Nov 10, 2018

This December, Oregon legislators will gather again to discuss priorities for the upcoming session. As we gather, I hope they will remember all the work we did in 2018 to move forward the Clean Energy Jobs bill. Under it, major polluters would pay for every ton of climate pollution they emit. It’s not a cap for small businesses like your local grocery store or florist; it’s one for huge greenhouse gas polluters. Proceeds from the cap would be invested in clean energy projects and jobs across the state.

Creating real results for Oregonians

For my district, that means helping homeowners and small business owners make energy efficiency upgrades that will save them money — like installing LED bulbs, double-pane windows, and more insulation to keep the heat in during the winter and keep it out in the summer.

It means making it easier for Lane County farmers to upgrade equipment, install drip irrigation and pursue other projects that help lower costs and increase the efficiency of their operations.

It means landlords will be able to more easily afford property retrofits to help renters save on utility bills. Low-income households spend as much as a quarter of their income on energy expenses, compared to less than five percent for the top income bracket. Proceeds from Clean Energy Jobs will help change that.

Pricing climate pollution from fossil fuels means the true value of carbon-free resources like hydropower, solar and wind power will be recognized. Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies power to Eugene Water & Electric, has run the numbers and projects Clean Energy Jobs could keep rates stable and even potentially make them go down.

Oregon can set a powerful example

In passing Clean Energy Jobs, we have a tremendous opportunity to create homegrown, family-wage paying jobs while also preparing our state to be its best by investing in our local communities. And because the bill contains a specific provision to set aside part of the revenue to help Oregon’s most vulnerable communities — rural and low-income Oregonians, and communities of color — we know Clean Energy Jobs will provide real, tangible solutions to the communities we serve.

Clean Energy Jobs can be a powerful force in unleashing business innovation in our state. It can strengthen rural and economically distressed communities in need of support, create good jobs that can’t be outsourced, and help the state lead in the clean energy economy. 48,000 Oregonians already work in the clean economy — in transportation, clean energy, construction, design, engineering, sales and more. These jobs offer a glimpse of what a clean energy economy can promise.

A proven policy with proven results

Thus far, hundreds of Oregonians have attended workgroups, testified, written letters to the editor of their local papers, emailed, called, and visited me and my colleagues in Salem to show support for Clean Energy Jobs. Bipartisan work groups made up of legislators and stakeholders from a wide range of industry and interest groups met multiple times to refine the legislation. I am proud to have served on the Environmental Justice workgroup for the bill to make sure Oregon’s most vulnerable communities will receive specific benefits that will help them become more resilient.

Lastly, the Oregon Joint Interim Legislative Committee on Carbon Reduction was formed in 2018, co-chaired by Senate President Peter Courtney and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek. This joint committee was created primarily to get the Clean Energy Jobs bill ready for 2019.

With so much work and public participation over multiple legislative sessions, it’s not hard to see why this bill is shaping up to be one of the most pressing legislative priorities for 2019. As a state senator, I am committed to doing my part to making sure Clean Energy Jobs passes in 2019.

Guest blog post by James Manning, a State Senator representing North Eugene, West Eugene, Santa Clara, Bethel and Junction City. Manning also served as a Commissioner on the Eugene Water & Electric Board from 2013-2017. This originally appeared in the Register-Guard as a guest opinion piece.

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