We're back!

After a long pause due to changes related to COVID-19, our quarterly In View: Manufacturing newsletter is starting again this year. In this update, you can find the latest policy news and learn more about how OBI has been advocating for our hundreds of manufacturing members.
OBI Opposes Proposed Emissions Tax in Portland

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has proposed a first-of-its-kind emissions tax on Portland businesses that could generate more than $11 million per year on the backs of fewer than 100 companies, including many manufacturers. OBI has joined a broad coalition of businesses and organizations opposed to the proposal, and submitted formal comments earlier this month.

Last week, Sharla Moffett, our energy, environment, natural resources and infrastructure policy director, presented a comprehensive overview of air quality and greenhouse gas regulatory framework to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Carmen Rubio. Speakers from the natural gas and manufacturing sectors also briefed the mayor and commissioner on impacts to their industries, illustrating the robust and comprehensive regulatory framework these businesses already operate under. Additionally, more regulation is expected to come with implementation of the governor’s executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week, Mayor Wheeler said he does not intend to raise business taxes; we hope that will lead to the end of this proposal. We are staying close to the conversations.
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OBI Manufacturing Council to Resume in 2021

OBI is proud to represent hundreds of manufacturing businesses in our advocacy work at the Legislature and before state agencies. In past years, we have hosted a Manufacturing Council, which provided an opportunity for our members in this sector to meet regularly, hear the latest policy updates and provide feedback on our legislative priorities.

We plan to revive the council in the coming weeks and, among other efforts, will work with the Oregon Business Council on a strategy to grow and strengthen Oregon’s manufacturing sector. OBI’s Scott Bruun will lead this effort, in addition to his work tracking tax and fiscal policy. Please email him if you are interested in learning more about participating. 
National Association of Manufacturers Calls on President Biden to Strengthen Sector

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) called on President Joe Biden to extend – and rescind – key executive orders from the previous administration in a letter earlier this month. Read the full letter here.

“For decades, we have worked with policymakers from across the ideological spectrum to craft policies that encourage the growth of manufacturing in the United States,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons in a letter to the incoming administration. “Now more than ever, America needs leaders in Washington who are focused on increasing American jobs, wages and investment.”

The letter outlines executive orders that have had a significant impact, positive or negative, on manufacturers over the past four years, and it urges Biden “to reverse the most harmful of these orders and keep or expand those that create an environment that is conducive to growing America’s manufacturing sector.”
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OBI Involved in COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Planning

Vaccine rollouts are continuing throughout the state, with supply and logistics continuing to be a challenge. This week, the state began providing shots to K-12 teachers and daycare providers, whom Gov. Kate Brown determined would lead the 1b vaccine group. The governor also ordered that Oregon seniors would follow teachers, starting with older, 80-years-old and over, and continuing by age groups until all seniors 65 and over have been offered the opportunity for receiving the vaccine.

Sandra McDonough, OBI’s CEO, is serving on a vaccine advisory group, which will advise the governor about priority groups after seniors receive the shot. The group is focused on ensuring the vaccine distribution has an equity focus, reaching populations that have been marginalized. McDonough has stressed the need to reach frontline workers who are not able to do their jobs from home, including manufacturing workers.
Tax Proposal Would Disconnect Oregon Businesses from Bipartisan CARES Act

House Bill 2839 would disconnect Oregon from the tax provisions of the federal CARES Act, potentially impacting thousands of Oregon businesses. OBI has consistently opposed this proposal and will continue to do it as it is considered by the 2021 Legislature.

Updates on the Regulatory Front
Cleaner Air Oregon Community Engagement Toolkit
 
Last month, DEQ released its proposed Cleaner Air Oregon Community Engagement Toolkit to guide the agency in involving the public in the Cleaner Air Oregon regulatory process. OBI staff are studying the document to determine comments we may want to make by the Feb. 12 deadline. Contact Sharla if you have suggestions for OBI’s comments.
DEQ Rulemaking Plan Updated, Moving Forward with Stormwater Permit Renewal
 
Last month, the agency updated its 2021 Rulemaking Plan. Please contact Sharla if you have questions or suggestions about OBI’s engagement in these rulemakings.

