Revolutionizing Oregon: the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan becomes law

March 24, 2016

SolarPanelsBy Francesca Varela

Nearly every day I hear news about climate change, and usually it’s not good. Just the other day I read something about how temperatures are rising more quickly than predicted; how the rate at which the seas will rise has probably been underestimated. I’ve been reading about water rationing, and superstorms; stagnant weather ridges, and marine life migrating north; shells disintegrating off the backs of sea snails, and mass extinctions rivaling the end-Cambrian. I read all these things with a sense of urgency and a sense of loss, but also with a sense of hope. Because, in the midst of these warnings, something good has emerged—a solution; one that will hopefully inspire others to follow our lead.

On March 11th, Governor Kate Brown signed the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan (Senate Bill 1547) into law. The bill’s supporters included environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Oregon’s two largest utility companies, PGE and Pacific Power, who were well aware of the economic threat of coal decline and eager to prioritize clean energy.

WindFarm.jpgBy 2035, these utility companies will be completely coal-free. The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan is an incremental process that allows the companies to ease into things while still maintaining a sense of climactic urgency. Improving upon existing Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), the Plan mandates that the companies derive a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources—27% by 2025, 35% by 2030, 45% by 2035, landing eventually at 50% by 2040.

This increased use of renewable energy and the eventual elimination of coal will allow Oregon to reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050, and with no threat to consumers. The RPS can be temporarily suspended if meeting the requirement would interfere with grid reliability. Fair rates for customers are guaranteed long-term through the dispersion of renewable energy tax credits. And, if using more renewable energy would mean a rise in price of more than 4% for customers, the companies can postpone doing so. Considering the decreasing cost of renewables, however, they likely won’t need to.

Customers can also look forward to new opportunities, like a community solar program; a co-op of sorts in which you can invest in solar projects and claim ownership of them, reducing your electric bill while also making a positive environmental and social impact. 10% of the solar power generated from these programs is intended for low-income customers.

The Plan also includes a requirement that more energy come from small, local projects, including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. Local green energy means local green jobs, and a boost to Oregon’s economy.Powerlines

Some of this clean energy will be used to expand electric transportation, decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels even further. Charging stations for electric cars, electric buses, and expanded public transportation can be expected as Pacific Power and PGE work on plans to build up our electric transportation sector.

The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan is revolutionary in its total commitment to eliminating energy from coal, but there’s still more that can be done. The Healthy Climate Bill (Senate Bill 1574)—a “cap-and-invest” plan that would fine polluting industries and use the money to fund green initiatives and to support communities threatened by environmental injustice—didn’t pass this legislative session, but the Sierra Club and its allies plan to resurrect it during the 2017 session with the hope of deepening Oregon’s commitment to a clean, just future. You can help by reaching out to your local representative and reminding them that the transition to a green economy is a high priority—and make sure to thank them for the work that has already been done on the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan.

News of Oregon’s new law has spread far and wide, making headlines in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, ABC News, and international newspapers like The Guardian. Oregon has become a world leader in the climate movement.

Haystack_Rock_Oregon.jpgThe sooner we do away with fossil fuels the less the oceans will rise, the less the water will acidify, the fewer animals will go extinct from habitat loss. Oregon will be coal-free by 2035. Only five years after that, at least half our energy will come from renewable resources. The passage of this act shows the rest of the country—and the world—that transitioning away from fossil fuels is positive and necessary. It’s without a doubt one of the most important things we will ever do as a society. Hopefully more states and countries will pass their own initiatives. Ours is a good beginning, and, hopefully, just that—the beginning.

 

 

 

 


Investing in the Future: The Healthy Climate Bill and the Coal Transition Plan

February 4, 2016

2167696800_4dedae718d_oWhen I was a kid, teachers always gave us the same piece of environmental advice: reduce, reuse, recycle. The emphasis was always on what we could do as individuals. We could pick up litter. We could recycle cans and bottles. We could donate our old clothes. If everyone did these small things, they would add up and make a difference in the world. Reduce, reuse, and recycle, and everything would be okay.

It took me until college to question this. In fact, it was in one of my very first college classes—intro to environmental studies—that my professor brought it up. I can still remember what he said: our lifestyle decisions as consumers are important, but they also distract from larger issues. What we need is not just for individuals to change, but for the entire infrastructure of our society to change. We need movements, protests, political change. And I remember him saying something about how there was “no free lunch”, how even just sitting in that lecture hall we were taking part in the dirty energy economy, what with the lights and the heating system, and if we went to the library, or the city hall, or anywhere in town, really, we would come upon the same problem, because it wasn’t just us—it was the way things were set up.

