2023 Legislative Session

In 2023, OEC will mark its 55th year of advocacy. Like every preceding year, we have ambitious goals to deliver sensible, workable, solutions to Oregon’s most pressing environmental challenges. We’re excited to join with our partners, broaden coalitions, and reach across ideological divides so that we can deliver benefits for everyone who lives in Oregon.

Our work this year will focus on expanding Oregon’s clean energy economy, creating more resilient and healthy communities, improving water security, reducing the prevalence of toxics in our homes and landscapes, and ensuring that the state budget is aligned with its adopted environmental and community goals.

More specifically, for the 2023 session, OEC intends to focus our efforts on a few key areas. These are:

Resilient Communities


Kellog Middle School is now a net-zero emissions building. Photo by Jason Quigley.

Clean, Efficient, Healthy, and Affordable Homes & Buildings:

  • Buildings are the second highest source of climate pollution in Oregon, and our first line of defense against climate harms. We need to rapidly reduce the use of fossil fuels in our buildings, both new and existing, to meet urgent climate targets. We must also ensure that our buildings are resilient to climate impacts and that they are affordable and healthy for all Oregonians.
    • OEC is eager to advance a “Resilient, Efficient Buildings” policy package to spur an equitable transition to buildings that use less fossil fuels by retrofitting and electrifying existing buildings, ensuring new buildings are constructed as efficiently as possible, and developing robust programs to support low- and moderate-income Oregonians.

Protections for Workers Against Climate Impacts:

  • Outdoor and other frontline workers in Oregon often experience the worst of climate impacts, such as extreme heat and wildfire smoke. These extreme conditions can have serious health impacts or even be deadly.
    • OEC will be advocating for a policy that would strengthen a worker’s right to refuse hazardous work, such as if it is too hot outside to work, amongst other conditions. The policy would protect workers from retaliation for exercising these rights and secure a healthy working environment for all workers in Oregon.

There are thousands of known toxics in products marketed to kids.

Expanding the Toxic Free Kids Act:

  • Seven years ago, Oregon set a national standard in reducing toxics in products sold to kids with the original Toxics Free Kids Act. However, thousands more chemicals, some known to be harmful and others untested, have been introduced into the marketplace. Because of their smaller bodies and developing brains and lungs, children are more vulnerable to toxics and can have serious health impacts from these chemicals.
    • OEC will be working towards updating this landmark legislation to keep pace with scientific developments to better protect kids who are most vulnerable to toxics. 

Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products:

  • Thousands of harmful toxics have been found in personal care products such as sunscreen, deodorant, hair products, skin creams, and cosmetics. Many of these products disproportionately impact women of color due to the kinds of chemicals in products marketed towards them, such as mercury in skin lighteners. These chemicals can cause serious health impacts such as breast cancer and fertility issues. Federal gridlock has prevented common sense national standards from being adopted, leaving states to protect people.
    • OEC will be advocating for legislation that will call for the disclosure of all chemical ingredients and a ban of the worst known carcinogens in personal care products and cosmetics. Such transparency and health protections ensure that all consumers have more information and healthier choices.

380 million tons of plastic is produced every year, estimated that 50% of it is single-use.

Reducing Health Impacts from Plastic Foodware:

  • More and more single-use plastic is being used, and these products contain harmful chemicals, like PFAS, and fossil fuels that can leach into food, water, and air.
    • OEC will be supporting policies that would reduce plastic pollution by banning single-use plastic, PFAS, and Styrofoam food containers that have negative impacts on human health and our waterways.

 

A Clean Economy & Healthy Landscapes


Windmills over green terrain

Oregon can help bring forth a fossil-free future with the production and procurement of clean, renewable technologies.

Clean Energy Technology Leadership:

  • Right now, Oregon has the opportunity to be a leader in producing and procuring clean energy technologies that the entire world is seeking in the transition to a clean energy economy. 
    • OEC is advocating for legislation to help ensure Oregon businesses are well-positioned to harness new federal incentives for domestic manufacturing of clean energy technologies–like solar panels and heat pumps–through expanded programs and incentives. Doing so will help create good union jobs, jumpstart new local businesses, address domestic supply chain challenges, and ensure affordable access to clean energy technologies.

