PHS 100A Environmental Studies
David Terrell, Ph.D.
Warner Pacific College
January 8, 2014
When doing research for this topic I came across a very interesting timeline of when the state of Oregon implemented environmental regulations. The first regulation put in place by the state of Oregon was in 1889 and it was a law that “prohibited the polluting of waters used for domestic or livestock purposes” (State of Oregon 1). In class tonight we talked about different environmental issues but most of the were closely related to present day, I was pleased to learn that 124 years ago the people who lived here understood that there are different problems that we are causing and that need to be handled appropriately or the people and the state of Oregon could be in danger.
Another law that was enacted which I felt was interesting was in 1969 about air quality, burning, and smoke. I have seen this regulation in place but I had not read or understood why they did it. If you travel along highway 213 from Molalla south to Stayton it is about a 45 minute country drive, and along the way you will see rolling hills of farm land. During a couple of my trips down there in the fall I noticed that the farmers would drive tractors around their fields that had an attachment that several high powered torches were on, and they would proceed to torch their fields. This was of course after harvest, and like we discussed in class tonight fire bring revitalizing properties to plant growth. Anyways, I noticed that the farmers would never burn all of their fields at the same time which I felt was inefficient, but come to find out it was a state regulation. In 1969 the smoke from farmers burning their fields was so thick that it covered Eugene and resulted in a pedestrian being killed by a driver that could not see and a 12 car pile-up on I-5(State of Oregon 1). That is where there is a limit to how much land a farmer can burn in a day. Also tied into this I found a list of materials that are illegal to burn at any time, the list mostly contained petroleum based products such as oil and tires but what surprised me was that you are not allowed to burn dead animals or wet garbage and food waste (State of Oregon 2). I cannot say that I have ever thought about burning those things, but I sure did not know they were illegal.
The next regulation that I thought was interesting was in 1971 when the state of Oregon passed the nation’s first bottle bill. This bill has been in place for 15 years longer than I have been alive, I never gave it a second thought, and as far as I have ever known people have always paid a five cent tax on their can’s and then had to take them back to the store to get your money back. According to Oregon DEQ “In 2009, more than one billion beverage containers were recycled under the bottle bill” and in doing so Oregon saved “three trillion BTU’s of energy” (State of Oregon 3). That is an astonishing amount of energy saved just by recycling beverage containers. I knew that recycling was helpful, but I had no idea that we could do that much with beverage containers, I am surprised that this information is not more widely known to Oregonians. It is one thing to tell everyone that recycling is good for our state and planet but I believe that if people understood exactly how much we can save with such little effort more people would join in and try to recycle just a little bit more.
State of Oregon 1. (n.d.). Oregon DEQ: Historical Timeline. Retrieved 1-8-2014, from: http://www.deq.state.or.us/about/historytimeline-p1.htm
State of Oregon 2. (n.d.). Oregon DEQ: Air Quality Burning Smoke. Retrieved 1-8-2014, from: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aq/burning/index.HTM
State of Oregon 3. (n.d.). Oregon DEQ: Land Quality – Solid Waste – Oregon Bottle Bill. Retrieved 1-8-2014, from: http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/sw/bottlebill/index.htm