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What’s new in Oregon: Pricing pollution, electrifying transit, and more

While the federal government is rolling back important rules that protect our air, water, and climate, Oregon is moving forward. When I get frustrated, I remind myself that the biggest actions to fight climate change in the U.S. have usually started at the state and local level.

Capping and Pricing Climate Pollution Statewide

"We keep breaking records for warmest ever."
    ~ Dr. Philip Mote, Director, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute

For the first time in Oregon history, the legislature has created a Joint Legislative Committee on Carbon Reduction to address the need for statewide climate action. Yesterday, the committee met for the first time. Climate scientists and agency staff attested to the huge gap between the state’s greenhouse gas goals, set over a decade ago, and the trajectory we are currently on. The Committee also heard how a cap and invest program could dramatically reduce our state’s climate pollution.

After years of study, deliberation, and inaction, the legislature is well-positioned to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill in 2019. This cap and invest program would help drive down statewide climate pollution 80% by 2050, and invest in clean energy strategies that create jobs, support clean air, and focus resources in underserved communities. Please contact your state legislators to tell them that you support passing this major climate legislation in 2019.

Frequent, Affordable, Zero Emission Transit Service

To tackle climate pollution in the transportation sector - nearly 40% of Oregon’s climate pollution – a clean and robust transit system is essential. Key transit priorities include expanding service, increasing affordability, and shifting to zero emissions electric buses.  

Oregon’s largest transit agency, TriMet, is also the biggest user of diesel in the state. Since early 2017, we have been working with a range of partners in the Portland metro area to call on TriMet to transition their fleet to zero-emission electric buses and stop investing in new diesel buses by 2020. We are also pushing the agency to focus resources on service expansion and fare relief, and to prioritize electric buses on routes through low income neighborhoods burdened by air pollution.

We are getting closer to securing an electric bus commitment! TriMet recognizes that transit agencies around the world are rapidly shifting to electric buses, and the agency is now doing a detailed study to identify what a bold commitment could look like – going beyond the five electric bus pilot project kicking off this fall. No surprise: Their preliminary study affirms other transit agencies’ experience that electric buses are cheaper than diesel buses over the life of the bus despite the higher up front cost, due to lower fuel, operations, and maintenance costs. 

Portland Clean Energy Fund

The Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) is an exciting ballot measure effort in Portland. It supports renewable energy and energy efficien projects, job training, local food production, and other green infrastructure for Portlanders who are most impacted by climate change. Climate Solutions is proud to join over 150 community organizations, businesses, and faith leaders in supporting this community-led vision to build local resilience and wealth in the face of climate change, inequality, and federal inaction.

PCEF is a great opportunity to fight climate change in Portland while addressing social and economic inequity by providing major new economic opportunities for low-income Portlanders and communities of color.  Learn more about PCEF, and join PCEF at events and signature gathering trainings.

Zero Energy Buildings

Climate Solutions is a founding member of the Zero Energy Ready Oregon coalition, known as the ZERO coalition, created last fall when Governor Kate Brown issued an Executive Order to accelerate energy efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings. With 40% of Oregon’s building and housing stock expected to be newly constructed within the next 30 years, locking in energy efficiency in new buildings supports a major reduction in climate pollution, while also reducing energy costs for building owners and tenants, and improving health and livability. 
 
The ZERO coalition brings together a dozen non-profit, private sector, and government partners to increase public understanding of the benefits of net zero energy buildings, ensure that Oregon building codes achieve the objectives of the Governor’s Executive Order, and develop a roadmap to zero energy buildings in Oregon.

Welcoming our new Oregon Policy Manager, Zach Baker

Mara Gross, Meredith Connolly, and Zach BakerWe are thrilled to welcome Zach Baker, our new Oregon Policy Manager, to the Climate Solutions team! Zach brings over a decade of policy and advocacy experience focused on protecting the environment and promoting public health. His experience spans the local, state, and federal policy levels and he previously served as a Corvallis City Councilor.


 

Meredith Connolly's picture

Oregon Director

, Climate Solutions

Meredith develops, advocates for and implements clean energy and climate change policies and programs to accelerate Oregon’s transition to a clean energy, low-carbon economy.

Prior to joining Climate Solutions, she was a Climate and Energy Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. In that capacity, she advanced policies for deploying renewable energy, creating clean energy jobs and increasing energy efficiency in the U.S. and internationally. She also implemented programs to protect public health and improve climate resilience to heat waves and air pollution in India’s growing cities. Before NRDC, Meredith practiced law in the private sector.

Meredith serves as a board member on the Portland Utility Board, and is a member of the Oregon and California State Bar Associations. She holds a JD from Boston College Law School and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and French from Santa Clara University.

In her free time, Meredith enjoys exploring her incredible home state of Oregon with her husband and two kids, and rooting loudly as a member of the Portland Timbers Army.