Rogue Climate is working with equity, environmental, and labor partners across the state to pass the "Clean Energy Jobs Bill" (Senate Bill 557) during the 2017 State Legislature.
In 2016 Rogue Climate helped push the Oregon legislature to have the Department of Environmental Quality complete a study looking at both the benefits and the impacts of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill to Oregon's communities, environment and economy. The results of the study can be read HERE.
Over the last few years our partners have developed the following community standards for a policy that would limit climate pollution, have the largest polluters pay their fair share for their pollution, and invest in communities like ours to help them them transition to clean energy while creating family wage jobs and lowering long term energy rates.
This year, our legislators have a chance to take significant action on climate pollution while also boosting our local economies. We support legislation that would help reduce the pollution that is the primary cause of climate change. Such legislation can also create thousands of jobs by encouraging investment in cleaner energy sources, greater energy efficiency, and upgrading rural infrastructure threatened by a changing climate. In addition, it should keep more of the money we spend on energy working for us inside our state, instead of enriching giant out-of-state companies and CEOs. A Clean Energy Jobs bill would achieve these goals in a way that reduces the impact on Oregon residents while having the largest polluters do their fair share.
As our elected leaders pursue legislation to cap and price climate pollution, the following standards must be met:
● Set a declining limit or ‘cap’ on Oregon’s climate pollution based on the best available science. The cap should decline steadily, allowing less pollution every year, with interim targets that approach zero by 2050. Oregon must do its share in reducing climate pollution to limit the ongoing increase in Earth’s average temperature to less than 2 degrees C (3.6 F).
● All major polluters must reduce pollution and pay their fair share. No communities should be left with an unfair burden of pollution. The price that utilities, fossil fuel companies, and the largest polluters pay when they pollute should be relatively stable and be adjusted over time to ensure that the cap is not exceeded. Companies that face direct out-of-state competition should be able to apply for free or subsidized pollution permits to level the playing field.
● Proceeds must be reinvested into the communities most in need, to help transition to clean energy and prepare for a changing climate. Proceeds should create opportunities for communities that are most affected by climate change and energy costs, including low-income, rural, communities of color, and impacted workers. Proceeds must go to these Oregonians, and technical assistance should be provided to county governments, municipalities, nonprofits and small businesses so that they can apply these funds to appropriate projects.
● A fair transition to a clean energy economy must leave no one behind. As we transition our state to a clean energy economy and as the impacts of climate change intensify, some sectors will be hit harder than others. It is important that workers and rural communities are provided with transition and retraining support by expanding access to apprenticeship and training programs. While a transition to clean energy will in the long term be cheaper than relying on aging out-of-state coal plants and new natural gas facilities, in the short term we must ensure that low-income Oregonians are protected from any energy rate increases.
● Administration of the program must be effective and accountable. Disproportionately affected populations such as rural, low-income, and communities of color must have meaningful representation in decision-making bodies for both policy and fund allocation. The administration of the programs must have adequate resources, paid for by pollution fees.
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Guest Opinion: Clean energy jobs bill deserves bipartisan support
By Hannah Sohl and Shirley Weathers
Southern Oregon needs more good paying jobs.
We need to keep more of our energy dollars working for us here at home.
And we need stronger incentives for major polluters to protect our air and water.
Put these needs together and you get the Clean Energy Jobs Bill that needs the support of Sen. Alan DeBoer, Reps. Pam Marsh and Mike McLane and other Oregon legislators.
While weather patterns may vary in any year, we can see the trends scientists have long predicted. Record heat, reduced water supply, increases in fires, worsening air quality, new insect infestations — all this threatens our quality of life, our health, and our businesses and jobs.
Several local communities in the Rogue Valley are developing clean energy and plans, but we need the added investment resources this legislation would generate.
Under the Clean Energy Jobs Bill (SB 557), a limit or "cap" would be set on climate pollution. The cap would steadily allow less pollution every year.
Major polluters that go above the cap would have to pay, giving them an effective incentive to speed up pollution reduction measures and greater use of cleaner energy sources like solar and wind. Allowances could be made for companies that face direct out-of-state competition, as long as that is done in a way that does not take away their incentive to cut pollution.
Workers and rural communities would be provided expanded access to apprenticeship and training programs, to prepare them for the clean energy workforce. While a transition to clean energy will be cheaper in the long term than paying for aging out-of-state coal plants and new natural gas facilities, in the short term the legislation would help insure low-income Oregonians are protected from any energy rate increases.
Oregon buys most of its coal and oil from out of state. So every time an Oregonian pays for electricity generated by fossil fuels, our money disappears so an out-of-state oil company can profit. Meanwhile, each dollar invested in clean energy creates two to seven times as many jobs as spending that dollar on fossil fuels.
Ten states already make polluters pay, taking advantage of the opportunity to attract clean energy investments, create local jobs and grow their economies. Nine northeastern states, many similar to Oregon in many ways, created at least 16,000 jobs just in the program's first few years. Their economies have grown faster than in other states, electricity costs have declined and emissions have been cut by more than one-third.
Since neighboring California adopted a similar law, it has attracted a majority of all clean-technology venture capital in the U.S. — nearly three times as much as the year before the law passed.
To benefit our region, it will be crucial that the legislature and Gov. Kate Brown direct the money paid by polluters that are over the cap to new investment in clean energy jobs and energy efficiency. Merely setting a cap will not create those jobs nor give big corporate polluters enough incentive to transition faster to cleaner operations.
Recently, major Wall Street figures such as former Goldman Sachs chairman Henry Paulson have supported limiting pollution as long as funds raised don't generate money for clean energy investment. This acknowledges the need for climate action, but would protect coal, oil and gas companies from clean energy competition while denying regions like ours the jobs and economic development investment we need.
Hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act start this week. Southern Oregon has two new legislators who could take the lead on this issue, DeBoer and Marsh. Marsh has made it clear that clean energy jobs investment is a top priority of hers. Now, DeBoer has a chance to show real leadership by joining her in that effort.
Creating good paying jobs, saving money and reducing climate pollution should be something everyone can agree on.
— Hannah Sohl is the director of Rogue Climate, a Medford-based community organization that brings Southern Oregonians together for practical solutions to climate change. Shirley Weathers is a small business owner who lives in Eagle Point.