DEQ is moving ahead with the renewal of Oregon’s 1200-Z general industrial stormwater permit, which currently covers more than 860 industrial facilities. The permit is on a five-year renewal schedule with the current permit scheduled to expire on July 31, 2022. However, DEQ opted to shave more than a year off the term of the permit in order to address the terms of a 2017 settlement agreement on the current permit. In its October comments, OBI expressed concern that the draft permit included abrupt changes for benchmarks and discharge limits without reasonable time to achieve them and many other concerns. DEQ staff briefed the Environmental Quality Commission on the status of the rulemaking at this week’s meeting. We have not yet seen the final permit, but expect it will be brought before the commission at the March 20 meeting.
Rulemaking on Cap & Reduce Program Begins

On Thursday, Jan. 14, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) kicked off the “Cap & Reduce” rulemaking process in an effort to implement Gov. Brown’s Executive Order 20-04. OBI’s Sharla Moffett is serving on the Rules Advisory Committee and participated in the day-long meeting. The meeting focused on key policy design questions and modeling being undertaken by DEQ’s contractor that will guide development of the regulations. OBI and other business representatives questioned DEQ on the modeling approaches, assumptions and appropriateness of the models being used to design the program.

We submitted formal comments on Jan. 21. OBI will remain heavily involved in this process and is committed to representing the best interests of our manufacturing members throughout.
Air Toxics Rulemaking Continues

The Air Toxics Rules Alignment and Updates rulemaking that began last fall has two upcoming Rules Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 2 and 5. As described by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the objective of the rulemaking is to address inconsistencies and redundancies between the older existing Oregon Air Toxics Program and the two-year-old Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) program. Although the rulemaking has been repeatedly described as essentially a housekeeping exercise, the details of DEQ’s proposal are far more concerning. In the latest drafts of the rule changes, OBI has noted well over a dozen proposed provisions that are more stringent, require significantly more information be submitted to DEQ and dramatically reduce the timelines in which facilities must carry various phases of the CAO program. For example, DEQ proposes to shorten the time allowed for a source to prepare a Level 3 risk assessment from 120 to 60 days. These proposals will add significant cost to the already complex and challenging program requirements. Particularly frustrating is that DEQ is on its third Cleaner Air Oregon rulemaking in less than three years, only 14 facilities have been called in to demonstrate compliance with the program and not a single existing facility has received an approved risk assessment and accompanying permit.

Sharla Moffett is a member of the Rules Advisory Committee and filed comments on rulemaking proceedings last fall. These rulemaking proposals (view here and here) will be discussed at the Feb. 2 and the Feb. 5 RAC meetings. Please contact Sharla if you have suggestions or questions about the rulemaking.
OBI Engaged in OSHA Infectious Disease Rule Development
Oregon OSHA continues to work on permanent rules for workplace safety related to COVID-19, which we know has impacted our manufacturing members deeply. The current temporary rules will expire on May 5. We were hopeful that these rules would be allowed to expire but the risk of COVID-19 infections will likely still be present by May 5 so the division plans to move forward with permanent rulemaking.
 
OBI has pushed the division to simply adopt the current temporary rules as the permanent rules so that businesses don’t have to implement new regulations at one of their most trying times. Labor had proposed several costly changes. Those changes would have required that employers completely change the all the work they did to implement the temporary rules that went into effect on Nov. 16. Labor’s proposal would have required new cleaning protocols, a totally new ventilation standard and even paid leave. OBI and our partners pushed hard and with a lot of help from legislators, OSHA has simplified the proposed changes. We remain concerned about some changes related to testing and notifications related to quarantine leave but overall, the current draft makes limited changes.
 
The rulemaking advisory committee met yesterday to discuss the cost impacts of the COVID-19 rules. OSHA’s estimate seriously underestimates how much complying with the rules cost businesses in time and money. Please send any comments you have about the impact to your business to palomasparks@oregonbusinessindustry.com.
Upcoming Events
OBI Speaking at Northwest Environmental Business Council’s State of the State Event

Presented by Northwest Environmental Business Council (NEBC) in partnership with Air & Waste Management Association, Oregon Chapter, this ever-popular event will present an overview of the Oregon environmental landscape and key legislative and regulatory initiatives that will impact businesses and the environmental industry. OBI’s Sharla Moffett is speaking alongside representatives from Oregon Manufacturers & Commerce, Oregon Environmental Council, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

OBI members have been offered NEBC pricing and can register for the reduced price of $25.
2021 OBI Annual Meeting, Feb. 9 from 12-1:30 p.m.

Although we can’t meet in person, we will still deliver the information our members value from our annual gatherings: An update from our board leaders about OBI’s priorities in the 2021 legislative session and a chat with a bipartisan panel of lawmakers about what is on the table:

  • Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose)
  • Sen. Lynn Findley (R-Vale)
  • Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley)
  • Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany)

And we'll be joined by Gov. Kate Brown as well, who will discuss her legislative priorities.
Resources
Oregon Business & Industry
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Salem, OR 97301