I always thought that part was particularly unfair. coalThis isn’t our mess. None of us in that lecture, none of us who went on to graduate in 2015, are responsible for the way things have been set up. We’re the inheritors of greed and chaos. I mean, look at what they’ve left us: heartbreaking mass extinctions, an ocean full of plastic garbage, an economy dependent on polluting fossil fuels that threaten the existence of all life.

But I also saw this beautiful possibility—this vision of change, of the sustainable society we could create. This isn’t our mess, but we can be the ones to fix it.

I’m not the only one with such a vision, of course. The quest for positive change is one of the main tenets of the Sierra Club. They’ve long been champions of clean energy, environmental justice, and conservation. In a way, they’re the embodiment of that big change, that infrastructural shift that my professor was talking about. I’m honored to be interning with them, especially at this moment of climactic urgency. With the hottest year on record behind us, and all this evidence of widespread droughts, reduced snow-packs, and crazy weather events—well, climate change is progressing right before our eyes. We have a small window here in which we can prohibit catastrophic warming.

Now is the time to make those big changes, and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is taking action. During the 2016 legislative session, the Sierra Club is promoting two bills that work together to revitalize Oregon’s energy system.

windmillsThe Healthy Climate Bill, Senate Bill 1574, proposes a “cap and invest” system. This means that polluting industries would actually pay the true price for the environmental havoc they impose upon us, and for their disastrous contributions to climate change. The money would then be invested in the clean energy sector. We’d have reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a proliferation of local, well-paying clean energy jobs. Not only that, but investments would be targeted towards those who, today, are most threatened by environmental injustices—low-income and rural communities, as well as communities of color.

The other bill—the Oregon Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan (House Bill 4036—also seeks to reduce emissions, but does so in partnership with PGE and Pacific Power, Oregon’s two largest utilities. Under this bill’s provisions, Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard would double to 50% by 2040. Though Oregon’s last coal-fired power plant will close in 2020, PGE and Pacific Power still source much of their electricity from coal-fired plants in other states, such as Montana. This plan would make them completely coal free by 2035 and enable them to transition to renewable energy projects, like community solar programs that prioritize low-income communities. New infrastructure would be created to encourage green transportation, such as charging stations for electric cars, thereby lessening our dependence on gas and oil. I mean, imagine that: driving an electric car powered by 100% solar or wind power. Or going into almost any building in the state and knowing it’s powered mostly by clean energy.

These two bills complement each solar farm. 1st pictures. September 2012 30192Dother in that they have varying timelines and methods to achieve a shared vision. This is way more than reduce-reuse-recycle. This is the big stuff; the big changes that need to happen if we want a better future. These bills make clean energy more affordable than dirty energy. They lift disadvantaged communities into positions of climate leadership. They create new jobs for local community members. And, of course, they reduce carbon emissions. Oregon could serve as a model of justice and sustainability. We could provide the rest of the country—and even the world—with the glimpse of a promising future. These bills work because they address our issues at the source. They not only fix old problems but they lead us on to better things, to a cleaner, healthier, healed future, in which the next generation can look back, smile, and say, look at what they’ve left us.

Take action today by contacting your legislators in support of these bills!

 

 

 

 


Seize The Day; Save The Bay!

September 21, 2015

Save The Day

On September 26, there will be a rally in Coos Bay from Noon to 6:00 PM to help raise public awareness of the dangers posed by the proposed Jordon Cove LNG project. The family-friendly event is called “Seize the Day; Save the Bay!” and will highlight the clean environment of the bay and the damage to the environment that will occur if this massive fossil fuel project is approved.

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Because of all of the hype around job creation and natural gas being a “bridge fuel to a clean energy future” it is critically important to bring public awareness to the reality of LNG export terminals.

The “Seize the Day; Save the Bay!” rally will give you a chance to let our elected officials know that this project and the similar one near Astoria are simply unacceptable and that the people of Oregon say:

  • NO to these morally bankrupt Canadian energy companies intent on making money while pushing Earth further towards ecological collapse
  • NO to taking both private and public property for corporate gain with no public benefit foreign corporations
  • NO to environmental destruction of our scenic coastal ecologies and fisheries
  • NO to living in a high risk blast zone
  • NO to sacrificing our timber resources

For an excellent overview of the proposed Jordan Cove Project go here.

