2024 Legislative Wrap-Up: 5 Key Environmental Wins

The doors are now closed on this year’s “short,” 35-day legislative session in Oregon. Traditionally, the short session is used to re-balance the budget, tweak existing statutes and wrap-up unfinished business from the long session. However, in recent years the legislature has shifted to taking up one or two major issues, as well. This presents a huge opportunity for advocacy groups like OEC where there are no off years for climate and environmental justice.

This session, the Governor and lawmakers made it clear that their primary focus was housing (see SB 1537) and addiction recovery — resulting in a complete overhaul of Measure 110. These priorities left little time or funds for other issues, as only $100 million remained to fund over one billion in requests.

Still, we put forth an ambitious agenda. OEC identified 11 priority bills for the short session, and successfully passed five! We are so thankful for your help. Together, we removed literal tons of toxics like lead and mercury from landfills, and took steps towards improving the power grid. We helped create a roadmap for offshore wind and secured funds to better weatherize homes. In just five weeks, OEC members wrote their representatives more than 228 times. This powerful outreach centered the conversation around environmental policies and amplified our staff’s testimony before 15 committee hearings. 

OEC Legislative Wins:

✔ Right to Repair (SB 1596) significantly reduces the state’s e-waste. Now, cell phone and appliance companies will be required to provide parts to consumers to repair their devices. The law will save Oregon families roughly $382 a year. It will also remove 3 tons of annual e-waste – like lead, mercury and cadmium – from landfills. The policy will help bridge the digital divide by allowing costly devices to be repaired. It also supports local economies with new opportunities for small businesses and STEM jobs. With its passage, Oregon becomes the fifth state to enact this type of landmark legislation.

✔ “Healthy Homes” ($15 million allocation) went from ‘not on the radar’ to ‘fully funded’ – because of the hard work of so many advocates. Funds will help low-income Oregonians pay for upgrades to remove toxic materials like asbestos and lead from their homes. These improvements will also lower home energy bills. The new law helps Oregonians improve indoor air quality and will increase their resilience to extreme weather. Because of the high need for these types of repairs, the program is expected to run out of money quickly. Additional funds will be necessary to keep the program open to qualifying residents.

✔ “Offshore Wind” (HB 4080) creates a “roadmap” that could power nearly a quarter of all homes in Oregon. The law requires stronger engagement by utilities with area tribes and communities in planning offshore wind projects. Oregon is stepping up to engage tribal governments on a level that is currently unsupported by the federal government. This approach will allow the state to responsibly harness wind energy as a valuable, renewable resource. It also creates opportunities for genuine, respectful community partnerships with indigenous communities.

✔ “Regional Transmission Organization Update” (SB 1581) addresses two of Oregon’s biggest clean-energy barriers: electricity transmission and market growth. The new legislation now requires utilities to work with residents and state officials. As the state moves to a clean-energy grid, the bill helps track progress, and ensures transparent decision-making. Utilities will have to keep state leadership informed at various points in the planning phase. In essence, bringing more oversight and authority to Oregon communities.

✔ “Energy Storage Sitting” (HB 4015) amps up the resilience of our statewide power grid. The new law will increase construction of energy storage systems in Oregon by streamlining the permit process. In turn, the state will strengthen the reliability and capacity of our power grid. This legislation also creates a more localized approach to supplying electricity to Oregonians. Ultimately, reducing costs for residents.

“Clean Tech Incentive” (HB 4112) did not pass, but still represented a win for environmental groups in Salem. We built a powerful coalition, moved the narrative forward and positioned ourselves for a successful run in 2025. The legislation would have allowed the state to secure nearly $786 million in federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. These funds would have been used to support local manufacturing of clean-energy technologies. Although it was not adopted, the bill created strong partnerships normally unheard of in state politics. OEC built an impressive coalition, which helped the bill pass out of committee with bipartisan support. We partnered with academics, environmental justice groups, business leaders, union representatives, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. With this momentum, we are poised for success in 2025.

This short session, OEC secured several crucial wins for the environment. We also left the Capitol with more political chips than we started. We solidified existing relationships, forged new friendships, and influenced lawmakers in both chambers — on both sides of the aisle. Our intel is stronger. We have new allies to help push for effective environmental policies. And, we cultivated more interest in our initiatives from lawmakers themselves. Together, these wins will bring the environment even more success next session.

See you next session!

Thomas Baker Profile Photo

Thomas Baker, OEC Legislative Director

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