February 22, 2021 - Week 6
Highlights and Priority Legislation (Claudia Keith)
Feb 14, CBS 60 minutes featured Bill Gates "Without innovation, we will not solve climate change. We won't even come close," Gates says. This ‘The National Law Review’ 2/17 article gives a very comprehensive update; Biden Administration Rapidly Advances Climate Change Agenda. ‘A tale of two Carbon Prices to Shape Bidens Climate Policy – The U.S. is updating a number of items with the potential to push federal regulations into overdrive. An expert economic view at: ‘Getting the Social Cost of Carbon Right’, N. Stern and J. Stiglitz. U.S. officially rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement. Top Finance Trade groups call for U.S. carbon pricing. CBS: Climate Change Driving increased migration from Central America. Oregon Congressman Blumenauer, Rep Ocasio- Cortez and Senator Sanders are major sponsors of the National Climate Emergency Act, which may now have legs. Kerry, “ Climate Change among most complex security issues we have ever faced….” Biden pushes U.S. and the world to Help Climate Migrants. Find Congressional Legislation Climate highlights HERE.
Region and State:
Its been 60 years since Oregon last saw such sweeping power outages - Utilities say lessons from historic storm will have to wait, as scientists, politicians eye climate change. OPB & Eastern Oregonian; ‘Oregon climate program draws fire for leaving out natural gas power plants’. Northwest Natural Gas company’s Plan for a carbon neutral gas system. City of Eugene and NW Natural Gas disagree on linking Gas to Climate Plans. A Blueprint for Success - After climate-protection drift and despair, Cascadia could be entering a new climate age. The Uncertain future of Cascadia's Climate. NRDC: Invitation to New Path Forward for the Columbia River Basin Fund announced. (But balancing salmon and dams has had the region stuck in a costly litigation logjam for nearly three decades….) Feds issue lease for first wave energy research Oregon State University project in federal waters - the project is located about 7 miles offshore and hopes to generate wave-based electricity. Find 2/18/21 WGA (Western Governors Association) Update HERE
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
Clean Energy (Kathy Moyd)
DEQ Climate Protection Program (formerly “Cap and Reduce”) RAC #2
Testimony worked! At the first RAC meeting, DEQ presented the three scenarios they were proposing to be modeled. Fortunately, LWVOR and others were able to submit comments up to a week after the meeting, since major deficiencies were found. When the updated scenarios were presented, this time in advance of the meeting, at least some of the scenarios had been changed to accommodate the comments; in particular, the 2035 checkpoint on GHG emissions was included on two scenarios with the third one including a 5% lower cap at 2035 (45%) and a 10% lower cap for 2050 (90%) than the minimum required by the Executive Order In addition, one of the scenarios included the natural gas emissions from stationary sources, and all of them included the process emissions. In verbal testimony at the RAC we thanked them for taking our concerns into account.
A major theme of the meeting was objection to the continued reluctance to regulate even the electricity generated in Oregon, because it could not regulate imported electricity and is concerned over leakage. However, Bob Jenks of the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB) pointed out that the Public Utility Commission (PUC) was also tasked by the Executive Order to reduce all electricity emissions, and, in fact, the 100% Clean Electricity legislation such as HB 2995 directs the PUC, not the DEQ to establish and enforce the rules. Both DEQ Director Richard Whitman and Bob Jenks supported clean electricity legislation. We recommended that at least one of the scenarios should take a clean electricity requirement into account so data would be available on its potential effect.
As usual, the industry representatives pressed for maximum flexibility in Program options and others were more willing to provide limitations to ensure emissions reductions by the regulated entities and to accommodate Equity concerns.
No priority bills were considered this week.
HB 3141 “relating to energy” will have its public hearing on Monday. The bill cuts the public purpose charge in half (from 3% of revenues to 1.5%. It eliminated the existing vague section on collecting funds for cost-effective energy efficiency resources and making a more specific one, including specifying the amount of money for different levels of users. This may be just specifying the use of the 1.5% taken away from the public purpose charge. The definition of the nongovernmental entity which may receive the collected funds (currently the Energy Trust of Oregon) was removed from the section defining the public purpose charge and put in a separate section, presumably so it could be used to handle the additional funds being collected. The bill’s applicability is extended to 2036, allowing for longer-term contracts than the current 2024 limit.
A new section establishes requirements for taking environmental justice into account in the expenditure and investment of natural gas tariffs and public purpose charge. Another new section provides for collecting funds for low-income electric bill payment and crisis assistance.
Home Energy Efficiency (Julie Chapman)
The House Energy and Environment heard testimony on 2/17 for HB 2398 -1, -4. The “Reach Code” will establish a uniform construction code throughout the state, setting a standard that is at least 10% more energy efficient than the base residential and commercial codes. HB 2398 allows local jurisdictions to require the “Reach code” for new construction. Under current conditions, modeled for a 2200 sq ft home, cost savings in utility bills outstrip increased building construction costs within 8 years. (Current law prevents municipalities from having more stringent standards than the base code.)
Transportation (Julie Chapman)
Earlier this month, the SEE heard testimony on SB 314 - Authorizes Public Utility Commission to allow electric companies to recover costs from retail electricity consumers for transportation electrification infrastructure. Authorizes commission to allow natural gas utilities to recover costs from retail natural gas customers for natural gas and hydrogen infrastructure to support alternative forms of transportation. LWVOR will comment on the bill after an amendment is recorded next week. Particularly good testimony was entered by OEC and Climate Solutions, discussing the promise and pitfalls.
Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) (Shirley Weathers)
The JCEP matter has yielded no news since last week’s issue. Western natural gas producers who have planned and pushed for the project’s success over the years are frustrated with what they see as Oregon standing in the way of their access to lucrative Asian markets.
Our Children’s Trust (Claudia Keith)
When the Supreme Court returns from its winter recess, the justices will have an unusually heavy load of environmental cases to sift through — and potentially more to come. New legal analysis related to the other climate cases. “The National Climate Emergency Act evokes the call of the Constitution of the United States for the government to protect the fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, and equal protection of the laws for all of us…. The act would also require that “the president deliver a report within one year of the bill’s enactment (and then every year thereafter until the emergency sunsets) that details the specific actions taken by the executive branch to combat the climate emergency and restore the climate for future generations.”. Oregon Congressman Blumenauer, Rep Ocasio- Cortez and Senator Sanders are major sponsors of the National Climate Emergency Act, which may now have legs. This emergency act is related to the Congress for Julianna campaign which LWVUS endorses. “LWVUS stood with Members of Congress and the Children’s Fundamental Rights and Climate Recovery Resolution as it was introduced on September 23, 2020. Our letter of support builds on our amicus brief for the Julianna plaintiffs to call for bold and comprehensive climate action on behalf of our nation’s children. Vulnerable communities, transitioning economies, and the rest of the country need a clear climate recovery plan in order to protect the fundamental rights of young people and future generations.”
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)
HB 2398. Requires the 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)