First out of the gate: Oregon poised for climate action
January 29, 2016

Oregon’s Legislature may be headed into a short session next week, but the agenda for climate and clean energy is nothing short of completely impressive. Only two months after the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, Oregon is among the first out of the gate to heed the call to action. Here is a look at some of the climate and clean energy bills we are supporting this session.

Clean Electricity and Coal Transition

The Oregon Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan (House Bill 4036) charts a path for Oregon’s electricity to shift away from coal toward clean, renewable power. This bill, backed by a diverse coalition of environmental organizations, utilities, clean energy businesses, and consumer advocates, takes the coal out of Oregon’s energy mix and doubles Oregon’s renewable energy to 50% under the Renewable Portfolio Standard. If the plan passes during this legislative session, Renew Oregon will not need to pursue ballot initiatives this November to achieve these same goals.

The bill includes other great provisions as well: It reaffirms our state’s commitment to energy efficiency programs, encourages electric vehicle infrastructure, increases access to residential solar for low-income communities, and provides utilities flexibility to achieve these goals while protecting affordability for customers.

Coal powers one-third of the homes and businesses in Oregon, and is the world’s largest contributor to climate change. This bill places Oregon’s two largest utilities, who together account for 70% of electricity in Oregon, firmly on the path to meeting our state greenhouse gas reduction goals. 

We need your help to get this bill passed in the short session. Please contact your legislators now and ask them to support this historic opportunity to create a clean energy future in Oregon.

Healthy Climate 

The Healthy Climate Bill (Senate Bill 1574) would limit climate pollution and account for its cost in Oregon, accelerating the transition to clean energy and creating a healthier future for Oregonians. In 2007, the Oregon Legislature enacted ambitious climate pollution reduction goals, but Oregon is not on track to meet these commitments. The Healthy Climate Bill would enforce Oregon’s climate pollution reduction goals, hold polluters accountable, and invest in a just transition for workers in fossil fuel industries and in the communities most impacted by climate change.

Solar Farms

House Bill 4037 proposes a production-based incentive for large scale solar plants to be built in Oregon. This is a significant step toward building our own home-grown, low cost renewable energy program in Oregon that can create jobs and spur economic development.

Community Solar

Senate Bill 1572 allows individuals or businesses who cannot put solar panels on their own homes to buy panels in a community solar garden and receive all the same benefits as if the panels were installed on-site. Modeled after successful programs in other states, this bill provides solar opportunities to many Oregonians for whom it was previously unavailable.

Eager to show your support for a healthy climate? Head over to the Rally for a Healthy Climate and Clean Energy Jobs on the Capitol Steps February 3rd at noon to show your support for climate action this session.

We need multiple tools for the state to reach its goal of cutting climate pollution to 75% below 1990-levels by 2050. Together we’re building momentum for the clean energy economy we all need, and this session provides great opportunities to advance solutions. We have some terrific climate champions in Salem to help us get the work done. Please be sure to let your legislators know you support bold action on climate this session.

Thank you for all that you do to support climate action in Oregon!

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Author Bio

Kristen Sheeran

former Oregon Director, Climate Solutions

Kristen Sheeran served as Oregon Director of Climate Solutions. Prior to her work with us, she served as the Vice President of Knowledge Systems at Ecotrust, leading a 15 member team including economists, policy specialists, data analysts, software developers, and GIS analysts. She is also the founder and executive director of the Economics for Equity and Environment Network, a network of more than 300 economists from across the country that are organized and committed to applying their expertise to inform climate and clean energy policy and advocacy.

Kristen has a doctorate in economics, and focused her dissertation on equity and efficiency in mitigating climate change. She was a professor of economics for 7 years at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and has written and spoken extensively about climate change and clean energy.