Promise kept: Gov. Brown makes climate action happen in 2020

Oregon still buzzes with excitement and appreciation of executive order

Surrounded by young Oregonians, Gov. Kate Brown put in motion a comprehensive set of new climate programs through an executive order. The governor’s announcement would not have come to be without countless hours and passionate advocacy by OEC advocates, coalition volunteers and partners statewide.

Gratitude feels like it is in short supply some days. Yet we at Oregon Environmental Council remain deeply grateful for the bold climate action that took place at the Capitol exactly one week ago.

Gov. Brown is taking bold climate action in response to the vast majority of Oregonians, who have demanded it for years. Our communities already face the impacts of climate change firsthand. As wildfires burn longer in some parts of the state, coastal communities are more susceptible to flooding and our clean water supply is threatened.

As the state moves from plans to action, this month’s momentum will improve our transportation options, business practices, and buildings to lower pollution over time with clean, renewable options that will save money and create jobs.

“This is a bold response to an urgent need,” OEC Executive Director Diana Nuñez said. “Oregon is once again a leader taking action to reduce pollution, protect our health, and give our kids a livable future.”

Gov. Brown’s executive order will hold large, corporate polluters accountable by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions,serving as a milestone for Oregon and for the future of our children, our families and our communities.

“This is one of the strongest actions any governor has taken,” Deputy Director for Programs Jana Gastellum said. “We applaud Governor Brown’s focus on the health and well-being of people harmed by climate change.”

Gov. Kate Brown meets with grateful constituents before signing an executive order on climate action at the Capitol Building in Salem. | March 10, 2020 | Photos by Lathen Gorbett

So what’s in it? Click below to reveal more info:

  • Clean Fuels

    Extend and strengthen Oregon’s successful Clean Fuels Program, which for four years has been creating jobs and working  to lower pollution from fuels by making cleaner options available.

    The Oregonian/OregonLive: Oregon climate change: Governor’s new plan leans on supersizing the Clean Fuels Program

  • Clean Buildings

    Strengthen requirements for new buildings in Oregon so that by 2030 they’ll produce as much clean energy as they use, and maximize energy efficiency. There will be huge savings on energy bills as homes and buildings use energy more efficiently and waste less– using technologies we already use today. Click here for more information from our friends at Climate Solutions.

  • Clean Economy

    Require large corporate polluters to reduce pollution over time. While Oregon has targets for reducing climate pollution already in our law, they’re not being enforced. This new change updates the targets and makes lowering pollution mandatory for large polluters under penalty of law.

    • Large polluters will be required to lower climate pollution levels 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Transportation & Land Use
    • Develop a statewide policy and plan for state agencies to procure zero-emission vehicles. This will create a model for towns, counties and other organizations to use for their own fleets.
    • Support and require jurisdictions to plan communities in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. When our communities grow more compactly, we don’t have to drive as much.
    • Require Oregon Department of Transportation to assess the needs for electric charging infrastructure across the state in order to drive thoughtful investment in places where there are gaps. This will make it easier to plan trips around the state without worrying about running out of charge.
    • Require ODOT to evaluate projects for greenhouse gas emissions, to ensure that transportation investments are bringing us closer to our goals.
Gov. Kate Brown sign a historic executive order on climate action March 10, 2020 at the Capitol Building in Salem, Oregon. Photos by Lathen Gorbett & Tony Hernandez

Statewide responses to last week’s bold climate action

The Renew Oregon coalition has worked for years to build statewide support from dozens of organizations representing business, agriculture, climate justice, Tribal and environmental voices.

“Oregonians have organized, advocated, worked and voted for years demanding our state take bold action to reduce climate pollution, improve our health, and transition to clean energy,” Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Renew Oregon, said. “Governor Brown delivered today with strong and comprehensive action. This action will hold large corporate polluters accountable for the pollution they create. We all have a responsibility to do our part and most of us do, now it’s time for large polluters to start doing theirs.”

What do some of our other partners have to say? Scroll through the carousel of quotes from just a few of our partners.

  • “Our workers and communities are on the front lines of the climate crisis, working in sometimes dangerous conditions with wildfire smoke, heatwaves and extreme weather made worse by a warming world. Today’s action by Governor Brown makes Oregon a leader in reducing climate pollution, which both sets an example nationally and improves our health locally as we transition away from dirty fossil fuels to clean options.”
    Reyna Lopez, Executive Director of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN)
  • “We’re taking historic action today in Oregon to take responsibility for our share of solving the climate crisis. In the actions Governor Brown laid out, there is a lot of opportunity to make communities across the state more resilient and engage rural stakeholders to share in the solutions and reap the benefits. Our rural communities and natural resource businesses are already feeling the impacts of the climate crisis. There are big challenges with water supply, forest and soil health, and energy independence. Doing nothing is not an option.”
    Dylan Kruse, Director of Government Affairs & Program Strategy at Sustainable NW
  • “From the terrible damage of extreme flooding to longer, hotter wildfire seasons to extreme droughts that kill salmon, in rural Oregon, each passing day the urgency of responding to the climate crisis grows. Our Tribal culture is threatened: fishing, farming and forest lands. Today Governor Kate Brown rose to the challenge, leading our state forward. We look forward to the partnership opportunities this new climate action will bring and to a better future for our children and their children.”
    Don Sampson, Climate Change Project Director for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
  • “Today, Governor Kate Brown delivered for Oregonians, especially younger Oregonians, with an historic executive order to tackle climate change. Oregon can now stand proud as a leader on the most important issue of our time. “This is what climate leadership looks like: cleaner fuels that reduce toxic air pollution and improve the health of Oregonians, cleaner buildings that are more energy efficient and save people money on energy bills, big polluters truly held accountable, and meeting our critical climate reduction goals so that the next generation and the next after that get a chance to thrive.”
    Doug Moore, Executive Director at Oregon Leagues of Conservation Voters
  • “This is the leadership response we need in the face of the growing climate crisis.  By ensuring that big corporate polluters clean up their act and encouraging innovation in clean energy solutions, we will protect this wonderful state we call home. Oregon has had a green reputation for a long time, but lagged as a climate leader in recent years. This executive action is a responsible and desperately-needed leap forward to help keep Oregon green for future generations.” 
    Meredith Connolly, Oregon Director of Climate Solutions
  • “Oregon and the broad diversity of businesses here have a long and deeply held commitment to being good stewards of our beautiful state and ensuring its long-term health. It’s in our DNA. This sweeping executive order does that DNA proud. We look forward to working closely with the Governor in any way possible as she moves this series of directives forward.”
    Tom Kelly, President of the Neil Kelly Company and President of the Oregon Business for Climate Board
  • “The climate crisis is a true emergency that will most impact our rural communities and those who live and work closest to our land and waters. We’re pleased to see a dedicated focus on natural and working lands in Governor Brown’s executive order to protect the people and economies of Oregon.”
    Jim Desmond, Oregon State Director for The Nature Conservancy
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