Yesterday, seven organizations in the Stand Up to Factory Farms coalition submitted comments blasting an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposal to weaken certain air pollution permit requirements for the Threemile Canyon factory farm gas refinery. The DEQ’s proposal would allow the facility to emit more dangerous air pollutants including fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide and greenhouse gasses and fails to acknowledge the full extent of the facility’s air pollution.
This permit modification follows Threemile Canyon’s repeated violations of its air quality permit between June 1, 2019 and at least September 30, 2020, drawing $19,500 in fines for releasing illegal amounts of health-damaging fine particulate matter. DEQ’s proposal would weaken the permit to make these violations legal at the expense of surrounding communities. The groups argue that without DEQ regulation of emissions from the factory farm dairy operations that feed the gas refinery, the true extent of the facility’s pollution is overlooked and the permit is illegal.
The proposed permit modification also follows a decision by DEQ late last year to deny a Food & Water Watch-led petition from almost two dozen organizations calling on the agency to create a dairy air emissions regulatory program. The Stand Up to Factory Farms coalition is now calling for a legislative moratorium on new and expanding factory farms to address the industry’s harms.
Food & Water Watch staff attorney Tyler Lobdell issued the following statement:
“To weaken Threemile Canyon’s air pollution permit is to endorse the facility’s history of air quality violations. Despite repeated efforts by community and climate groups to unmask the reality of factory farm pollution, DEQ is choosing to look the other way.
“The data is clear — factory farms are massive polluters, endangering the climate, environment and public health alike. Efforts to profit off that pollution through the installation of digesters and factory farm gas refineries only add to the problem, perversely rewarding Threemile for its bad behavior and for running Oregon’s family-scale dairy farmers out of business. The DEQ must uphold its responsibility to Oregonians and state law by strengthening, not weakening, this air pollution permit.”
Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]