2020 legislative wrap up

We came into the 2020 legislative session confident this would be the year for bold climate action. Since OEC and our coalition partners formed Renew Oregon almost five years ago, we have been working tirelessly for bold action on climate that would cap carbon emissions and invest in our most vulnerable communities across the state.

We mobilized supporters from across the state to come to the Capitol, testify in committee hearings, meet with legislators and show their support for climate action and the other critical parts of our agenda. It was a moving and impressive demonstration of the commitment of Oregonians to be a force for good.

Yet, the 2020 session concluded with only three bills passing, leaving dozens of key pieces of legislation on the table.

In a repeat of the walkout last session, the Senate and House Republicans left the state to deny a quorum, to defeat our climate bill and upend the legislative process.  However, we were not caught off guard, and still had confidence that 2020 would be the year of climate action.

With our support and encouragement, Gov. Kate Brown signed Executive Order 20-04 on March 10th. The EO will reduce climate emissions in a range of ways, including the doubling of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard, investing in electrification, and identifying opportunities for carbon sequestration on our working lands and forests. This represents a significant step forward in Oregon stepping up to reduce our emissions, and we are grateful for the Governor’s action.

You can read more about the EO here

Our 2020 priorities also included:

In addition to climate work, we worked on water quality and quantity, including increased well water testing; and support for our state agencies to improve data and management, and facilitate regional groundwater solutions as basins adapt to changing precipitation patterns. Over the last year we have been engaged in the Governor’s 100 year water vision planning process, and continue to be vocal advocates for natural infrastructure solutions, which can reduce costs, improve flood control and provide critical habitat.

We also continued to advocate for expanding the electrification of our transportation system. We worked collaboratively with the electric utilities, Forth, many non-profit partners and consumer advocates on a suite of bills and policies to expand investment in the EV charging infrastructure, improve access to the Oregon Public Utility Commission process, and make new construction “EV ready,” so buildings have the back-end power capacity for charging infrastructure. This is important because the transportation sector produces close to 40% of our net emissions, so by improving access to EVs we improve air quality, reduce climate pollution, and reduce costs for consumers.

We continue to engage in the final phase of rulemaking to implement the Toxic Free Kids Act (TFKA). This landmark consumer safety and children’s health law passed with bipartisan support in 2015 and now the Oregon Health Authority is crafting the final set of regulations that will influence how much our law protects the health of our children. OEC remain committed to supporting TFKA and ensure that these protections remain strong.

Moving ahead, OEC remains actively engaged in the agency rulemakings to implement our successful 2019 diesel emissions bill, and the ongoing Toxic Free Kids Act work. We will also be engaging in the implementation of the Governor’s climate Executive Order. We are working with stakeholders on water management issues in preparation for the 2021 session, and we are continuing to plan for what’s next on the electric vehicle and active transportation front.