Stand up for Oregon. No Pipelines. No LNG. Call-in Days of Action! Wednesday August 12th and August 26th (All Day)August 7, 2015
Yesterday President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed the Clean Power Plan. As McCarthy put it, it was “an incredibly wicked cool moment.” But what does it mean?
In short, the plan aims to reduce carbon pollution nation wide by 32% by 2030 by putting limits on how much carbon can be put into the atmosphere by power plants. This is the first time such limits have ever been set, truly a “wicked cool moment.” But I’m sure you want more than the short of it.
To help answer the question I’ve compiled information from a few great articles and sources (all at the bottom) from the internet for you. If you have others you like feel free to post in the comments or tweet at us, @ORsierraclub:
The Plan will cut carbon pollution that is fueling Climate Change:
Power Plants are the largest emitters of carbon pollution in the United States. They total about one third of all the emissions we generate. When fully implemented in 2030 the Clean Power Plan will reduce our carbon pollution by 870 million tons. That’s 166 million cars or 70% of our passenger vehicles off the road.
It will protect our health:
By 2030, each year there will be 3600 fewer premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks, 1700 heart attacks, and 300,000 missed days of school and work. That’s because when we limit carbon emissions we are also limiting 318,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 282,000 tons of nitrogen dioxide. Both gases contribute to soot and smog that make people sick.
It will help protect low income communities and communities of color:
The impacts of burning dirty fuels are disproportionately felt by low income communities and communities of color. Van Jones put it best in his CNN piece about the Plan: “The clean power plan will massively help minorities and low-income Americans. After all, one in six black kids and one in nine Latino children has asthma. Seventy-eight percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a dirty, polluting coal plant. African-Americans are also more likely to live in coastal areas and die during heat waves.” You should read his entire blog linked in the notes.
It will save us money on our utility bills:
When you total up the health and climate related benefits of the Clean Power Plan we’re looking at upwards of $45 billion of savings when fully implemented. That’s a lot of money that could be going to a lot of other great causes and issues. Bottom line, by 2030 the average American household can expect save around $7 a month on their utility bills. That’s not chump change.
It puts our state in the driver’s seat:
The Clean Power Plan sets carbon pollution standards for power plants across the country, but sets individual state goals based on each state’s current energy mix and what unique opportunities exist in each state. To make is easy the EPA has even created a model rule that states can adopt that guarantees their compliance with the Plan. If they don’t like that plan they can cut carbon pollution anyway they want as long as they meet the goals. This mean big opportunities to be leaders for states like Oregon.
We’ve got a good start to build from in Oregon:
Its Oregon’s time shine. We are already doing some things to move the energy sector to a fossil fuel free future and are on our way to meeting our goals in the Clean Power Plan, but there is a great deal more that needs to be done.
Renewable energy production in Oregon has grown 159% since 2008 and Oregon has a renewable portfolio standard that require utilities to generate 25% of their electricity with renewable sources by 2025. Our only coal fired power plant is already scheduled to go offline. Many Oregon cities and counties have climate plans of their own. Our Low Carbon Fuel Standard will reduce carbon pollution from our transportation sector.
More to do:
Did you know that Oregon already has goals to reduce our carbon pollution 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Unfortunately those are just goals and aren’t enforceable in any sector. We could challenge the nation and lead by making these goals rules rather than aspirations. Leading this way will spur clean energy and efficiency development and create a center for innovation here in Oregon and the economic benefits that come with it.
Utilities are also looking to replace their coal fired energy production with natural gas fired power plants instead of clean renewable energy. We must move away from fossil fuels, not toward them. Gas is not clean and added are the impacts of fracking and methane releases from wells. Natural gas is not a long term solution. We need our utilities to be planning for a fossil fuel free future.
Multinational corporations are also hoping that Oregon and the Pacific Northwest will be a tap for dirty fuels on the global market. We need our elected officials and state agencies to stand up and say “no way.” We have to decide if we want to talk about climate leadership or really show what that leadership looks like. We can’t talk about reducing our own carbon pollution while allowing big oil, gas, and coal to ship their dirty fuels around the globe for others to burn.
It is equally important that as we begin to comply with the Clean Power Plan and take further climate action that our changes are not burdens to low income communities or communities of color. These communities disproportionately are impacted by the negative consequences of our current energy system, both from climate change and pollution. Our Climate Action Plan should serve as a means to lessen those impacts on those most in need of relief, not add to them. In addition the benefits of clean energy should be shared equally and not go to further these inequalities and benefit some more than others.
I fully applaud the President and Administrator McCarthy for their leadership and for producing the Clean Power Plan. I also call on our elected officials to not rest here, to continue to lead and push for further carbon reductions and an end to the fossil fuel era. I also call on you to make sure elected officials are accountable for their actions or lack of action when it comes to climate. As the President said yesterday in his announcement “If we don’t do it nobody will.”
