as always, for all you do to make Oregon neighborhoods cleaner and safer for all of our children!