East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, January 04, 2018, Page Page 4A, Image 4

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    Page 4A
East Oregonian
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Managing Editor
Opinion Page Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
DEQ should catch up
before adding new work
Rural Oregon is no stranger to
watching laws and rules get made
in Salem that have negative and
unintended effects in our part of the
It’s also not uncommon to watch
the state make a grandiose plan with
the intent of improving the lives of its
citizens without the means to carry it out
or a clear grasp of the problems it will
We’re seeing a little of both from the
Department of Environmental Quality,
the agency tasked with monitoring our
air, water and land, implementing rules
to keep them clean, and punishing those
who don’t follow the law.
As we learned today in a state audit,
the DEQ is struggling to keep up with
that mission. A backlog of permits
and inspections are plaguing the
agency, possibly putting the health of
Oregonians at risk as rules already on
the books aren’t being enforced.
The audit pointed to a few reasons.
There’s the “poorly documented and
inconsistent” permitting process, which
makes for extra work tracking individual
cases and headaches for businesses that
have to deal with the agency. There’s
also more than 100 vacant positions
at the DEQ, spreading that work out
among too few employees.
On top of that, the Cleaner Air
Oregon initiative set in motion by
Governor Kate Brown has added to the
workload of the agency already thin on
The Cleaner Air project is in response
to toxic emissions detected at a glass
factory in southeast Portland in 2016.
It would require companies to report
their use of about 600 chemicals,
including heavy metals and other air
pollutants, and then calculate potential
health risks to nearby communities.
The plan could be approved by the
Environmental Quality Commission as
early as July.
It’s the kind of rule that looks great on
paper — a quick response to a problem
that may have damaged the health of
the factory’s neighbors, both human and
natural. But it’s also a broad brush.
We understand that environmental
regulations require big picture thinking.
AP Photo/Jim Cole, File
In this 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack
Station in Bow, New Hampshire.
What good is a local regulation if the
community upstream isn’t following
healthy guidelines?
But in the case of Cleaner Air
Oregon, we’d suggest the DEQ get its
house in order before enacting new
rules, so it can fully understand the
impact on all sectors.
We’re thinking specifically of the
food processing industry, which makes
up about 28 percent of employment
in Morrow County and 6 percent in
Umatilla County.
We expect these producers to be
held accountable for their emissions,
but adding another broad layer of
bureaucracy isn’t the way to do it. It
won’t make the air cleaner, nor find
previously undetected harmful elements.
It makes food processing expansion
in Umatilla and Morrow counties less
enticing, while adding no benefits in
quality of life for our residents.
We hope the DEQ and EQC take
these concerns into consideration before
passing a feel-good blanket rule.
Far from disappearing, dossier
investigation intensifies
Don’t pass tax that increases
health care costs
There is a special state election January
23. The election is to pass a hospital sales
tax. It is not bad enough that Oregon has
raised the gas tax, registration fee and payroll
tax for mass transit in western Oregon.
Ballot Measure 101 is a sick tax. If you
are in the hospital they will add on to your
bill. Just another way to add a sales tax.
I for one can not afford any more taxes.
I am voting no on all new taxes. Vote no on
the hospital sales tax.
Rex J. Morehouse
Umatilla County must allow
more rural development
Regarding your editorial of Dec. 27,
“Oregon must protect its ag zoning rules,” I
would like to provide a rebuttal.
The current zoning program is not
what was originally promised. It is totally
socialistic. It is designed to force everyone
into paying city water, sewer, garbage,
taxes and retirement benefits. It’s about
government control.
We were originally promised 10-acre
home sites, then 19, then 40, and now 160
to 240 acre minimum lot sizes. We were
also promised 10-year periodic reviews
to insure that there would be a 10-year
supply. Very few people want or can afford
160-acre parcels. No periodic reviews are
being done now.
Remember that about 10 years ago
Oregonians passed Ballot Measure 37 to
allow for more building sites outside of our
urban growth boundaries.
The Legislature quickly passed Measure
49 to allow two 2-acre clustered building
sites adjacent to certain qualifying land
owners’ improvements. No one likes
living in the country right next to two other
Douglas County is growing faster than
Umatilla County and the conflict between
socialism and free enterprise was bound to
happen. If Oregon’s economy was better it
would have already happened.
Umatilla County’s planning department
has killed numerous job opportunities.
Costco at Stateline in Milton-Freewater,
an autoplex at Ferndale Road in Milton-
Freewater, commercial growth on the
Highway 11 between Milton-Freewater
and Stateline, a compost operation between
Adams and Athena, Oregon’s largest truck
stop at Westland Road and housing at the
Pendleton Country Club.
We now have virtually no building
sites available outside of the urban growth
boundaries in east Umatilla County. We need
an inventory of 2-acre, 5-acre and 10-acre
building sites.
Government thinks that landowners want
to develop those sites. If they do not sell their
property, taxes completely eat up the profits
in 2 to 4 years. Landowners are not going
to race into financial ruin. Planners would
simply target the locations that they wanted
these to happen. Planners would understand
affordable housing and encourage “smart
growth.” Smart growth has narrower roads,
smaller cul-de-sacs, curbs and sidewalks
on one side of the street and barrow pits on
the downhill side of the streets, to eliminate
stormwater runoffs into our streams.
