EPA finds Oregon’s coastal pollution program lacking

Federal authorities announced this week that Oregon is not doing enough to protect water quality in coastal areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rejected Oregon's current coastal non-point pollution control program, stating that it severely lacks the ability to protect salmon streams and areas vulnerable to landslides from logging impacts. The two organizations also said that Oregon has failed to reduce runoff from forest roads that were built before 1971.

The EPA and NOAA asked Oregon officials over a decade ago to increase their regulations on non-point pollution, which can result from a broad range of activities, including agriculture, grazing, urban development and forestry. Runoff from these actions has been shown to damage the quality of coast water and seriously endangers local wildlife, such as salmon and trout. The state implemented a series of changes but none brought about the widespread effect the EPA and NOAA were looking for.

Despite the disapproval, both agencies are willing to help Oregon address gaps in pollution practices. Dennis McLerran, EPA's Regional Administrator stated, "Both NOAA and EPA are optimistic that Oregon will take the necessary steps to address the gaps in their forestry practices. Oregon has already shown that it wants to make improvements by undertaking a rulemaking process aimed at improving fish-bearing stream protections." He added that the EPA supports the state in adopting new rules, and are committed to helping Oregon build an appropriate coastal non-point pollution control program.

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