Taking an Equity-Based Approach to Our Work for Clean Air


At the beginning of 2020, Oregon PSR began a campaign to close the waste incinerator that has been in operation for 34 years in Brooks, Oregon, just north of Salem. This incinerator has been burning not only residential waste but also out-of-state medical waste which, when burned, releases toxic chemicals into the air that our communities breathe. Our work has continued despite the year-long struggles over COVID-19, wildfires, and, more recently, severe winter weather.

Since 2020, we’ve been actively involved in lobbying to defeat pro-incinerator legislation at the state level. We’ve partnered with local community groups that are committed to an equity-based approach of closing down the incinerator and advocating instead for the adoption of a zero waste solution in the area. Together with Oregon PSR, these groups have formed Clean Air Now, a coalition that has engaged in community conversations about the incinerator. We’ve also been actively engaging in conversations with local community representatives and are thoroughly involved in the DEQ comment process relative to questions and concerns that our communities have about Covanta’s ability to receive an air permit at all.

At the moment, Covanta is up for its Cleaner Air Oregon review, and Oregon PSR is committed to making sure that Covanta is reviewed fully and accurately. We’ll continue to work with community members most affected by the incinerator and make sure that they are able to engage with all these processes.

If you want to follow along with the work, please email me at [email protected]. To learn more about our community coalition, please follow Clean Air Now on Facebook or check out our website at cleanair-now.org.

Photo above: The Covanta incinerator in Marion County emits a plume of toxic smoke into the surrounding community.

This article was written by Carina Perez Europa, Clean Air Organizer in Marion County