Actually, PGE Did Break the Law (And What You Can Do About It)

Nick Engelfried

"Oregonians need to let state regulators know that we won’t put up with PGE polluting illegally"

In June I wrote about the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission’s decision to reject PGE’s “2020 plan” for the Boardman Coal Plant, partly based on concerns that it would likely fail to meet the criteria of federal regulators. PGE took offense at my suggestion that the Boardman Plant has been polluting out of compliance with federal clean air laws for years—so much so that a company representative submitted an opinion piece to BlueOregon arguing differently.

Well, yesterday news broke that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has sent PGE a notice of violation for polluting out of compliance with the Clean Air Act. According to the EPA, the company has been violating the law since 1998, when significant upgrades to the Boardman Plant should have meant PGE had to install new controls for sulfur dioxide pollution. In other words, PGE has been breaking the law for at least twelve years.

Oregonians need to let state regulators know that we won’t put up with PGE polluting illegally—and I invite all progressives in the Portland area to do just that this Sunday. Please join the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Greenpeace, and other groups for a Roll Against Coal bicycle rally, from 3:00-4:00pm. We’ll be biking through Portland with signs and other visuals that draw attention to PGE’s part in polluting the air (see meet-up details here).

A federal agency has confirmed PGE has been violating clean air laws for the last twelve years, putting Oregon’s health and scenic areas at risk. The announcement means PGE will be entering into talks with the EPA about how to resolve violations. It also means the utility’s 2020 plan, which would involve putting on fewer pollution controls than the EPA says are required, can be seen as even more of a non-starter. Yet because of the power this utility wields in Oregon politics, public involvement is needed more than ever to ensure state and federal agencies don’t back down.

If you care about Oregon’s environment, I hope you’ll take to wheels at the Roll Against Coal this Sunday. Incidentally, this event is just part of an international day of climate action shaping up to be the biggest political mobilization in history. In the lead-up to DEQ and Public Utilities Commission decisions about the fate of the Boardman Plant, we’ll be making sure confronting coal in Oregon is part of what this massive day of action is about. I can’t think of a better way for progressives to spend their time.

Comments

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    Transparency statement: I'm a volunteer with the Oregon Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. In this post I speak only for myself.

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    I'm wondering how Dr. Kitzhaber feels about the money PGE has given him this year, since they have been violating pollution standards since 1998, well before he left office.

    Transaction ID: 745892 Political Committee, Portland General Electric Employee Candidate Assistance Fund (2480) $5,000. Cash Contribution 04/05/2010

    Transaction ID: 898102 Committee, Portland General Electric Employee Candidate Assistance Fund (2480) $15,000. Cash Contribution 09/28/2010

    Hope we see a little transparency, here.

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      I found these figures on the ORESTAR (Oregon secretary of state) website.

      https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/transactionPubDetail.do?tranRsn=745892

      https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/transactionPubDetail.do?tranRsn=898102

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