Speak Up For the Climate Protection Program (CPP)!

Last December, the oil and gas industry and their allies delivered a devastating blow to climate justice in our state. 

The Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated Oregon’s landmark Climate Protection Program (CPP) based on a procedural technicality. The program was spearheaded (unsurprisingly) by the oil and gas industries most responsible for climate pollution in our state.

The CPP represents a historic victory for Oregon’s climate, local economies, and communities – especially Black, Indigenous, people of color, low-income, rural, and other communities who stand to benefit the most from emissions reductions and investments under the CPP. OEC and dozens of environmental justice, labor, climate, and business community partners from across the state worked tirelessly over an 18-month rulemaking process to develop the CPP. Prior to its invalidation, it was projected to achieve nearly half of Oregon’s targeted emissions reductions, and invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in environmental justice and other communities throughout our state.

However, the Court’s decision didn’t spell the end for the CPP – far from it. While fossil fuel companies will continue lobbying to skirt accountability and derail climate justice, we have people power on our side. Together with our broad coalition of partners and thousands of individual Oregonians across the state, we are committed to restoring these vital protections for climate and communities.

What’s happening now?

Earlier this year, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced plans to initiate a rulemaking process to reinstate the CPP by the end of the year. Governor Kotek, OEC, and dozens of other partner organizations are in full support of DEQ’s commitment to restoring the CPP’s vital protections for climate and communities as quickly as possible.

DEQ held the first Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting for the CPP restoration process on April 2. Two additional RAC meetings are scheduled for May 14 and June 25. Particularly given OEC’s historic leadership in developing, implementing, and defending the Climate Protection Program, we are pleased to have the opportunity to serve as a formal member of the CPP 2024 RAC, alongside many other key environmental justice, Tribal, public health, business, labor partners. OEC was on the ground at the meeting and delivered powerful testimony in support of the CPP.

Unfortunately, oil and gas industry representatives make up the majority of the seats on the RAC. To no one’s surprise, fossil fuel lobbyists used the first RAC meeting to paint a picture of a scary, expensive future under the CPP.

It’s not the reality. What they don’t want people to know is that the transition to clean electricity will be cheaper and healthier for everyone. The oil and gas industry has been misleading us for decades on these issues because their goal is to continue to pollute. That’s just not sustainable. 

Our health is suffering. Our climate is suffering. We cannot continue to put Oregon lives and livelihoods at stake just to preserve business as usual for oil companies and gas utilities.

There are countless examples where polluters have tried to steer regulators and the public away from climate protections through fear-mongering about job loss and economic impacts. Yet, as soon as there is a new framework in place, these policies have shown nothing but benefits. For example, during the development of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, the oil industry threatened that the policy would result in a $1 per gallon increase in gas prices. Instead, the reality has been mere pennies on the gallon to achieve the benefits of cleaner air, more energy independence, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and more economic development in Oregon.

But not every oil and gas industry representative on the RAC was complaining. In fact, some of the transportation fuel suppliers shared their experience and success in reducing emissions in line with the CPP’s requirements, before the court struck it down. In short: the CPP was working and on track to achieve its stated goals for climate and communities.

As DEQ moves forward with this process, it is imperative that decision-makers hear from the Oregonians whose lives will benefit from the CPP, now and in the future. In particular, it’s important that they hear support for maintaining science-based emissions reduction requirements, and an effective Community Climate Investment Program that’s responsive to community needs. (Scroll down for specific talking points you can use in your outreach to DEQ).

We’ve already lost years of emission reductions since the CPP was halted. It is more important now than ever to make sure we get back on track.

How can I help?

Your role in the process is arguably the most important: make your voice heard in support of climate justice.

All upcoming RAC meetings are open to the public to attend and provide public comment virtually. The next meetings are on:

  • May 14, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • June 25, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Additional meeting details, including the exact time for public comment and registration information, will be posted here once available. You can also make your voice heard by submitting written comments to DEQ via email at CPP.2024@deq.oregon.gov. For additional background information beforehand, read DEQ’s CPP Background brief.

Potential talking points:

  • I strongly support DEQ’s proposed rulemaking timeline and commitment to restoring the Climate Protection Program rules this year. Every day that these landmark climate protections are delayed represents another day that justice is denied to Oregon communities– especially rural, low-income, and communities of color, who stand to benefit the most from emissions reductions and economic prosperity under the Climate Protection Program.
  • I urge DEQ to ensure that the reinstated CPP upholds the science-based emissions cap trajectory established in the previously adopted rules and maintains an effective, independent Community Climate Investment program that is responsive to community needs. Specifically, I urge DEQ to ensure the rules achieve the same level of cumulative emissions reductions as the previously-adopted CPP program. DEQ should use a lower starting emissions cap for 2025 – and every year thereafter – to make up for emissions lost in the three-year delay of the program.
  • I urge DEQ to modify the rules to achieve the same level of cumulative emissions reductions as the previously-adopted CPP program. Specifically, DEQ should use a lower starting emissions cap for 2025 – and every year thereafter – to make up for emissions lost in the three-year delay of the program. 
  • DEQ should use this rulemaking opportunity to ensure the CPP effectively reduces emissions from large industrial facilities, like semiconductor manufacturers and data centers,  whose emissions are projected to rise without adequate guardrails. By holding our largest polluting industries accountable to mandatory emissions reduction requirements, DEQ can ensure the CPP stays on track to protect the health of our local communities while supporting technological innovation and economic vitality..

These are merely jumping off points. We encourage you to bring your own personal stories, perspectives, and insights to these meetings. However, try to keep your comments to 2-3 minutes (~300 words) or less.

This is our moment. Join us in fighting to create a healthier Oregon.

By restoring the CPP, we will get Oregon back on track to protect our climate, communities, and local economies now and for generations to come. For too long, fossil fuel corporations have tried to lock us out of decision-making and get away with polluting our communities consequence-free. By taking action together, we can create a future that’s sustainable, resilient, and meets the needs of all Oregonians.

 


OEC’s work to advance meaningful, lasting environmental progress is made possible by people across the state who care about safeguarding Oregon’s future.

Make a difference. Become a member of OEC today

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