Outraged. Furious. Frustrated.
These are some of the emotions being expressed by all of us Climate Solutions staff as well as the broader climate community across the state as most Senate Republicans continue their walkout for a third week. By denying quorum for the state Senate to do business, they have ground all progress in the Oregon legislature - and even the state budget - to a halt. Among many other critical priorities, the state’s climate agenda hangs in the balance.
This climate agenda includes providing drought and wildfire relief for communities; reducing energy bills and increasing climate resilience by making life-saving heat pumps, energy efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses, solar and storage, and electric cars and trucks more available and affordable for all Oregonians; and importantly, the ability for Oregon to draw down hundreds of millions of federal dollars from Congress’ Inflation Reduction Act for climate and clean energy investments. This is a once-in-a-generation level of money that Oregon may now leave on the table because the state legislature cannot move forward with the Building Resilience policy package and other key legislation designed to bring that needed funding into Oregon’s communities.
The Senate Republicans who continue to obstruct the state legislature from doing the business of the people are ostensibly protesting bills about reproductive rights, gender-affirming care, and gun safety. In recent years, Republicans in the Oregon House and Senate have walked off the job and denied quorum several times to block everything from climate legislation to funding for schools and COVID restrictions. No matter the topic, these extreme tactics by a minority of elected officials to obstruct the entire state legislative process when they don’t get their way undermines Oregon’s ability to have a functioning democracy.
Record temperatures are already here and wildfire season is just around the corner. Oregonians need improved resilience and climate progress — and we need it now. We all deserve to be safe from the climate crisis. We can’t afford for Oregon to take a year off. Climate action depends on a healthy, functioning democratic process and norms.
I know we’ve asked you to chime in support of the climate agenda many times this session. Now we need you to do it once more. If you have a Senator that has walked off the job, send them a message that it is irresponsible to walk off the job and they must return to work. If you have a Senator who has stayed to do the people’s business, send them a message thanking them and remind them that needed climate progress is also on the line.
Thank you for all you do,