Our 2016 legislative priorities

As the gavel fell on the 2016 session of the Oregon Legislature, OEC raised a glass to toast. Because of a law that OEC supporters helped, Oregon is set to become the first coal free state.

Thanks to the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition bill, Oregon will transition off of coal-fired power completely by 2030. Clean renewable energy, such as wind and solar, will replace the coal we’re kissing goodbye. In fact, because of this bill, Oregon will double its renewable energy use by 2040, become one of the cleanest powered states, create a brand-new community solar program, and scale up our electric vehicle infrastructure — another key strategy for combating climate change and improving local air quality.

While this history-making shift to clean, renewable energy made news across the country and around the world, it wasn’t the only item on the OEC agenda. From water to air to our communities, OEC faced challenges and found successes:

Our achievements:

  • Affordable Housing: Together with the support of our members and in concert with our allies in the Oregon Conservation Network, OEC advocated for lifting the ban on inclusionary zoning (SB 1533). While the bill that ultimately passed is a first step – effectively opening up affordable housing opportunities in Portland – OEC will not be satisfied until all Oregonians have access to walkable, livable, low-impact communities.
  • Solar Power: OEC supported the further investment in clean, sustainable solar power (HB 4037).
  • Clean Water: OEC assisted in passing a bill (SB 1563) that helps repair or replace failing septic systems, which pollute lakes, streams and groundwater.
  • Clean Air: OEC advocated for $2.5 million in funds to significantly expand Oregon’s Air Toxics Program.

We also faced challenges and roadblocks in the short session – challenges that we will overcome in years to come:

Our challenges:

  • Capping carbon: An enforceable, economy-wide carbon policy is at the top of OEC’s priorities. The Healthy Climate Bill (SB 1574) would have capped Oregon’s carbon pollution and held polluters accountable for the cost of their pollution, while funding programs to reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses, as well as renewable energy and smart transportation investments that will create jobs in Oregon while reducing climate pollution. We knew it would be a challenge to pass this bill in a short session, but thanks to Rep. Buckley, the legislature did provide funding for DEQ to investigate this opportunity, including how Oregon will link to other states and protect disadvantaged communities in Oregon.
  • Safe drinking water: An ongoing priority for OEC, this bill (HB 4036) would have required testing and information disclosure to educate Oregonians about possible well water contamination and how to address it. The bill would also create a revolving loan fund for landlords and low-income homeowners to purchase treatment systems or repair or replace wells. While the bill didn’t pass this year, we made significant progress and look forward to bringing the issue back in 2017.

This year’s victories could not have happened without our members and supporters. Our progress represents many years of advocacy, thousands of your letters and calls, hundreds of coalition members and endorsers. We did it together. Thank you!

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