2022 Short Legislative Session

 

With a flurry of action in just five short weeks, the 2022 Legislative Session concluded on March 4th. This year’s session started with extreme uncertainty as a result of major changes in leadership and a new COVID variant. It also began with good news: an unexpectedly large state budget surplus. In the end, Oregon Environmental Council is thrilled that most of our major priorities made it across the finish line and that we helped win crucial investments in environmental and community benefits.

We did this work, like always, in collaboration with a wide array of partners. Our alliances aren’t always conventional. We worked with farmworker advocates on worker protections while at the same time working with farmers on programs to protect pollinators. Our ability to find mutual interest to get things done has always been essential to our success. It means that we can collaborate with leaders in public health, environmental justice, business, labor, clean fuels, conservation, local governments, research universities, rural economic development, and more to create strong and effective public policies that help Oregon meet today’s challenges and thrive.

OEC is indebted to our Program team for its deep policy analysis, savvy negotiation, legislator education, organizing with grassroots and grasstop partners, and timely and compelling testimony. We applaud our Communications team for quick responses and making it possible for our community to weigh in at key moments. Many thanks to our members, action-takers, and other collaborators in making this a successful legislative session! 

We are proud of the important new policy protections and funding we helped secure for crucial programs in Oregon. While we made great progress, one thing is clearer than ever: our legislature must continue to invest in environmental protections each and every year to address ongoing threats to our water, climate, transportation and environmental health.

Jana Gastellum
Deputy Director for Programs

Thanks to our partners

There are thousands of individuals and organizations who made the legislative session a success this year. We appreciate them all. We would like to give a special thanks to a few of them for their leadership and collaboration this legislative session: Climate Solutions, the Children’s Agenda, Verde, PCUN, League of Women Voters, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Association of Oregon Recyclers, Sustainable Northwest, The Nature Conservancy, Unite Oregon, Forth, Oregon League of Conservation Voters/Oregon Conservation Network, Oregon State University, WaterWatch of Oregon, Wild Salmon Center, Trout Unlimited, and Oregon Climate and Agriculture Network. A special thanks to Jack Dempsey for his strategic legislative support. 


Budget and Investment Wins:

  • Decarbonizing buildings and transportation
    • $15M to clear the electric vehicle (EV) rebate backlog
    • $15M for EV charging for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles 
    • $25M for low-income heat pump installation
    • $5M for low-income solar and storage
  • Protecting people from environmental harms
    • $5M Healthy Homes program additional funding
  • Resilient natural and working lands
    • $25M for water management to address drought resilience 
    • $5M Agricultural Heritage Fund (preserve working farms)
    • $1M pollinator protection
    • $7M for wildlife road crossings
  • Adding capacity and creating jobs in state agencies, councils and commissions
    • Funding for numerous positions at state agencies that support water quality monitoring, OSU research positions, staffing for the Environmental Justice Council, amongst others. 

 

Legislative and Policy Wins:


Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Communities

THE PROBLEM

Buildings are the second biggest–and growing–source of climate pollution in Oregon, responsible for 34 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the state. This is due to the fossil fuels used for both electricity and from the “natural” gas and oil used to heat homes and commercial buildings. Fossil “natural” gas is primarily made of methane, an explosive, toxic super pollutant that is on the rise in Oregon. Fossil gas is not only harmful to our climate but is toxic to our homes and communities. At the same time, we know that our buildings don’t protect people equally. Urban heat islands and inadequate building stock create dangerous and even lethal conditions for vulnerable residents. Many of these same people face a higher energy burden or spend a greater portion of their income on energy.

THE SOLUTION: 

Thankfully, healthier, affordable, more energy efficient alternatives exist to transition away from fossil gas use in homes and buildings, and protect low-income and environmental justice communities from climate-fueled extreme heat and wildfire smoke. By increasing energy efficiency and replacing gas appliances with cleaner, healthier, affordable zero-emission electric alternatives, we can save Oregon families money on utility bills, improve public health, and protect our climate from harmful, super-polluting methane

Tolu Olubode | Unsplash

  • Resilient and Efficient Buildings Task Force (SB 1518)

    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Buildings are the second largest source of climate pollution in Oregon. The final bill created a task force charged with delivering a set of policy recommendations for the 2023 legislative session that will reduce climate pollution from buildings and support more resilient, efficient, healthy, and affordable living environments for people across Oregon.
  • Emergency Heat Relief for Communities and Renters (SB 1536)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Of the more than 100 people who died during last summer’s unprecedented heat wave, the majority did not have access to life-saving cooling devices. SB 1536 merged two complementary proposals that will protect communities and renters by ensuring people can maintain safe temperatures and healthy air in their homes in the face of ever-worsening climate change. By supporting heat pump deployment, this bill has the additional benefit of creating cleaner, healthier living environments and buildings–Oregon’s second biggest source of climate pollution.
  • Changes to Rulemakings and Cost Assessments (SB 1537)
    • Status: Blocked
    • OEC Action: Opposed
    • Summary: Forwarded by some of the state’s biggest industries, this bill would have added huge costs and uncertainty to state agency rulemakings and created massive obstacles to building affordable and efficient housing and much more. It had the potential to erase important public policy that had already passed.

Clean and Equitable Transportation

THE PROBLEM:

Transportation is the single largest source of climate pollution in Oregon. State funding and policy decisions have created a transportation system that is inequitable, dangerous, and creates harmful air and climate pollution. As Oregon’s transportation departments face looming shortfalls and the state seeks out new funding mechanisms, transportation revenue can and should align with the state’s climate and equity goals in both the way it is collected and the way it is spent.

