For Immediate Release:
Thursday, May 25, 2023

Jana Gastellum, janag@oeconline.org, (360) 618-2722

SALEM, Ore.– Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) called on State Senators who have walked out of the Capitol to return to work and vote on critical environmental legislation.

Multiple environmental priorities are endangered by the walkout, including the opportunity for Oregon to leverage funds from the federal Inflation Reduction Act. If Oregon doesn’t act soon, it could lose out on the opportunity to leverage some of the $369 billion available through the Act to help keep 

Oregonians safe from increasingly dangerous extreme weather events. Also imperiled by the walkouts is a $110 million drought relief package, which is a top priority for rural Oregon communities impacted by years of drought.

“Many of the budgets and policies endangered by this walkout are critical for economic development in rural Oregon, including an urgently needed drought response funding package. These important investments in rural Oregon would benefit the constituents of the legislators who are not coming to the Capitol.” said Thomas Baker, Legislative Director at OEC.

“All Oregonians should have access to safe, clean, affordable, and plentiful drinking water.” said Karen Lewotsky, Rural Partnerships & Water Program Director for OEC. “Right now, especially in rural Oregon, too many Oregonians are dealing with water infrastructure weakened by age and wildfires or contaminated drinking water wells. We need lawmakers back in Salem so we can access urgently needed funding to help farmers and working families in all corners of our state.”

“The Toxic Free Kids modernization act (HB 3043), a bipartisan bill that protects children from toxic chemicals, is threatened by this walkout,” said Jamie Pang, Environmental Health Program Director for OEC. “Senators must return to work so that we can protect the health of kids across Oregon.”

“This spring’s record-breaking heatwaves across Oregon are yet another climate wake-up call.” said Nora Apter, Climate Program Director at OEC. “Right now, legislators have a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to leverage historic federal investments to cut climate pollution, create jobs, improve public health, and drive down costs for Oregonians across every corner of our state. With Oregon families struggling to pay their energy bills and climate extremes an unfortunate inevitability, it is unconscionable to leave tens of millions of dollars on the table to improve the lives and livelihoods of Oregonians.”

Recent reports from the Oregon Global Warming Commission and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change highlight the need for urgent action to combat climate change. The Oregon report puts the economic damages of extreme weather events at $1.8 billion for our state in 2021 and 2022.

“Throughout our efforts this year, we have worked hard to negotiate in good faith and successfully earned bipartisan support for many of our key legislative priorities.” said Jana Gastellum, Executive Director of OEC. “After all this bipartisan work, it is incredibly infuriating to have a minority of Oregon State Senators refuse to show up for work and derail progress on bills to protect children’s health, clean water and clean energy for all Oregonians.”

Essential environmental priorities endangered by the Senate walkout:

Resilient, Healthy & Affordable Buildings ​​(SB 868, 869, 870, 871) A package of bills to ensure buildings in Oregon are energy-efficient, produce less pollution & keep people safe in extreme weather.

Climate-Smart Land and Water Management (SB 530) This bill creates more resilient forests, farmlands, and wetlands and better positions Oregon to leverage federal funding. 

Toxic Free Kids Act Modernization Bill (HB 3043) – A bipartisan bill to modernize the

landmark Toxics-Free Kids Act to better protect kids from harmful chemicals in children’s products.

Toxic Free Cosmetics Bill (SB 546) – A bipartisan bill to remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde from cosmetic products.

For a list of other bills that hang in the balance: https://oeconline.org/our-work/policy/ 

OEC brings Oregonians together to protect our water, air, and land with healthy solutions that work for today and for future generations. Founded in 1968 by concerned Oregonians across the state, we are a membership-based, nonpartisan nonprofit.


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