Oregon Capitol in spring, by Edmund Garman

Edmund Garman

YES: Oregon will lead on climate in 2020

It’s not even the end of January of 2020 and climate impacts continue to stack up around the globe, the Trump administration is proposing new federal environmental rollbacks, and the Ninth Circuit Court has dismissed a landmark youth climate lawsuit.
 
In the midst of such hard news, how can we look ahead to make sure 2020 will be the year that Oregon steps up on climate and reclaims our place as a climate leader?
 
Since the end of last session, we’ve been pushing state legislators to come back to the table to complete the unfinished business of passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act to cut pollution and invest in solutions. And they have.

Make sure you have the February 11th Oregon Climate Emergency Day of Action in Salem marked on your calendar.
 
But if the Legislature fails to act again, we will be ready. There are many meaningful climate actions that Governor Brown can take under her executive authority, and that state agencies can take to curb climate pollution. Finally, we're on track to qualify our 100% clean energy ballot initiatives, including 100% clean electricity.
 
Here are more details about what's ahead:

In the Legislature... 

Passing Clean Energy Jobs is unfinished business and overdue. Together with the diverse Renew Oregon statewide coalition we are continuing to push for passage of a strong Clean Energy Jobs bill to cap and price the biggest sources of carbon pollution, and to invest in clean energy solutions and the communities most impacted by climate change. The Senate released a proposal earlier this month (LC 19, soon to be SB 1530) and walked through it in committee during Legislative Days.
 
The new Senate version of the bill largely follows the overall framework of last year’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 2020), but includes a number of new provisions that unfortunately would weaken the original bill in response to industry’s pressure. These changes include a geographic phase-in of transportation fuels over several years and special treatment for major industrial users of fracked gas. We testified to the committee pushing for improvements to strengthen the bill. Negotiations have been fast and furious, so stay tuned for a deeper analysis of the bill—and how you can help.

With the Governor and state agencies…

If the Legislature fails to act in 2020, Governor Brown can and should take strong executive action to keep our state moving forward on climate.  We recently released a list of actions that Governor Brown could take, including making our state greenhouse gas goals enforceable and doubling our Clean Fuels Program targets.  State agency efforts are also currently underway to include Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) improvements to the Greenhouse Gas Reporting program and EQC consideration of a petition to regulate indirect sources of diesel emissions and greenhouse gases.

At the Ballot Box (and in the Courts)…

To ensure Oregon steps up this year, we also have climate ballot measures ready to go for November 2020.  Last fall, along with our coalition partners, we filed four ballot initiatives:

  • 100% Clean Economy (IP 50): Update and enforce our state’s climate pollution targets to get to 100% carbon-free by 2050.
  • 100% Clean Energy (IP 48 and IP 49): Require all electricity used in Oregon to be 100% clean and carbon-free by 2045, catching up to Washington and California.  IP 49 also requires an acceleration in investments in electrification, resulting in significant investments in electric cars, buses, and charging infrastructure while creating high-quality jobs across our state.
  • Toxics Reduction and Right To Know Act (IP 56): Strengthens limits on toxic pollution and lifts a state preemption on local communities that has prevented requiring companies to disclose toxic emissions.

In a cynical attempt to try to stymie our efforts, the Secretary of State rejected two of the four measures in late December 2019.  So we took her to court – and just last week, we won!   The ballot measures can now move forward through the process to qualify and start signature gathering, regardless of whether the Secretary of State appeals. We are excited to bring these measures to the voters and give Oregonians a chance to determine their clean energy future if the Legislature fails to act on climate yet again.

One way or another, 2020 will be the year of major climate action in Oregon. Thanks for all you do to make that a reality!

Whether it’s through the Legislature, the Governor and state agencies, at the ballot box, and in the courts, or all these forums at once, we’re working hard to make sure 2020 is the year that Oregon takes major climate action. We hope you’ll join us over the coming months to get strong climate action across the finish line.

Hope to see you in Salem on February 11th!

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.