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Understanding Oregon DEQ

Frank Hammond Sept. 16, 2023

When working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) it is important to remember two things about DEQ staff. First, staff believes it is overworked and underappreciated. Second, staff believes that it is doing good and to that end believes deeply in regulation to cure environmental problems. DEQ staff is therefore generally liberal. DEQ also exists in an environment of political conflict. On the one hand are environmental groups, which think DEQ is not doing enough to protect the environment. They put pressure on the agency through lawsuits and pro environmental legislators and other politicians. On the other hand, is industry, which by nature puts a priority on economic viability.

Sometimes it seems that DEQ is intentionally an enemy of industry. DEQ’s regulations and regulatory activities can often seem antithetical to economic interests. But when dealing with staff it is important to keep in mind that they don’t see themselves as an enemy. Their motives, as explained above, are more abstract. For those reasons, it is often hard to get DEQ staff to apply the regulations in a reasonable way. To achieve any success with DEQ, however, one must keep in mind that DEQ always believes it is acting in good faith. The trick is to persuade staff that the good faith answer favors your client.

When I worked for the state as a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Special Litigation Unit I often represented DEQ. Now that I am in private practice again, I can help private clients navigate the DEQ process. Please give me a call if you have any issues that you would like to discuss concerning the DEQ. Make sure to schedule a consultation with us or through email to make sure an expert can help you out today. Make sure to follow us on Linkedin and message us if you have any questions.