History timeline for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Created by ORDEQ on Aug 6, 2013
Last updated: 01/12/16 at 08:44 AM
DEQ adopts a Toxics Reduction Strategy, which includes 25 actions to reduce toxic chemicals used in homes, schools and business. The strategy also addresses “legacy” toxics which are now banned but linger in the environment.
The Environmental Quality Commission approves the first phase of a program aimed at identifying the amount of carbon-containing fuel emissions and requires fuel producers and importers to record and report about the transportation fuels they currently provide in Oregon.
DEQ adopts a 2050 Vision and Framework for Materials Management that guides Oregon’s management of materials and waste for decades to come. The 2050 Vision document takes a holistic, sustainable approach to managing materials that Oregonians produce, consume, recycle and discard.
Under DEQ oversite, the U.S. Army completes a 10-year project to destroy nearly 4,000 tons of toxic chemical weapons that had been stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in northeast Oregon for decades. Destruction of these weapons was critical to protecting the environment from toxic chemicals leaking into the surrounding area.
The state’s Environmental Quality Commission approves new water quality standards designed to reduce or prevent toxic pollutants in Oregon waterways. The standards, later approved by EPA, are unique in the nation and spur other states consider similar measures to reduce toxic discharges and make waterways safer for fishing and drinking.
New rules allowing homeowners to efficiently recycle wastewater (“graywater”) from kitchen and bathroom sinks, showers, baths and laundry are approved by the Environmental Quality Commission resulting in less wastewater discharge to state waters and helping conserve water.
A groundbreaking study provides a more complete look at Oregon’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. Adding to past inventories that focused on in-state emission sources, the consumption-based inventory shows global emissions associated with consumption by Oregon residents, businesses and government and provides a clearer picture of how Oregonians contribute to climate change.
The Environmental Quality Commission approves new air toxics benchmarks for the state. Benchmarks represent the amount of a particular air toxic that’s considered relatively safe for humans to breathe.
DEQ approves a plan that launches the first paint “take-back” program in the nation. The PaintCare program allows the public to return unused paint to participating retailers and other sites in Oregon for proper disposal. The program started as a pilot and was funded by paint manufacturers. The program went into full effect in 2011.
DEQ began a public discussion of three draft closure options for PGE’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman. DEQ’s proposal is a regulatory concept that meets state and federal environmental and economic requirements for early closure. The options outline the pollution controls necessary for plant closure in 2015-16, 2018 or 2020. Photo credit: Nick Engelfried
Oregon’s “Heat Smart” woodstove law goes into effect. The law requires the removal and decommissioning of any uncertified woodstove or fireplace insert from a home when it is sold. Uncertified woodstoves produce about 70 percent more pollution than certified ones.
The Oregon Legislature adopts Senate Bill 528, which prohibits most open field burning in the Willamette Valley. In 2010 DEQ and the Oregon Department of Agriculture adopt rules that result in less smoke and haze pollution in western Oregon while being economically feasible for the region’s grass seed industry.
Oregon E-Cycles officially begins providing Oregonians with free statewide recycling of televisions, computers and computer monitors.
This study explores the correlation of land use and water quality on the Willamette River concluding that streamlife is damaged by urban and farm activities and stresses the need for restoration and re-establishment of native streamside vegetation.
DEQ implements new rules that specify environmental performance standards that provide greater regulation and environmental screening of commercial, agricultural, institutional and government composting composting facilities.
The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility destroys the last munition containing nerve gas from the Umatilla Army Depot’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The facility begins its transition to focus on destroying mustard blister agent. It expects to complete disposal of these weapons by 2011.
The Oregon Global Warming Commission is established, setting state benchmarks for renewable energy production and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Serving on the commission is DEQ Director Dick Pedersen.
The Oregon Legislature expands the Bottle Bill to include rebates for drinking water containers beginning Jan. 1, 2009, and establishes a task force to consider further expansion of the Bottle Bill.
The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in eastern Oregon begins incineration of chemical weapons. DEQ oversees the process to ensure adherence to environmental permit requirements.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski establishes the Global Warming Advisory Group to develop greenhouse gas-reducing strategies for Oregon. The Advisory Group is comprised of a cross-section of business and agency leaders in Oregon including DEQ.
DEQ establishes the Southern Willamette Valley Groundwater Management Area to coordinate several agencies’ efforts to preserve and improve the quality of groundwater in the region. This is one of several groundwater management area partnerships of state and local governments, local business and farmers that work together to improve water quality in parts of the state.
DEQ and the Air Toxics Advisory Committee create health benchmarks and a comprehensive approach to reduce toxic air emissions in Oregon.
DEQ leads the nation in vehicle inspection technology by introducing on-board diagnostics, an automated system that queries the vehicle computer to determine if emission control devices are working properly. On-board diagnostics help Oregon’s program become one of the most efficient and cost-effective in the nation.
DEQ launches its Heating Oil Tank program, which handles issues related to the cleanup of leaking heating oil tanks and the voluntary decommissioning of these tanks. The program allows third-party certification of cleanups and removal of heating oil tanks by DEQ-licensed service providers
DEQ, the Oregon Health Division and a citizen’s advisory committee develop the Source Water Assessment Plan to determine sources of groundwater and surface water contamination as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act amendments of 1996. EPA approved the plan in 1999.
