SALEM — Two large dairies in Oregon have forestalled a bill that would impose regulations on air emissions from dairy farms across the state.
State regulators would have been required to draw up rules restricting dairy air emissions under Senate Bill 197, which was opposed by the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and Oregon Farm Bureau.
Supporters of the bill argued that a 2008 task force recommended that Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission devise new rules aimed at reducing dairy air emissions, such as methane and other "greenhouse gases."
Opponents countered that Oregon's air quality is highly rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and that dairies are voluntarily adopting measures to reduce emissions.
An alternative to SB 197 was made possible by Three Mile Canyon Farms, a large existing dairy near Boardman, and Lost Valley Ranch, a proposed large dairy nearby, which have agreed to devise "best management practices" to control emissions and prevent haze in the Columbia Gorge, said Sen. Mike Dembrow, D-Portland.
Dembrow, chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, will participate in a work group setting best management practices, along with representatives of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University.
• Another controversial piece of legislation also failed to pass must during the committee's April 17 meeting.
A bill imposing new notification requirements for aerial pesticide sprays in Oregon forests was voted down 3-2 despite several changes proposed by its chief sponsor.
Timber industry representatives complained that the original language of Senate Bill 892 would have unreasonably complicated the timing of pesticide applications, which must often be shifted due to weather events.
In the original bill, timber companies would have to conduct spray operations within two days of the scheduled date submitted to a statewide notification system.
In an attempted compromise, Dembrow proposed delegating the length of the notification window to the Oregon Board of Forestry.
Dembrow's proposed amendment would also have directed the Board of Forestry to exempt uninhabited areas from the spray notification requirement.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said that Oregon's notification requirements are "lacking" compared to other states.
In light of problems that off-site pesticide sprays have caused for rural residents, Oregon should try to find a solution, Prozanski said.
Even if the bill doesn't pass, the Oregon Board of Forestry should take these matters into consideration, he said.
Prozanski and Dembrow were the only members of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee to vote in favor of amendments to SB 892.
The deciding vote was cast by Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, who said that he's uncomfortable with the notification requirements due to the history of sabotage against Oregon's timber industry.
People who disagree with any logging could seek to disrupt forestry activities, just as they did in the past by spiking trees, potentially causing danger to themselves or other, Roblan said.
With the proposed amendments defeated, Dembrow said the underlying bill was dead because the original language wasn't acceptable to anyone.
• Finally, the committee allowed Senate Bill 929, which would have restricted the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, to die without comment.
Proponents of the bill argued that homeowners without pesticide training shouldn't be allowed to buy the chemicals, which have been linked to pollinator die-offs.
However, critics said that classifying neonicotinoids as restricted use pesticides could steer people to more toxic pesticides that are harmful to people as well as insects.
A companion bill, Senate Bill 928, would have required special labels for crops treated with neonicotinoids, but it was previously killed by a legislative deadline.