New Ballot Measure Filed: Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act

In Press Release by OLCVstaff


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 11/7/19
Contact: Doug Moore, OLCV Executive Director
(503) 224-4011; dmoore@olcv.org

Salem – As Oregon sits under a dangerous air quality advisory due to air pollutants, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters today filed the Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act with the Secretary of State for the November 2020 ballot.

Over the past several years, corporate polluters have successfully blocked climate change legislation, which has delayed reductions in climate pollution for their own gain. Lawmakers have a chance to come back in 2020 and stand up to the polluter lobby and pass climate change legislation, but advocates for clean air, soil and water are not taking any chances.

“We want to make sure that every polluter in Oregon is clear on one thing: 2020 is the year that they will be held accountable, one way or another,” says Doug Moore, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Moore is also a youth soccer coach, who now regularly has to cancel practices because of reduced air quality. “2020 must be the year that lawmakers stand up to polluters and pass significant climate change legislation, or we will move forward with a measure to bring total transparency for toxic pollution and close the loopholes that allow arsenic, mercury, lead and other toxics to flow into our air, water and soil.”

The Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act will close current toxic pollution loopholes and require total transparency of toxic pollution:

Close Toxic Pollution Loopholes. Before a new facility can open for business, they must meet health standards that show they aren’t releasing dangerous toxic pollution into neighborhoods and schoolyards. But Oregon has a massive loophole that allows older companies to keep emitting toxics in our communities, leaving people vulnerable to pollution-caused cancer, asthma, heart disease, liver disease, impaired brain development, infertility, premature birth and birth defects. Low-income seniors, pregnant women, children and people of color are disproportionately affected by industrial pollution. In 2018 corporate polluters successfully doubled the legal cancer risk from toxins and increased the health risk from hazards such as arsenic, mercury and lead by five times. The Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act measure would close that loophole and set unprecedented limits on toxic pollution to protect our health and families.

Total Transparency of Toxic Pollution. State law limits local communities from requiring companies to disclose toxics being released into our water and soil as well as our air. This leaves families and neighbors without access to easily understandable information about dangerous pollution in their communities. This measure would lift the gag orders on local communities and hold polluters accountable. It would allow public information of the use, storage, release, possession or composition of hazardous or toxic substances at industrial, manufacturing and other facilities. According to a poll done in August, 83% of Oregon voters support requiring industrial and commercial facilities that emit significant amounts of toxic substances to publicly report how much they emit.

“Toxic pollution is making people sick and contributing to unnecessary deaths,” says nurse practitioner Margaret Ngai, DNP, PNHNP-BC, who is also a chief petitioner on the measure. “Toxic pollution causes cancer. Toxic pollution causes asthma. Toxic pollution causes heart disease. We cannot wait any longer for lawmakers to put people before polluters and take action in 2020. If they don’t, we will.”

The Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act has been endorsed by Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Beyond Toxics, PCUN, Oregon Environmental Council, NAACP Eugene/Springfield, Union of Concerned Scientists, and others in the Oregonians for Clean Air coalition.

“Farmworkers, construction workers, and laborers who work outside have increased risk of cancer, pregnancy complications, asthma and many other health problems because Oregon does not have adequate protections against toxic pollution,” says Martha Sonato, Political Director for Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Oregon’s largest Latinx farmworker union. “Meanwhile, local communities who want to tell the people the truth about what is in their air, water and soil are muzzled. It’s time for Oregon to take bold action through the Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act.”

The filing of the Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act is part of a suite of Clean Air ballot measures for 2020. One thousand sponsorship signatures are due by November 25th to show the measure has enough support to receive an official ballot title, which will be easily accomplished given the broad support for the other Clean Air measures. Once the final ballot title is approved supporters will gather the approximately 112,000 signatures to put the Act before the voters in November, 2020.

For more information and to get involved go to OregoniansforCleanAir.org

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