Looking to make history on coal and clean energy in Oregon

Oregon has an exciting opportunity for a big climate win this month, and we're gaining momentum. 

The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan, currently under consideration by the Oregon Legislature (House Bill 4036), would put Oregon’s two largest utilities firmly on the path to meeting their share of Oregon’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. With PGE and PacifiCorp cutting emissions, Oregon would become one of the cleanest electricity jurisdictions in the world. 

Once passed into law, the plan would phase out coal from Oregon’s power supply and  double renewable energy to 50% under Oregon’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard. It would also reaffirm the importance of energy efficiency, provide incentives for electric vehicle infrastructure, and create community solar options.

Five newspapers across the state have already come out in favor of the legislation – the Portland Business Journal, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Mail Tribune, Daily Astorian, and Portland Tribune.  The Register Guard editorialized that “the decision to eliminate a nonrenewable source of energy while lowering carbon emissions is an important one, and burnishes Oregon’s reputation as a state that places a high value on environmental protection — and backs it up with action.” The Portland Business Journal concluded that “this plan delivers goals that are acceptable not only to the environmental groups and utilities that crafted it, but to a wide swath of Oregonians who in polls have shown a preference for renewable energy.”

The bill has also earned wide support from the business community.  BICEP, a coalition of 38 major US companies including Nike, Starbucks, eBay, Symantec, IKEA, The Portland Trailblazers, and Symantec, is urging legislators in Salem to support the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan. The Oregon Business Association has endorsed the bill, and a recent opinion piece by Jonas Kron from Trillium Asset Management and Ron Pernick from Clean Edge explains why addressing climate change and investing in renewables provides economic benefit to Oregonians and the economy.  Other Oregon businesses and trade groups, such as Widmer Brothers Brewing, Skanska, Burgerville, Gerding Edlen, the Technology Association of Oregon, Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association, A to Z Wineworks, Indow Windows, MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions, and more than 100 others, have also signed onto a business letter of support for House Bill 4036.

New research released by Renew Oregon shows that seven out of ten Oregonians support getting rid of coal and increasing renewables, including strong majorities in every congressional district in the state.  These results, and the breadth and depth of the growing coalition supporting the bill this session, show that Oregon is ready to take this critical next step to transition to a clean energy economy. 

Author Bio

Mara Gross

Former Oregon Communications Manager, Climate Solutions

Mara is an attorney and policy advocate with wide ranging experience on social and environmental policies, and a former Oregon Communications Manager with Climate Solutons. As a member of the communications team, she worked on messaging and media outreach to build momentum for ambitious climate leadership in Oregon. 

For eight years prior to joining Climate Solutions, Mara was the Policy Director and then Executive Director at the Coalition for a Livable Future, a nonprofit focused on equitable planning in the Portland metro region. She previously served as the legislative aide to then-Oregon Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown (now governor of Oregon).  Mara also worked on several electoral campaigns in Oregon and California, provided legal aid on employment and housing issues, and practiced law in the private sector.  She has a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law and a B.A. in philosophy from Wellesley College.

Outside of work, Mara travels around town mostly by bike and explores Oregon’s beauty and Portland’s amazing neighborhoods with her partner and young daughter, who wants everyone to stop driving "smoke cars." 

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