Climate Emergency

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February 15, 2021 - Week 5

2021 Highlights and Priority Legislation (Claudia Keith)

Update via LWVUS on Juliana Climate Change Case

Juliana v. United States is a landmark case involving 21 young people’s constitutional challenge against the U.S. government for its role in causing the climate crisis. The plaintiffs claim that the government’s actions, and conversely inaction, have contributed to the climate crisis, in violation of their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property. They argue that the government has failed to protect essential public trust resources. LWVUS and LWV of Oregon filed amicus briefs in support of the plaintiffs in this case and urged the court to validate the plaintiffs’ rights to sue the government to preserve constitutional rights. On Wednesday, (Feb 2/10) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a rehearing with the entire circuit. Despite this setback, the League is committed to continuing the fight against climate change and supporting brave young plaintiffs like the 21 in this case. Read more about the case from the Climate Action Toolkit.


Biden / Harris admin plans to pay farmers to cut carbon footprint. MIT: Here's how Biden plans to reboot innovation. Yellen urges G7 to "go big" on stimulus, says U.S. committed to multilateralism. Scientific American: More Climate Executive orders on their way, McCarthy says. Yellen: Treasury's approach to Climate will change dramatically from Trump era. Congressional Record Climate highlights are HERE.

Region and State:

Intel Joins Portland General Electric’s Green Future Impact Program, Spurs New Solar Facility. Flooding in the Columbia River basin expected to increase under climate change, find new OSU study Here. OSU wants to reduce rate of solo commuters. It should be legal to live in more of Oregon’s 1.5 million empty bedrooms. Metro area mayors lay out their Legislative Priorities.

Agency and Commissions:

Find updates across many agencies on State of Oregon ‘Action on Climate Change’ topics HERE. Find weekly 2021 updates at Oregon Greenhouse Emissions Program web page HERE. And DOE weekly blog updates HERE.

Coalition Shared Priorities:

The League is an active member of OCN, OCAP and is considering joining the Clean Energy Opportunity Coalition; all these groups prioritize the following 3 bills.​

HB 2995: 100% Clean Energy

HB 2475: The Oregon Energy Affordability Act

HB 2842: Healthy Homes

Environmental Justice (Julie Chapman)

HB 2842 -3Healthy Homes” Well-written bill that, in its amended form, covers a lot of the questions that we had for the initial version. The LWVOR provided testimony in support of the this program designed to provide home rehabilitation and health risk remediation for low-income Oregonians, with a focus on Environmental Justice Communities. If enacted, it will improve family health (asthma triggers, lead, radon, smoke, toxins), reduce medical and energy costs, and reduce overall home energy use.

The House Energy and Environment Committee had an informational session on Function and Funding of Intervenors. It was presumably in response to the provision in HB 2475-3 dealing with funding of low-income and environmental justice intervenors, which Senator Brock Smith submitted amendments to eliminate.

SB 286, Environmental Justice had its Public Hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 9, with some comments continued to Thursday, Feb. 11. The Bill renames the Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) to Environmental Justice Council and moves it from the Governor’s office to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). All of the commenters, including some current and former members of the EJTF supported the move. The commenters complimented what had been done by the EJTF, especially since it was staffed only by volunteers. Richard Whitman, Director of DEQ, emphasized that the relationship with other agencies will be collaborative. Link to League Letter.

SB 289, Environmental Equity, was stated by Chair Beyer to be a ‘gut and stuff”, meaning it was a placeholder for actual text. However, three commenters seemed to know that the eventual bill would deal with hate crimes on public properties.

Clean Energy (Kathy Moyd)

Senate Energy and Environment held a Public Hearing for SB 333 “Renewable Hydrogen Study” with a presentation from Renewable Hydrogen Alliance (minute 00:02:50) on the current technology and prospects for using hydrogen in transportation, renewable energy storage for peak time uses, heavy industry and electricity co-generation.

SB 318-1, Resource Adequacy, was very confusing in its original form. It turns out it was written before the Public Utility Commission (PUC) opened a docket on the subject. An amendment effectively replacing the bill was submitted before the public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 11, giving some guidance and authority to the PUC. It allows for participation in multi state, regional, or national entities. The transition from fossil-fuel powered electricity sources to more intermittent renewable sources is a major driver to take future adequacy more seriously.

HB 3141, “relating to energy”, is a Committee bill, scheduled for a Public Hearing on Monday. Feb 15. It lowers the Public Purpose charge (Energy Trust of Oregon) for some retail electricity consumers and modifies the allocation of the funds. A key change is extension to 2036, to allow for longer-term contracts for the use of funds.

