Whew! We’ve made it to the halfway point in Oregon’s marathon legislative session. What a perfect time to take a deep breath, reflect on progress to-date, and assess the path forward to the finish line.
There was no slow start to the session this year, as both the Senate and the House sprinted ahead to passage of SB 324, lifting the sunset on Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program and ending the oil industry’s monopoly over fuel choices in Oregon. The program will lower carbon pollution from transportation fuels in Oregon by 10 percent over 10 years by requiring oil companies to blend low-carbon biofuels, or to purchase credits that support electric vehicles and other cleaner fuel alternatives. This terrific climate winwas a longtime priority for Climate Solutions and countless others around the state. We were thrilled to see legislators pass it right out of the gate!
Last week, the House Energy and Environment Committee held a hearing on a trio of carbon pollution bills. All three bills represented workable models for accounting for the true cost of carbon pollution in Oregon. It was a standing-room only hearing, with enthusiastic, diverse support from the business community, elected officials, public health advocates, communities of color, students, and faith leaders. The momentum was so strong it has carried one of those bills, The Climate Stability and Justice Act (HB3470-1), forward to the House Rules Committee. Climate Solutions supports HB 3470-1, which would enforce Oregon’s existing carbon reduction goals and require the state to design and implement market-based mechanisms to achieve the needed reductions. Stay tuned for updates as we get nearer to the finish line this session!
We came up against a roadblock this session on the Coal to Clean bill (SB 477), which would have required Oregon utilities to transition off of coal by 2025 and replace that power with clean energy. We’re disappointed with this result because Oregon's continued reliance on coal is one of the greatest obstacles to reaching our greenhouse gas reduction goals. We also know that Oregonians overwhelmingly support transitioning off of coal, so we will continue working to advance a policy that can achieve this for Oregon. Representative Tobias Read and Senator Chris Edwards recognized the importance of ending our coal reliance and we look forward to working with these leaders going forward.
Other clean energy bills related to zero-emission vehicles, electric storage capacity, and solar and off-shore wind power passed the cut-off and continue to make their way through the legislature. These include:
- HB 2092: Establishes a Zero-Emission Incentive Fund to auction tax credits to fund rebates for purchases of zero-emission or alternative fuel vehicles.
- HB 2585: Allows lot owners in planned communities and condominium unit owners to install and use electric vehicle charging stations for personal, noncommercial use.
- HB 2193: Directs electric companies to procure one or more energy storage systems that have capacity to store specified amounts of electricity. (This creates opportunities to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into Oregon’s electric grid.)
- HB 2447: Extends the sunset on the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) so this program can continue to incentivize residential alternative energy devices, including residential solar.
- HB 2632: Directs Oregon Department of Administrative Services to establish a program to incentivize electricity generation from utility-scale solar energy projects in Oregon.
- HB 2941: Establishes the necessary qualifications to create community solar gardens (community shared-ownership solar) projects in Oregon.
- HB 2216: Supports the development of off-shore wind production in Oregon.
We want to recognize the hard work and leadership of the legislators who have been working diligently to pass clean energy policy. But there is still a lot of work to be done this session.
We will be calling on you for your help and support. Our legislators will need to hear how important building a clean energy economy in Oregon is to you, your family, your community, and your business or livelihood.
Together, we can chart Oregon a new course from pollution to prosperity.