We Did It

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

On Thursday September 29th, the DEQ’s rulemaking body, the Environmental Quality Commission, voted to adopt the Permanent Rules for Colored Art Glass Manufacturers.

WE DID THIS, YOU GUYS! We made this happen!

I feel so proud of what we have accomplished and grateful to everyone who worked so hard on this. Our many hours of volunteer, grassroots work has paid off: asking a million questions, researching the science, talking with our neighbors, canvassing, working with other air groups, organizing events, attending and speaking out at countless meetings, researching, lobbying and forging relationships at the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority, writing & researching (did I say that already?), talking with legislators, falling out of the whirlwind and then returning renewed and doing more research on everything from international glass regulations, glass chemistry, The Precautionary Principle, heavy metal toxicity, phytoremediation, to HAPs, GNAs, CAA, PATSAC, ABCs, NESHAPs, ATSDR, and micrograms/cubic meter!

We worked really hard! All of us. We went from zero to eighty in a few short months, with the media and the Tree Moss study at our backs, and I bet every one of you is amazed by the knowledge and new language you have gathered in this short period.

It has been strangely empowering, hasn’t it? Even as we never failed to look around for the exit ramp. I feel so proud of everyone who had a hand in this work and awed by the roll-up-your-sleeves, generous, make-it-happen people I have met and the friends I have made while sharing this work. We did this together because everyone brought what they could, a magnificent hive, and besides, together is the only way to change the world.

Many of the community’s concerns and suggestions were incorporated into the Permanent Rules and it was very moving to see them rolled out in Thursday’s presentation: installation of bag house filtration, rules applied statewide, lowering the applicability standard to 5 tons glass/yr total, detailed attention to hexavalent chromium and bringing the 24-hour benchmark in line with the much more protective ATSDR risk levels, the inclusion of selenium to the list of HAPs, as well as incorporating the easier and less expensive grain loading standard to test the efficacy of the baghouses at the outlet and allowing the smaller companies more time to comply.

We saw The Precautionary Principle enacted at least twice during this time: the “Unprecedented” Cease & Desist orders called by the Governor and, despite limited data, the DEQ has chosen to assume that all chromium converts to hexavalent chromium! As well, we have built enduring relationships with individuals at many levels of the DEQ including the EQC, many of whom asked us with hope in their eyes to please stay involved.

Of course there is more to do, but stop for a moment and take it in: we made this happen and may change the way air pollution is regulated across the state.


Katherine Salzmann is a member of the Eastside Portland Air Coalition; she has lived within a half-mile of Bullseye Glass for 35 years.

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