We’re now in the back half of the madness that is a short session of the Oregon Legislature. Our primary legislative priority – the Clean Energy Jobs legislation – is still moving, though its path has become a little murkier at the moment. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the Legislature will recognize the need to take climate action now and get this critical legislation passed this year!
The Clean Energy Jobs legislation is actually two different bills – House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507. After an amazing Clean Energy Jobs lobby day on February 12 that drew nearly 500 people to the Capitol, both bills passed out of their committees of origin on February 14. The Sierra Club weighed in in support of both bills in their public hearings and also noted that we would like to see the legislation become even stronger. As noted in our testimony, we agree with our equity partners that the bills should be improved to protect our most vulnerable communities.
Our hope was that such improvements to the legislation could be made in the House and Senate Rules committees, where the bills got sent. However, an amendment has been proposed in House Rules which would legislate the emissions cap now, but save much of the rest of the hashing out of the cap-and-invest program for the 2019 session of the Legislature. We believe the Clean Energy Jobs legislation is ready to move in its entirety now and submitted testimony to that effect for the February 22 hearing.
At press time, no action had been taken yet on that amendment, so we are waiting to see what happens next. But as noted in our testimony, the bottom line is that we can wait no longer, and delaying action on a climate bill is not in the best interest of our communities, climate, nation, or planet. Clean Energy Jobs must pass in the 2018 session in the strongest possible form; we’ll continue working to try to make that happen.
And while Clean Energy Jobs has been our major focus in the Legislature, we’ve also been working on a few other issues. Unfortunately, the fairly strong bill to address oil trains in our state (HB 4004) met an untimely demise in committee, though a much more timid attempt to address oil train safety remains alive as part of SB 1518. A bill to prohibit the construction of a bridge in the Deschutes River State Scenic Waterway (HB 4029) passed out of committee and went to Ways and Means. HB 4126 would address the disposal of household hazardous waste and it too is being considered in the Ways and Means committee. That committee also has the Home WRAP bill, HB 4121, which will provide Oregonians with incentives for home weatherization and solar energy installation.
So, with roughly a week and a half left of the 2018 session, much still remains to be done in the waning days of the legislature. We’re hopeful that we can accomplish some victories large and small before the final gavel falls. You can help by contacting your legislators to help push these important bills across the line! Thanks so much for your help, and stay tuned for more details!