Oregon Sierra Club Statement on Release of the Clean Power Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The EPA and the Obama Administration released the final version of the landmark Clean Power Plan. The plan will give States the opportunity to craft their own plan to reduce carbon emissions based on their existing energy portfolio.
As the U.S. moves towards cleaner energy with the Clean Power Plan, Oregon can continue to lead on clean energy and climate change by pursuing Coal to Clean legislation and supporting a ban on coal exports.
In response, Sierra Club Oregon Chapter Executive Director Andy Maggi released the following statement:
“The Clean Power Plan is the most significant single action any President has ever taken to tackle the most serious threat to the health of our families: the climate crisis.
“Today marks the end of an era for dirty power plants that have spewed dangerous pollution into our air without limits for too long. It signifies a new era of growth for affordable and safe clean energy sources that don’t fuel climate disruption and sicken our communities. Today is a victory for every American who wants clean air to breathe, and for the millions of activists and concerned citizens who organized to make sure this day would finally come.
“As we celebrate this national milestone, here in Oregon we see more opportunities for our state to regain its position as a nationwide climate leader. State lawmakers recently adjourned after failing to pass key Coal to Clean legislation, which would have reduced our reliance on dirty, out-of-state coal plants, as well as other environmental bills. Combined with tightening bans on coal exports coming through Oregon and state carbon pricing, this legislation would have been a step forward for Oregon towards cleaner energy and a more sustainable future. We hope the Clean Power Plan will give our leaders the confidence to continue reducing our use of coal and develop the renewable energy that Oregonians want.”
With unseasonably hot temperatures in Portland, lots of people are taking to the Willamette River for recreation and relief.
Although the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality states that it “is safe for swimming and other recreational uses” except when combined sewer overflow conditions are present, the portion of the river from the Broadway Bridge to Sauvie Island is a Superfund site that is currently under review for clean up by the EPA.
Read the pdf report here: WRR-newsletter-1-draft6
Years of industrial use have polluted the river with heavy metals and other toxins that have settled in the sediment and endanger fish and wildlife. The pollution is a serious risk for communities that have traditionally fished in the river.
Portland Harbor Community Coalition (PHCC) and others have been working to help communities get access to information about the clean up, give input on the EPA’s plans, and share stories about why the river is important to everyone. Read the latest bulletin from the PHCC and the Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group to learn more about the EPA plan and how you can get involved:And help the PHCC celebrate the progress and vision for a clean and healthy river at the Willamette River Revival party this weekend at Cathedral Park.
The day is decidedly HOT. There is no shade save for the occasional cloud. The view is expansive to say the least. The Owyhee Canyonlands offers up unexpected surprises as well for the intrepid explorer. Pick a point on the map and say “Let’s go here”! Walk cross country past lizards, sparrow nests, sego lilys, a rattlesnake surprise… and suddenly the uplands open up to a deeply carved canyon, seemingly impenetrable. Vertical walls lead down to turquoise green pools, tempting the imagination, yet a world away if you do not have the wings of a swallow. Photographing this landscape is hard to do justice to because the camera does not accommodate 180 degree views; you simply can’t fit it all in.
It is not hard to hike someplace in this remote landscape and feel that you may be the first person to have visited this spot in a decade; there are no footprints. The scenery is so stunning, so wild, that you wince at the notion that this landscape still has not received the recognition and the protection it deserves.
A little farther toward the end of the hike, a pause for a rest, and a short walk to a small rim and what looks on the map to be a tiny seasonal wet spot, just out of curiosity and some compelling message to explore further. Upon approaching the rim, the magic reveals itself as a panel of petroglyphs, certainly almost unknown to modern adventurers.
This kind of stuff is not in the guidebook which makes it all the more special. You feel as if you have stumbled upon some sacred site that has withstood time. A particular petroglyph portrays two people holding hands with energy waves emanating from their head, enclosed by the sun perhaps. It is easy to let the imagination run wild with speculation of meaning, both of this place and events.
Do I want more people to visit this spot. Of course not and it is remote enough to still withstand time. Some say that protecting this landscape will lead to it being over run by people, but leaving it unprotected will also over time lead to more dangerous development, mining, fracking, off road vehicles, wind farms, etc.
If you believe in protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands, cherish the remote opportunities to explore, value intact ecosystems for wildlife, then join me and the Sierra Club in advocating for permanent protection. Please sign this petition and check out the Club’s efforts to work with other environmental and recreational groups to advocate for the Owyhee. It is a special place indeed!
Well, we’re nearing the end of the 2015 session of the Oregon Legislature, and I think it’s fair to say it’s going to shake out as a disappointing session for the environmental community. Sierra Club staff have been closely tracking bills and meeting with legislators in Salem to advocate for clean, renewable energy, wildlife protection, our state forests, and more.
