2024 Legislative Session

OEC’s legislative advocacy in the 2024 short session will take key bills over the finish line, secure essential funding for environmental programs, and deliver on our promise to stay vigilant for the health of Oregon’s environment and communities.

Our advocacy helps ensure healthy air, thriving communities, clean and plentiful water, and climate resiliency. Our policies harness innovation and create new economic opportunities. They are grounded in preventing harm and advancing fairness.

YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: Sign up for our Grassroots Action Information Network (GAIN) email list. We’ll send you ways to show up, communicate with legislators, and raise your voice for Oregon’s environment!

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Environmental Priorities in the 2024 Legislative Session

CLIMATE

  • Clean Technology Leadership (HB 4112)

It’s time for Oregon to lead in the clean tech economy. Right now, companies across the world are seeking to harness federal Inflation Reduction Act incentives to expand or establish their clean technology businesses and manufacturing facilities across the United States. HB 4112 seeks to drive as much of this economic growth, job creation, and prosperity to Oregon communities as possible by creating a $20 million grant program to attract, expand and sustain in-state manufacturing of clean energy technologies, like heat pumps, solar panels, or electric vehicle infrastructure.

  • Climate Target Modernization (SB 1559)

Despite broad scientific consensus urging immediate climate emissions reductions–and devastating climate impacts affecting the lives and livelihoods of Oregonians across the state–Oregon has not updated its statewide goals for reducing climate pollution in 15 years. SB 1559 will remedy that by modernizing our state climate targets to align with best available science, the U.S. federal government, and our neighbors Washington and California. By updating Oregon’s climate pollution reduction targets, SB 1559 will help demonstrate Oregon’s commitment to climate action throughout state operations.

  • Climate Budget 

One of the most meaningful opportunities for climate action in the 2024 short session will come through a strong Climate Budget, including funding for popular existing programs that can drive down costs for Oregonians and increase access to the clean energy economy. In 2024, we are calling on the legislature to ensure that the following programs are adequately funded to stay on track to deliver their intended climate, health, and cost-saving benefits:

  • Healthy Homes: $15 million

Everyone deserves to live in safe, affordable, energy-efficient housing. The Healthy Homes program, run by the Oregon Health Authority, helps support the long-term well-being of low-income Oregonians by covering the cost of home upgrades that reduce toxic exposures and set the foundation for lower energy bills, improved indoor air quality, and increased resilience to extreme weather. With a great need for these kinds of repairs, the program is expected to quickly run out of money. Additional funding is needed to ensure the program’s continuity for its beneficiaries, community partners, and agency staff.

  • Charge Ahead EV Rebates: $20 million

Electrifying vehicles is a top priority to reduce climate pollution from our biggest source: the transportation sector. Increasing equitable access to electric vehicles, which save drivers thousands of dollars on fuel and maintenance costs compared to gas-powered cars, can improve household budgets and reduce climate and air pollution. The Charge Ahead Rebate program, run by the Department of Environmental Quality, offers low-and moderate-income Oregonians an additional $5,000 cash rebate for the purchase of a new or used EV. However, due to unprecedented demand, the Charge Ahead rebate program will not be able to stay open for more than two months in 2024. Ensuring the Charge Ahead Rebate program has funding to continue through this year will help provide equitable access to EVs.

  • Energy Storage Siting (HB 4015)

Battery Energy Storage Systems have an important role to play in Oregon’s transition to 100% clean electricity; however, permitting challenges pose a key barrier.  HB 4015 will help accelerate the development of energy storage systems by streamlining the permitting process. In doing so, this bill will help increase the resilience of the electricity grid and enable a more localized approach to electricity supply. 

  • Offshore Wind (HB 4080)

Floating offshore wind on the Oregon coast has the potential to add 3 gigawatts of clean energy into our regional grid (enough to power at least one million homes). HB 4080 would authorize the state to develop a “Roadmap” for offshore wind in Oregon. This Roadmap would engage stakeholders more deeply to ensure an inclusive, robust, and transparent process in developing this renewable resource. The bill also mandates fair labor standards for the construction and manufacturing of component parts.

  • Regional Transmission Organization Update (SB 1581)

The transition to 100% clean electricity provides an opportunity to help achieve Oregon’s climate goals, revitalize local economies, and improve public health and energy affordability across Oregon. However, in order to realize these benefits, we must tackle pressing barriers head-on. Specifically, the lack of a regional market and lack of transmission have been cited as two of the most pressing challenges to achieving state clean energy mandates. SB 1581 will help track progress and ensure transparent decision-making in ongoing conversations about electricity markets and transmission planning by requiring Oregon utilities to keep State decision-makers informed as they consider decisions that affect Oregon customers and communities.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

  • Right to Repair (SB 1596)

The way Oregon interacts with and manages waste materials must continue to evolve in ways that preserve ecosystems, protect human health and waterways, and reduce climate pollution. SB 1596 (The Right to Repair) will reduce Oregon’s electronic waste footprint by requiring technology companies to make parts that allow small businesses to repair electronics (ie. smartphones). Small repair businesses will support our state’s local economies and enable more opportunities for workers to enter the STEM field, and close the urban-rural digital divide. If passed, the Right to Repair bill will save the average Oregon family roughly $382 each year by enabling them to fix phones, tablets, computers, and appliances instead of buying new and make Oregon the 5th state in the nation to support these common-sense repairs.

  • Worker Relief Fund

Oregonians shouldn’t lose pay when they have to miss work due to environmental hazards such as heat and smoke. We’re asking the Oregon legislature to restore ongoing funding for a worker relief fund that will provide direct financial support for immigrant farmworkers who have lost work and pay due to environmental hazards and COVID and who don’t otherwise qualify for other unemployment programs. This is a continuation of a one-time $10 million fund created in 2021 as part of the drought package that has since been spent out. With extreme heat and smoke on the rise, the fund is still needed. 

WATER & RURAL PRIORITIES

  • Biosolids (HB 4049)

Oregon must take a system-wide and science-first approach to establish safe standards for PFAS in the agricultural use of wastewater biosolids as fertilizer. Oregon’s Biosolids Bill (HB 4049) will fund OSU researchers to conduct pilot studies about how PFAS in biosolids behave when applied to land. Levels of PFAS in Oregon wastewater biosolids are currently very low compared to other states. While biosolids are regulated to meet standards that protect public health and the environment, the EPA and DEQ have not yet established water quality standards for PFAS in biosolids. This study will deliver the information needed for Oregon leaders, municipal wastewater utilities, and farmers to make sound decisions about the future of these practices.

Our environmental advocacy work is made possible through your support and that of your fellow OEC members across the state. Thank you. Please make a contribution today Your support will bolster our efforts as we work to safeguard Oregon’s future.

 

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