Public Policy Change

We advance effective public policies that safeguard our future. Since our founding in 1968, our staff and volunteers have worked every Legislative session to protect the Oregon we love. Together, we have a history of results.

See our legislative recaps for 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015

Oregon Environmental Council’s legislative priorities for 2019 include:

Healthy Climate: Clean Energy Jobs (HB2020)
Oregon has already begun to experience the drought and economic harm (such as catastrophic wildfires, harmful algae blooms and a damaged shellfish industry) that climate disruption brings. We have a responsibility to reduce Oregon’s share of climate pollution, which means that Oregon’s current unenforced greenhouse gas reduction goals must be turned into actionable, enforceable limits. And the true cost of climate pollution must be factored into business and energy decision-making. By limiting and putting a price on pollution, the Oregon Legislature can 1) significantly reduce climate pollution; 2) attract investment in clean energy solutions that creates jobs, especially in economically distressed rural areas and communities of color; 3) spur innovation in manufacturing; and 4) use natural and working lands to draw down climate pollution and build resiliency. Only a comprehensive policy that limits and prices pollution will lead to an affordable clean energy future that protects those Oregonians hardest hit by climate change—including rural, low-income, and people-of-color communities. #cleanenergyjobs

Clean Air: Ditch Dirty Diesel (HB 2007)
Diesel pollution from old, heavy-duty engines causes one of Oregon’s most serious toxic air pollution problems. Exposure to diesel fumes damages the heart, lungs and brain. The tiny particles have been found to lodge in the brain and in the placenta. Across the state, in counties where 90% of Oregonians live, diesel exhaust lingers at levels that raise the risk of cancer. Truckers, dockworkers, children and vulnerable populations are especially at risk of life-long harm from exposure. Oregon lags behind neighboring states in addressing this health crisis. To protect people’s health, the Oregon Legislature must accelerate the cleanup of dirty diesel—setting a timeline to retire old engines and providing financial assistance to replace the dirtiest trucks and construction equipment with proven cleaner alternatives that can run up to 95% cleaner. Oregon can realize $17 dollars in health benefits for every dollar invested. We will see benefits to our health, our productivity—and to our climate. #cleanengines #cleanair

Secure Water Future: Investing in Water Now and for the Next 100 Years
Oregonians deserve clean and reliable water today and for future generations. However, a changing climate, aging infrastructure across the state, and lack of steady investment in clean water have left the system stressed. When clean water is at risk, so are our health, safety, economy and environment. A secure and resilient water future for all Oregonians is possible, but it will require a more serious and consistent investment of resources. The Oregon Legislature should support a package to set Oregon on a course to protect clean water now and for the next 100 years. #watercantwait

Safe Well Water (HB 2860)
Many Oregonians are drinking unsafe water from their wells without knowing it. Arsenic, bacteria, nitrate and pesticides are common well contaminants. Drinking well water with high levels of nitrates can cause serious health impacts like miscarriages, birth defects, thyroid disorders, gastric or bladder cancer, and an illness called “blue baby syndrome.” While the Oregon Health Authority recommends annual well testing, in many cases that does not occur. A segment of rental properties are not required to test their wells, leaving tenants in the dark about their water quality. The Oregon Legislature needs to increase well testing, streamline data gathering and analysis, target increased funding and education to support communities in need, and make sure that people who drink well water have better information about contamination so they can take action to protect their families.

Budgets Supporting Clean Air & Water, Climate Protection, and Public Health
Oregon’s natural resource agencies run essential programs to ensure safe drinking water, healthy air quality and thriving landscapes—the environmental resources we depend on for our health, economy and wellbeing. Yet years of budget cuts have left our agencies with permit programs backlogged, information systems outdated, and staff working at their absolute capacity. With climate change putting additional pressure on our natural resources, and with federal rollbacks threatening to undo bedrock protections, we need strong state agencies now more than ever. The Oregon Legislature must maintain and increase funding for effective state programs—including enforcement of environmental laws—that lead to a safer, healthier, cleaner Oregon for all.

Other bills to watch

HB 2772: Household Hazardous Waste Stewardship. Introduced for the first time in 2017 and refined for 2019, this bill would establish a statewide stewardship program for household products that are flammable, corrosive or toxic–such as roach spray, oven cleaner, paint stripper and more. It would create a fund to ensure that the program is supported statewide. OEC strongly supports this bill, and we are joined in our support by Oregon Recyclers, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Metro, the Product Stewardship Institute, and the City of Hillsboro.

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.

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