The Environmental Quality Commission issues permits to the U.S. Army to construct the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility to destroy chemical weapons stored near Hermiston. DEQ establishes an office in Hermiston to oversee the Army and its contractor’s compliance with the facility’s hazardous waste and air permit requirements.
Oregon gains its first picture of air toxicity in Oregon, thanks to EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA).The study looked at 33 air pollutants plus diesel particulate matter, estimating population exposures and public health risks. DEQ uses the NATA assessment and 1999 follow-up data to prioritize and address air toxics in Oregon.
DEQ begins issuing permits requiring cities, counties and sewage agencies to comply with best management practices to control pollutants in stormwater runoff that ends up in rivers and streams.
The Oregon Legislature establishes a program requiring dry cleaners to pay fees that go into a fund used to clean up solvent contamination at dry cleaner sites. The law protects dry cleaners from having to individually pay for cleanup of solvent contamination.
DEQ’s Environmental Cleanup program begins issuing designations when a contaminated commercial industrial site has been successfully cleaned and is ready for redevelopment. These are known as brownfield sites.
The Environmental Crimes Act is passed, requiring government officials in Oregon to develop standards and guidelines for prosecution, establishing the criteria for felony-level offenses.
The Oregon Recycling Act is approved, strengthening and broadening recycling requirements and adding activities to develop markets for recycled materials. This 1991 act establishes a household hazardous waste program, funds grants to help Oregon communities set up recycling programs, and requires DEQ to develop a solid waste management plan.
The Oregon Legislature provides DEQ with resources to study the health of the Willamette River. The studies find that the majority of the river’s water pollution comes from urban and rural runoff.
Federal Clean Air Act amendments are passed, including more stringent permitting of large pollution sources under Title V of the Act. With Oregon leading the nation in industrial air permitting, the criteria Oregon DEQ establishes become the national standard.
Industrial air polluters are not the only ones to blame for poor air quality. DEQ begins educating the public about air toxics in their communities after 188 chemicals are identified as hazardous air pollutants as part of the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Programs. New data reveals sources of pollution to include cars, diesel trucks, woodstoves, dry cleaners, and auto body shops.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission requires enforcement for every environmental violation and sets up standards and formulas for calculating penalties. Two years later, the state legislature grants DEQ the authority to issue penalties up to $100,000 for flagrant violations.
The state Legislature passes the Groundwater Protection Act to protect and restore the quality of Oregon’s groundwater resources and orders DEQ to conduct a groundwater assessment and protection program for Oregon.
The Oregon Legislature establishes the first environmental cleanup law, requiring reimbursement from responsible parties when the state starts a cleanup.
Oregon’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund is established by the federal Water Quality Act of 1987. The fund provides cities, counties and districts with low-cost loans for the design, construction or repair of sewage treatment plants and water pollution control projects
DEQ undertakes regional groundwater assessments and finds many wells throughout the state exceeding arsenic and nitrate drinking water standards. Other contaminants found include pesticides and volatile organic compounds.
Vehicle inspections begin in Medford in response to a federal “non-attainment” designation given to the Rogue Valley area for exceeding health standards for carbon monoxide, a precurser to ozone (smog).
Portland records its last violation of federal carbon monoxide limits. Much of the credit goes to cleaner-burning vehicles from auto manufacturers and vehicle emissions testing to ensure that cars and trucks are properly maintained and running clean.
Oregon develops and launches the Underground Storage Tank Program to help clean up and remove old, leaking underground tanks and to monitor existing tanks. To date, the state has removed or filled in place more than 25,000 underground tanks. Oregon has one of the highest rates nationally of cleaning up leaking tanks
A bill restricting uncertified woodstove sales passes in the Oregon Legislature, signaling the beginning of Oregon’s woodstove certification program. Later, EPA would use Oregon’s certification program as a model to reduce pollution of new woodstoves nationwide.
DEQ begins issuing hazardous waste permits under rules established by the federal Resource Conservation & Recovery Act. First instituted in 1976, the law was updated in 1980 giving states the authority to regulate disposal of hazardous waste. DEQ oversees permitting requirements for Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest (of Arlington, OR), the only commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in the Pacific Northwest.
Federal Clean Air Act amendments are passed, establishing permit review requirements for areas of Oregon that are classified as “non-attainment zones” – that is, not meeting federal standards for air quality.
The first vehicle inspections begin in Oregon in response to violations of federal standards for carbon monoxide. Within two years, transportation control strategies and vehicle inspections result in emission reductions of 20 percent for carbon monoxide and 15 percent for ozone pre-cursors in the Portland area.
The Portland “Aerosol Study” identifies woodstoves as a major source of air pollution. DEQ develops regulations to limit woodstove emissions, spurring development of cleaner burning technology.
Oregon DEQ begins issuing Air Containment Discharge Permits before any nationwide requirements are established. The permitting program allows DEQ to track pollution from all stationary “point” sources like factories and industrial smokestacks.
The federal Clean Water Act is passed, stating that public waters should be “fishable and swimmable” by 1985. The law establishes a water quality permit program managed by DEQ.