Build Back Better
Oregon Environmental Council advances effective public policies that safeguard our future. Since our founding in 1968, our staff and volunteers have worked every legislative session in Salem to protect the Oregon we love. We provide leadership and opportunity for all Oregonians to create and implement a vision for a healthy environment through protective public policies. Together, we have a history of results.
In 2021, OEC is charging ahead with policy priorities to support Oregon’s economy and a more resilient and just environment. Building on 2020’s big climate victory – the Oregon Climate Action Plan (Executive Order 20-04) – our legislative agenda prioritizes energy efficiency, transportation electrification, children’s health and our state’s water resources.
Here’s what we’re advocating for during the 2021 Oregon Legislative Session:
Modernizing the Toxic Free Kids Act (HB 2495):
OEC will again lead advocacy on the Toxic Free Kids Act with critical updates to the 2015 legislation that will increase agency authority to regulate chemicals, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Oregon Health Authority’s reporting system, and better align our program with seven other states that have since passed similar legislation. After five years of agency rulemaking, we’ve identified updates needed to effectively phase-out dangerous chemicals in kids’ products and protect Oregon’s children. Download the fact sheet here.
Expanding clean transportation options:
Transportation is the single largest source of climate pollution in Oregon, and how we move goods, services, and people is integral to a functioning economy. OEC is working in collaboration with nonprofit and business partners on a suite of bills aimed at increasing electric vehicle (EV) use, building more EV charging stations, making sure new parking is “EV ready,” and supporting low-income and BIPOC communities in equitable access to low-carbon transportation options.
Reducing climate pollution from the electricity and building sectors:
OEC is part of a coalition promoting a package of bills to help achieve our state’s climate goals. Passage will ensure our electrical grid is powered by 100% clean energy; promote energy affordability by allowing different rates for lower-income households (which other states do, but Oregon has not yet done); support stronger building standards and efficient appliances; and increase investment in home retrofits and weatherization that cut energy use, make homes more comfortable, and reduce costs for our neighbors. These are some of the best near-term actions Oregon can take to bend the curve toward climate stability.
Download the fact sheet here.
Improving water affordability for rural and low-income households:
Recognizing the challenges faced by rural and low-income communities, OEC is supporting two water-related bills to ensure people have running water at home and responsible wastewater systems. The first sets up a new statewide program to assist low-income households afford their water utility bills (HB 2739), and the second provides funding for low-interest/no-interest loans to replace failing septic systems (HB 3090).
Protecting water quality when you flush (HB 2344):
Flushing wet wipes contributes to harmful sewer overflows that dump pathogens, excess nutrients, heavy metals and other toxins in our rivers, and creates hazardous conditions for workers and costly damage to wastewater treatment equipment in small towns and large cities throughout Oregon. OEC actively supports HB 2344, which would require manufacturers or retailers to place “Do Not Flush” labels and warning statements in visible locations on packages containing most types of wet wipes. Download the fact sheet here.
Priorities taking shape:
- Diesel: OEC will closely track all legislation related to emissions, diesel engines and air quality, and advocate for programs and resources that will reduce toxic pollution as we continue our push to support a transition to cleaner engines.
- Water measurement and reporting: There are critical gaps in our knowledge of how much water we have or how quickly it is being consumed. OEC is part of ongoing conversations to identify collaborative solutions for smart water management statewide.
- Transportation funding: We’ll also be tracking important conversations about how Oregon funds transportation investments. It is critical that all parts of the transportation system – including funding – support strong climate and equity outcomes.
- Federal recovery dollars: Congressional talks of federal infrastructure investments could have long-lasting impacts on Oregon’s plans to “build back better.” We will be watching for opportunities to prioritize natural infrastructure, clean transportation and equitable solutions to support a more resilient and sustainable future for Oregon households.
We’ll also be tracking the state budget closely and advocating that the natural resource agencies charged with protecting our air and water are adequately funded. Some agencies have important new initiatives we’ll be supporting. This includes the Oregon Health Authority’s public health modernization that provides resources for environmental health programs and agency programs tasked with implementing the Oregon Climate Action Plan (EO 20-04).
Our work always involves some defense against rollbacks to existing environmental programs, or watchdogging bills that will weaken or change funding of crucial work. Preventing harmful policies is an important part of defending Oregon’s environment, communities, and health.