Strategic Direction

The Strategic Direction is also available in pdf format.

Table of Contents

Who We Are


Oregon Environmental Council advances innovative, collaborative and equitable solutions to Oregon’s environmental challenges for today and future generations.


Oregonians will live healthier lives because our air, water and land will be clean; our food will be sustainably produced; and the products, energy and transportation that make our modern life possible will be free of toxic chemicals and safe for our environment and climate. Urban and rural Oregonians will thrive in a sustainable, low-carbon economy. Oregon businesses, governments, non-profit institutions—and individual Oregonians—will safeguard the natural world that is essential to our health, our wealth and our quality of life.


Founded in 1968, Oregon Environmental Council has a long and well-regarded history of securing environmental protections that support the health of every Oregonian and the health of this place we call home. We advocate impactful, lasting solutions that get at the source of Oregon’s environmental problems. We forward creative solutions that are based on sound scientific evidence, economic analysis and life cycle thinking. We respect the needs of Oregon’s diverse communities, promote solutions that support a highly functioning economy, and provide leadership and opportunity for all Oregonians to create and implement a vision for a healthy environment.


Climate Protection

to safeguard our communities and economies

We need to act because…

Climate change threatens the things we care about most: our health, our water, our air, our food, our security and our economic prosperity. The impacts of climate change—including warmer temperatures, loss of summer snowpack, increases in pests and diseases, more severe weather extremes, higher sea levels, storm surges, and other marine impacts—create serious challenges to the way we grow food, supply water, manage forests, save endangered species and protect human health. Low-income Oregonians and people with health conditions like asthma will bear the greatest burden of climate impacts.

The future we’re working toward…

Oregon will limit greenhouse gases to levels safe for the climate. Smart adaptation measures will make Oregon’s people and places more resilient to the impacts of climate change. We will live, work and travel in ways that are highly efficient and powered by clean, low-carbon, renewable energy sources. Our low-carbon communities will be vibrant, livable and affordable.

Clean and Plentiful Water

to support people, fish and wildlife, and rural and urban businesses

We need to act because…

Nearly every river in Oregon is out of compliance with water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life. Oregonians are advised to avoid eating fish found in nineteen bodies of water in Oregon because these fish are contaminated with mercury, PCBs and other pollutants. In addition, a growing number of toxic chemicals whose impacts are unknown are found in our waters. Two-thirds of Oregonians rely solely or in part on groundwater as our source of drinking water, and in parts of the state wells are going dry or groundwater is unsafe. More water has been promised to farmers and communities than some of our rivers and aquifers can deliver, and climate change and population growth will exacerbate this water scarcity.

The future we’re working toward…

Oregon’s rivers, lakes and groundwater will be healthy. Oregonians will have safe sources of drinking water and be able to swim, boat and fish in our rivers and lakes—and eat what we catch—without risking our health. Our groundwater levels will be stable, and our rivers will flow with enough water to support communities, businesses, agriculture, fish and wildlife. Protected water resources will provide resiliency in the face of climate change.

Toxic-Free Environments

to protect human health, starting with children’s health

We need to act because…

Oregonians are exposed to harmful chemicals through the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the products in our homes and buildings. Exposure to toxic chemicals contributes to a range of chronic diseases and disabilities, including cancers, reproductive harm, birth defects, asthma, learning and developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases. Children are particularly vulnerable to toxic pollution as their bodies develop; and Oregon’s people of color, indigenous and low-income communities often bear a disproportionate burden of exposure to toxic pollution.

The future we’re working toward…

Oregon children will live and play in toxic-free environments and use toxic-free products. No community will experience disproportionate exposures to toxic pollution. Safe environments for children will result in safe environments for everyone.

Our solutions are crosscutting

OEC seeks solutions that are:

  • Impactful—get at the source of Oregon’s environmental problems
  • Equitable—focus on the most impacted communities first
  • Lasting—consider future generations
  • Economically sound—support a highly functioning, sustainable economy
  • Scientifically sound—are based on scientific evidence and life cycle thinking
By 2022, Oregon’s people and environment will be healthier as OEC promotes the following solution sets to achieve our long-term goals.
Comprehensive carbon-reduction policies

Carbon will be priced to more accurately reflect its economic and environmental costs, and proceeds will be used to reduce climate pollution, advance equity, adapt to climate change, and create new family-wage jobs and benefits for rural and urban areas across the state. Key agencies and sectors—such as energy, industry and transportation—will be required to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. Oregon will establish a 2035 greenhouse gas reduction target and be on track to meet its 2050 goals. The West Coast will demonstrate joint climate leadership that serves as a model for other regions.

