Climate Emergency

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March 8, 2021 - Week 8

Climate Emergency Highlights and Priority Legislation (Claudia Keith)

SJM 5-1 ‘Urging Congress to enact bipartisan climate change legislation’

Moves forward with Work Session scheduled for March 9. LWVOR testimony HERE

March 2021 LWV Portland Climate Program: Climate Action! Here and Now

What can we do here and now to reduce the threat of climate change? In March, the Portland LWV will record an online panel discussion with local and state experts. Our speakers work for organizations that are addressing the climate emergency and environmental justice in Oregon. The recording will be available for viewing from the website on March 12.

The panel will include the following speakers:

Cady Lister: Deputy Director of the Portland Clean Energy Fund Oriana Magnera: Energy and Climate Policy Coordinator for Verde Tim Miller, Director of Oregon Business for Climate Richard Whitman: Director of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Robin Tokmakian will moderate the program.

National/Federal (Claudia Keith)

The Fossil Fuel industry is close to backing a price on carbon. Cost of Carbon pegged at $51 per ton – the Biden Administration raised the benchmark and may do it again within the year, including reviewing a border carbon tax. U.S. China tensions threaten global climate change efforts. Climate envoy John Kerry is talking to banks, asset managers about mobilizing capital for clean energy. Societal Scholars Could Drive Climate Policy - Biden is appointing “totally different kinds of people” to solve climate. Bill Gates new book – an economic view. White House, A new kind of climate expert enters – a CEQ. Columbia University Earth Institute: A Guide to the Biden Administration’s All-of-Government Approach to Environmental Justice. Biden Climate Aide – New liaison to Labor and Environmental groups. SEC – the role of risk disclosure is changing. Comment: Nuclear Energy 10 years after Fukushima - Amid the urgent need to decarbonize, the industry that delivers one-tenth of global electricity must consult the public on reactor research, design, regulation, location and waste. Central Banks’ Green Goals Are Raising Red Flags-There is growing concern that central banks’ balance sheets, which have ballooned after a decade of asset-purchase programs, are skewed toward holdings that impede the transition to a green economy.‘ Find Congressional Legislation Climate highlights HERE.

Region and State:

Update via the Oregonian: Politics: The cap and reduce debate continues on Climate and Carbon Policy. OPB: Will climate change widen the gap between haves and have-nots in the Northwest? ​Investigative Reporting: Will race, Income Inequalities Trip Up Cascadia’s Fight Against Climate Change? How a big Climate Bill died in Governor Inslee’s back yard. The Climate Crisis discriminates – a Canadian view. City of Eugene continues negotiations with NW Natural Gas. Pew Trust In Oregon, 2 Coastal Projects Could Help Salmon—and Communities- Habitat restoration and state plan revision could improve climate resilience, equity, and economy. Oregon Wave Energy Project approved by Feds.

Agency and Commissions:

​Find updates across many agencies on the 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.

The ​Oregon Global Warming Commission met March 3.

The agenda included an update from Kristen Sheeran, the Governor’s Carbon Policy director. She made it clear the Governors March 2020 Executive Order goals are statewide not Agency specific and the agencies are limited by what the statues allow.

Links to Highlights via Meeting Materials

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 and Other Topics (Kathy Moyd)

We consider that resource adequacy (i.e., sufficient, reliable electricity) needs more attention, particularly because climate change and actions to mitigate climate change will increase the demand for electricity and change how it is provided. We took advantage of SB 589’s inclusion of “resource adequacy” as one of the considerations for joining a regional transmission organization to provide a letter focusing on the impacts of climate change, including mitigation. Kathy Moyd’s verbal testimony at the Public Hearing on Thursday was the only non-invited testimony.

At the same Hearing, Kathy Moyd presented a summary of our letter of support for SJM 5 -1. LWVUS supports putting a price on carbon, and we concluded that the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (a version of carbon fee and dividend) satisfies LWVUS criteria. Because we are concerned about increasing the energy burden on those who cannot afford it, she emphasized that the rebate is predicted to compensate at least 50% of households for the increased costs due to the fee.

We submitted a letter of support for HB 2479, adding ”black carbon (commonly known as “soot”) to the definition of “global warming”. Black carbon is especially harmful, because it darkens snow and ice, causing less reflection of solar radiation, and because it converts the solar radiation to heat, causing sea ice and glaciers to melt more rapidly. The primary anthropogenic sources of black carbon in Oregon are diesel engines.

Kathy Moyd gave the only non-invited verbal testimony at the Public hearing on Monday and the others primarily focused on the health impacts of black carbon. It was encouraging to see that Representative Khanh Pham included the following in her written testimony for HB 2814 on indirect sources:

“Because of incomplete combustion, diesel engines release what’s called “black carbon” which as we learned last Monday, is a potent contributor to climate change because it absorbs solar radiation and converts it to heat. Therefore, when we take action to reduce air pollutants, we’re also helping to protect the climate.”

HB 2475: Affordable Energy passed the House Energy and Environment Committee 4 - 3 with Amendment - 8.

SB 784: Authorizes public utility to seek rate recovery for operating expenses and capital costs associated with resiliency measures.

(B) Prepare for or adapt to changing conditions, or anticipated changed conditions, associated with effects of climate change or other, similar, landscape level environmental changes, including assumed land use changes.

Climate Report (Greg Martin)

On March 3, the House E&E Committee moved two bills on the OCN priority list with do-pass recommendations.

