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By Claudia Keith, Climate Emergency Coordinator and team
Please consider joining the CE team; we have several critical openings. Contact us through our “Get In Touch” website form for further information about volunteer opportunities. We expect transportation to be a major policy topic during the 2025 long legislative session.
Energy Policy: Arlene Sherrett and Greg Martin
Environmental Justice: Nancy Rosenberger
Natural and Working Lands (NWL) Forestry: Josie Koehne
Efficient & Resilient Buildings: Arlene Sherrett
NWL Agriculture: Vacant
Public Health: Vacant
Fossil Fuel (FF) Infrastructure: Vacant
Our Children’s Trust and other Climate Lawsuits: Claudia Keith
Climate Change Budget/Funding, OEA/Risk disclosure, ESG/FF divestment Treasury: Claudia Keith
LWVOR ALERT to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) Climate Protection Program Rulemaking staff and the Environmental Quality Commission. Their Deadline is Oct 13, 2023.
The League continues to advocate for strong ODEQ Climate Protection Program (CPP) rules. We have been participating in the CPP rulemaking since its inception in 2021. We cite our own LWVOR public comments from the Oct 5, 2023, CPP rulemaking.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) strongly supports the CPP’s primary goals as identified by ODEQ from the beginning of its original rulemaking:
Emissions: Achieve significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions
Equity: Promote benefits and alleviate burdens for environmental justice communities and impacted communities
Costs: Contain costs for businesses and consumers
LWVOR & LWV ALERT: Urge Congress to Address the Climate Crisis & Protect Our Youth! “Do not let future generations inherit the climate crisis. Urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Children’s Fundamental Rights and Recovery Resolution to address climate change and protect our youth’s rights and future!”. Learn more by reading: Markey Joins Merkley, Colleagues in Introducing Resolution for Climate Recovery Planning to Stand Up for Children’s Fundamental Right to a Healthy, Livable Planet’
Oregon Global Warming Commission (OGWC) August 2023 Meeting Notes
By Greg Martin
The Oregon Global Warming Commission, created by the 2007 Oregon Legislature through House Bill 3543, is charged with tracking trends in greenhouse gas emissions and recommending ways to coordinate state and local efforts to reduce emissions in Oregon. Opening remarks and commissioner updates. Chair Macdonald introduced new commissioner Rep. Bobby Levy. Megan Decker, OPUC (Oregon Public Utility Commission).
HB 2021 requires Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power (PP) to plan to achieve aggressive GHG (greenhouse gas) reductions by 2050 as part of the CPP, Climate Protection Program. The CPP sets a declining cap on GHG emissions from fossil fuels with the goal to dramatically reduce these emissions over the next 30 years. OPUC oversight can guide the utilities toward that goal but regulatory enforcement has its limitations. OPUC requires comprehensive forward planning every two years and is now in the middle of reviewing the utilities’ first plans addressing HB 2021. The next two-year planning phase will begin in 2024 and public engagement is important. The utility websites detail opportunities for engagement.
Oregon Renewable Energy Siting Assessment (ORESA)
ODOE Facility Siting Division staff presented an overview of the ORESA project. ORESA was funded by a $1.1 million U.S. DOD grant. A key goal is compatibility of renewable energy siting with military facilities. The online mapping/reporting tool, Oregon Explorer, provides layers of comprehensive GIS data for energy development and other purposes, including data on “community [EJ] considerations.” The ORESA project report, a key deliverable for the grant, found that Oregon has enough renewable energy potential to meet its energy and climate goals, though tradeoffs will be needed and challenges related to transmission infrastructure will have to be met.
ODOE’s 2022 Biennial Energy Report: Charting a Course for Oregon’s Energy Future
ODOE’s Amy Schlusser presented a policy brief overview. Oregon’s electricity demand is projected to increase by 50 to 100% by 2050. We will need to replace existing fossil resources with tens of gigawatts of new renewable resources – a substantial effort under any scenario – while increasing energy efficiency to offset demand growth as much as possible. High costs and land use impacts will be significant challenges. We need to identify optimal pathways to achieve the needed buildout, including determining the future role of natural gas (NG). The demand for NG is projected to drop dramatically, mainly in building and industrial sectors, but some reserve capacity will be needed to ensure grid reliability.
The policy brief recommended the state undertake a robust stakeholder process to develop a comprehensive state energy strategy. HB 3630 enacted in 2023 directs ODOE to take on this task and ODOE is in the early stages of planning and contracting. Key questions include costs vs. benefits, how much clean energy we need and how fast can we develop it, how we will protect vulnerable communities, and balance farm and forest land protection against the need for new transmission, etc.
