April’s Action Advances Awareness As All Await Amendments: 5 Things 2 Know – Climate Work

Oregon lawmakers released their first round of amendments to the Clean Energy Jobs bill this month, which have been thoroughly discussed and evaluated by members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction.

“We are now probably in the last month before passage of the Clean Energy Jobs bill,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow last week to dozens of youth advocates and adults during an Earth Day rally at the steps of the Oregon Capitol Building in Salem. His statement was made moments after telling attendees that his inbox if filled with messages supporting House Bill 2020.

“I believe,” said Rep. Karin Power, “Oregon can be proud of where the bill currently stands:

✓ There are no industry exemptions. Every sector has an obligation to do their part in this effort to reduce emissions.

✓ At least 50% of programmatic investments are dedicated to impacted communities in rural, coastal, and urban Oregon.

✓ We’re working closely with Oregon tribes, environmental justice and public health advocates, and our farmworkers’ union to listen to their needs, and reflect those in the bill.

✓ And at the same time, we’re ensuring that the program’s clean energy transition is affordable for seniors on fixed incomes and low income Oregonians.”

We are proud. Thank you, OEC members, for the support and action taken this year to encourage lawmakers like Power, Dembrow and all others, who have voiced support of the bill.

And yet as temperatures increase outside, as we prepare for fire season and continue to monitor our drinking water for harmful algae, we feel it’s critical to re-emphasize the strongest version of the HB 2020. Oregonians must maintain our amplified voice, until the end of the legislative session, showing that we’re urging the strongest possible version of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill.

Click here to email your legislator or if you’d rather call, we can help with phone calls too, thanks to our friends at Renew Oregon.

Please don’t let up. We continue to ask you contact your legislator on a regular basis to let him/her know your thoughts on the bill. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions about it’s progress.

So let’s celebrate April while we look forward to May. As the public awaits the final round of amendments and further action on HB 2020, youth advocates and partners have amplified their voices at town halls, online forums, and at the Capital this month. April has also shown us success in other legislative accomplishments, such as the unveiling of projects supported by credits from Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standards program.

1. Progress on CEJ Amendments
Lawmakers continued to discuss amendments at the start of the month before a recess from meetings as Capitol staff work to prepare the final bill language.

Last month, lawmakers had previewed the first round of amendments for the Clean Energy Jobs bill, and they have shown they listened to the concerns of hundreds of Oregonians who traveled to statewide public hearings.

The proposed changes made some significant improvements, including:

  • Permanently allocates 10% of proceeds to Oregon Tribes. This is a first-in-nation dedication of climate investment funds to tribal governments and would not have happened without the engagement of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.
  • Eliminated the 5-year exemption for hydrofluorocarbons (greenhouse gases that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide) and the exemption for municipal solid waste emissions.
  • Directly requires landfills to capture methane in line with the most stringent regional standards.
  • Allocates 40% of proceeds to Impacted Communities–or communities with the fewest resources to adapt to climate change or adopt clean energy technology. This ensures that all communities benefit from clean energy investments.

 

2. Power to All People
A relatively unknown part of the Clean Energy Jobs bill is a low-income utility work group that has provided analysis and policy guidance for the bill. Supported by Housing and Community Services, this working group has contributed a deeper understanding of the resource gap lower-income households face.

The work group assessed energy burden—or the percentage of income people are paying for energy–and how much of a problem it is in Oregon. Energy burden is defined as households that spend 6% of their income on energy (including electricity, heating and transportation fuels). Those that spend 10% or more are severely energy burdened. In Oregon, we have households in every county that are energy burdened.

To decrease energy burden, we can help increase incomes, decrease energy use (through energy efficiency and weatherization), and reduce bill payments (through bill assistance).

The Clean Energy Jobs creates more solutions to combat energy burden by:

  • Holding energy bills stable for low-income households and allowing utilities to create a new low-income rate class with the potential for discounted rates.
  • Generating more dollars for weatherization to lower energy use in low-income housing
  • Providing resources to build more affordable, efficient housing
  • Enhancing bill assistance programs

In addition, creating more clean energy jobs creates more opportunities for family-wage supporting job creation in Oregon.

For more information, check out this dynamite presentation from the Housing and Community Services explaining the programs and continuing need to help our more energy-burdened neighbors and this county-by-county assessment.

 

3. Earth Day Rally & 4. Youth Signatures
Yusuf Arifin travelled to Chile this Spring Break and told dozens of his peers and adults about what he saw and his concern for climate change. Edith Allen and Ruby Haack gathered more than 500 youth signatures, as part of a 1,000+ petition, delivered to Gov. Kate Brown, and Rep. Karin Power and Sen. Dembrow, who both chair the Carbon Reduction Committee.

Youth have been a central voice that are urging climate action this year. Check out the full speeches they gave to lawmakers, HB 2020 supporters and Capitol staff on Earth Day!

 

 

5. Clean Fuels Victories!
A week before Earth Day, TriMet rolled out its first all-electric bus. Electric buses have ZERO tailpipe pollution, contributing to cleaner air for all of us. Electric buses have a lot of advantages: they are much more fuel-efficient than diesel buses, have lower maintenance needs (they don’t require air or fuel filter replacements or engine oil changes), and have much lower fuel costs. Most importantly, they significantly cut climate pollution. PGE has committed to supplying TriMet with 100% wind power, making these e-buses the cleanest ride in Oregon. The Oregon Clean Fuels program creates a revenue stream for TriMet, helping them to purchase more truly clean e-buses.

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