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Agency asks people to choose their poisons.

Byline: Diane Dietz The Register-Guard

DEQ PRIORITIES Here are some "key actions" the Department of Environmental Quality plans for the next two years: Improve environmental health: Upgrade water quality and ensure fewer days of unhealthy air. Clean the river: Plans to cut water pollutants and control new pollutants going into the Portland Harbor. Visibility: Clean air in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and Crater Lake National Park. Toxics: Prevent releases into the air and water and clean up hazardous waste sites. Global warming: Reduce greenhouse gases coming from cars and trucks.

What pollution bugs you the most: mercury in your dinner, diesel exhaust in your lungs, pesticides in your river, poisons in your PJs?

Now's your chance to tell someone who cares.

Go to the Eugene Public Library on Wednesday, and you'll get a chance to bend the ear of Stephanie Hallock, top brass at the state Department of Environmental Quality.

She's asking for your thoughts on the DEQ's priorities and 14 actions her agency is ready to undertake over the next couple of years.

Hallock has got 777 employees and a $174 million biennial budget to work with.

"(The session) is to talk a little more broadly about what the agency is poised to do," agency spokeswoman Nina De- Concini said.

The agency wants your answer to these questions:

What do you want DEQ to know about environmental priorities?

What would you change?

What is the agency missing?

This is the second meeting in a four-stop tour of the state. Last week in Portland, audience members raised a range of concerns, including requests to mark those locations where businesses pour pollutants into the Willamette River; to examine the pollution potential of discarded pharmaceuticals; and to study toxic chemicals that heavy industry vents into the air.

The 21-member Portland audience sparked discussions so lively that the session extended beyond its allotted 90 minutes, according to the DEQ's records.

Nine attendees were from environmental groups, three were from other government agencies and nine were citizens with environmental concerns. Additionally, 14 DEQ staff members were on hand to hear the public comment.

After the Eugene meeting, Hallock will convene similar sessions in Pendleton on May 31 and Medford on June 14.

Hallock is serving her sixth year at the helm of the DEQ. She has been with the agency 18 years, previously overseeing the hazardous and solid waste division, the water quality division and the agency's eastern region.

The DEQ's official mission is "to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon's air, water and land."

POLLUTION

TOWN HALL

Tell state Department of Environmental Quality leaders what you think about their proposal:

When/where: Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Bascom- Tykeson Room in Eugene Public Library, 100 W. 10th Ave.

Who: DEQ Director Stephanie Hallock and Environmental Quality Commission members Ken Williamson and Donalda Dodson

For more information: www.deq.state.or.us /about/eqc/strategic plan/summary.htm

To comment: Call (800) 452-4011 or e-mail spc@deq.state.or.us
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Title Annotation:Environment; The DEQ is asking for the public's help to prioritize a pollution-fighting agenda
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 23, 2006
Words:510
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