Come on out and help build a better future for future generations of Oregonians.

Information on the Statewide No LNG Coalition which planned this event can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact the Oregon Sierra Club’s Beyond Gas and Oil Team’s Co-Chair, Gregory Monahan, at gpmonahan3@gmail.com.


We are about to get FERC’d

September 15, 2015

The Federal Government Prepares to Bless a Catastrophic LNG Project –
Running from Canada to the Columbia

by Ted Gleichman

We are about to get FERC’d in Northwest Oregon and Western Washington. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the agency responsible for awarding the key Federal permission for major fossil-fuels energy infrastructure projects. FERC is now preparing to approve the projects proposed by a hedge fund / conglomerate subsidiary named Oregon LNG: more than $6 billion of huge new natural gas pipelines feeding into a planned massive industrial plant to liquefy this gas for export to Asia.

LNG tanker

The Oregon LNG (OLNG) project set includes:

  • a pipeline from Canada all the way through Washington State to Woodland, where it would tunnel under the Columbia River for a mile into Columbia County, Oregon;
  • a linked pipeline running through Columbia and Clatsop counties to Warrenton, on Young’s Bay, adjacent to Astoria; and
  • a gigantic liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on the Skipanon River peninsula in Warrenton, protruding into the Columbia River, with docking and LNG transfer facilities for tankers 20 stories tall, with the LNG stored in 19-story tall tanks.

FERC is holding legally-required hearings in Washington and Oregon, but let’s be clear: FERC is 100% funded by the industry, and they have never rejected a major fossil fuels infrastructure project. For protecting the interests of the people of Oregon, the United States, and the world, FERC is a sham, a fraud, and a rubber stamp for an industry rapidly destroying a livable planet.

So why should you consider coming to FERC hearings in Astoria on Monday, September 21, and in Vernonia on Tuesday, September 22? There are three reasons:

  • First and most importantly, we are building a mass movement of opposition, and we need to get to know each other and learn how to work together. If you can come to a hearing, wear red and sign in not just with FERC but also with the Statewide Anti-LNG Coalition organizing team.
  • Second, it is imperative that we show the media, the general public, and Oregon elected officials and agency staff who are watching these hearings closely, that we will not accept these dangerous, destructive projects. We can’t stop them through FERC, but we can through the State of Oregon if we build enough pressure.
  • Finally, it is also important to build a record of opposition, with citizens from all walks of life standing up to the Federal government to object – to use our First Amendment rights to petition for redress of grievances.

Here are a few key talking points you can use for the paltry three minutes FERC allows for members of the public to speak. Feel free to think of your three minutes of oral testimony as an executive summary and then turn in longer written testimony at the hearing, or mail it in afterwards.

The Truth about Fracked Gas and LNG exports:

