5 things 2 know about #CEJ: March edition

Hey climate champs!

There will be a few dozen elderly Oregonians, several decades from now, who will tell their grandchildren about the great debate of 2019.

In my mind, I picture gramps at home in the distant future on his favorite chair looking down at grandchildren. A smile grows showing pearly whites, while lifting a thin finger to the roofthe same finger used to dial the phone to reach his friends before heading to Bend on a white Saturday morning.

“I remember as a teen navigating the snow in Deschutes County to tell some Salem politician it was time to act on climate and pass that UNFORGETTABLE Clean Energy Jobs bill. I also had to walk to school barefoot, UP a hill, both ways.”

The end of that conversation could go two ways:

  1. “At least I could walk to school barefoot. Your poor feet would singe on that ground. Now turn around and let me slather this 278-proof sunscreen so that we could go to the store to buy evaporated water packets.”
  2. “So don’t complain. If it wasn’t for my generation and the adults in the room, the spark that lit our national movement to save our climate would never have lit. I would have never met your grandmother in engineering school and built our nest egg from installing solar panels on homes and businesses.”

March was certainly unforgettable, and with the exception of a certain OEC communications manager who may or may not have watched too much SNL on YouTube last night, a price on carbon has been serious business to Oregonians.

Hours of public input and expert testimony resulted in the release of the ensuing amendments to HB 2020. Lawmakers continue to work hard to bring the Clean Energy Jobs bill to a floor vote as soon as possible despite tactics by opponents to delay progress.

And there’s some truth to that decades-from-now tale: Youth this week continue to push hard and demand that lawmakers pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill (more on that below).

Oregon Environmental Council and our members stand with our state’s youth, friends, and neighbors in urging this bill receive a vote as soon as possible. We hope you will continue to contact your legislators, even if you’ve done so already.

Here’s 5 things 2 know to help you talk about HB 2020:

1. March-ing Forward

Is it just me, or did this month feel like five minutes?

Let’s rewind to the end of February. Members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction listened to hours of testimony from invited experts before engaging with the testimony of the general public. In three-minute chunks of time, dozens of supporters and opponents spoke passionately in Salem. Committee members then scheduled a series of meaningful public meetings where hundreds more people from Medford to Springfield and from Newport to Baker City gathered to contribute to the public discourse leading into March.

Local elected officials, business people, concerned parents, farmers, winter sports athletes, teachers, students and many other Oregonians demanded action and solutions to combat the climate crisis. They urged for lawmakers to invest in the clean energy economy.

“As a company that relies on a flourishing outdoor environment for people and dogs to play, HB 2020 is of great importance to us,” said Kelly Hughes of Ruffwear in Bend.

The diverse support is in line with findings of a recent poll showing 7 in 10 Oregon voters support the pollution reduction strategy, including 2 out of 3 people in rural Oregon where the “roadshow” hearings were focused.

2. Amendments show lawmakers listened

Overall, we really appreciate that legislators worked to strengthen the bill.

The bill puts a declining cap in greenhouse gas emissions and amendments released this week show that lawmakers have kept the stronger interim targets for 2035. We applaud this.

Among the biggest changes to the bill, lawmakers removed a number of exemptions for industrial emitters. The original bill allowed exemptions for fluorinated-gases (climate super pollutants) and incinerator-based power. Those emissions will be regulated under the cap.

The amendment also proposes a new way to treat “emissions-intensive, trade exposed” (EITE) industries in the state. EITEs are manufacturers, including pulp and paper, food processing, cement, and other industries that compete globally and have greater risk of external market pressures.

The new language provides free allowances, depending on how close a facility is to using best available technology for their industry. If they are close to that benchmark, they get 95% free allowances. If they are further away from that benchmark, they must pay for permits in excess of that benchmark.

The amendment also ensures that communities most impacted by climate change–communities that have higher levels of unemployment, higher rent burdens, among other factors–are prioritized for investments. The amendment allocates 40% of the proceeds to projects that benefit these communities. It also allocates 10% to Oregon Tribes–a first in the nation. These were key asks from our coalition and will help guarantee that communities that have historically been underinvested in benefit from the bill and the transition to clean energy. When construction projects are carried out, the amendment sets standards for living wages as well.

3. Please contact your legislator, again

It’s not too late to contact your lawmaker, and we need to amplify the voices of those who cannot yet vote but have a clear and critical messages. Our friends at Renew Oregon have made it simple to continue reaching out to your local representative or senator via phone call or email.

4. In the news:

OPB: “The package unveiled Monday keeps many original provisions in place, adds more specificity to others, and completely reworks some key sections.”

Associated Press: “Most notably, they’re proposing to invest a majority of the funds to rural and low-income communities and added a plan to refund any additional fuel costs to those making less than their area’s median income.”

Statesman Journal: “Greenhouse gas emissions from the Covanta Marion garbage incinerator would be regulated … Low-income Oregonians would get a refund of higher fuel costs paid. And trade-exposed industries, like mills and food processors, would get a break for using the best available technology to control their emissions.”

5. Tomorrow’s leaders energized today for political action, influence

What happens when hundreds of youth converge at Portland City Hall as part of a global movement to fight climate change? Words alone can’t help answer. Thanks to Youth Climate Advocates Charlie Abrams and Jeremy Clark, and Rep. Ken Helm for sharing their videos with OEC.

The impact and momentum generated that March 15th continues in the halls of the capital. Youth climate leaders have been gathering signatures they plan to deliver to Gov. Kate Brown and it’s not too late for youth to sign up. Teens are using Instagram to help spread the word. Feel free to pass along this link to the youth in your daily life, and they can also follow this link to sign the youth petition.

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