Top Ten Achievements of 2020-2021
Oregon Environmental Council works year-round to protect Oregon’s water, air, land, and communities. This year was a special one. We made Oregon a better place through our participation in state-wide coalitions, tireless bird-dogging of rulemaking processes, deft strategy in the legislative session, and hosting welcoming educational programs. This work is is a reflection of our donors. Take a moment to revel with us in these outstanding accomplishments. Then consider supporting this work, so we can add to our accomplishments in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
1. Passed 100% Clean Energy For All
As a member of the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity Campaign, along with businesses, local governments, and utilities, OEC secured the votes to pass 100% Clean Energy for All. The bill sets Oregon on a path to 100% clean electricity by 2040, the most ambitious transition timeline in the country. The bill also sets strong labor standards and creates funding opportunities for community-based renewable energy projects. This was a key victory in Oregon’s decarbonization journey!
2. Protected workers from extreme heat & smoke
In partnership with PCUN, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, Climate Jobs, and other labor and community partners, OEC’s policy analysis and advocacy played an essential role in the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopting the strongest-in-the-nation worker protections from increasingly frequent extreme heat events. These protections extend to both indoor and outdoor workers on the frontlines of Oregon’s economy, from farmworkers to warehouse workers and delivery drivers. The federal government is poised to follow Oregon’s lead.
3. Won historic budget for clean, equitable water
In 2021, water funding was a legislative priority after years of delayed investment. We kept the pressure on through the final days of budget approval, and our advocacy, along with many partners, resulted in historic funding. The state of Oregon allocated $531 million to better coordinate water management across agencies, include community voices, and gather data to make more informed decisions. This investment will also help fund more natural infrastructure, cleaner water in poor and rural communities, and increase resilience in response to climate change.
4. Advocacy, leadership, and partnership in Salem
We are perhaps best known for our activity and success in the Oregon legislature and 2021 was no exception. We testified on 58 bills, defended against many more, and inspired testimony from over 275 members and supporters. Our advocacy in Salem is essential for our legislative wins, keeping good laws on the books, as well as thwarting proposals that do harm to people and the environment. OEC is one of few environmental organizations with a full-time legislative director, which is a key part of our effective advocacy in Salem.
5. Won record funding for active transportation
OEC was a persistent and effective advocate and joined a coalition of stakeholders that successfully called on Oregon’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to allocate $255 million for investment in climate-smart transportation, including transit, biking, and pedestrian safety and accessibility. These “non-highway” investments represent a 60% increase from the previous STIP funding plan, and a massive win for safe, healthy transportation options.
6. Accountability for strong climate action
The Oregon Climate Action Plan (Executive Order 20-04, Mar. 2020) created opportunities for significant climate progress in Oregon. Our advocacy is making sure Oregon takes advantage of that opportunity. Along with a vibrant coalition, we advocated to maximize emissions reductions, center the needs of frontline communities, and ensure an equitable transition to a clean energy future. We also led the publishing of the Oregon Climate Action Plan 2021 Progress Report, which highlights where state agencies demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing climate, equity, and incorporating public engagement, and documenting where they fell short. We met with the Governor’s office and agency heads to advocate for strong outcomes.
7. Secured funding for inclusive water planning
OEC successfully advocated for $1.5 million in state funding for community-led water needs assessments. The Oregon Water Futures report, published with partners from the University of Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, Verde, and Willamette Partnership, highlighted the needs of BIPOC and migrant communities across the state, including better access to information and inclusion in decision-making processes. This led to first-of-its-kind state funding for community-led water needs assessments centering Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Tribal communities.
8. Delivered eco-healthy home solutions for low-income and LatinX communities
OEC’s Environmental Health program partnered with Hacienda CDC to host focus groups and conduct surveys to identify what toxic chemicals community members are most exposed to and concerned about. We delivered 75 eco-healthy home kits with ingredients and supplies for safer home cleaning as well as tips for low-cost ways to keep homes and families safe. We’ll continue the partnership in the year ahead with a new curriculum for Hacienda’s Portland Niños parenting classes.
9. Elevated benefits of natural infrastructure
The groundbreaking Natural Infrastructure report, published in collaboration with Willamette Partnership, is Oregon’s first comprehensive analysis of existing projects, what barriers still exist, and what makes projects successful. The report illustrates why natural infrastructure is the pathway to a more resilient water future and what Oregon needs to change to make these approaches an even more viable option for communities, local governments, businesses, and watershed partners across the state.
10. Recruited an incredible lineup of new talent
We have welcomed five new staff members to the OEC family over the past year. While onboarding during a pandemic creates unique circumstances, we are gratified to be re-energized with the outstanding skills and deep passion of our team.
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