HB 2165 -1: Surcharge on PGE and Pacificorp customer bills to invest in transportation electrification. The bill would require PGE and PacifiCorp to collect a surcharge of 0.25% from ratepayers through 2030 to support prudent investments in transportation electrification (TE) infrastructure approved by PUC. The utilities would have to make “reasonable efforts” to spend at least half of the surcharge revenues to support transportation electrification infrastructure projects in underserved communities. The bill would also expand eligibility for Charge Ahead zero emission vehicles and electric vehicle rebates (up to 400% of FPL), double the value of the rebates to $5,000, and repeal the sunset on the standard and Charge Ahead ZEV and electric vehicle rebate programs. The committee voted unanimously to move the bill for subsequent referral to the Joint Transportation and Joint Ways & Means committees.

Kristen Sheeran of the Governor’s Office said HB 2165 would ensure dedicated funding for vehicle charging infrastructure and would expand the benefits to low-income and underserved communities. PUC oversight would ensure that any investments are cost-effective. EV industry groups, Environmental Justice groups, and the affected utilities all support the bill.

HB 2475 -8: Requires the PUC to consider “Energy Burden” for low income households. HB 2475 would require the PUC to provide for a comprehensive service classification that could take into account the differential energy burdens on low-income customers and factors that affect affordability for certain classes of utility customers. It would authorize financial assistance for organizations that intervene in PUC proceedings on behalf of low-income residential customers or customers who are members of EJ communities. The total aggregate financial assistance available to those intervenor organizations would be capped at $500,000 per year. The PUC would have established a process for evaluating and approving agreements with intervenor organizations, and report to the legislature on the implementation and impacts of financial assistance to those organizations no later than September 15, 2025. The LWVOR supported the filed version of this bill. The committee voted 4-3 (Moore-Green, Owens, Brock Smith) to move the bill to the House floor.

Transportation (Julie Chapman)

HB 2180 -3,-4: Requires amendment to the state building code, for new construction of commercial buildings and multifamily residential buildings with five or more units, to require electrical service capacity for charging electric vehicles. The code will require “EV-ready” adjustments to allow for future installation of charging stations for at least 20% of parking spaces. Municipalities may require, by ordinance, rule or land use process, a higher percentage of charging capacity. Though this does not require installation of the charging systems themselves, it reduces the costs for installation of this infrastructure to approximately one-quarter of the cost compared with a building retrofit. The bill passed out of committee to the House floor, with a bipartisan “do pass” recommendation.

Public Hearing was held in the Joint Transportation Committee for SB 395, that would increase required expenditure on footpaths and bicycle trails from one percent to five percent of amounts received from the State Highway Fund. Much testimony centered around the difficulties in rural areas and along urban transportation corridors for pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchair users to access safe routes to schools, services, recreation and work using non-car options.

Next week:

Public Hearing will be held in the House Energy and Environment Committee on March 8, 1pm, for the following bills:

HB 2814 (1:05 pm): Directs the Environmental Quality Commission to establish and implement indirect source review program. “Indirect source emissions” are a way to consider emissions coming from a collection of diesel engines emitting in a concentrated space, e.g., parking lots, shipyards, distribution centers, heavily concentrated highway travel, construction sites, etc., that cause pulmonary or other health risks in the local communities, in addition to climate impacts.

HB 2488 (1:35 pm) Requires the Land Conservation and Development Commission to make changes to statewide land use planning goals by December 31, 2026, to address climate justice by addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation and environmental justice for disadvantaged communities.

Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) (Shirley Weathers)

Previous Legislative Reports covered major regulatory reversals that have thrown significant obstacles in the form of JCEP. While not the only factors, owner Pembina’s losses on the Coastal Zone Management Act and Section 401 Water Quality Permit are central to serious negative indicators in the Canadian company’s Quarter 4 Report. Pembina was forced to take a C$350 million write-down on the project, as well as to reframe their previously optimistic public messaging about it. “In light of current regulatory and political uncertainty, Pembina recognized an impairment in its investment in Jordan Cove and is evaluating the path forward.” Financial and fossil fuel sites are taking note of all of this with headlines such as “Pembina 'sadly' can no longer predict when Jordan Cove LNG will be built in US” and “Pembina eyes near-term Canada opportunities after US LNG project challenges.” One site observed flatly, “Jordan Cove has suffered too many regulatory defeats.” They have not thrown in the towel, but their pathway forward looks at least improbable at this point.

SB 392 (Shirley Weathers)

This bill calls for DEQ to study fugitive emissions from natural gas, a critical source of methane (CH4) release into the atmosphere. CH4, the primary component of natural gas is 72 times more harmful in terms of impact on climate than carbon over a 25-year period. At the Senate Energy and Environment Committee’s March 4 public hearing, sponsor Senator Michael Dembrow explained that the introduced bill is a placeholder and that a bill is being written that will include more detail on the scope and informational goals of the study. DEQ, ODOE, and PUC would collaborate on the study. The LWVOR submitted testimony in support of the bill.

Our Children’s Trust (OCT) ‘YOUTHVGOV’ (Claudia Keith)

SJR 5 sponsored by Sen Jeff Golden proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution relating to the right of people to clean and healthy environment. In addition to Oregon’s SJR 5, legislatures across the country are working on changing their constitutions to address the right to a healthy climate. The UN report on good practices is implementing the Right to a Healthy Environment -2020. Find all U.S. and International Climate related law cases HERE at Columbia University Law School, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. YouthvGov featured in One Earth film festival.

Governor Brown’s Racial Justice 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.

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

  • Establish grant funds for 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.

Other Bills the CE team is following:

SB589 utilities Regional Transmission Org, SB392 Fugitive GHGE, SB56 GHGE Civil Penalty, HB2698 Right to Repair, HB2479 Black Carbon, SB333 Hydrogen Study, HB2688 Procurement Low Carbon, HB2398 Reach Building Codes, SJR 5 Rights – to clean and healthy environment. SJM 5

Find these Climate Emergency related bills in NR Legislative 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.

SB 289 & SB 286: Environmental Justice.

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