Oregon Advocates Celebrate First Anniversary of the Federal Inflation Reduction Act: A Year of Achievements and Future Opportunities for Progress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2023

Media Contact:
Patty Wentz, patty@wentzjackson.com
503-970-7929

As Oregon experiences record breaking heat driven by climate change, it is important to note the one-year anniversary of the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which will invest at least $370 billion–and potentially upwards of $1 trillion–nationwide to address the climate crisis and accelerate the transition to an equitable clean energy economy.

Oregon climate, business, labor, and environmental justice advocates celebrate the State’s efforts to maximize the economic and climate potential of the IRA over the past year, including the 2023 legislature’s Climate Resilience Package, while also calling for more action to ensure Oregon gets its fair share of federal funding to combat climate pollution, enhance community resilience, and foster clean energy job creation.

“We are living through the hottest time in history. The situation is urgent,” says Joel Iboa, Executive Director of Oregon Just Transition Alliance. “We need to make sure that Oregon gets its fair share of federal funding. While the climate crisis hurts all Oregonians, extreme heat like we are experiencing this week takes an especially devastating toll on frontline communities — including low-income families, people of color, people with disabilities, and people in rural areas. Our people deserve to have every resource they need to stay safe from fire, drought and extreme heat.”

A recent Oregon Health Authority report found that there were 242 percent more heat-related illness visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers in 2021 than in 2020, with people from areas with median household incomes below $50,000 making up 60 percent of patients. There were also 167 heat-related deaths in 28 different cities across Oregon, with people of color making up a disproportionate number of victims. 

The IRA’s climate investment opportunities have provided Oregon with a powerful toolset to drive down the cost of living for Oregon families, improve public health, boost economic growth and job creation, and help Oregon communities prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. However, advocates say urgent action is needed to ensure that Oregon is best-positioned to leverage and implement IRA funding opportunities for building efficiency and electrification, transportation electrification and public transit, a more resilient and carbon-free electric grid, clean water, climate-smart land management, and workforce training programs. 

Oregon has made some progress leveraging these federal funds. The 2023 legislature passed the Climate Resilience Package. By investing $90 million in crucial climate action and community resilience, the Climate Resilience Package could enable the state to leverage roughly 10 times that–$1 billion–in federal funding. This package underscores the state’s dedication to tackling the climate crisis and building a resilient future for all Oregonians. 

Through strategic leveraging of IRA investments, Oregon could receive more than $8 billion and create 16,000 jobs in our clean energy economy by 2030 – but only if consumers, businesses, and local governments adopt clean technologies at the pace and scale needed to meet national climate targets. As of May 2023, IRA investments had created 142,000 new clean energy jobs nationwide for electricians, mechanics, construction workers, technicians, and many others. Only 280 of those jobs were in Oregon. Moreover, securing the full economic development, job creation, and climate potential of these historic investments hinges in large part upon continued proactive State leadership and strong, strategic implementation. 

“We have such an exciting opportunity to turbocharge the clean energy sector and the rest of our economy if Oregon is bold and strategic in helping communities, businesses and local governments go after all the funding that’s becoming available,” says Tim Miller, Director of Oregon Business for Climate. “Just like our investments to capitalize on the CHIPS Act, if we continue strong action to leverage these IRA investments they will bring billions of dollars in economy-wide job creation to our state.”  

Advocates say now is the time for the Kotek administration and legislative leaders to build on recent progress to ensure the state is well positioned to maximize federal funding opportunities and translate federal investments into meaningful, near-term benefits for Oregon families, workers, businesses, and local economies. 

“Decisions around federal investments and infrastructure projects have the potential to make or break our climate future, and to lift up or undermine a strong Oregon workforce,” says Ranfis Giannettino Villatoro, Oregon State Policy Manager for Oregon BlueGreen Alliance. “With unprecedented federal funding opportunities coming to Oregon, we cannot afford to leave billions of dollars on the table or to misdirect funds.”

In the days ahead, Oregon leaders must meet the moment to leverage funding available through IRA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, home efficiency and electrification rebate programs, and incentives for domestic clean technology manufacturing – all of which provide an opportunity to propel Oregon toward its climate and economic development goals and improve community resilience against climate impacts. 

“Oregon has made some important progress. Now we must do more to secure a cleaner, more prosperous future for every Oregonian,” says Nora Apter, Senior Program Director for Climate at the Oregon Environmental Council. “With Oregon families struggling to pay their energy bills and dealing with harrowing climate extremes, the State cannot afford to leave hundreds of millions of dollars on the table that could be used to help. We are eager to work with the Kotek administration to translate this unprecedented federal opportunity into tangible cost-saving, job creation, and climate benefits for Oregonians.”

For more information, please contact:

  • Nora Apter, Senior Program Director for Climate, Oregon Environmental Council, noraa@oeconline.org or 971-275-6179.
  • Tim Miller, Director, Oregon Business for Climate, tim@orbizclimate.org or 503-490-3014.
  • Joel Iboa, Executive Director of Oregon Just Transition Alliance, Joel@OJTA.org, 541-357-7664.
  • Ranfis Giannettino Villatoro, Oregon State Policy Manager for Oregon BlueGreen Alliance, rvillatoro@bluegreenalliance.org or 971-242-9964.
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