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Climate Emergency Highlights
Senator Michael Dembrow is expected to sponsor a bill (follow-up to SB 3409, 2023) during the 2024 Legislative Short Session (Feb 5 to March 10) to update Greenhouse Gas Emission targets to net-zero by 2050, into statute in 2024. It’s been 15 years since targets were set. There may be a divestment in the dirty coal bill specific to PERS funds. It’s unclear at this point if any follow-up on 2023 HB 2763 State Public Bank (vetoed / unsigned by Gov Kotek) will be filed. There will likely be an opportunity for LWVOR (with many other Climate coalition members), to oppose any natural gas legislation which weakens current DEQ and or DOE GHGE reduction goals. (See DEQ CPP rulemaking status).
It is expected the following policy/budget topics will be moved to the 2025 long session: Water, Transportation, Air, Fracking moratorium update, DOE climate curriculum, and likely the data center (and crypto mining facilities) GHG emission reduction goals.
Natural and Working Lands/Natural Climate Solutions
The NCS coalition met recently and discussed collecting comments on the Institute for Natural Resources (INR) Report published in September.
The Institute for Natural Resources (ORS 352.808) “works to deliver management-relevant information that informs discussions and decisions about the long-term stewardship of Oregon’s natural resources, and works to advance centralized, science-based natural resource information for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.” This is part of the climate package that included the Natural Working Lands bill, HB 530 (2023 LWVOR testimony) about meeting Oregon’s carbon sequestration and storage goals. There were discussions about the new Advisory Council additions that were part of the bill. There were questions about the process and approvals needed for allocations of the initial $10 million NWL Fund to be used for increasing agency budgets for grants and for increased capacity within the agencies to address climate change. Additional NCS resources: HERE.
Budget: Given the Nov 15 favorable Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast, Climate related Budget / funding state agency and environmental justice items will likely be added to the end of session budget bill. Note most of the new federal climate funds (IRA,..) require state matching funds.
LWVUS Climate Advocacy
Sept 2023: The Climate Crisis and the Urgent Need for Government Action | League of Women Voters
Take Action: URGE CONGRESS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE
In Aug 2023 LWVUS Urges Congress to Support the Children’s Fundamental Rights and Climate Recovery Resolution; “which recognizes the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on the health, economic opportunities, and fundamental rights of children and the need for a national, science-based climate recovery plan to meet necessary emissions reduction targets and stabilize the climate system.”
As in previous years, LWV UN will send observers to UNFCCC COP28 (Nov 30-Dec 12.) Robin tokmakian, LWV Portland and NWEC Advocate for LWVOR will be the designated LWV UN Observer for Climate. LWV is also an active NGO-approved UN IPCC observer.
Global and Federal
Climate report: ‘Uncharted territory’ imperils life on Earth | Oregon State University, Climate Scientists Fear the “Uncharted Territory” Earth Has Entered | Atmos.earth, US climate assessment lays out growing threats, opportunities as temperatures rise | Reuters, U.S. and China Agree to Displace Fossil Fuels by Ramping Up Renewables |The New York Times, Companies need to integrate climate reporting across functions to comply with California’s new law | Reuters, In California and Europe, a new dawn for corporate climate disclosure | The Hill, New Report Provides Comprehensive Plan to Meet U.S. Net-Zero Goals and Ensure Fair and Equitable Energy Transition | National Academies SEM.
State and Region
Item D: Climate 2023 Rulemaking (Action)
Opinion: Transition to clean energy in Oregon homes will prevail, despite fossil fuel industry’s tactics – Oregon Capital Chronicle,
Federal regulators approve natural gas pipeline expansion through Oregon, Washington – Oregon Capital Chronicle, Sept: New analysis shows that, in a decisive decade for climate action, Oregon must aim higher| EDF, Portland approves 5-year, $750 million climate action plan | OPB.
