Update posted at 12 p.m.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed an executive order to aggressively lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The order reflects Democratic-back legislation that failed during the Oregon Legislature’s short session that adjourned on March 5. Brown’s order, signed on Tuesday, March 10, allows Oregon to set caps on transportation fuels, natural gas and industry pollution emissions.
In a release, Ian Hill, co-founder of Oregon-based SeQuential Biofuels and E2 Pacific Northwest member said Brown’s executive order represents a critical opportunity for Oregon’s economy and a commitment to action on behalf of Oregonians threatened by the fires, droughts, flooding, and other catastrophic impacts of escalating climate change.
“The long-term health of our economy is predicated on ambitious climate action and we are excited that the Governor’s leadership has resulted in this critical action,” Hill said.
“By setting new goals and advancing programs to reduce climate emissions and expand the state’s clean energy economy, Gov. Brown is setting the path for new jobs, new investments, and new opportunities throughout Oregon,” Andy Wunder, E2 Western States Advocate Andy Wunder said in the release. “Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers’ continued refusal to take this issue seriously and engage in the legislative process necessitated this important executive action. Gov. Brown’s order is the type of real leadership we’ve needed for a long time.”
Oregon GOP lawmakers and other opponents said the cap and trade restrictions will adversely impact Oregon’s economy and greatly hurt small, rural communities.
Here is the release from Gov. Brown's office.
Governor Kate Brown today announced and signed a new executive order on climate, setting new science-based greenhouse gas emissions goals and directing state agencies to put new measures into effect to lower the state's greenhouse gas emissions to meet Oregon's climate goals.
"I’ve heard it loud and clear from our young people in Oregon: climate action is crucial and urgent. If we adults don’t take action right away, it is the next generation that will pay the price. We owe it to them to do our part to ensure that the globe they inherit is on a better trajectory than the one it’s on today," said Governor Brown. "Immediate and comprehensive efforts are needed to tackle this scourge that is devastating the Oregon we know and love, and a smart approach can both protect the environment and grow our economy.
"This executive order is extensive and thorough, taking the boldest actions available to lower greenhouse gas emissions under current state laws. As a state, we will pursue every option available under existing law to combat the effects of climate change and put Oregon on a path we can be proud to leave behind for our children."
The executive order updates the existing state carbon emissions goals to reflect the current science, setting a standard of 45% reduction from 1990 levels by 2035, and an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. The order also outlines a variety of means to reach the new goals, including:
Sector-specific caps on climate pollution: Directs the Environmental Quality Commission to set and enforce sector-specific caps on climate pollution for three of the largest sources of emissions in our state: transportation fuels, natural gas, and large industrial polluters. Caps will decline over time in order to meet the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Doubles the Clean Fuels Program: To reduce climate pollution from cars and trucks by 20% by 2030, and 25% by 2035, the state will more than double the Clean Fuels Program. This is the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the country, and it will substantially reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, using a model proven to reduce pollution at a very minimal cost. At the same time, it will create new jobs in the biofuels sector and expand investment in transportation electrification.
Higher energy efficiency for buildings and appliances: Directs the state’s building codes division to move rapidly to increase energy efficiency requirements for new buildings and directs the Oregon Department of Energy to make Oregon’s appliance efficiency standards equal to the most stringent in the country.
Strategic plan to accelerate usability of electric vehicles: Directs the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to create a statewide public electric charging plan to accelerate the usage of electric vehicles across the state.
Emissions-conscious transportation spending: Directs ODOT to develop a tool to evaluate all future transportation spending, including road expansion, through the lens of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and requires regional transportation planning organizations in the state to follow suit.
Accelerates the transition to clean energy resource in the utility sector: Directs the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to help utilities achieve the new emission reduction goals, and directs the PUC to implement the recommendations of the Governor's Council on Wildfire Response to safeguard our grid from the growing risks and severity of wildfires.
Adds climate action as a top priority for agency decision making: Directs state agencies to add climate action as a lens for all of their work, which will lower carbon emissions across current agency activities, including as agencies spend the state's budget on goods and services.
Previous Chronicle coverage posted at 7:45 a.m.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is expected to announce her next steps in how she wants the state to deal with climate change.
Brown has scheduled a 10:30 a.m. news conference today at the state capitol to discuss the next steps her administration will be taking to address climate change and the reduction of carbon emissions in Oregon.
The controversial topic was the center of debate and a walkout in late February by Republican members of the Oregon Legislature which stalled work of the short session.
The Oregon Legislature was adjourned on March 5. Republicans returned to the capitol building to pass budget bills on Sunday, March 8.