The majority of the energy in Oregon -- for transportation, electricity and manufacturing -- comes from fossil fuels (mainly oil and coal) that pollute our air, water and atmosphere. For decades, big polluters have had a free ride for their climate pollution, while Oregonians pay the price with our health and now an unstable climate. It’s time to transition to a clean energy economy, where our lives and businesses are powered by renewable energy like solar, wind, and renewable fuels.

The Problem

Climate pollution threatens our way of life. This pollution is emitted into our air and water for free, while the rest of us pay in the form of increased rates of asthma, higher food prices because of drought, and increased risks to our communities from fire and intense storms.

Economy 

Climate change places a drag on our economy by harming Oregon businesses and communities.

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  • Long-lasting drought hurts family farmers, ranchers, fisherman and outdoor guides.

  • Our microbrewers need healthy hops and plentiful clean water.

  • Shellfishers, crabbers and clamdiggers are put out of work by rising acidity levels in the ocean and toxic algae blooms.

  • Ski communities struggle to survive with record-low snowpacks.

  • Our wine heritage is threatened because the grapes aren’t suited to a changing climate.  Oregon's famous Pinot relies on cool temperatures.

Rural communities are devastated by more intense wildfires every year and the cost to taxpayers to fight fires is enormous -- the US Forest Service now spends over 50% of its annual budget fighting fires.

Health

Climate change represents a major threat to the quality of life for all Oregonians: increased risk of heat-related illness and death, extreme allergy seasons, spread of disease by mosquitoes and ticks colonizing new territory, increased asthma and much more. The young and elderly, low-income, communities of color, rural and industrial areas experience these impacts more acutely.

Natural Resources

Our natural resource heritage is particularly at risk.PolluterAccountability-2.svg

Wildfires -- seemingly worse every year -- ravage our forest and grasslands. Rising sea levels are threatening our coastal areas, putting  both low-lying communities and seashore ecosystems at risk.

Warm winters means less snow in the mountains. Lower snowpack means fresh water shortages for our farmers in the summer; hotter and shallower water in rivers that cause millions of salmon, trout and other fish to die. Increasing ocean acidification from climate pollution kills Oregon oysters and warmer water feeds massive blooms of toxic algae, poisoning Oregon shellfish and crabs.

The Solution

It’s time to end climate pollution’s free ride. Fossil fuel companies should pay for the true cost of their pollution. Carbon pricing is an effective and economically efficient way to reduce harmful climate pollution. The idea is pretty simple: Oregon establishes limits for climate pollution and large companies or utilities pay a penalty for emitting pollution that goes above that limit.

In Oregon law there is a goal to reduce Oregon’s climate pollution at least 75% below 1990-levels by the year 2050. We are not on track to meet that goal right now because it is not being enforced: no one is being held accountable to meet it.

PolluterAccountability-3.svgBy accounting for the true cost of the pollution from fossil fuels, Oregon can dramatically reduce climate pollution while turbocharging our state’s clean economy and creating good paying jobs. New jobs in the clean energy economy can’t be outsourced because the work -- like installing solar or wind power and energy efficient construction -- has to be done here at home. These are family-supporting jobs with benefits for all kinds of Oregonians – from engineers to designers, electrical and construction workers, salespeople, secretaries and custodians.

When you price pollution, you create an incentive to pollute less and you can re-invest the revenue generated into directly addressing the problem. Part of the revenue can be used to help Oregonians invest in energy retrofits for homes and businesses, renewable energy like solar and wind, and transportation improvements that help reduce the costs of energy and transportation for Oregonians.  

Additionally, any successful program must include provisions for low-income and rural Oregonians, who are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Investing in communities with solar and wind power jobs, energy efficient homes and businesses, public transit, electric vehicles, and healthier communities. For example, under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, a quarter of the proceeds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund must also go to projects that provide a benefit to disadvantaged communities.

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The Blueprint

Limiting and pricing pollution is an essential solution to protecting clean air and stopping climate change. Together these solutions fit together in a blueprint of comprehensive policies, such as increasing investments in renewables and clean fuels to put Oregon on a path to a thriving clean energy economy with good paying jobs and healthy communities.

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Policy Pathway

Renew Oregon and our partners are working hard to move Oregon away from polluting energy to an efficient, clean energy economy by accounting for the cost of climate pollution! Sign the pledge to be part of the movement. Here are some proposals we've supported in the legislature --

Clean Energy Jobs (2017)

A cap & price policy to secure greenhouse gas reductions while bringing clean energy jobs and a thriving economy. As legislators evaluate policies to hold large sources of pollution accountable, these principles should guide their efforts; to be effective and equitable, the following principles must be true for any prospective policy. To beat back the greatest threat to this generation, secure and grow

Healthy Climate Bill (2016)

A cap-and-invest policy to enforce state goals on greenhouse gas emissions reductions (75% below 1990 levels by 2050) by introducing a fee for pollution and allocating funds to low-income communities, just transition for workers, clean energy investments and more. While the bill itself stalled, the legislature allocated significant funds to study various cap and price policies, a good step forward and a leg up for 2017, where Oregon's climate community will continue working toward victory.

Climate Stability and Justice bill (2015)

A "cap-and-delegate" policy that enforced limits on greenhouse gas emissions (75% below 1990 levels by 2050) and delegated an enforcement mechanism to executive agencies. The Act showed great promise, going further than any such previous measure, but did not pass in the 2015 session. Renew Oregon delivered more than 1,700 signatures from Oregonians supporting the bill to legislators.

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