Slava Keyzman | Unsplash

THE SOLUTION:

Prioritize electric, safe, affordable, and accessible transportation options, reduce driving single-occupancy vehicles, and electrify all of the remaining driving in order to reduce harmful externalities such as tailpipe emissions and traffic violence. Align transportation revenue and spending with the state’s goals around climate and equity to expand transportation access and choices and to build an equitable transportation system. Accelerate transportation electrification by supporting incentives for all types of vehicles/e-mobility/transit and robust public charging infrastructure to reduce climate emissions and improve public health.

  • Changes to EV Rebate and Limiting Local Regulation Transportation Network Companies (SB 1558)
    • Status: Passed with problematic section removed
    • OEC Action: OEC opposed a problematic section
    • Summary: The bill was amended to remove a section OEC and allies opposed. That section would have eliminated the cap on the number of electric vehicle (EV) rebates a company can access. In turn, fewer rebates would have been available to individuals and low- and moderate-income households. It also would have gutted local authority to regulate Transportation Network Companies, like Uber.

Jobs, Justice, and Health 

THE PROBLEM:

This past summer, climate-fueled heat, and wildfire smoke increased the risk of death and injury for farmworkers, construction workers, and countless other workers across Oregon. Frontline workers tend to be from low-income and/or immigrant communities. They are usually the most vulnerable in their workplace for injuries, death, and retaliation and already suffer more health issues like asthma. We also know that data is a key tool to assessing the scope of environmental burdens and benefits on Oregon’s most impacted and vulnerable communities. Yet, as of now, Oregon does not have a centralized tool to help agencies analyze environmental justice data and information.

THE SOLUTION

While Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) is working to finalize new rules that will protect workers from some climate impacts, additional legislative action is necessary to ensure that no Oregon worker be forced to choose between their health and their paycheck. We must provide immediate benefits and protections for our workers and other frontline communities facing the brunt of climate impacts in Oregon. Likewise, we need a tool that will help environmental justice action for communities across Oregon.

Tim Mossholder | Unsplash

  • Modernizing the Bottle Bill (SB 1520)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: ​​Expands the bottle deposit and return system to include wine in cans and creates new rules that help ensure there is better access to bottle returns.
  • Mattress Recycling and Toxics Reduction (SB 1576)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: ​​Up to 80% of the materials in mattresses are recyclable, but most mattresses go to the landfill, or are illegally dumped. SB 1576 created a new “product stewardship” program for mattress producers, similar to the bottle deposit and return program, so that mattresses can be recycled and its hazardous waste can be kept out of our landfills, water, and soil.
  • Environmental Justice for All (HB 4077)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Creates staffing and resources to convert Oregon’s Environmental Justice Task Force into a formal Council with dedicated funding and better tools so that it can map and identify environmental justice communities throughout the state and help the Governor’s office and state agencies deliver solutions that address environmental racism.
  • Farmworker Overtime (HB 4002)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Oregon’s farmworkers are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and bear the brunt of heat waves, wildfires, and other climate impacts. Despite being an essential part of our workforce, farmworkers in Oregon have been left out of overtime pay since 1938. HB 4002 rights this historic wrong by ensuring that farmworkers are eligible to receive overtime pay.
  • Protections for Climate Impacted Workers (HCR 203)
    • Status: Did not pass – unfinished business
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: This resolution would have defined “climate-impacted worker” and specific climate-induced conditions (like wildfire smoke, heat and other dangerous conditions) in which work should stop to protect the health and safety of workers. Would have created a path to protect worker pay in conditions when it’s not safe to work.

Resilient Lands, Waters, and Rural Economies

THE PROBLEM:

Oregon’s water supply is regulated by multiple state agencies that often acting without coordination, which threatens the water supply that is essential for human health and the economies of our agricultural communities. At the same time, we are failing to invest in solutions necessary help our lands and waters become more resilient in the face of ever-worsening climate impacts. 

THE SOLUTION:

Healthy forests, waters, and agricultural lands are vital to Oregon’s economy, culture, and way of life. It is essential that Oregon’s water management agencies are coordinated and acting in an integrated manner toward common goals. The science is clear: in order to avoid climate catastrophe, we must radically transform the way we use our land. At the same time, we must support drought and ecosystem resilience and advance carbon sequestration on working lands.

Jonathan Kemper | Unsplash

  • Expanding Broadband Access (HB 4092)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: HB 4092 will allow the state of Oregon to invest over $200 million in federal funds to support the expansion of access to high speed internet. These connections support residential, medical, educational and business needs as well as help gather data for water management, transportation, and much more.
  • Sprinkler Efficiency (HB 4057)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Allows the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) to adopt efficiency standards for landscape irrigation sprinklers. Oregon is the only state on the West Coast that has not adopted efficiency standards for spray sprinklers.
  • Illegal Water Use on Cannabis Operations (HB 4061)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Gives the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) narrowly expanded enforcement authority for enforcing against illegal water use on cannabis grow operations. Illegal water use is stressing already stretched water systems. Much more needs to be done on measurement, reporting, and management in the coming years, including addressing illegal water use more broadly.
  • Natural + Working Lands (SB 1534)
    • Status: Did not pass – unfinished business
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Establishes state policy to increase carbon sequestration on natural and working lands and waters–including forests, grasslands, farmlands, and wetlands–and directs relevant state agencies to develop metrics and monitor progress toward achieving sequestration goals.
  • New Licensing for Pesticides (HB 4062)
    • Status: Passed!
    • OEC Action: Supported
    • Summary: Establishes a fourth type of pesticide license for non-commercial applicators. This will speed up and improve training and guidance for non-commercial applicators handling pesticides using best practices.

 

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

Right now, you can help us achieve the biggest challenge campaign in OEC’s history! Every dollar you can give today will be DOUBLED to help accelerate the critical work of safeguarding the future of Oregon and our planet.

X