Climate-smart Land & Water Management

  • Healthy forests, waters, and agricultural lands are vital to Oregon’s economy, culture, and way of life. They are also an essential part of the climate solution, but there is much more we could be doing. The science is clear: in order to avoid climate catastrophe, we must transform the way we use and manage our land, and need more programs and investments to get the work done. 
    • OEC is eager to advance legislation this session to support and invest in climate-smart land management practices in Oregon, which will help ensure more resilient forests and farmlands and help maximize carbon sequestration. Doing so will also better position Oregon to harness unprecedented federal funding for climate-smart land management. 

Electric buses charging up to be used for public transportation.

Clean & Just Transportation:

  • Transportation is the single largest source of climate pollution in Oregon, while also being a major source of air pollution. Our system does not equitably serve all peoples’ needs and is still dangerous. Our state funding and policy decisions have not remedied these problems and major changes in how we collect revenue and direct where it is spent are needed.
    • OEC will be advocating for several policies to reform the way we pay for Oregon’s transportation system such as tolling the use of specific roads, a general fee for miles driven in Oregon, and potentially gas tax increases. We continually support the inclusion of climate and equity into decisions around revenue streams and spending on state and local projects. OEC will also support legislation directing spending toward decarbonizing and less polluting fuels. 

 

Water Security


Children’s bodies are more vulnerable to toxics in drinking water.

Safe Well Water For All:

  • Oregon has many known areas of groundwater contamination leaving thousands of homeowners and renters in Oregon who get their water from wells at risk of drinking contaminated water. Though Oregon had a program in place to ensure well water is tested and disclosed upon the buying or selling of a property, currently the program is unfunded and therefore does not ensure the safety of well water. 
    • OEC will be advocating for the funding of the Domestic Well Testing Act program. It will add sufficient staff to make sure that domestic wells are tested for harmful contaminants, that information is shared during real estate transactions, and allow state agencies to track pollution. This will protect the health of thousands of families.

 

Values-Driven Public Investments


Funding from the IRA will help Oregon advance the use of clean technologies.

Maximizing Federal Funding Opportunities:

  • Recent federal investments provide an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the transition to an equitable and clean energy economy. However, the extent to which Oregonians see the benefits of these transformative investments will depend in part on whether the state has strong programs and policies in place to implement them. 
    • Immediate legislative action is needed to ensure that Oregon is best-positioned to maximize the benefits of federal legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes billions of dollars in funding for building efficiency and electrification, transportation electrification and public transit, clean water, climate-smart land management, and workforce training programs. The legislature must adequately resource state energy and environmental agencies and adopt new, complementary incentive programs to ensure Oregon is prepared to administer and harness these investments.

Climate-smart and Responsible Investments in Transportation Infrastructure:

  • The Oregon legislature will be deciding on major transportation investments that could lock in traffic patterns and inequitable revenue streams for generations to come. Historically, these decisions have not been made with strong enough climate or equity commitments.
    • OEC will track and engage in advocacy on legislation allocating money to specific projects (such as the I-5 Bridge), as well as legislation that would establish guide rails around spending, such as requiring that money be spent on maintenance before building new roadway.

Labor and Climate Standards for State Investment

  • Worker building a house outside

    A just-transition includes safety and health protections for workers advancing a clean energy economy.

    Current public investments and infrastructure projects have the potential to make or break our climate future and to lift up or undermine a strong Oregon workforce. Particularly with unprecedented federal funding opportunities coming to Oregon, it is critical that state investments and budget decisions consider climate impacts and apply strong labor requirements.

    • OEC will advocate for legislation to identify and establish a set of labor and environmental standards that will be applied to large state investments and infrastructure projects. These standards will ensure transparency and uniformity around state funding decisions.

 

Public Policy Change
OREGON ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL ADVANCES AND SUPPORTS LEGISLATION THAT MEETS THESE STANDARDS:
  • Lasting solutions that get at the source of Oregon’s environmental problems
  • Creative solutions that are based on sound scientific evidence, economic analysis and life cycle thinking
  • Equitable solutions that respect the needs of Oregon’s diverse communities
  • Solutions that support a highly functioning economy
  • We provide leadership and opportunity for all Oregonians to create and implement a vision for a healthy environment