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About DEQ

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is a regulatory agency whose job is to protect the quality of Oregon's Environment. DEQ is responsible for protecting and enhancing Oregon's water and air quality, for cleaning up spills and releases of hazardous materials, and for managing the proper disposal of hazardous and solid wastes.

DEQ staff use a combination of technical assistance, inspections and permitting to help public and private facilities and citizens understand and comply with state and federal environmental regulations.

In addition to local programs, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegates authority to DEQ to operate federal environmental programs within the state such as the Federal Clean Air, Clean Water, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Acts.

Other responsibilities that directly involve individual citizens include the residential onsite sewage program, and the Vehicle Inspection Program, which protects air quality in the Portland and Medford areas.

Oregon's history of environmental regulation dates back to 1938, when the Oregon State Sanitary Authority was formed. As a division within the State Board of Health, the Authority was formed in response to outraged citizens who overwhelmingly supported an initiative petition known as the "Water Purification and Prevention of Pollution Bill". The bill declared a state policy to preserve Oregon waters from pollution. In 1969, the Authority changed its name to the Department of Environmental Quality and established itself as an independent state agency. There have been nine directors since DEQ was established:

Ken Spies
LB Day
Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain
Kessler Cannon
Loren "Bud" Kramer
William H. Young
Fred Hansen
Langdon Marsh
Stephanie Hallock
1969 to 1972
1971 to 1972
1973 to 1974
1974 to 1975
1975 to 1976
1976 to 1983
1984 to 1994
1995 to 2000
2000 to present

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