  • Methane is a major source of global warming and climate disruption; LNG exports and fracked gas production are NOT “climate solutions.”
    – Methane, CH4, is the first hydrocarbon and the smallest hydrocarbon molecule. This miniscule molecule carries with it 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
    – Because it is so small, it leaks throughout the supply chain: at the wellhead, in transmission and distribution pipelines, at compressor stations and processing plants, during liquefaction, during ocean going transit, in re-gasification in a foreign port, in overseas distribution, and in end-use facilities.
    – Atmospheric methane levels, like atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, are rising catastrophically, and we must reduce its extraction and use as quickly as possible.
  • Exporting LNG will increase natural gas costs for US households, businesses, and manufacturers, hurting our fragile economy.
    – Supply and demand is a straightforward concept: if major quantities of a commodity are removed from a marketplace and shipped overseas, domestic prices will go up. Natural gas is the most versatile fossil fuel and holds the most complex role in our economy of any fossil fuel.
    – Although we must quickly reduce and eventually eliminate its use for all but perhaps a few specialized manufacturing needs, for now the major urgent requirement is to protect it from corporate export exploitation and keep it in the ground.
  • Corporate power to take property rights with eminent domain and anti-democracy corporate trade powers like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership abuse the public trust.
    – Eminent domain was designed as a Constitutional provision by our nation’s founders to provide for fair compensation to landowners losing land for the public good. No public good has been demonstrated. For a multinational corporation to take family farms, woodlands, and homes as well as public forests for private profit through foreign export is a gross violation of the public interest.
    – And corporate trade deals that remove the right of the public to be represented by our governmental agencies and U.S. courts are a clear assault on sovereignty and basic American rights.
  • Toxic fracking irreversibly damages community water and land.
    – Industry-secret toxic fracking fluids permanently pollute underground formations with cracks and channels that often link to aquifers and eventually to the surface. Fracking lubricates stressed rock formations and has been proven to cause earthquakes.
    – The mixed gaseous hydrocarbons coming from the fracking wells are mostly methane, but also include butane, propane, ethanes, carbon dioxide, radon, mercury, and other toxins. Especially dangerous for land pollution is “produced water”: permanently polluted water that comes to the surface with the wellhead gases, and then must be disposed of somehow.
    – Fracking zones throughout the U.S. are already permanently damaged from this toxic brew.
  • Siting explosive, toxic facilities on the Oregon coast, guaranteed to suffer the most catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in US history, is outrageous and must not be allowed.
    – The earthquake from the Cascadia Subduction Zone that will hit Warrenton-Astoria will be a Magnitude 9 and generate a tsunami that could be 10 stories tall or more. It has a one-third chance of hitting within the 50-year lifespan of the OLNG plant.
    – No explosive tanker, LNG storage tank, or pipeline can be guaranteed to withstand such force. It will be the mirror image of the Japanese Tohoku-Fukushima earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Check out what the State of Oregon says about seismic hazards here.
  • Communities all along pipelines suffer air and water pollution and risk constant danger from explosive pipeline failures.
    – Pipelines and LNG processing plants always leak, sooner or later, and are at constant risk of catastrophic leaks and explosive failure. In the forest zones of Columbia and Clatsop counties, a pipeline rupture during fire season would create a massive conflagration.
    – When the earthquake hits, the 40-foot sections of the pipeline will rupture at every joint, and then the metal edges will rub and spark for several minutes. This would create a 90-mile line of wildfire across Northwest Oregon at a time when the First Responders are already completely overwhelmed.
    – The reverse is also a serious risk: a natural wildfire can heat and fracture a gas pipeline, even under a clearcut, burning through root systems or heating from above with a flaming tree falling across the pipeline path.
    – Running an explosive pipeline through forests experiencing severe, larger, and more frequent wildfires is a formula for disaster.
  • Jobs that damage our climate are not “good jobs”; we need clean, sustainable renewable energy and earthquake/tsunami protection jobs.
    – We need to rebuild our coastal and inland infrastructure to provide resilience against the coming earthquake, and we need an urgent complete transition to a green energy economy, where renewables, efficiency, and conservation eliminate the CO2 pollution that is rapidly overheating our oceans and atmosphere.
    – Genuine good jobs can be created and funded here and now! It’s up to us to build the political will for new ways to build economic health.

If you cannot attend a hearing and want to submit written testimony, or if you want to expand on your hearing testimony, the FERC deadline to accept additional information and comments is October 6. You can see instructions for submitting comments at http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/08/f25/EIS-0492-DEIS-2015.pdf.

The Bottom Line:

The Oregon LNG plans are essentially a criminal enterprise, aiming at locking in a long-term export plan for fracked gas that would constitute double the amount used now by all the households, businesses, and manufacturers in Oregon. Our state, our nation, and our planet cannot withstand this assault. They must be stopped, and we would be honored to have your help. Thank you!

——————-

Ted Gleichman is Co-chair of Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Team and a member of the National Strategy Team for Sierra Club’s Stop Dirty Fuels Initiative. You can reach Ted at ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org or 503-781-2498.


A Reinvigorated Battle Cry for the Climate by Jessie Bond

August 13, 2015

For years, conversations around global warming have been volleying back and forth between dire predictions and outright denial. Most of the discussion has centered on scientific data and the economic impact of dealing with climate change. But the plea to protect our planet from the worst effects of rising temperatures has not fully resonated because most people have been overlooking an important human motivator: our own morality.

Until now. In May, Pope Francis took a stand and brought the climate change conversation to a new global level. In a 184-page encyclical, the Pope delivered a powerful critique on modern life. He addressed not only the fact that humans have contributed to the degradation of our planet but that we have a moral responsibility to our own and other species. He called for a sweeping “cultural revolution,” and among the many pages offered some guidance for every government, community, and individual. This call to action sparked a renewed energy to confront climate change and the enormous ecological, economic, and social imbalances that are root causes of the crisis.

