Oregon Takes a Big Step Forward

New climate legislation sets a high bar for other states.

On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a package of four clean energy bills. These bills move Oregon to the forefront of climate action.  These laws ban new fossil fuel plants and set aggressive targets for the state’s two major utilities, requiring emission cuts of 80% by 2030, 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2040.  This is not only a major step forward for the state; it should also clear the path to closer collaboration among Washington State, Oregon, and California  on climate issues.

In signing the bills, Governor Brown observed that, “as we have all been experiencing, climate change is no longer a distant threat. It is here. In Oregon, and across the West, we are feeling its impacts every day.” The bill setting these aggressive targets passed the Oregon Senate on the day of the hottest recorded temperature in the state’s history.  This has been a tough summer for Oregon. Over a hundred Oregonians were killed during the late June heatwave. The Bootleg fire has burned over 400,000 acres and is less than half contained.

Here are a few details about the four bills:

House Bill 2021 creates the emission reduction mandate. It’s a complex piece of legislation, and I’ll only mention some of the provisions. The cuts are measured from a 2010-2012 baseline. By 2022, the utilities must file Integrated Resource Plans, which will detail their strategies for making the cuts. Utilities must convene advisory groups containing representatives of environmental justice and low income communities.  Costs are capped annually at a 6% rate increase. There are additional provisions relating to rooftop solar and to communities electing to become community choice aggregators. The law also contains provisions addressing wages and benefits for workers on renewable energy projects.

House Bill 2165 addresses electrical charging for vehicles. It calls for an add-on charge to all retail customers in order to collect 0.25% of the utilities annual revenue, with the proceeds to be devoted to charging infrastructure. As far as I can figure out, that’s about $7.5 million per year. HB 2165 also sets up a special rebate program for low- and medium-income purchasers of electric vehicles.

House Bill 2475 is aimed at controlling rate burdens on customers. It directs the Public Utility Commission to make special provision for rates to take into account the needs of “low-income customers and other economic, social equity or environmental justice factors.” The bill obviously reflects concerns that rate increases from decarbonization may pose a disparate burden on less affluent communities.

House Bill 3141 is the final piece of the package. It modifies an existing public service charge intended to support energy efficiency and clean energy, and targets a quarter of the funds to low-income and moderate-income customers.

In her brief signing statement, Governor Brown said:

“If other states follow Oregon’s lead, 2021 can be a year of climate action for this country. Unfortunately, under the prior administration, we lost four precious years.

“There is no time to lose.”

Amen to that.

 

 

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Oregon Takes a Big Step Forward”

  1. Is this response big enough, fast enough!!??

    You best and brightest climate change experts had better do a lot more than pray.

    Heat dome deaths to date prove that climate changes are out of control, if not beyond control already, and we need more precise calculations to determine how fast, and how many actions we must take because 600,000+++ COVID haven’t upset nearly enough people to take actions nearly fast enough yet, and heat dome deaths can be expected to increase exponentially to the greatest death rate in history, much, much, much sooner than you seem to think.

    Wake Up Berkeley! UC MUST DO A LOT BETTER than this on predicting the future and producing implementation actions to save the human race in time.

    Stop ignoring our own warnings in https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/september-october-2006-global-warning/can-we-adapt-time

  2. OK, let’s try this another way because we really must produce solutions to save us from ourselves before it really is too late.

    Can you and your academic colleaques teach us (actually, some of you usually refer to us as “them” so maybe we should start by eliminating that distinction/dichotomy and focus on working together) how to save the human race together, like actually HOW DO WE DO IT TOGETHER with specific actions/solutions that can be implemented immediately, because academics are the best experts we have to help us all make the right things happen together?

    For openers, I suggest (unless you think there is a better way) we all focus on the current, paramount facts of life that the human race has four major challenges/threats to control with greatest urgency today:

    Global Warming – Heat domes, hurricanes, drought, etc. throughout the world

    Pandemic – 600,000 +++ deaths in America with no end in sight

    Hate and Violence

    Overthrow of Democracy

    Stated more comprehensively, can academics around the world teach the peoples of the world to meet these challenges of change in time to prevent them from destroying quality of life and the future of the human race by cooperating together?

    Our generations had the best opportunities in history as a legacy from the Greatest Generation, and we must do everything we can to pass on an acceptable legacy to our grandchildren or we shall be the worst/last failures in history.

  3. Warming planet means 83 million face death from heat this century July 29, 2021

    https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/warming-planet-means-83-million-face-death-from-heat-this-century/

    Does this motivate global warming experts and academic institutions to unite worldwide to make every effort to immediately apply all necessary academic resources to prevent the gravest fact of life today, that we do not yet have enough solutions to save the human race considering the disasters that are totally out of control already?

    God Help our newest generations if actions to save the human race are not the highest immediate priority on earth.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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