LANE COUNTY

BOARD OF HEALTH

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

(following MWSD)

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 5/6/2009

 

Commissioner Faye Stewart presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Bobby Green, Sr., and Peter Sorenson present.  County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Lisa Arkin, Eugene, supported efforts to ban field burning in the Willamette Valley.  She said air quality is the primary concern of Oregon Toxic Alliance.  She said their mission is to enhance and protect community and environmental health by promoting solutions to root causes of toxic pollution.  She said field burning can cause small particles of soot and toxic particles to blanket the Southern Willamette Valley in the summer.  She thought the Board did the right thing to support HB 3000.

 

David Monk, Eugene, appreciated the Board’s legislative effort to oppose field burning.  He said they need a solution and want to work with the industry.  He said going to the EQC to address this issue is important.

 

2. REGULAR BUSINESS

 

a. DISCUSSION/Petition to Environmental Quality Commission Regarding a Ban on Field Burning.

 

Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, said he wanted to know if the Board would agree from a health standpoint to write a letter to the EQC.  He thought this was a health issue.  He said the Board would need to find an extreme danger of public health or safety.

 

Sorenson wanted to take the draft petition and give comments and direction.  He indicated that the EQC is meeting on June 22 and they could review this more internally with the public being able to have access.  He said if the Board wanted to give direction to write the letter, they could approve it as the Board of Health and the Board of Commissioners.

 

Dwyer said the government should do no harm and they are allowing it to occur by its own willingness to regulate an industry shown to be detrimental to the public health.  He thought it was time for farmers to change because the intrusion of the smoke from the valley is sometimes unbearable.

 

Green commented that this could lead them to potential litigation.  He asked Legal Counsel about their thoughts.  He was concerned about the resources and who would be doing the work.

 

Wilson indicated that the Western Environmental Law Center had been the ones who had done the majority of work on this.  She said the petition is a letter to the Environmental Quality Commission to ask them to exercise rule making authority they have.  She said it is to address a situation of extreme danger.  She said the question is whether that test is met.  She had concerns that this would not fully represent the fact pattern on how the Ninth Circuit Court Case occurred.  She said that Idaho had banned field burning and the EPA had approved an amendment that allowed limited burning in Idaho and the EPA’s approval of the limited burning was what the Ninth Circuit said was impermissible because they had used a flawed premise and they remanded the ruling back to EPA to review.  She commented that the Idaho situation is almost the reverse of the situation in Oregon.  She thought the petition needed some expansion to make the factual situation more accurate.

 

Fleenor stated that field burning provides a higher quality grade grass seed and makes them more competitive on an international market.  He understood why the seed farmers are resistant to change.  He said that clean water and air is a concern and they have to listen to the citizens. He asked if it was the economy or the quality of life.

 

Dwyer said his intention is not to penalize the farmers who have been a staple in the economy.  He said there is a process.  He recalled that the legislature ducked this issue because the agricultural committee is different than the health committee.  He was concerned about resources but they have people willing to help.  He stated that they have to utilize each process to make arguments legitimate in whatever forum.

 

MOTION: to direct staff to bring back next week to the Board of Health and to the Board of Commissioners a petition( like the one in front of them) with suggested changes in consultation with the Environmental Law Center.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Green supported the motion to have this come back.  He expressed his concern about not having public input on this issue.  He asked the Agenda Team to schedule a public hearing so they could hear from the pubic.

 

Sorenson commented that the amount of air pollution and health impacts justifies them having Public Health and legal staff review the petition and make revisions as they deem appropriate and bring it back to the Board next week.  He said the public will have access to the document.

 

Fleenor amended the motion to schedule a public hearing on Tuesday when the Agenda Team can accommodate  this issue and move forward as part of the amendment.

 

Sorenson SECONDED.

 

Dwyer recommended having the meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning  be included in the motion.

 

Stewart wanted a clear idea of the process and obligations. He wanted to know the potential costs  He also wanted know about alternatives used if field burning is allowed for farmers.   He wanted to know about nitrates and health risks associated with them.  He doesn’t want to ban something that makes matters worse in protecting public health.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Stewart adjourned the meeting at 9:50 a.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary