PDF Version of this letter

April 6, 2022
Julie Weis
Portland Harbor Trustee Council Chair
Haglund Kelly LLP
2177 SW Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97201

Dear Ms. Weis,
Over the past few months, the Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group (PHCAG) raised
concerns and questions centering around the accountability and transparency of the mitigation
and conservation banks currently approved and operating in relation to the Portland Harbor
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or
Superfund) clean-up and habitat remediation efforts. We discussed these concerns and questions
with the Portland Harbor Trustee Council (Council) and the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) in a series of emails and telephone conversations and during a formal presentation to
Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup stakeholders during the PHCAG January 12 Public Meeting.
While attending this meeting, you gave assurances that the Council members are aware of the
concerns and questions raised and that a collective response to the PHCAG and other
stakeholders will be forthcoming in the very near future. We are pleased by your statements on
January 12 and wish to express both our gratitude and relief that the preparations for this
response are well underway. Please note that because of the on-going efforts of EPA to develop
and operate a ‘dual-purpose’ Federal Clean Water Act mitigation and conservation bank creditdebit
accounting system to run jointly and seamlessly with the Superfund clean-up mitigation
banks, we are asking that you coordinate the Council and EPA responses to the degree practicable.
In the interest of clear and expedited communication we are itemizing our concerns and
questions as follows:
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Cyber Repository Foundational Documents Accessibility
Question: At a minimum, can the USACOE Regulatory and In-lieu fee Bank Interagency
Tracking System (RIBITS) database Cyber Repository for the Portland Harbor mitigation
banks be required to contain the same or equivalent documents as all the other mitigation
banks in Oregon, with emphasis credit-debit accounting methods, service areas, financial
assurances, performance standards, long-term perpetuity protection, and monitoring
• Trustee Council – EPA Export of Ecosystem Services and Environmental Justice
Question: Can you assure stakeholders the spatial distribution of remedial actions in the
Portland Harbor will be protective and restorative to the needs of local fish and wildlife
and the needs of neighborhood residents living, working, and recreating in and around
these clean-up restoration areas?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Accessibility to Existing Digital Data Question: In
addition to the RIBITS cyber repository held pdf files displaying the mitigation bank’s
credit-debit assessment methods and monitoring reports validating its performance
standard thresholds, can the supporting digital data also include Excel spreadsheets
and /or databases for the convenience of stakeholder use in verification of the reported
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA HEA Discount Rate Logic Question: Can you please
provide and explain the logic/arithmetic NMFS used to derive the specific HEA ‘discount
rate’ applied at the Portland Harbor mitigation banks? Also, what is the logic behind
dividing the HEA delta by this ‘discount rate’ to derive the present credit values (aka
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Precautionary Minimum 1:1 Acreage Compensatory
Mitigation Constraints Question: Will the same HEA methods used to derive credits
(DSAYs) also be employed to calculate debits and thereby assure acreage replacement
equivalency? Will a precautionary principle dictate no less than 1:1 acreage replacement
ratios are a constraint on every Portland Harbor mitigation and conservation bank
credit-debit transaction?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Debit Site Acreage and Spatial Coordinate Disclosures
Question: Can the RIBITS / EPA ledger(s) display the spatial coordinates and acreages of
the debit site(s) and can a data input rule assure the debit site acreage and coordinate
fields require data entry in each respective withdrawal?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Ledger Credit Location Question: Why were 8.29
Credits specifically reallocated as ‘dual purpose’ credits in the USACOE RIBITS ledger
for the Linnton Mill Mitigation Bank? Can the USACOE RIBITS ledgers display the dual
purpose account(s), the credits released and withdrawn, and their respective running
totals? Can the spreadsheets, databases, or any other digital data repositories used to
create the ledgers be available for stakeholder download from the RIBITS / EPA cyber
• Trustee Council – EPA Portland Harbor Credit Values vs Affordability of Remedial
Actions Question: Given that the Portland Harbor mitigation banks contain very high
potential credit values relative to most, if not all, other mitigation banks in the Willamette
Valley Ecoregion, can there be more of a conversation / debate between stakeholders and
mitigation bank sponsors making claims that certain remedial actions are cost
• Trustee Council – EPA Reference Sites to Determine Performance Standard Thresholds
Question: Were reference sites used to determine performance standard pass / fail
thresholds? If so, where is the reference site data? Where are the supporting
spreadsheets, databases, and / or any other digital repositories used to calculate the
vegetation performance standard thresholds?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Transparency on Performance Standard Evaluations
Question: How were vegetation performance standards evaluated and used in making
decisions about credit releases for the mitigation banks? For example, where are the
reports by the IRT staff who field verified the results in the monitoring reports and
recommended the releases of mitigation bank credits to the IRT Chair? Where is the
coordinate data for the vegetation transect starting points? Where is the bearing data for
the vegetation transect starting and sample points? Were vegetation sample units
delineated and mapped? If so, where is this data?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Database Design Questions (e.g., unique identifier field,
primary to foreign key one-to-many relationships, normalization to 3rd normal form, etc.)
Question: What is the procedure for stakeholder input considerations for defining the
primary queries of interest, schema design, and user interface?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Conventional Wisdom on Independent Reliable and
Accountable Data Stewards Question: Stakeholders have an interest in assurances that
those with oversight responsibility of our trust resources have consistently verifiable and
enforceable checks and balances established. Synchronized redundancy of data
repositories may help increase stakeholder confidence that Portland Harbor clean-up
and remediation goals and objectives are tracking toward accomplishment. What are the
views of the Council and EPA on this matter?
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Relational Database and Enterprise Geodatabase
Accessibility and Data Download Question: What is the procedure for stakeholder input
considerations for defining the primary queries of interest, schema design, and user
• Trustee Council – RIBITS / EPA Standardization of Data Collection and Reporting
Protocols Question: Is there a standard field data collection and reporting protocol
applied for all the mitigation banks in the Portland Harbor? If so, where is this standard
protocol document?
Thank you for taking our concerns and questions under consideration. We look forward to
receiving your written and/or verbal responses. As stated earlier, we believe if established and
managed with proper oversight and enforced transparency, mitigation banks can be very valuable
tools for natural resource recovery. But if managed without proper oversight and with a lack of
transparency, they can be potentially misused and become a major impediment to natural
resource recovery. We know you understand and share this concern and look forward to
collaborating with you to help assure the rule of the day becomes the former condition and not
the latter.


Michael Pouncil
Chair, Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group
Approval of PHCAG letter to Julie Weis on 4-4-22. Douglas E Larson, Board Member.
John Marshall
Technical Advisor, Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group
Sarah Taylor
PHCAG Board Member
cc: Courtney Johnson, Exec. Director Crag Law Center