2018 Legislative Wrap: Healthy Strides
Beyond strong and historic support for Clean Energy Jobs, Oregon Environmental Council’s work during the 2018 legislative session resulted in healthy strides in improving our air and our communities.
We advocated to hold industry responsible for funding the Cleaner Air Oregon program. We helped secure student transportation funding and rebates for electric vehicles for low-income families. We advocated for a bill that sets a deadline for cleaning up dirty diesel buses, which unfortunately stalled in a committee.
Headlines focused on our state’s work on a cap-and-invest program and the historic support it attracted, but Oregon Environmental Council tracked and advocated for much more.
Here’s a brief summary to keep you—our members and supporters—informed on the issues we worked on:
After unhealthy air pollution from a glass manufacturer was discovered in Portland two years ago, Governor Kate Brown announced a “Cleaner Air Oregon” program to regulate air toxics based on the risks they pose to health instead of by the volume of chemicals released. But industry balked at paying fees to support the program and killed legislation in 2017 that would have authorized such fees. In 2018, Sen. Dembrow (SE Portland) worked with Sen. Girod (Stayton) and industry representatives on a deal that holds polluters responsible for their fair share of paying for Cleaner Air Oregon. This ensures the program will move forward, but the compromise does weaken the program. Now, health and environmental advocates must keep working to make sure the new program delivers the public health protections that it promises. More about how this bill took shape.
Students around the state currently face an inflexible system when it comes to transportation. Students in urban areas can’t always to take transit to school when they miss the school bus, and students in rural areas have difficulty participating in sports and other after-school activities without activity buses. In partnership with OPAL, we successfully advocated for two bills to improve student transportation statewide. More about HB 4059 and HB 4130 and how they help our youth get where they need to go.
Our work to ditch dirty diesel in Oregon continues. 23 counties in Oregon exceed the health benchmark for diesel pollution. This is unacceptable for human health.
In the 2018 legislative session, Rep. Nosse introduced HB 4003 which would have established a deadline by which all old dirty diesel engines must be replaced, but the bill stalled in committee. Sen. Dembrow’s bill introduced SB 1509, a voluntary agreement to create “no-idle zones” in certain places if the place/community paid for signage. We worked with the House Speaker’s office to amend SB 1509 to make it much stronger, but it too failed to advance. Expect to hear more from us on this important issue in 2019.
The electric vehicle (EV) rebates passed in 2017 needed some technical fixes, which we supported. It is now simpler and easier for low-income people to take advantage of the rebates. In addition, passage of HB 4022 allows the state to provide electricity at EV charging stations for the public.
Since most of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, EVs are a critical way to reduce emissions. EVs produce no pollution at the tailpipe, and the electricity they use will get cleaner and cleaner, especially after 2030 when Oregon’s Coal to Clean law means no more coal power in Oregon!
As we close out this 2018 short legislative session and ramp up for what’s next, we are assured that standing strong for smart, health-based policies will always be the right thing to do.
Ask anyone who’s worked with us these last 50 years—landmark policies don’t happen overnight. It takes many months, often years, to work together to find a solution fit for Oregon’s future. Read more about our public policy work.
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