Gov. Brown fires commissioners without warning

Three members of Oregon Environmental Quality Commission let go this week

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown fired three of the five members of the Environmental Quality Commission, who oversee the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, without a warning.

Brown called Commissioners Colleen Johnson, Morgan Rider and Melinda Eden Wednesday to fire them, the Eugene Register-Guard reported

The governor’s office did not share much information regarding the reasoning behind the firings. Brown alluded to challenges regarding environmental protection policies during the Trump presidency in a prepared statement.

“It’s essential that the EQC work collaboratively with the governor’s office in meeting these new challenges,” Brown said. “I appreciate the service of all EQC members, and I welcome new perspectives and leadership to move the EQC forward.”

A new department director was recently appointed last month after its former director, Dick Pedersen, resigned when the agency faced extensive criticism for the way it handled heavy-metal air pollution in Portland.

Johnson said she and the two other former commissioners “were completely blindsided and stunned.”

Johnson was serving her second four-year term, Rider had 15 months left in her term and Eden had three months left in hers. The agency, which enforces laws curbing air, ground and water pollution, has a $332 million budget and about 700 full-time staff.

Johnson said the three will be releasing public statements soon.