Governor Kate Brown 2021-2023 Budget Highlights (Claudia Keith)

(Many of these budget items may end up in Agency Budgets as POPS or could be legislative bills introduced later in the session)

​Racial Justice Council and Environmental Equity:

The following 9 items address these targeted populations: Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Tribal populations

SB 289 & SB 286: An Environmental Equity Committee was formed as part of the Governor’s Racial Justice Council to develop recommendations to establish environmental justice and access to the outdoors.

The Governor’s Budget invests in several of the recommendations put forward by the committee, including:

Funding in DEQ to conduct a study to determine obstacles and opportunities for electrifying farm, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

Domestic Food Market Access-Funding Opportunities - supporting the domestic food market with funding opportunities administered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Establishing a place-based community centered program to address water needs water rights, water scarcity, and ecosystem services in the Water Resources Department.

See HB 2488 in NR Leg Report: Incorporating environmental justice analysis measures in land use decisions within the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) current processes.

Develop a grant program to fund adaptive transportation solutions in rural communities

Establishing grant funds recreation engagement, support and fund community-led recreation programs, and establish/enhance safe and comfortable outdoor tourism and recreation as part of the Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Creation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion positions in the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation.

Following other CE Bills (Claudia Keith)

It’s not clear at this time, some of these we may support, oppose or just comment on.

HB 2398. Requires Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to ensure that statewide Reach Building Code mandates achievement of not more than 90 percent of site energy use that other statewide residential and commercial building codes require. Permits municipality to adopt Reach Code and require adherence to code as minimum construction standard and method within municipality's jurisdiction. Helm, Dembrow and Beyer Hearing is planned for Feb 17. Feb 9 2021 Draft code HERE

HB 2324: Expands definition of "funds of a public agency" to include dollar amounts of tax credits or tax abatements for purposes of public contracting law. (Rep. Fahey)

HB 2190: Directs the State Department of Energy to convene a work group to develop program awarding grants for community energy resilience projects and to implement the program no later than January 1, 2023. (Rep. Wilde)

HB 2985: Directs the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to ensure that membership of advisory committees reflects racial, ethnic and ability composition of Oregon. (Rep. McClain & Sen. Gelser)

HB 2062: Establishes energy efficiency standards for certain appliances sold or offered for sale in this state. Removes requirement that certain appliances sold or offered for sale in this state meet state energy efficiency standards (at the request of Governor Brown - Oregon Department of Energy)

SJR 5: Proposing amendment to the Oregon Constitution relating to the right of people to a clean and healthy environment (Sen. Jeff Golden)

Find these Climate Emergency related bills in NR Leg Report​

HB 2488: "Equity and Climate in Land Use”: A bill to incorporate environmental justice, equity and climate goals into our statewide land use planning goals, (Rep.Power and Helm and Senator Golden, Frederick, Manning and Dembrow)

HB 2065: Modernize Recycling System Relating to modernizing Oregon's recycling system. Requires producers of covered products to join the producer responsibility organization unless exempt.

HB 5024​ Oregon Health Authority Climate / Environmental Justice Public Health Budget POP 417

Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) (Shirley Weathers)

The JCEP has been dealt another hard punch. In the decision opponents were awaiting, the Acting Secretary of State’s designee in February sided with Oregon on Pembina’s challenge to Oregon’s February 2020 denial of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) certification. From the decision: After considering the parties’ briefs, past precedent, and the decision record, NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] finds that the record is insufficient to adequately assess the Project’s adverse coastal effects—in particular, to endangered and threatened species, cultural and historic resources, and cumulative effects. In the absence of sufficient information on these coastal effects, Appellants have failed to meet their burden of proof and persuasion that the Project is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA. Therefore, NOAA sustains the State’s objection. This also means that all of the recent reversals attorneys have achieved on local land use permits in the Coos Bay area are still in play, too.

As long as JCEP’s owner, Pembina, chooses to continue to pursue its goal to install this project, there are other issues to be confronted. A major one is the appeal by the State of Oregon, tribal groups, and environmental organizations of FERC’s Order authorizing the project in the Court of Appeals of the DC Circuit. Pembina’s legal team has until June to file a response to the briefs appellants filed on January 22. Pembina still has until February 18 to appeal FERC’s decision upholding Oregon’s denial of the project’s Section 401 Water Quality permit. But all players in the joint front to protect Oregon from this super-polluter and GHG emitter deserve kudos for their hard work and efforts.