The state has opened a comment period and scheduled a public hearing as a result to Boise Building Solutions Manufacturing's wish to extend its air quality compliance period and change its pollution permit.

The Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled an information session at 1 p.m. Nov. 29 followed immediately by a public hearing. Both will be in the Oregon Department of Transportation Region 5 Headquarters, 3012 Island Ave., La Grande.

Doug Welch, a DEQ permit writer in Pendleton, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency originally required the company to reduce emitting toxic substances into the air by Oct. 1. In February 2006, the federal agency amended the standards and extended the deadline to Oct. 1, 2008. The plant is at 62621 Oregon Highway 82.

But last June, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled the EPA's one-year extension was illegal. The court reset the compliance date to Oct. 1, 2007, but said states could grant up to a one-year compliance extension for individual facilities.

"Boise had implemented a schedule to be in compliance by Oct. 1, 2008," Welch said. "They were reasonably unable to be in compliance with the standards on Oct. 1, 2007. The result of this ruling is that the facility must install pollution control equipment by Oct. 1, 2007, or request an extension."

The company has applied to the DEQ for a compliance extension and to insert conditions into its permit to ensure it's progressing toward compliance, he said.

The agency intends to grant a compliance extension until Aug. 31, 2008. Welch said. The DEQ's plan to extend the compliance date and its intention to modify the company's permit will be the topics of the public hearing.

The DEQ also will accept written comments until 5 p.m. Dec. 4. People may send their comments to Bonnie Hough, eastern region air quality permit coordinator, 300 S.E. Reed Market Road, Bend, OR 97702.

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