June 2023: After the longest walkout in Oregon’s history, the state’s climate progress hangs in the balance |EDF; “…One bill that currently hangs in the balance is HB 3409, a Climate Resilience Package that would set some of the most ambitious climate targets in the nation, aligned with what the latest climate science tells us is necessary to reach a safer, more stable climate. The update is long overdue, as it would be the first time Oregon has adjusted its climate targets in over 15 years.” States with net-zero carbon emissions targets - CSG ERC
November 17, 2023, 9am – 1pm Online Meeting
“Meetings of the Oregon Global Warming Commission are open to the public. Public comment is welcome. Agenda items are expected to be addressed in the order listed during the meeting. However, the Chair may elect to reorder agenda items during the meeting or to delay action on an item until the next meeting to accommodate the priorities of the Commission…”
Oregon Public Utility Update
By Greg Martin
HB 2021 requires Oregon’s large investor-owned utilities and electricity service suppliers to decarbonize their retail electricity sales to maximize direct benefits to local communities. The utilities’ Clean Energy Plans (CEPs), overseen by OPUC, are the key regulatory mechanism for implementing the emissions reduction targets prior to 2030. OPUC undertook this investigation to identify key implementation issues that are within the commission’s authority to address.
Administrative Law Judge John Mellgren presided over the hearing. Parties and intervenors included PacifiCorp, PGE, Oregon CUB, Green Energy Institute, Rogue Climate, NW Energy Coalition, Oregon Solar and Storage Industries Assn., NewSun Energy, Climate Solutions, and the Sierra Club.
Discussion revolved around this memorandum’s four major issues. OPUC made no determination on these issues but sought input on its legal authority to require utilities to address certain factors arising from HB 2021 -- for example, the force of policy statements in the statute as distinct from concrete requirements. Not surprisingly, environmental groups argued that OPUC should have broad latitude in applying the law's language in utility proceedings.
An interesting comment toward the end of the hearing: Regarding OPUC's approach to ensuring that utilities demonstrate “continual progress” toward meeting the clean energy targets, NewSun's counsel asserted that Oregon utilities don't fear the consequences of failing to show continual progress, whereas utilities in Washington are "scared" about it.
Oregon Global Warming Commission
By Josie Koehne
The OGWC started off with Debbie Colbert, Deputy Director of the Oregon Department Fish & Wildlife stating that the $10 million approved by the Legislature available Natural & Working Lands Fund won’t be available for distribution to agencies for carbon sequestration incentives and technical assistance until April, 2024. The NWL Fund will be distributed to four agencies, ODFW, AG, ODF and OWEB, which ODOE will be distributing at the recommendation of the Global Warming Commission. ODOE is building capacity within its agency for this climate work.
Catherine Mac Donald, OGWC Chair, gave an overview of the Natural and working Lands Proposal (approved Aug 4, 2021) and its proposed implementation strategies as outlined in bundled climate bill, HB 3409, passed in 2023. She went over requirements of the bill sections related to Natural and Working Lands, Sections 53-67 (originally HB 530).
NWL requirements in the legislation:
Establishes a 15-member Advisory Committee for implementing the NWL bill
Identifies the Institute of Natural Resource of OSU (Lisa Gaines in charge) to build a baseline inventory of carbon for blue, brown and green carbon (wetlands, agriculture, grasslands, rangeland, and forestlands. The methodology for doing this inventory were Basic (EPA guidelines with additional modifications) and Advanced, which is more robust and collects more data points. The four OGWC subcommittee members (Apter, Ford, MacDonald and Rietmann) recommended using the Advanced methodology.
The INR report included recommendations that are open to public comment to be collected through December, with the approval vote on this revised INR Report scheduled for January. So far over 1000 comments have been submitted.
Includes Tribal consultation and process
To be advised by both a Technical Team and the Advisory Committee
Requires a Workforce Study and Report in consultation with the four agencies
Defines a framework with metrics for Community Input (Pages 28-31 in the INR report)
Includes Workforce Training and Assessment
Includes activity-based metrics for carbon sequestration
A discussion followed of the advisory committee member selection process, for their expertise, and expansion of representation on the advisory as an option in the bill.
Note: LWVOR supports the comments of Lauren Anderson of Oregon Wild during this meeting on the lack of specificity in the forestry recommendations for activity-based metrics.
