Our History

Neighbors of  Clean Air was initially founded by Mary Peveto, Lisa Selman, and Nancy Jackson to advocate for cleaner air in Northwest Portland. For detailed information read this Oregonian article about Neighbors for Clean Air.

Smokestack Effect

In 2008, USA Today published the Smokestack Study, a study of the relative impact of industrial sources of hazardous air pollutants on schools. The study, conducted by researchers and scientists from University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Maryland, showed many schools in the Portland Metro area ranked in the bottom 10% of all schools in the nation. Chapman Elementary, located in Northwest Portland, ranked in the bottom 2% of schools around the nation for the impact due to industrial sources of hazardous air pollution.

Advocacy in Northwest Portland

Neighbors for Clean Air began organizing around Northwest Portland to argue that better standards were needed to protect the air. Specifically, Mary and Neighbors for Clean Air began working with residents of Northwest Portland, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), and the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (now Earthrise) to argue that the most visible industrial polluter, ESCO Corporation, should reduce or control its hazardous air pollution. This built on over a decade of community pressure on ESCO.

Because of the advocacy of Neighbors for Clean Air and the heightened visibility of their emissions and its impact on the local community because of the Smokestack Study, ESCO agreed to study ways to reduce their emissions. Based on reports from two outside consultants — one paid for by ESCO, one paid for by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality — ESCO, Neighbors for Clean Air, NEDC, and the local neighborhood association began discussions on what reduction opportunities should be pursued. After over two years of work, Neighbors for Clean Air sign a Good Neighbor Agreement with ESCO (NEDC and the local neighborhood association were also signatories). This GNA committed ESCO to undertake 17 different projects over a 5 year period, estimated to cost over $5 million and resulting in a 20% reduction in ESCO’s emissions. Per its terms, the GNA was incorporated into ESCO’s Title V permit and is now enforceable under state and federal law.

Moving Beyond Northwest Portland

Since the historic GNA with ESCO, Neighbors for Clean Air has expanded its mission. Neighbors for Clean Air now works with communities throughout Oregon, with active groups in North Portland, Northwest Portland, and Hillsboro, Oregon. Neighbors for Clean Air has also expanded beyond just industrial sources of air pollution by beginning to advocate for stricter standards for on road and non road diesel engines.