Federal climate action paves the way for progress

Image of workers building a solar arrayThe Biden Administration doubled down last week on its commitment to tackle the climate crisis. On what is being referred to as “Climate Day,” President Biden signed a series of climate-centered executive orders creating green jobs, delivering on environmental justice, and restoring scientific integrity in our government.

What does this mean for Oregon?

This kind of momentum at the federal level helps pave the way for leaders in Oregon to follow suit and advance Oregon’s transition to a clean energy future. To propel us forward, OEC and partners are championing a package of bills this legislative session to help achieve our state’s climate goals — starting by reducing climate pollution from our largest emitters: transportation, electricity, and buildings. 

The health benefits of clean air and economic boons from clean energy jobs will flow some places more than others depending on what state leaders do now to seize the moment. By adopting pro-climate policies — like transitioning to 100% clean electricity — our state leaders can better ensure that Oregonians are positioned to reap the benefits of these federal actions. 

Here’s how President Biden’s executive actions move us forward: 

Supports family-wage jobs and a just transition to a clean energy economy by

  • Directing federal agencies to procure 100% clean, carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles made in America — in turn creating good-paying, union jobs and stimulating clean energy industries.
  • Requiring federal agencies to apply and strictly enforce strong labor standards, including prevailing wage and benefit guidelines — affirming that any jobs created with funds to address the climate crisis are good jobs with a choice to join a union. 

Commits to environmental justice by

Reestablishes U.S. leadership on the international stage by

  • Centering the climate crisis as a core element of U.S. foreign policy and national security.

Transitions the U.S. off of fossil fuels by

  • Prohibiting new oil and gas leases on public lands or offshore waters. 
  • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and prioritizing deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 
  • Ensuring that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and accelerates clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes. 

Supports rural communities and conservation by 

  • Empowering farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and coastal communities to help address climate change through carbon sequestration and resilience. 
  • Committing to conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030, and launching a stakeholder engagement process with agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, tribes, and others to identify effective strategies. 

Like President Biden, OEC knows full well that the opposition is ready to push back against any and all new environmental protections, arguing that now is not the time for climate action. Indeed, fossil fuel industry pundits are already painting a false choice between climate protection and economic recovery. In reality, economic analysis shows that climate policy and investments in low-carbon infrastructure can serve to reboot our economy and set us up for long-term success.

Investing in clean energy will help Oregon and the rest of the country maintain economic competitiveness and growth by diversifying rural economies and providing affordable clean energy. On the other hand, delaying climate action will further expose us to costly damages from climate disasters, air pollution, and public health crises. 

Here’s the deal: Decarbonizing is affordable. Delaying climate action is not.

Oregon, just like the U.S., is in a rebuilding moment. Our health and our economy have taken a hit, and it’s fallen hardest on communities of color and low-income Oregonians. Clean energy and clean air are central to improving health and equity, and making our economy stronger. 

The President has made it clear that we can’t afford to return to “normal.” We must build back better.

Learn how OEC’s 2021 legislative agenda aims to do just that, and sign up for our Action Alert Network to stay informed of opportunities to make an impact.

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