But in short, it’s been a lot of work, with not much to show for it in terms of real conservation accomplishments. We’ll have a full rundown post-session, but here’s a quick summary of some of the work we’ve been doing in our state capitol:
- Clean Fuels Program: If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news recently, you’ve likely heard the saga of the near-repeal of the Clean Fuels Program. Extending the sunset on Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program – which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Oregon’s transportation sector by 10% over the next decade – was one of the Oregon Conservation Network’s Priorities for a Healthy Oregon. Though it was the subject of much contention, the bill finally passed earlier this session and has been one of the few environmental victories in 2015. Unfortunately, it got wrapped up in partisan squabbling over a transportation package and was very nearly snatched away from us. While it is not a perfect program and is merely a first step toward solving our climate crisis, having it repealed would have been a real setback for the environmental community. Luckily, as of today, that effort appears to have stalled and the Clean Fuels Program is likely safe for now.
- Toxic-Free Toys: Senate Bill 478, the Toxic Free Kids Act, will protect kids from exposure to toxics in children’s products by requiring manufacturers to notify health officials when children’s products sold in Oregon contain chemicals of concern, and then to phase out those chemicals for three product categories. The bill passed out of the Ways and Means Committee just this week and the prospects seem good for its passage.
- Coal to Clean Energy: One of our biggest priorities coming into session – and another of the Oregon Conservation Network’s priorities – was our Coal-to-Clean package. Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 2729 would have moved Oregon’s investor-owned electric utilities – Pacific Power and PGE – off coal by 2025 and required that the replacement power for coal was largely renewable energy like solar and wind. And even though Oregonians overwhelmingly support the idea of getting coal out of our energy mix, and even though many legislators were initially on board with the proposal, the legislation died in committee. We were quite disappointed with that outcome and hope to bring these concepts back in the future, as we are committed to finding the right path to reach the broader goals of transitioning off coal to clean energy.
- Solar and other clean energy: We’ve also worked on a number of other bills related to clean energy that remain alive in the 2015 session. House Bill 2447 will extend the very successful Residential Energy Tax Credit for home solar energy. HB 2632 would help to incentivize the creation of utility-scale solar power in the state. These solar energy bills are currently still moving through the legislative process and have the potential to be positive steps in the right direction if they can pass.
In addition, several bills relating to limiting or putting a price on carbon were introduced this session. House Bill 3470 – which would create a “cap and delegate” program similar to California’s – is the only one that remains alive. We’ll continue to monitor and support this legislation.
- Elliott State Forest: The Sierra Club played a leading role in the coalition that got the Elliott State Forest designated as an OCN priority. As a process within the Department of State Lands (DSL) plays out to determine the ultimate future of the Elliott, we were working in the legislature to set up a process by which such a solution could be implemented. But the trust land transfer program we and Rep. Tobias Read were working to establish with HB 3474 died in committee on the bill deadline day. On the bright side, we were pleased to see the demise of HB 3533, which would have given the State Land Board and DSL license to sell off parcels of the Elliott to the highest bidder. We hope to be able to bring legislation in a future session to help reach a good solution for the Elliott.
- Defending Wildlife: Just two weeks into the 2015 session, we saw renewed attacks on Oregon’s wildlife. House Bills 2050 and 2181 were two of the many introduced bills that would have allowed counties to opt out of a statewide ban on the practice of hunting cougars with dogs. Thankfully, those bills – along with a bill that would have prohibited the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission from including the gray wolf on the list of threatened or endangered species – died in committee and we seem to have mostly escaped any mischief on wildlife issues.
- Suction Dredge Mining: One other bill we were supporting was Senate Bill 830, which would have taken steps to improve the regulation of suction dredge mining in our state. In addition to putting a cap on the total number of suction dredge mining permits, SB 830 would have placed limitations on mining – both in-river and on uplands – where it would undermine Oregon’s investment in habitat restoration for salmon and other critical species. The bill seems to have died late in session, but we plan to work with partners to bring back similar legislation in the 2016 session.
We’ll keep plugging away these last few weeks in Salem and will see where we end up. But we can’t do it without you, so stay tuned for ways to get involved and help pass good legislation to protect the Oregon we all love.
Oregon’s renowned public lands offer Oregonians a unique and special lifestyle and provide our state with a natural legacy–picturesque beauty, diverse wildlife, wild rivers, snow-capped mountains, lush forests–that is the envy of many. Public lands are one of the defining aspects of this great state, and iconic national forests and parks are often the go-to for Oregonians mentioning their favorite getaways.
What about our state-owned jewels in north west Oregon? The Tillamook and Clatsop state forests are not on the cover of Oregon travel and destination magazines or profiled by national media, but these forests–logged, burned and now recovering–may be Oregon’s best place to offer a little something for everyone. A trip down Highway 6 illustrates why…
The Wilson River Corridor (and all of Oregon’s state forests) are worthy of protection, exploration, and enjoyment. Spend some time in these spots this summer. Find some peace and relaxation. Share pictures and help tell the story: #WilsonRiverFun #ORStateForests. Check back frequently, this is just a taste and we’ll be exploring these spots (and others) more in upcoming posts. On September 5th, join us on the Wilson River for a giant celebration of these lands. Details soon…