In addition, our LWVOR comments: The term "better managed forests” as used in OSU’s INR report often carries the unstated assumptions of using the private industrial practices of fertilizing and herbicide use (which harms natural microbial action), and “thinning to reduce ladder fuels” with burning slash piles “to reduce wildfire risk.“ These practices would add CO2 to the atmosphere and reduce carbon sequestration while compacting the soils and interfering with beneficial microbial action that captures CO2 in the soil. As observers on the ground in federal and state public forests ((Paula Hood's group of PNWCA forestry team) have reported, “thinning” often equates to clear-cutting, so this term must be carefully defined and monitored. What is appropriate for industrial forestry is inappropriate for public lands with its requirements to serve many public purposes beside timber products production. Since fire resistant mature and old growth trees store far more quantities of carbon than young growing trees, their protection and promotion on both public and private forests should be included as a major carbon sequestration strategy. In addition, our limited NWL carbon sequestration funds should not be used for wildfire mitigation, which will soon get ample sources of federal and state funding.
November Leg Day Policy Committee Meeting Review
By Arlene Sherrett
On November 13, 2023, the Oregon Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a webinar about the implementation of the State Energy Strategy authorized by HB 3630. The webinar introduced the process for creating the Energy Strategy but did not go into the strategy itself.
Brief presentations were given by each State of Oregon department that will have a role in formulating the strategy and implementing laws concerning climate change in Oregon. Oregon PUC, DOE, DEQ, DLCD, DOT and Business Oregon were represented, each giving their perspective on the strategy and the energy landscape in Oregon.
Stakeholder engagement for the project was explained and public comment opportunities were highlighted. The process will culminate in delivery of a final report to the Governor and the Legislature on November 1, 2025.
Learn more and sign up for email updates at the State Energy Strategy webpage.
Senate Interim Committee on Energy and Environment – November 8, 2023
The Committee met for informational panels on four topics.
Denmark's GreenLab and Circular Energy Infrastructure Development
Christopher Sorensen, CEO, GreenLab, a Danish private/public collaboration, presented how the GreenLab concept works and how it helps with the transition to clean energy. By transforming any waste power, heat or fuel, in a usable form, storing that energy and preserving it for use to provide something someone else in the complex needs, all the businesses work together in a symbiotic fashion.
Mr. Sorensen stated that an agreement had been reached between the Danish Foreign Ministry, the USDA, and GreenLab to share these concepts and to scout sites in the US that might be suitable for building similar facilities.
Abandoned and Derelict Vessels
Vicki Walker and Christopher Castelli from the Department of State Lands presented the development of a program to provide for proper disposal of abandoned vessels. The Department has the responsibility to clean up abandoned vessels and protect our waterways and ecosystems from toxic chemicals often found onboard. Since the Department also has the responsibility to provide funding for Oregon schools, expenses from vessel clean-up deplete school funding coffers. The Abandoned and Derelict Vessels (ADV) program will be designed to focus on prevention to avoid these high costs wherever possible. Of the vessels cleaned up and dismantled so far, one cost $1M and another cost $7M. The Legislature had given State Lands $18.8 M initially from the Monsanto settlement to do this work.
Residential Solar in Oregon
Christy Splitt, Government Relations Coordinator and Rob Del Mar, Senior Policy Analyst, both with the Oregon Department of Energy, presented on Oregon’s existing solar and storage incentives program. Mr. Del Mar reported that the Department has applied for a Federal Grant program called Solar for All, which would cover more people.
Pacific Northwest Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub
Janine Benner, Director of the Oregon Department of Energy, gave an overview of the Pacific Northwest Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub which has gained initial acceptance from the US Department of Energy, to try for one of the grants it is offering. Kate Hopkins, Chief Development Officer for NovoHydrogen, introduced the concept for a hydrogen node planned for Baker, Oregon, to manufacture and supply fuel for heavy trucking.
House Interim Committee on Climate, Energy, and Environment
The Committee hosted three informational panels at their 11/6/2023 meeting
Transmission 101- Local electricity and high-voltage transmission professionals appeared before the committee for an informational update on issues with Oregon’s current electricity transmission system.