There has been a zero planning vision
in Umatilla County for the last 30 years.
We are now hiring a new planning director.
Let us hope we get one that understands
demand and supply, affordable housing
principals and jobs.
Kalvin B. Garton
Quick takes: Measure 101 and health care
I’m a single mom of a special needs child, but I work and pay a hefty price to have
medical. Maybe if so many people didn’t abuse the system, who actually have health
insurance at work, instead of mooching off the system, this wouldn’t be a problem.
— Hannah Pullen
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the
East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and
not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
ouse Intelligence Committee
your viewers: I’m very disturbed
chairman Devin Nunes has
about what the Department of
issued a subpoena to David
Justice did with this dossier, and we
Kramer, a former State Department
need a special counsel to look into
official who, in late November
that, because that’s not in Mueller’s
2016, traveled to London to receive
charter. And what I saw, and what
a briefing and a copy of the Trump
I’ve gathered in the last couple of
dossier from its author, former
days, bothers me a lot, and I’d like
British spy Christopher Steele.
somebody outside DOJ to look into
Kramer then returned to the U.S.
how this dossier was handled and
to give the document to Sen. John
what they did with it.”
Host Brian Kilmeade asked
Graham whether he was disturbed by
Kramer is a senior fellow at
the contents of the dossier or how the Justice
the McCain Institute for International
Department used it in the Trump-Russia
Leadership at Arizona State University.
investigation. Graham continued:
McCain later took a copy of the dossier
“And the one thing I can say, every
to the FBI’s then-director, James Comey.
prosecutor has a duty to the court to disclose
But the FBI already had the document;
Steele himself gave the dossier to the bureau things that are relevant to the request. So
in installments, reportedly beginning in early any time a document is used to go to court,
for legal reasons, I think the Department of
July 2016.
Justice owes it to the court to be up-and-up
McCain, recovering in Arizona from
about exactly what this document is about,
treatments for cancer, has long refused to
who paid for it, who’s involved, what
detail his actions regarding the dossier. For
their motives might be. And I can just say
his part, Kramer was interviewed by the
this: After having looked at the history of
House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 19.
the dossier, and how it was used by the
The new subpoena stems from statements
Department of Justice, I’m really very
Kramer made in that interview.
concerned, and this cannot be the new
In the session, Kramer told House
investigators that he knew the identities
What, precisely, did Graham mean? A
of the Russian sources for the allegations
well-informed source would not explain
in Steele’s dossier. But when investigators
beyond Graham’s words, and a Justice
pressed Kramer to reveal those names, he
Department source did not respond to a
declined to do so.
request for comment.
Now, he is under subpoena. The
But by discussing when “a document
subpoena, issued on Dec. 27, directs Kramer
is used to go to court,” Graham seemed to
to appear again before House investigators
refer to the dossier and the U.S. Foreign
on Jan. 11.
Knowing Steele’s sources is a critical part Intelligence Surveillance Court. And he
seemed to suggest that, if the FBI used
of the congressional dossier investigation,
for both sides. If one argues the document is revelations from the dossier to secure
not verified and never will be, it is critical to a warrant to spy on Americans, it was
not fully transparent about the source
learn the identity of the sources to support
of those revelations, which was an
that conclusion. If one argues the document
opposition-research project funded by the
is the whole truth, or largely true, knowing
Hillary Clinton campaign. FBI and Justice
sources is equally critical.
Department officials have told Congress
Beyond that, there is another reason
they have not been able to verify the
to know Steele’s sources, and that is to
dossier’s substantive allegations of collusion
learn not just the origin of the dossier but
between Russia and the Trump campaign.
its place in the larger Trump-Russia affair.
Further, Graham found the dossier affair
There is a growing belief among some
congressional investigators that the Russians serious enough to warrant an entirely new
investigation, as he does not appear to trust
who provided information to Steele were
using Steele to disrupt the American election the Justice Department to investigate itself
on this particular issue.
as much as the Russians who distributed
But there has been serious resistance to
hacked Democratic Party emails. In some
the idea of another special counsel in the
investigators’ views, they are the two sides
Trump-Russia matter. Such investigations
of the Trump-Russia project, both aimed at
are inevitably subject to mission creep and
sowing chaos and discord in the American
can go on seemingly forever. It’s unclear
political system.
whether anything would be done in response
Meanwhile, in a Fox News interview
to Graham’s call.
on Dec. 29, Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly
In any event, the efforts pushed by Nunes
suggested there is something untoward in
and the Senate show that Congress, if it is
the dossier material. Noting that special
aggressive, can investigate a matter like this.
counsel Robert Mueller is not investigating
They also indicate that, rather than going
the dossier, Graham said he — Graham —
away, the dossier investigation will only
has finally gotten a look at the origins and
intensify in the new year.
use of the document:
“I’ve spent some time in the last couple
Byron York is chief political
of days, after a lot of fighting with the
Department of Justice, to get the background correspondent for The Washington
on the dossier, and here’s what I can tell
The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues and public policies for publication in the
newspaper and on our website. The newspaper reserves the right to withhold letters that address concerns about individual
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Send letters to managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 or email editor@eastoregonian.com.