Oregon DEQ Seeks Input on New Performance Standards

The agency hopes to have the new rules in place by March 2013.

December 21, 2012
REW Staff
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has announced it is looking to create new performance standards and solid waste permit requirements for certain facilities in Oregon that convert waste into chemicals, fuels, products or energy.
According to the DEQ, the changes would come in the form of new state rules primarily governing conversion technology facilities, which use chemical or thermal processes to convert solid waste into a variety of byproducts. The rule also would cover anaerobic digestion facilities, which use biological processes to digest solid waste and create methane, which can be used to create electricity or transportation fuels.
The complete rulemaking proposal is available for public review on DEQ’s rulemaking web page at: www.deq.state.or.us/regulations/proposedrules.htm. Other documents associated with the rulemaking are also available via that web page.
The DEQ says the rules are needed because the development and use of various types of conversion technologies is fairly new to Oregon and existing state solid waste rules don’t adequately define the facilities to provide the best-possible environmental protection and oversight. Also, new permit fees for these facilities need to be established. 
Currently, five Oregon facilities would be affected by the new rules. In addition, about a dozen on-farm anaerobic digestion facilities overseen by the Oregon Department of Agriculture will need to meet the proposed performance standards.
The DEQ will accept public comments on the proposed rules through Jan. 22, 2013. 
The DEQ will be holding a public hearing on the proposed rulemaking beginning on Jan. 16, 2013 at its Portland headquarters. An informational overview of the proposal will open the hearing, followed by the formal hearing process, when the public can provide oral and written testimony. 
The DEQ plans to ask the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to approve the new rules at the commission’s March 20-21, 2013 meeting. If approved, the rules would go into effect later in spring 2013.
Existing conversion technology and anaerobic digester facilities are currently classified as “solid waste treatment facilities” and covered under solid waste treatment facility permits. Rules for the permits were originally designed for treatment of wastes for ultimate disposal. The current solid waste disposal site permit fee structure does not include fees for conversion technology facilities or anaerobic digesters.
The DEQ began developing the proposed new rules more than a year ago and enlisted an advisory committee comprised of 15 members representing technology consultants, renewable energy advocates, conversion technology facility operators, anaerobic digester facility operators, local governments, solid waste haulers and the public and environmental groups. 
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Energy, which are involved with the facilities, also were consulted. The advisory committee met four times and reviewed several drafts of the rules, making vital technical and practical recommendations. 
If you have any questions about the draft rules, or the rulemaking in general, please contact Bob Barrows by email at barrows.bob@deq.state.or.us or by phone at 541-687-7354.