Stronger Together: Equity in the Oregon Legislature

A few years ago, several groups got together to examine how state legislative proposals address issues of racial equity. They shone a light on laws that could have significant negative impacts on communities of color and recommended laws that could address racial disparities. To begin holding lawmakers accountable, they published the first Racial Equity Report Card in 2011. The report card, which is published every long session, evaluates each state legislator’s commitment to advancing opportunity and addressing disparities affecting Oregonians of color. Read about the most recent report card here.

OEC is participating in meetings about this session’s Racial Equity Report Card. We are increasing our understanding of the needs of low-income and minority communities in order to ensure that our policy proposals are better informed. Read more about the Racial Equity Report Card Working Group’s five priorities for 2015.

Among the many pieces of legislation being advanced this session to address social justice in our state, OEC has endorsed HB 2564, a bill to lift the ban on inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning is an essential tool that can increase housing options in high-opportunity neighborhoods for families at low-to-moderate income levels. Read why OEC supports inclusionary zoning.

Several of OEC’s legislative priorities also help address racial disparities:

Clean Air for Everyone.
OEC is working on legislation to reduce diesel exhaust pollution, which contains a mix of toxic gases and harmful particles. Since diesel exhaust comes mainly from trucks, construction equipment, trains and ships, people who live near highways, busy roads and rail lines experience greater exposure. These are often lower-income residents and communities of color. Multnomah County Health Department’s Report on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities finds that census tracts with a higher percentage of people of color (at least 15% of total tract population identifying as Black/African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Latino) are exposed to diesel particulate matter at levels two to three times higher than census tracts with 90% or more non-Latino White populations. Because many communities of color have disproportionately higher rates of some health conditions associated with exposure to diesel exhaust, this higher rate of exposure is particularly concerning. Read more about legislation to address diesel pollution.

Toxic Free Kids Act.
According to the U.S. EPA, exposure to toxics in everyday products is an environmental hazard that disproportionately affects minority and low-income communities. That’s one of the reasons why OEC is forwarding the Toxic Free Kids Act to reduce exposure to chemicals that may raise the risk of chronic health conditions. Hispanic and African American communities experience higher rates of early puberty and diabetes, and Native American, Asian and Pacific Islanders have among the highest rates of low birth weights. Chemicals in consumer products may contribute to greater risk of these health challenges. By requiring phase-out of these chemicals in children’s products sold in Oregon, the bill ensures that every family has access to safe products no matter their income, literacy or location.

Keeping our drinking water safe.
Drinking water that is contaminated with nitrates, bacteria, arsenic and other pollution tends to be from private wells or small community systems such as mobile home parks and rural schools. These communities often have a higher percentage of low-income people and people of color than the state average, and often have less access to decision-making processes. Read more about our safe drinking water bill.

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Stronger Together: The 2015 carbon-busting agenda

To get a handle on climate disruption, we need everyone’s participation and we need to tackle carbon pollution from every source. OEC is promoting and supporting state policies that: Make our homes and other buildings more efficient Make our cars and trucks more efficient Transition Oregon away from dirty energy, like coal and oil, toward clean, renewable energy sources Provide people with more transportation options Hold big p
March 17, 2015, 10:34 pm


Stronger Together: Environmental legislation on our radar

OEC has six legislative priorities in the 2015 session, several of which involve a number of partners, but our work doesn’t end there! We support additional protections for the environment, including the following, and are tracking a number of other bills that could positively or negatively impact Oregon’s environment. Oregon Conservation Network’s Priorities for a Healthy Oregon OEC is a member of the
March 17, 2015, 9:55 pm


Road-trips, Representatives and Adventures in Eastern Oregon

Summer is road-trip time, and recently, OEC staff Karen Lewotsky (Water Policy and Rural Partnerships Director) and Morgan Gratz-Weiser (Legislative Director) headed southeast across Oregon to Crane, with stops along the way in Tumalo and Prineville. Why Crane? The gathering in Crane was organized by leading legislators and partner organizations Verde, Willamette
September 10, 2021, 8:24 pm


New report elevates water justice in Oregon

A new report from the Oregon Water Futures Project reveals water challenges facing communities across the state, from water shortages, to living with unsafe water, watching sacred ecosystems disappear, and critical information gaps about clean water during emergencies. The report highlights key findings from community
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Centering Frontline Voices: Oregon OSHA Enacts Heat & Smoke Rules

In a summer already marked by unprecedented temperatures and a devastating wildfire season, OEC and its partners pressed Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to adopt a health-first standard when it comes to protecting vulnerable workers from climate hazards. As part of EO-20-04 (OCAP), Governor Kate Brown directed Oregon OSHA to develop standards in order to protect frontline workers from excessive heat
August 11, 2021, 3:57 pm


OEC and partners call on ODOT to consider climate and equity

July 14, 2021 Oregon Transportation Commission 355 Capitol Street, NE MS 11 Salem, Oregon 97301   Dear Chair Van Brocklin and members of the Oregon Transportation Commission: Our organizations write this letter as communities around the state are reporting dozens of deaths in the wake of a record-breaking heatwave while preparing for another summer and fall of destructive wildfires. Climate change is already bringing enormous human suffering to
July 15, 2021, 3:57 pm


Oregon OSHA Enacts Emergency Heat Rules

A Joint Press Release – July 8, 2021 Contacts: Ira Cuello-Martinez, PCUN, (503) 851-5774 Kate Suisman, Northwest Justice Workers Project
July 13, 2021, 6:19 pm


Statement on Protecting Oregon’s Democratic Process

Today, Oregon Environmental Council sent a strong statement to Oregon’s legislative leadership
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OHA Report: Climate Crisis a Current and Growing Threat to the Health of Oregonians

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) just released its “Climate and Health in Oregon 2020” report, documenting the public health impacts from climate change across Oregon. The report is the first thorough analysis of the health effects of climate change in Oregon since 2014, and is the first of three OHA deliverables directed under EO 20-04, the Oregon Climate Action Plan. The report findings are grim, confirming what OEC has been saying all along– that climate change is a public he
January 5, 2021, 8:15 pm


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