Sprint with us toward climate action

When this legislative session began, we set out to build on our recent climate wins to take on one of the biggest sources of climate pollution in Oregon: our buildings.   

Legislators heard the public’s call to find a solution—but it’s taking a new form. They have chosen to replace the Reach Code policy (SB 1518) with an amendment to create a “Resilient, Efficient Buildings (REBuilding)” Task Force. This task force is charged with developing a comprehensive building decarbonization policy for 2023 to ensure Oregonians have resilient, affordable and healthy homes and buildings for now and the future. We know expansive work and policies are needed to make our existing and new homes and buildings ready for a clean energy future and for the climate crisis. Once SB 1518A passes as amended, we look forward to engaging with the REBuilding Task Force and will hold legislators accountable to their promise of major climate action in 2023.

I’m pleased to report that legislative leadership understands that we cannot take a year off from climate action. Thanks to all of your help calling for continued progress this year, a new opportunity is emerging. Legislators have committed to put forward an ambitious Climate Budget, which we expect will include meaningful investments this year to reduce pollution, transition to clean energy, and prioritize frontline communities across Oregon (click here to read House Speaker Dan Rayfield’s tweet about it).

While we’re disappointed that a common-sense proposal like the Reach Code isn’t moving forward, this REBuilding Task Force bill—coupled with a 2022 Climate Budget with significant investment in an equitable, clean energy transition—will ensure both real climate action for this year and a commitment for more ambitious policy to come in 2023.

Several other priorities we support are moving through the process at the whirlwind pace necessitated by our five week short session (click here to view our full legislative agenda). The following bills have passed their policy committees and are now in Ways & Means (a.k.a. the budget committee), where they must pass to go onto the House and Senate floors for votes:

  • Emergency Heat Relief bills (HB 4058 and SB 1536
  • Environmental Justice Council bill (HB 4077)
  • Connecting Oregon for 21st Century (broadband) bill (HB 4092)
  • Racism as a Public Health Crisis bill (HB 4052
  • Natural and Working Lands (carbon sequestration) bill (SB 1534)

Other critical bills continue on their way through the process, including:

  • The Farmworker Overtime bill (HB 4002) has been referred to the Revenue Committee.
  • The 100% Clean fix bill (“Clean Energy Careers for All”) (HB 4059) passed the House chamber and is now in Senate Committee on Labor & Business
  • Better Fuels Oregon bill (HB 4141) is in Joint Committee on Transportation
  • Treasury Transparency bill (divestment) bill (HB 4115) is in the Rules Committee

As Senator Kate Lieber rightly said when announcing the REBuilding Task Force and Climate Budget for 2022: “Making a transition to a clean energy economy, with resilient homes and buildings and clean transportation options, all powered by 100% clean energy, will create good-paying jobs, improve health and quality of life for Oregonians, and better prepare our state for the future.”

As we wrap this sprint of a short session, we will keep working hard to make sure this is our reality. Thanks for all you do to help secure a brighter, healthier future for our state!

Author Bio

Meredith Connolly

Oregon Director, Climate Solutions

Meredith brings over a decade of climate policy experience to her work accelerating Oregon’s transition to a clean energy economy. She advocates for innovative and equitable policy solutions to reduce pollution and create clean energy jobs across the state. Currently, Meredith leads a team diligently working to electrify everything from cars, trucks, and buses to homes and buildings, and power it all with 100% clean electricity.

Prior to joining Climate Solutions, Meredith was a Climate and Energy Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. At NRDC, she advanced renewable energy policies 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 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 family and rooting too loudly for the Portland Thorns and Timbers.