#CEJisREADY for final passage: Response to HB 2020’s amendments

Oregon must seize the opportunity to be a national leader in responding to climate change

The Clean Energy Jobs bill is ready for a vote by the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction. It’s time. Let’s do this, Oregon.

House Bill 2020 is fully developed and poised to make history. This week’s release of the -84 amendments to HB 2020 brings impacted communities and individuals with climate and energy expertise to the table to help shape the program.

OEC’s Jana Gastellum with climate champions Hazel and Ellory!

“As the temperatures increase this week, it’s a reminder that we have precious little time to address the climate crisis,” said Jana Gastellum, Oregon Environmental Council Climate Program Director. “We have a responsibility to provide benefits for all Oregonians and push forward the public-health protections we’ve been advocating for. It’s time to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill.”

HB 2020 is deeply vetted, thoroughly discussed legislation that will raise hundreds of millions of dollars per year to benefit Oregon communities across the state. It will put Oregonians to work by making clean power like solar available to more people and will help upgrade homes and businesses to use energy more efficiently, while saving people money.

Lawmakers and advocates have been working on some form of a carbon price for more than a decade. Last summer, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney continued work on the Clean Energy Jobs bill during the summer and into the fall before the creation of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction. This year, committee members from both political parties engaged with experts, listened to opponents and supporters of HB 2020 who spoke with expertise at times, passion at others and all with Oregon’s best interest at heart.

“My co-chair State Sen. Michael Dembrow, and I and our committee members have crafted a stronger, more inclusive bill than California’s … In setting up a 30 year program, there will always be more work to do to learn and improve,” Co-chair Representative Karin Power said in a public response to published opposition, “but I believe 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.”

The -84 amendments establish two public bodies, the Oregon Climate Board and a “citizen’s advisory committee,” that provide oversight for implementation of the Clean Energy Jobs bill. The Board and Advisory Committee will help guide officials as they consider how proceeds will be spent to benefit Oregonians. They will also make recommendations on how to enhance community and natural resiliency, and promote low-carbon innovation.

The makeup of the Board and Committee (more details pulled from the published amendments below) bring together experts in low-income weatherization, energy systems, and conservation finance. OEC applauds the solid mix of constituencies identified in the amendments, which include environmental justice organizations, Tribal communities, impacted businesses, and several other interests .

“The updates to the Clean Energy Jobs bill introduced today represent a fully developed policy to reduce climate pollution and invest in Oregon’s clean energy economy,” said Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Renew Oregon. “Legislators and the Governor’s office have worked hard to fulfill their commitment to Oregonians for bold action on climate change. Now it’s time to vote and deliver it.”

The amended version of the bill also features several other changes to the base bill. This week’s amendments bring more large polluters into the cap on greenhouse gas emissions, while guaranteeing investments to protect forests, wetlands and build soil health. The amendments also clarify how methane gas utilities will be treated in the program.

Among the changes, the -84 amendment directs 20-percent of proceeds collected from large polluters to investment in Oregon’s “natural and working lands,” such as sustainable forest management to prevent wildfire, wetland restoration to resist drought, and help for farmers to improve practices to store more carbon in soil, making it healthier and resilient to erosion.  

“Deploying renewable energy will reduce greenhouse gases, pollution which makes wildfires worse and drought more intense in rural Oregon. But it’s only half the solution,” said Dylan Kruse, Director of Government Affairs & Program Strategy at Sustainable Northwest. “We must also draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to prevent the worst of global warming. Oregon can excel at this and profit. These investments will focus resources and create jobs in our rural communities and on natural lands to make them an active part of the solution.”

For more information about the bill, visit www.OEConline.org/CleanEnergyJobs.

“We applaud state leaders for their strong commitment to bold action on clean energy and climate protections and believe the time to act on the climate crisis is now,” Gastellum said.

Membership breakdown of the Oregon Climate Board:

  •      1 member who is a tribal member
  •      2 members with energy sector expertise
  •      1 member who represents environmental interests
  •      1 member who is an economist or who has expertise with conservation finance
  •      1 member who has industrial energy expertise
  •      1 member who has sustainable transportation expertise
  •      2 at-large members

Membership of the “Citizen’s Advisory Committee”:

“The members of the committee must reflect the geographic, socioeconomic, racial and cultural diversity of this state and shall be appointed by the director as follows:
(a) One member to represent the interests of urban environmental justice communities.
(b) One member to represent the interests of rural environmental justice communities.
(c) One member to represent eligible Indian tribes.
(d) One member to represent agriculture or forestry.
(e) One member to represent fisheries.
(f) One member to represent covered entities (i.e, those regulated by CEJ)
(g) One member to represent the clean energy industry.
(h) One member to represent local governments.
(i) One member to represent labor.
(j) One member to represent environmental or conservation interests.
(k) One member who is a scientist at [an Oregon] public university or Oregon Health and Science University.
(L) One member to represent home weatherization interests.
(m) One member to represent public health equity.”

* Members of the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee discussed this week adding an expert representing agriculture and forestry to the Board.

Other noteworthy changes in the -84 amendment:

1) Methane gas utilities (NW Natural, Avista, etc.) covered under the cap on climate pollution will receive the following treatment:

  • Will pay for 85 percent of their climate pollution.
    • In the first year, 25 percent of allowances will be bought at auction and proceeds will go to the climate investment fund. The percentage will increase as the cap tightens over time.
    • In the first year, 60 percent of allowances will be “consigned.” This means the state will give the utilities these allowances for free up front, but the utilities will be compelled to sell all of those allowances to the market.
      • Proceeds from the sale will be spent by the utilities to benefit ratepayers and reduce greenhouse gas pollution through investments such as: making people’s homes and businesses more energy efficient, renewable biogas infrastructure, and some bill rebates.
      • Utilities will then need to reduce emissions or purchase allowances and offsets to meet their targets under the cap for the 60 percent they sold.
  • 15 percent allowances provided for free in the event methane gas companies choose to pass the cost of their pollution allowances on to customers, this will hold low-income ratepayers harmless.

2) The methane gas burning power plant, Hermiston Generating Project, previously exempted from the cap-and-invest system in HB 2020, will now be covered under the cap as a large emitter.

*Renew Oregon contributed to this post.

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