The 2013 Oregon Legislative Session is in full swing, and Sierra Club staff are closely tracking proposed bills and meeting with legislators in Salem to advocate for preservation of Oregon’s pristine wilderness, wildlife protection, and clean, renewable energy. Here is a list of just a few of the bills we are working on:
- Waldo Lake: Senate Bill 602 would ban the use of motorized floatplanes on Waldo Lake. Waldo Lake is one of Oregon’s largest natural lakes and is a destination for paddlers, hikers, and cyclists. Motorized floatplanes disrupt the peaceful serenity recreational users seek, and also pose safety concerns. Senate Bill 602 has earned a substantial amount of public support. At a public hearing on March 13, paddlers, conservationists, and native Oregonians spoke to the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment about their appreciation for Waldo Lake and the need to keep the lake free of motorized floatplanes and boats. The bill passed out of committee on March 18 and now heads to the Senate Floor. We will continue to monitor and advocate for Senate Bill 602, and we urge you to contact your legislators and express your hope for a non-motorized Waldo Lake.
- Solar Resource Value: House Bill 2893 would require that utilities pay for unused distributed solar energy from homes and businesses. This would replace the current pilot program in Oregon, and would encourage the expansion of solar energy, which will help Oregonians move away from reliance on fossil fuels and switch to clean energy replacements.
- Energy Performance Standards: Senate Bill 242 would amend the Energy Performance Standards adopted in 2009, which prevent Oregon utilities from entering into contracts to provide coal-generated electricity to Oregonians. The proposed bill would require that utilities complete a formal cost-benefit analysis before upgrading any coal-fired power plants. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign has worked hard to move Oregon past its dependence on fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Amending the Energy Performance Standards would help to ensure that Oregon utilities look to renewable sources of energy, rather than coal.
- Clean Fuels Program: Senate Bill 488 would extend Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, which set forth standards for reducing the amount of carbon in transportation fuels. Washington and California have similar standards. Oregon’s Clean Fuels standards are set to sunset in 2014. Senate Bill 488 would extend the program, ensuring a significantly lower amount of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. We are working with a coalition of Oregon environmental organizations to extend the Clean Fuels Program.
- Defending Renewable Portfolio Standards: This legislative session has seen many attacks on Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require that large utilities source 25 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2025. House Bill 2108, House Bill 2713, and House Bill 2274 would weaken the Renewable Portfolio Standards by allowing non-renewable energy sources to qualify under the program’s standards. We are working hard to ensure that these attacks are not successful.
We are also tracking many other bills. One that we are closely watching House Bill 2106, which would set up new standards for siting any new development in sage grouse habitat in central and eastern Oregon. And as with every legislative session, we are seeing renewed attacks on wolves, cougars, and other wildlife, so we are tracking those bills closely, and working with legislators and state agencies to protect wildlife. There’s no shortage of legislative activity to keep us busy in Salem, so stay tuned for more developments!