Eco-friendly transportation

A majority of Oregonians will have access to affordable, convenient, reliable, safe and low-carbon ways to get around. Oregon will be a frontrunner in electrifying the transportation system, and the average carbon content of transportation fuels will be on track to be 10% lower than 2015 levels by 2025. Oregon will be less dependent on petroleum, and the production of homegrown, advanced clean fuels will create and sustain local jobs throughout the state. Transportation infrastructure will be managed more efficiently through pricing mechanisms. Oregon’s major metropolitan areas will be on track to meet their 2035 greenhouse gas reduction targets and will manage emerging transportation technologies to reduce pollution, advance equity and support community values.

Energy-efficient, toxic-free green buildings

New buildings in Oregon will be designed to be energy- and water-efficient, to minimize the use of toxic building materials, and to maximize features that create community resilience in the face of a changing climate. Oregon’s residential and commercial building codes will be updated to be on track for “net-zero ready” by 2032 (i.e., produce as much energy as they consume). Energy efficiency will be a “first fuel of choice” and a robust industry sector, and statewide incentives and retrofit programs will be available to multiple sectors.

Safe, non-toxic products

Oregon manufacturers will embrace green chemistry to reduce the use and generation of hazardous substances in products and processes. All manufacturers selling children’s products in Oregon will disclose and begin to reduce their use of toxic chemicals. State and local governments will drive market demand for non-toxic products and services through healthy purchasing policies. Oregonians will have actionable, culturally appropriate information on toxic chemicals in the products they buy.

Clean air policies

The state and receptive local governments will adopt policies to protect Oregonians from air pollution, focusing on the most significant sources of air toxics in the state, including old heavy-duty diesel engines, residential wood burning, and small industrial sources. Standards for air toxics will be designed to protect human health, starting with the most vulnerable people. Oregon will lay the groundwork for “airshed”-based community health improvements—controlling cumulative sources of air toxics, rather than regulating one source at a time.

Water conservation and efficiency

Water resources planning at the state, basin and local scales will address the impacts of climate change and make water conservation and efficiency a central priority. Farmers and ranchers will maximize water conservation and efficiency measures. Participation in the Allocation of Conserved Water program will double from 2012 levels, and water use will be measured at all significant diversions. More rivers will have instream water rights to support fish and wildlife, and all water rights—both instream and out-of-stream—will be fulfilled more consistently than they are today.

Water pollution prevention

Water quality in our rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater will be improved through substantial reductions in nutrient and pesticide runoff from rural landscapes, soil erosion from agriculture, and stormwater runoff from urban landscapes. An increasing number of Oregon river miles will be rated as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ for water quality on the Oregon Water Quality Index, and toxic pollution will be monitored statewide. A major- ity of drinking water sourced from surface and groundwater will be safe to drink, and it will be safer to eat fish from Oregon waters. New de- velopment will strive to manage stormwater in a way that safely mimics the way nature manages rainfall. Oregon will create a significant new fund- ing source for effective and equitable programs and infrastructure upgrades that improve water quality, including resilient natural and built water systems.

Our approach

  • We advance effective public policies that safeguard Oregon’s future.
  • We promote viable environmental practices for businesses, communities and families.
  • We build broad-based coalitions, finding common ground in support of environmental solutions.

We bring Oregonians together

We actively seek to partner with all Oregonians—of all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders; from rural, urban, suburban and tribal communities; of any political affiliation or sovereign interest; and from all walks of life—to create a healthier future for our state.

Join us—It’s Your Oregon

We need to act because…

We all impact the environment, and all of us have a responsibility to protect it. A healthy environment requires lifestyle changes, including consuming less, changes in “business as usual,” and leadership on the part of decision-makers.

The future we’re working toward together…

Urban and rural businesses will thrive economically by integrating efficiency and environmental stewardship as standard practice in
their operations. Elected officials and government agencies will recognize a healthy environment as a fundamental priority, provide effective environmental leadership and ensure meaningful involvement from all Oregonians in developing, implementing and enforcing environmental actions. Government agencies will have the resources they need to protect Oregon’s natural resources. All Oregonians will be protected from environmental harm, have access to environmental resources, and be included in environmental decisions that affect them.