Many cities across the globe are heeding this call and beginning to roll out plans to combat climate change at the local level. In fact, in the wake of the Pope’s statement, the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the joint 2015 Climate Action Plan. This continues a 20-year legacy: Portland was the first city in the United States to create a plan for cutting carbon in 1993. Total carbon emissions in the U.S. have risen since the 1990s, but Portland’s emissions have actually declined by 14%, while its population has increased by almost a third.

The updated joint city-county plan is intended to strengthen the local effort to reduce carbon emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This is the level experts feel is needed worldwide to prevent devastating climate disruption from global warming.

Issues of equity and justice, which have largely been missing from the global climate conversation as Pope Francis points out, are finally getting serious consideration. The city-county plan, which was developed with the help of an equity working group, reflects this. Along with minimizing fossil fuel use, the plan focuses on ensuring that all city and county residents benefit from climate action.

At the Sierra Club we know that ensuring a livable climate for everyone is the biggest challenge of our age. The Oregon Chapter is working to educate the public, mobilize communities, and support the growing and thriving climate movement, and there are many ways you can get involved:

  • Find out what the joint city-county action plan means for Portland and Multnomah County at our Third Thursday event: Our Climate, Our Future: the Portland/Multnomah County Climate Action Plan at 6:30 p.m. at the Sierra Club office.
  • Hear what local faith leaders have to say about the moral implications of the climate crisis and how to build powerful coalitions at our Third Thursday event: Acting on Faith: The Moral Imperative of the Climate Crisis at 6:30 p.m. at the Sierra Club office.
  • Support our Protect State Forests campaign. We are fighting to preserve the Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests, which, as part of the Pacific Northwest temperate forest range, store much of the carbon on the planet.
  • Find out about our new You CAN Corvallis training for youth climate activists to push the Corvallis City Council to pass a climate action plan with significant greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Leaders like Pope Francis remind us that we can better build resilient communities only when everyone is included. It’s the shared human responsibility as Carl Sagan wrote, “to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot.” Taking a moral stand in being good and decent to others and to our world is what is going to help us and other species survive.


Stand up for Oregon. No Pipelines. No LNG. Call-in Days of Action! Wednesday August 12th and August 26th (All Day)

August 7, 2015

People from all over the state are standing up to two proposed fracked gas export terminal and pipeline proposals in Oregon and we need you to join us!No LNG Logo

Last week, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a draft environmental review for the Oregon LNG terminal and pipeline near Astoria Oregon. The Environmental Impact Statement for Oregon LNG didn’t address the impacts to public health and safety, endangered salmon, or the economy. With FERC also planning to issue their Final Impact Statement for Jordan Cove here in Southern Oregon on September 30th, we need our state officials to stand up for Oregon NOW!

Salem LNG Rally-May 26 2015

On Wednesday, August 12th or August 26th please join us for statewide call-in days to flood the offices of  Gov. Brown and our U.S. Senators Merkley and Wyden asking them to stand up for Oregon! Please take 10 minutes on August 12th or August 26th to call and ask Gov. Brown officials to deny key state permits for these projects and prepare to defend Oregon’s interests in court if FERC approves these projects! We also are looking to our federal senators to stand up for Oregon’s right to deny LNG terminals.

Find all the details, phone numbers and talking points for the call-in by clicking here: Call in Day Instructions and Talking Points. It also important that we keep track of how many calls we are making and the impact they have. After you make your calls please take a moment to fill out the tracking form HERE to record the results of your call.

Please spread the word!

______________________________________________________________________________ Support Hike the Pipe! (August 22- September 27)

This summer, a group of Oregonians will hike through 232 miles of beautiful and scenic southwestern Oregon to protest the Jordan Cove pipeline and export terminal. Hike the Pipe is a community action that will draw attention to the communities and ecosystems threatened by the Pacific Connector Pipeline. We need community support to make this project happen! Please learn more about Hike the Pipe by watching the video below and donate to the project today!


Some things to know about the Clean Power Plan

August 5, 2015

Its here!

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:McCarthyvideostill

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 protect6a00d83451b96069e201a3fd38a3db970b 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:beyond-coal-campaign-sierra-club-logo-large

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.”

Notes:

EPA Blog post: Six things every American Should Know about the Clean Power Plan

Oregonian: Oregon Already on a path to meet Obama’s new clean power goals

CNN: Busted: Three Myths About Obama’s Climate Plan by Van Jones

EPA: Clean Power Plan State Specific Fact Sheets

Whitehouse: What the Clean Power Plan Means for America

Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Statement on the Clean Power Plan

 


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