With no established planning and controlling authority in place for the Northwest, panel members discussed how local transmission planning entities (the BPA, OPUC, and individual investor-owned utilities with individual IRP processes) can cooperate on a least cost, inclusive plan to adequately address the complexities of a highly interconnected system, design transmission capacity additions that serve everyone, and provide for the expanding electricity needs of the population between now and 2050, while at the same time, finding equitable cost-sharing solutions.
Dr. Jeffrey Steiner, OSU, Greg Harris, Threemile Canyon Farm, and Shelby Leighton, Nez Perce Tribe Enterprises, appeared before the Committee to share the climate-smart agriculture project they have been working on.
For this five-year, $50 billion USDA grant project, the group will grow potatoes (yes, they do taste different when grown using smart practices) using climate-smart techniques, such as use of cover crops, crop rotation, soil compaction, and regenerative ag. Across the US, USDA grants are being invested in similar research projects with regionally specific crops. Scientist Dr. Jeffrey Steiner is researching if climate-smart practices work and if they can increase CO2 sequestration in soils.
Wildfire Funding Workgroup update
A workgroup was convened by Senator Steiner to examine problems with wildfire funding. Dr. Steiner has been working with Doug Grafe, Wildfire and Military Advisor from the Office of the Governor, and has put together a group of experts to work on this critical problem until resolution is found. The workgroup has already identified one way to simplify funding by addressing the complexity in funding pathways, possibly through legislative action. Action probably will not be taken until the 2025 session. See Agenda and Meeting materials.
Climate and environment bills for next session
Rep. Mark Gamba gave a presentation to climate group Engineers for a Sustainable Future on November 14, 2023. He spoke informally about the difficulties of getting bills through the Legislature, including the number of bills to consider and the short time to consider them in, and the lack of organization around climate issues.
Rep Gamba will be initiating the need for electrical transmission lines in the region. He wants to see a regional transmission organization (RTO) created by 2030, putting planning coordination into the hands of an appropriate entity. He would also like to create an organized climate caucus with funding in the state budget. A caucus would provide a way for climate bills to be considered together and be handled more effectively.
Environmental Justice Council
By Claudia Keith
The new Oregon Environmental Justice Council has met a number of times and now includes an EJ Mapping subcommittee.
EJ Mapping Subcommittee - November 13, 2023: 2pm - 3:30pm - ZOOM
Council Meeting - December 5, 2023: 9am - 1pm
Location: 700 NE Multnomah St, Portland, Oregon 97232 (Lloyd 700 Building 3rd Floor L700 Conference Room)
October 17, 2023 Agenda
Watch the recorded meeting
Climate Lawsuits/Our Children’s Trust
By Claudia Keith
‘Big Oil’s day in court is coming — and it’s long overdue’ by Dana Zartner, JD, Ph.D., is a professor of international and comparative law with a focus on environmental justice at the University of San Francisco.
Numerous lawsuits are challenging Oregon’s DEQ CPP regulations. Gas, oil companies argue against Oregon’s emission deadlines during Court of Appeals hearing -- Several dozen people gathered afterwards to support those rules, which require a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. -– Oregon Capital Chronicle. Here is one example of how to track them. Basically, there are several active state federal lawsuits, (Nov 2023 update) some of which could assist in meeting Oregon's Net Zero GHG Emissions before 2050 targets, and other lawsuits, that challenge the current Oregon DEQ CPP policy, which would limit the use of fossil fuels, including diesel, natural gas, and propane over time.
Another source: Columbia University Law - Sabin Climate DB lists 69 lawsuits, mentioning OREGON.
Climate Emergency Team and Volunteers Needed
Please consider joining the CE portfolio team; we lack volunteers in these critical policy areas:
Natural and Working lands, specifically Agriculture/ODA
Transportation and ODOT state agency
Climate Related Lawsuits/Our Children’s Trust
Public Health Climate Adaptation (OHA)
Regional Solutions / Infrastructure (with NR team)
State Procurement Practices (DAS: Dept. of Admin. Services)
CE Portfolio State Agency and Commission Budgets
We collaborate with Natural Resource Action members on many Climate Change mitigation and adaptation policy topics. Volunteers are needed: Orientation to Legislative and State Agency advocacy processes is available.