Legislative Update from ODOE
Christy Splitt presented an overview of ODOE’s 2023 Legislative Report, an excellent summary of background and key provisions of climate-related bills enacted this session (including budget bills), as well as some bills not passed. Helpfully, it breaks out the many disparate topics of the two major Climate Package bills with reference to the bills of origin. The GOP walkout and the large number of new members helped shape the session outcomes, but the main factor that made a difference in climate legislation was the higher-than-expected state budget – e.g., making additional dollars available for energy incentive programs. Major themes:the Resilient Efficient Buildings Task Force Pre-session work paid off, as the highest-profile measures passed as part of the Climate Package. The Building Performance Standard program in HB 3409 was the largest of many tasks added to ODOE’s plate. Resilient communities (resilience hubs and plans, grid resilience, more incentive dollars) were another important focus of response to the 2020 wildfires and 2021 heat dome. Sen. Dembrow called it a “surprisingly positive” session in that we moved forward on issues we’ve been talking about for some time. He plans to bring back the GHG reduction targets (deleted from the Climate Package) in the next session with the goal of setting the targets in statute.
Draft OGWC Work Plan presentation and discussion
The commission’s draft work plan through 2024 was available for public and agency comment through Friday, September 1. Commission discussion focused on how to rationalize the plan for performing all of the new tasks assigned to ODOE.
The next meeting was set for late Sept. or early Oct., topics including the Institute for Natural Resources report on Natural and Working Lands work undertaken during the past year.
OGWC Oct 9 Meeting Agenda and Meeting Materials
OEA & Security Exchange Commission (SEC): The League Responds to SEC Proposal to Require Climate Risk Disclosure | League of Women Voters.(The June 2022 LWVUS testimony was proposed by LWVOR Action Committee).
Related, The League is monitoring the OEA Oregon quarterly economic / revenue forecasts to the Legislature. These reports continue to ignore climate risk disclosure. Related NEWS: Oct 2023, Recent ESG developments point to progress despite polarized US political climate - Thomson Reuters Institute. Oct 2023, What CPAs Need to Know About the SEC Climate-Related Risk Proposal - The CPA Journal.
Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Expansion – “Notably absent from the agenda Thursday morning was the proposed GTN Xpress project, which would increase the flow of natural gas through an existing pipeline system in parts of Idaho, Washington state and Oregon.“ “ Yesterday, Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden urged FERC to deny the project, arguing that it was incompatible with Oregon and Washington’s climate goals. EE Wire: “Oregon senators: Gas pipeline 'not in the public interest'. Note, In 2015 LWV Portland and LWVOR provided public testimonies opposing any major Oregon Fossil Fuel infrastructure expansion.
Portland Oil Storage: Newly obtained records show Portland officials’ private interactions with Zenith Energy - Zenith Energy’s fossil fuel storage and transport facility faces criticism for potential environmental dangers, particularly in the event of an earthquake.| Street Roots.
State Treasury: Counter to ESG / Climate Risk analysis recommendations the July 2023, Treasury has increased the Fossil Fuel investment portfolio. Multnomah County chose to sue Big Oil and McKinsey for climate damage … and the Oregon Treasury chose to invest in Big Oil and hire McKinsey. The OIC (Oregon Investment Council ) Sept 2023 meeting agenda and report.
Oregon Attorney General DOJ Climate work: OFFICE OF THE AG, Spotlight: Warming Climate (list of a number of DOJ actions related to Climate issues)
Climate County, State, Federal and Global Lawsuits
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, (Sept 2023 update) some of which could assist in meeting Oregon's Net Zero GHG Emissions before 2050 targets and other lawsuits, that challenge 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 67 lawsuits, mentioning OREGON.
Youth vs Europe: 'Unprecedented' climate trial unfolds at rights court | Reuters. Climate Change in Court: New Trends and Legal Grounds - Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA | CGEP. (GUEST Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Director, Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School)
Climate Lawsuit News
Montana appeals climate change ruling for youth plaintiffs - Los Angeles Times. Hawaii youth-led climate lawsuit advances in the background of Maui wildfires - As residents of Hawaii work to help their neighbors on Maui recover from the worst fire in the state’s history, young people are demanding more accountability from local leaders. - A group of youth, including many indigenous to Hawaii, are suing the state’s Department of Transportation over climate change. | Wbur : Here & Now
Our Children’s Trust
Human Rights Organizations, Children’s Rights Advocates, Legal Scholars File Amicus Briefs in Support of Utah Youth Climate Case
Attorneys for Youth Plaintiffs in Natalie R. v. State of Utah Make Case for Constitutional Climate Case to Be Heard in Court
Announcing “Overturning 1.5°C: Calling for the Science Turn in Rights-Based Climate Litigation”
I-5 Portland/Vancouver Bridge:
I-5 Bridge Bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers tours I-5 Bridge - Program administrator: It’s important for people to see project urgency, Sept 2023, The Columbian.
Request to Local Leagues; please let us know your climate, resilience, or sustainability advocacy actions. Please consider joining the CE portfolio team; we lack volunteers in critical policy science/technology, finance, and law areas.
We collaborate with Natural Resource Action members on many Climate Change mitigation and adaptation policy topics. Volunteers are needed: CE Coordinator. Orientation to Legislative and State Agency advocacy processes is available.